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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
You feel a bit out of control and lavish -- and uncharacteristically unconcerned with whether or not you're spoiling anyone.
On the other hand, your penny-pinching nature is screaming desperately in the depths of your mind, begging you to remember next month's credit card bills.
Ignore it -- the devils need to beat the angels, at least for the time being.
Why go halfway?
When was the last time you went all-in?
It's long past time for you to have some serious fun.

Today is:
Today is Tuesday, July 20, the 200st day of 2010.
There are 164 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
National Lollipop Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Forty-one years ago today

Forty-one years ago today: "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind."

Bullied 5th grader inspired by Obama reply

A girl writes a letter to the president after suffering years of bullying, and he writes back. 

A History of The Beatles

As told by their hair.

New Jobs

New and expanding companies created more than 7,000 jobs and invested more than $1.4 billion in the Charlotte region during the first half of the year, according to a report released Tuesday by the Charlotte Chamber.

Medication mistakes you can avoid

Over-the-counter drugs and supplements can be as risky as prescription meds.  

Culinary DeLites

Culinary DeLites
This easy pasta dish features summer's best tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.  
Peanut butter, salt, and undiluted fruit juice aren't for infants less than a year old.  
Canola or olive oil? Butter or margarine? Dieticians reveal what's in their own grocery carts.  

Unusual uses for coffee filters

Those little pieces of paper can help your flowerpots and protect your china.  

Coffee from cat droppings clean enough for Muslims

Indonesia's top Islamic body declared Tuesday that Muslims can drink civet coffee - the world's most expensive coffee, which is extracted from the dung of civet cats.A preacher recently suggested the beverage might not be "halal" - or religiously approved - because its unusual provenance makes it unclean.

Syria bans face veils at universities

Veiled women in Damascus, Syria (file image)  
Wearing the full veil has caused controversy in Europe and the Middle East
Female students wearing a full face veil will be barred from Syrian university campuses, the country's minister of higher education has said. 

Students' low-tech device may save lives

Two undergrads transform a kitchen gadget into an ingenious tool to aid poorer countries.

State alliance to fight ravenous Asian carp

Five states hope the discovery of a 20-pound fish aids the fight against the invader.  

Broom Hilda

>Broom Hilda

The Art of War

The U.S. Army displays 300 paintings by servicemen and women dating back to World War I. 

First (Australian) surfing photo?

 Img News 2010 07 20 Surf First Pic 465X288 200710 T325
Is this the first Australian surfing photo? Taken in 1912, the shot depicts surfing pioneer Tommy Walker catching a wave at Main Beach on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia.

From Warwick Daily News:
While there are photos of people with surfboards that predate the shot of Mr Walker in action, (Manly Surf Life Saving Club historian Ray) Moran said they did not show people actually surfing. “There is a 1909 photo taken of Tommy Walker at Manly standing alongside his surfboard on the beach – it's a nice portrait, but he's not surfing. If there is one that is older I would definitely be interested in seeing it,” Mr Moran said.

'Great love' led to daring Auschwitz escape

Two miraculous words let a Polish man and his Jewish sweetheart flee in broad daylight.  

Walls and Fortifications

The Fortified Towers Of Kaiping

The original fortified towers of Kaiping in China date back to the seventeenth century. Most of the 1800 or so that remain were built in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In structure they seem remarkably un-Chinese, with many architectural features from different parts of the globe.

However, rather than European architects trying to fuse their own styles this is a result of Chinese emigrants to the US and Malaysia returning to Kaiping and blending what they had seen abroad with what they had at home. The result - some quite remarkable buildings.

The Walled City Of Carcassonne In Languedoc, France

Carcassonne in Languedoc is situated in the picturesque region of southwest France, standing upon ancient trade routes between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Believed to be a site of significance during the 6th century, Carcassonne may have been a place of commerce and trade.

At first glance, Carcassonne ignites visions of Camelot with conical roofs and medieval soldiers returning from battle. If only the legend matched the history.

