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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.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
An interpersonal issue you've been grappling with could get extra sticky right now, and you could finally get worked up enough to want to tell it like it is.
Good for you -- expressing yourself is important and healthy.
Before you do, however, consider whether someone in this situation isn't coming across a little differently than they are in reality.
Or is that the problem itself?
Factor this into what you're about to say.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Quezon City, Manila, Philippines
Edithvale, Victoria, Australia
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Ntherlands
Amiene, Picardie, France
Uppsala, Uppsala Lan, Sweden
Milan, Lombardia, Italy
London, England, United Kingdom
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Copenhagen, Kobenhavn, Denmark
Bilbao, Pais Vasco, Spain
Boulogne-Billancort, Ile-De-France, France
Warsaw, Mazowieckie, Poland
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Sulzfeld, Baden-Wurttemburg, Germany
Dresden, Sachsen, Germany

as well as Serbia, Greece, Scotland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sweden, New Zealand, Croatia, Pakistan, Romania, Korea, Brazil, Vietnam, Egypt, Indonesia, Czech Republic, Malaysia and in cities across the United States such as Tijeras, Albuquerque, Lafayette, Waldorf and more.

Today is:
Today is Saturday, November 27, the 331st day of 2010.
There are 34 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
International Aura Awareness Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

President Obama's Weekly Address

Weekly Address: President Obama Delivers Thanksgiving Greeting

During this holiday season, President Obama used his weekly address to give thanks for the blessings of America, in particular that distinctly American impulse to give something of ourselves and do what is required to make tomorrow better than today.  With that sense of determination and sacrifice, America has built a powerful economy, stood against tyranny, fought for equality, and connected the globe with our own science and imagination.  And by working together as one people – as Americans -- we can overcome the challenges currently facing our nation.
Today, like millions of other families across America, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and I will sit down to share a Thanksgiving filled with family and friends – and a few helpings of food and football, too.  And just as folks have done in every Thanksgiving since the first, we’ll spend some time taking stock of what we’re thankful for: the God-given bounty of America, and the blessings of one another.
This is also a holiday that captures that distinctly American impulse to give something of ourselves.  Even as we speak, there are countless Americans serving at soup kitchens and food pantries; contributing to their communities; and standing guard around the world.
And in a larger sense, that’s emblematic of what Americans have always done.  We come together and do what’s required to make tomorrow better than today.  That’s who we are.
Consider our journey since that first Thanksgiving.  We are among the world’s youngest of peoples, but time and again, we have boldly and resiliently led the way forward.  Against tough odds, we are a people who endure – who explored and settled a vast and untamed continent; who built a powerful economy and stood against tyranny in all its forms; who marched and fought for equality, and connected a globe with our own science and imagination.
None of that progress was predestined.  None of it came easily.  Instead, the blessings for which we give thanks today are the product of choices made by our parents, and grandparents, and generations before – whose determination and sacrifice ensured a better future for us.
This holiday season, we must resolve once more to do the same.
This is not the hardest Thanksgiving America has ever faced.  But as long as many members of our American family are hurting, we’ve got to look out for one another.  As long as many of our sons and daughters and husbands and wives are at war, we’ve got to support their mission and honor their service.  And as long as many of our friends and neighbors are looking for work, we’ve got to do everything we can to accelerate this recovery and keep our economy moving forward.
And we will.  But we won’t do it as any one political party.  We’ve got to do it as one people.  And in the coming