Rains test world's largest dam

Flooding forces officials to close the shipping locks on the Three Gorges Dam.  

China takes over as largest consumer of power

The US owned that position for around 100 years.

Wall Street Journal:
China, powered by years of rapid economic growth, is now the world's biggest energy consumer, knocking the U.S. off a perch it held for more than a century, according to new data from the International Energy Agency.

The Paris-based agency, whose forecasts are generally regarded as bellwether indicators for the energy industry, said China devoured 2,252 million tons of oil equivalent last year, or about 4% more than the U.S., which burned through 2,170 million tons of oil equivalent. The oil-equivalent metric represents all forms of energy consumed, including crude oil, nuclear, coal, natural gas and renewable sources such as hydropower.

The figures reflect, in part, how the global recession hit the U.S. more severely than China and hurt American industrial activity and energy use. Still, China's total energy consumption has clocked annual double-digit growth rates for many years, driven by the country's big industrial base. Highlighting how quickly its energy demand has increased, China's total energy consumption was just half the size of the U.S. 10 years ago.
A report says the U.S. has dropped from No.1 spot, but the new titleholder calls the data "unreliable."  

On The Job

On The Job
Hundreds of thousands of Americans have enrolled in federally funded training programs. 

It's The Economy Stupid

It's The Economy Stupid
When the wealthiest consumers don't splurge, the rest of us feel the pain.  
Ed Haskell and Debbie Chasteen paid cash for their home and will retire with $2.5 million. 

Official quits USDA amid 'white farmer' flap

An incident from 24 years ago suddenly surfaces to end Shirley Sherrod's government career.  

Man Robs Bank with Bouquet of Flowers

A man in New York City successfully robbed a bank. His weapon of choice was a bunch of flowers:
A security camera photo published by the police showed the suspect standing at the cashier’s window holding the bouquet while handing over the note, which reportedly read: “Give me all your hundreds, fifties, don’t be a hero.”
The man fled the scene after the teller handed over $440 (£288).
The New York Post reported that it was the second known bank heist by the suspect, who last week robbed a different New York bank armed with a potted houseplant.

Citizens help stop assault on Texas deputy

A deputy said stunned onlookers had to help her subdue a man who became violent when asked to leave the bench where he had been sleeping.

Man tries to sound off by beat boxing police, gets beating instead

A Croatian man who repeatedly asked police for help to get a nearby coffee shop to turn down their music claims he was beaten by officers for playing loud music outside the police station to get their attention.

Bad Cops

Bad Cops

Show us your papers

Well you did ask him for his papers.
And as the old saying goes 'Beware what you ask for ... you may get it.'

Hidden U.S. network grows beyond control

Security programs enacted after 9/11 have become alarmingly unwieldy and secretive.  

Senate Democrats end repugican filibuster of unemployment extension

The repugicans won't have the unemployed to kick around on the Senate floor -- for awhile anyway.

With the help of new WV Senator Carte Goodwin and the two Mainers, Collins and Snowe, the Senate just ended the filibuster of unemployment extension. Ben Nelson voted with the repugicans.

The vote was 60 - 40.

While over in the House ...
Alan Grayson is on fire talking unemployment and repugicans
Must see:
Grayson is fearless and says what needs to be said.



Investors have little faith in brokers

The brokerage industry continues to get a free ride from Washington and will continue gauging customers for years to come. Forking over well-placed lobbyist money does pay rewards.
The industry's three biggest firms -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and Wells Fargo Advisers -- ranked below the industry average and received some of the lowest overall satisfaction scores.

The general reputation of brokerages, meanwhile, continued to sink this year despite the rebound.

An increasing proportion of investors said they believed their investment firm was driven more by profit concerns than focused on the customer.

Altered BP photo raises eyebrows

A closer look at a shot of BP's command center reveals telltale signs of manipulation.  

It's Only The Environment After All

It's Only The Environment After All
As crews watch the new cap for signs of trouble, BP engineers investigate yet another fix for the blown well.  
BP claims seepage not from their well and 'naturally occurring'

Because we all know how accurate their information has been so far.

Energy giant BP said Monday that seepage near its Gulf of Mexico well was unrelated to the massive oil leak that has at least temporarily been capped.

The U.S. government's pointman for the spill, retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, told reporters in a late afternoon briefing that the government will give the company another 24 hours to continue testing the well. He also said that he has asked BP to consider using cement in its current capping operations.

BP shares, which had dropped more than 6 percent after engineers detected seepage on the floor of the Gulf, recovered slightly in late New York trade to close down 3.6 percent, at $35.75 a share.

BP spokesman Mark Proegler told Reuters: "Scientists have concluded that the seep was naturally occurring."
It's Not Like We Don't Have Another One

Tea party expulsion reveals group's flaws

More Nazi in-fighting
Other than being one big flaw in the first place ... how many could they have?
Literally hundreds it appears.
The internal fallout from Mark Williams' ouster exposes challenges facing the fledgling movement.  

Lunatic Fringe

Lunatic Fringe

When dealing with wingnuts ... Remember the rule: 
If they accuse someone of something, then they're already guilty of it.
Liars and Fools
Faux's Andrew Napolitano and Faux's Glenn Beck discuss whether Obama will declare an "emergency" as grounds for "authoritarian rule".
Lunatics howling at the moon.

Faux's Monica Crowley delusionally lies that Obama is "the most radical president we have ever had".
Sorry, Monica that was the shrub the pretender.


Are ugly people more likely to become criminals?

 Wikipedia Commons 3 34 Head-Measurer Of Tremearne (Side View)

Anthropometric device invented in 1914 
In 2003, a man in Miami, Florida was asked why he committed robberies. "I am too ugly to get a job," he said. That's the opening to a 2005 scientific paper in the Review of Economics and Statistics. In the paper, the researchers look at the statistics of appearance and crime. "We find that unattractive individuals commit more crime in comparison to average-looking ones, and beautiful individuals commit less crime in comparison to those who are average-looking," write the authors who are both associated with the National Bureau of Economic Research. Are "ugly" people really more likely to become criminals? Well, it's much more subtle than that. Fortean Times puts the study in context:
It is intuitively obvious - though not necessarily true - that personality is reflected in someone's face. The ancient Greeks formalised their beliefs, such as close-set eyes indicating that someone is untrustworthy, into the 'science' of physiognomy. Predictably, this was abused; in Socrates's trial, his facial features were cited as evidence of his brutal nature. Physiognomy remained on a par with palmistry and the like until the 17th century, when learned men including Sir Thomas Browne attempted a more rigorous approach by completely cataloguing all possible facial conformations. Physiognomy classifies each facial element and links it to a personality trait. Curved eyebrows mean someone is friendly by nature; angled eyebrows signify someone who is always seeking to control. Everything means something.
By the 19th century, this technique was being used to fight crime. An Italian professor, Cesare Lombroso, wrote his definitive book L'Uomo Delinquente or "Criminal Man" in 1876. This was supposedly based on a statistical study of the features of convicts compared to those of (presumably honest) soldiers. Lombroso claimed that certain features indicated particular types of criminal. Murderers have prominent jaws, and pickpockets have scanty beards (unless they shave?). A one-sided grin marks brutality, whereas poisoners have "a fawning smile". Lombroso's technique was widely used in Europe until the 1930s. Prosecuting lawyers could claim that a flattened nose was a scientific­ally proven sign of a thief, thus strengthening their case.

The elaborate hoax behind crop circles

From 1976 to 1991, some people thought these odd formations were the work of aliens.  

Rent a friend for £6.50 an hour

Can you say ... losers!
An internet entrepreneur is making friends available for hire at an hourly rate. Scott Rosenbaum, 30, has a database of 218,000 men and women who members of his site Rent a Friend can hire "to hang out with, go to a movie or restaurant with", or be "someone to show you around an unfamiliar town".

The US-based site already has around 2,000 members, each paying up to £16 a month ($25) to access the site. When they see a friend they like the look of, they can rent them for as little as £6.50 ($10) an hour.

Rosenbaum said he wanted to "go a step back" from dating sites and offer a service that was, in the words of his website "strictly platonic". He said: "No one was offering friendship." The service is not just about getting people to meet up for a drink or a meal. It lists a host of diverse activities that members might like to hire friends for, including "teaching manners", "snowboarding", "family functions" and just "hanging out".

Similar services have proved successful in Japan, where there are now about 10 of them, where such agencies are often used to provide 'friends' at social gatherings. Rent a Friend is being launched in the UK this week.


You smell them - not eat them, dear.

Wagon ruts from Oregon Trail still visible today

More than 400,000 people traveled the Oregon Trail during the 19th century—so many that there are spots where wagon ruts are still visible. This photo was taken at Three Island Crossing, better known to children of the 1980s as the Snake River Crossing. (Don't ford it! Never ford it!)
When you first see this photo, taken by Flickr user gharness, you think, "No freakin' way." But, you can be assured by both the Associated Press and Idaho State University that this is for real. Wagons really did wear down certain patches of ground so much that nothing grows there to this day. The National Parks Service, Bureau of Land Management and other groups have marked many of these spots (you can see a marker in the above photo on the right) and have taken steps to preserve them.

Outback cave yields marsupial fossil haul

Nimbadon skull (AP)  
Nimbadon may have traveled in herds, say the scientists
Fossil hunters in Australia have discovered a cave filled with the 15-million-year-old remains of prehistoric marsupials.



How Close Could a Person Get to the Sun and Survive?

How close could you get to the sun before burning up? Alessandra Calderin of Popular Science asked NASA engineer Ralph McNutt:
The sun is about 93 million miles away from Earth, and if we think of that distance as a football field, a person starting at one end zone could get about 95 yards before burning up.
That said, an astronaut so close to the sun is way, way out of position. “The technology in our current space suits really isn’t designed to withstand deep space,” says Ralph McNutt, an engineer working on the heat shielding for NASA’s Messenger, a new robotic Mercury probe. The standard space suit will keep an astronaut relatively comfortable at external temperatures reaching up to 248°. Heat coming off the sun dissipates over distance, but a person drifting in space would begin encountering that kind of heat (the five-yard line) some three million miles from the sun. “It would then be a matter of time before the astronaut died,” McNutt says.
The space shuttle, however, has greater heat resistance than a spacesuit, so it could get to the two-yard line before cooking its crew.

Moon tunnels could be homes for colonists

A NASA orbiter discovers aspects of the lunar landscape that could be shelter for humans. 

Now that's just Bizarre

Now that's just Bizarre
Biker found shot dead after collision with deer
Pennsylvania State Police are trying to piece together the puzzling death of a motorcyclist in Westmoreland County.

According to police reports, William Mark Amos, 47, of Export, was riding on Route 819 in Salem Township when the deer crossed into his path on Friday morning.

The bike collided with the deer about 100 yards south of Ridge Road.

But police said that Amos had a gunshot wound to the head and that a gun was also recovered at the crash scene. Police said Amos, who was not wearing a helmet, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Man claims aliens are pelting his home
A Bosnian man whose house has been hit six times by meteorites claims aliens are targetting him. The white-hot rocks have hammered Radivoje Lajic's house repeatedly since 2007, forcing him to reinforce the roof of his Gornji Lajici home with a steel girder.

Experts at Belgrade University have confirmed that all the rocks he has produced are meteorites, but Lajic believes their trajectory is no accident, claiming: "I am obviously being targeted by aliens."

He continued: "I don't know what I have done to annoy them but there is no other explanation that makes sense.

"The chance of being hit by a meteorite is so small that getting hit six times has to be deliberate. If you rule out the possible - then the impossible must be true." Lajic has had so many visitors to his house that he plans to erect a small museum in his back garden.

Curry spices could help reduce methane gases from cows & sheep

An interesting new method in battling climate change.
"Methane is a major contributor to global warming, and the slow digestive system of ruminant animals such as cows and sheep makes them a key producer of the gas," Mr Hasan explained. "What my research found was that certain spices contain properties which make this digestive process more efficient so producing less waste – in this case, methane.

"Spices have long been used safely by humans to kill bacteria and treat a variety of ailments," he added. The study looked at five curry spices – cumin, coriander, clove, turmeric and cinnamon. Each was "ground up" – as if chewed by the sheep – and added to an in-vitro solution mimicking that found in the rumen of the animal. The level of methane released by each was measured against a control.

The most effective was found to be coriander, which reduced methane production from 14 millilitres per gram of food to eight – a drop of 40 per cent. Turmeric produced a 30 per cent reduction and cumin 22 per cent.

Animal News

Rescue of platypus stuck in a pipe draws quite a crowd
The question of how many humans it takes to catch a platypus now has an answer, after a wandering duck-billed youngster stalled construction at the Penrith Sewage Treatment Plant yesterday. When the platypus was finally caught, there were 27 people milling around to see the results of a rescue effort that lasted more than six hours.

The platypus was tucked away in a long pipe attached to a large open tank of treated water. After Sydney Water staff gently flushed the pipe, it took four National Parks and Wildlife Service rangers to corral the juvenile male in a net before he was whisked away to a vet for a check-up.

Sightings of platypus in Western Sydney are rare, said the NPWS area manager, Jonathan Sanders. A spokeswoman for the NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service said there were no records of a platypus rescue in Sydney in the past four years.

But cleaner waterways might be helping the animals to make a comeback, Mr Sanders said. ''It could be that we're getting a re-colonization of old habitats.''

A platypus biologist, Tom Grant, of the University of NSW, said the animal was probably seeking a new home after leaving the place were it had been born. He may well have come down from the Blue Mountains, but they've also been recorded around Cattai Creek. Most of the males disperse, but we don't really know where they go,'' Dr Grant said.

The animal was discovered at 8.30am yesterday by contractors working for Sydney Water. A construction worker, Paul Robson, initially thought it was an otter. ''I'm English - it's the only time I've seen one apart from in pictures,'' he said. NPWS rangers arrived around midday but had to wait for the reservoir to be tested for carbon monoxide before a rescue could be attempted. They then waited for more than an hour in hip-deep water for the animal to emerge from the pipe. The platypus received a clean bill of health from the vet, Robert Johnson.

Chinese man sends suicide note by homing pigeon
A man in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou appears to have used a homing pigeon to send his suicide note. Li Yong, a neighborhood watch volunteer in the city, picked up the pigeon over the weekend in a suburban housing compound.

"We brought it back to the office, and I found some sweet corn to feed it," he said. "When it flew down to eat, I saw a small scroll tied to its leg with a golden thread. Out of curiosity, my friend and I read the letter, and we were shocked to find it was a suicide note. I reported the matter immediately." The author of the note, who signed himself "Shiyazi" has not yet been found.

The note appeared to be addressed to his girlfriend, and read: "I really have not done anything to hurt you. We have been together for five years. Do you not know what kind of person I am by now? It is too bad that our 'Little Grey' is just a pigeon. It would be great if it could speak. It would be able to prove my innocence. I have no other choice. Is death the only way to prove it? Loving you is really hard! These are my last words."

Lu Qing, a member of the local pigeon fanciers club, said the pigeon had most likely been used by the couple to communicate, but that the bird had apparently interrupted a long flight by landing in the neighborhood. The pigeon, with the marking CHN2009-16-058201, was traced to a Mr Ma in Zhengzhou, who said he had lost the bird during a race last year and had no idea who might have written the note.

Charlotte's web spider thought to be writing

Chinese arachnologists are baffled after discovering a spider that appears to be trying to do put handwriting on its web as in the story Charlotte's Web.

More Animal News

Man fined £1,500 for drowning squirrel

In the first legal case of its kind a Burton window cleaner has been ordered to pay more than £1,500 in court costs – for killing a squirrel. Raymond Elliot, of Maple Way, Branston, admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, namely a gray squirrel by drowning it to death, when he appeared at Burton Magistrates’ Court. The RSPCA has claimed the ‘test case’ ruling could pave the way for hundreds of other cases across the country as the extermination of squirrels continues to spiral nationally.

The court heard how grey squirrels had persistently targeted Mr Elliot’s bird feeders in his garden, driving him to buy a cage before trapping the squirrel. He then drowned the squirrel by immersing it in a water butt killing it “almost instantaneously.” Magistrates gave the 58-year-old a six-month conditional discharge and ordered him to pay £1,547 to cover investigation and legal costs incurred by the animal welfare charity.

John Sutcliffe, prosecuting, said: “This is a very unusual case indeed. It is the first ever case brought under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in respect of a non-domestic animal. I have prosecuted for over 30 years and with this case I feel considerable sympathy for Mr Elliot. Catching and drowning squirrels is becoming a prevalent act and the RSPCA wants it known that this is illegal.

“The defendant was extremely open and frank about his actions. He believed it was the most humane way of disposing of the animal — however, this method is illegal. The manufacturers who supply such cages go to great lengths on advising customers how to trap the squirrels, but say nothing about what to do with them thereafter. The Forestry Commission gives the advice that squirrels should be caught in a sack, placed in the corner and killed with a single blow to the head with a blunt instrument. However, even this method could result in bludgeoning the animal which would be in breach of section four of the act.”

Doug Walton, defending, said: “The drowning of squirrels and rats is a widespread practice. So what are the alternatives for these people? Realistically, I can’t see many people opting to take the creatures to the vets to pay between £30 and £40 a time to have them euthanised.

“And if you follow the Forestry Commission advice you will end up putting squirrels in a sack and clubbing them to death. Here we have a man of good character that I don’t expect to see back before the court. He regrets his mistake.”

Birds of prey employed to tackle seagulls at school
A school which was under siege by seagulls who would steal pupils’ lunches has become the first in Britain to be protected – by three birds of prey. More than 90 troublesome gulls had taken up residence on the roofs of Sir John Hunt Community College in Plymouth, Devon. They had begun swooping on youngsters to pinch sandwiches and crisps and staff had feared for the children’s safety.

But the playground is now safe after officials hired two Harris Hawks and a Falcon to patrol the school. Jasper, Hope and Monty the Falcon have been working twice-weekly shifts since last month – patrolling the skies during breaks and lunchtimes. The school is the first in the UK to use the unorthodox pest control method and nearly all the gulls are now gone.

Facilities manager Mel Starr said: “We haven’t had an actual attack but they are very bold. They have been swooping on children and of course they also carry diseases, which is not something we want around our pupils. Not only is it an efficient way of removing the seagulls, but we can also use it for educational purposes, teaching the pupils about wildlife and the effects of littering. We had a problem with some pupils leaving food around and feeding the birds.”

Staff feared the seagulls, which had also been pecking away at roof insulation, could become aggressive if allowed to nest. They called in experts from Rentokil, who suggested hiring fearsome-looking birds of prey to scare off the seagull menace. The tame trio have done such a good job they are now set to make monthly returns throughout spring and winter.

Man Arrested With 18 Tiny Monkeys Stuffed in his pants
Man Arrested With 18 Tiny Monkeys Stuffed in Pants  
A man with a mysterious bulge under his T-shirt was stopped, searched and detained at Mexico City's international airport after authorities found 18 tiny endangered monkeys in a girdle he was wearing.

The Public Safety Department said in a statement Monday that 38-year-old Roberto Cabrera arrived on a commercial flight Friday from Lima, Peru, when authorities noticed the bulge and conducted a body search.

The department says Cabrera was carrying the 6-inch titi monkeys in pouches attached to the girdle.

Two of the monkeys were dead.

Cabrera was arrested on charges of trafficking an endangered species.

Cabrera told authorities he was carrying the monkeys in a suitcase but decided to put them in his girdle "so the X-rays wouldn't hurt them."

Many species of titi monkeys, a species from South America, are in an endangered animal list by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

The Mexican government recently restricted imports of primates.

Dumb Crooks

Dumb Crooks
Burglar caught after leaving false teeth at crime scene 
Police caught a burglar after he left his false teeth at the scene of the crime. Blackburn magistrates heard the teeth were sent for DNA testing but before the results came back an officer saw ex-boxer Jimmy Lee without his top set and put two and two together.

Lee, 43, of Oakenhurst Road, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to burglary at Khonat’s Newsagents and burglary at a factory on Limbrick and was jailed for a total of 32 weeks.

Liz Parker, defending, said Lee, a chronic alcoholic, had broken into the shop intending to get his head down for a few hours.

“He was hungry and took his false teeth out and put them on a table before eating a beef butty,” said Mrs Parker. “He left without his teeth and when he sobered up he wondered where they were.”

Liquid cocaine in smuggler's rum killed taxi driver
A taxi driver died after unwittingly drinking pure liquid cocaine from a rum bottle given to him as a gift, a court heard. Lascell Malcolm, 63, was given the bottle of Bounty Rum by a friend, Antoinette Corlis, after declining payment for a lift home after her Caribbean holiday. She had been given the bottle by a friend, Michael Lawrence, who was carrying it to the UK from St Lucia for acquaintance Martin Newman, Croydon crown court heard. Only Newman, 50, knew there was 246g (8.7oz) of pure cocaine dissolved into the alcohol, the court in south London was told. He allegedly had given two bottles to Lawrence before flying to Gatwick airport, claiming his baggage was overweight. He intended to retrieve the bottles upon arrival, but was detained by Customs officers, the court heard. Lawrence left for a connecting flight to his home in Switzerland, giving one of the bottles to Corlis.

Oliver Glasgow, prosecuting, told the court: "Corlis, unaware of the dangers posed by the defendant's bottle of rum, decided to give it to Lascell Malcolm as a thank you … It was gratefully received. Corlis was only to realize the full import of what she had done when she tried to contact Lascell Malcolm over the following days." Malcolm, a father-of-two from Haringey, north London, had drunk a shot of the rum with a pint of Guinness, hours after Corlis gave him the bottle on 25 May last year. At 4am the next day, he called emergency services telling them he could not walk and had a headache. He was discharged from hospital but later collapsed and died after a heart attack brought on by cocaine poisoning.

The link to the cocaine-laced rum emerged when two friends, visiting Malcolm's house to pay their respects, found the bottle and decided to make a toast. Charles Roach and Trevor Tugman spat out the foul-tasting liquid but were taken to hospital after suffering seizures. Glasgow told the jury: "Subsequent analysis of the contents of the bottle established that 246 grams of cocaine had been dissolved into the rum, which resulted in a mixture of such toxicity that a teaspoonful could kill anyone who consumed it. Had the alcohol and cocaine been separated, the potential wholesale profit that could have resulted from the sale of the cocaine is in the order of £10,000." He told the court that Newman, who was born in St Lucia, had a duty of care to anyone who came into contact with the bottles.

Two other passengers on the Virgin Atlantic flight, Samantha Edwards and Anthony Fessal, had also been tricked into smuggling bottles by Newman, the court heard. Neither knew the true contents. Newman was arrested on 3 June last year and denied drug smuggling, claiming Fessal had asked him to carry alcohol back to the UK for him and that he had refused. Glasgow said Newman believes "he is the victim of an elaborate conspiracy designed to frame him". Newman, of Romford, Essex, denies manslaughter and importing Class A drugs. The hearing continues.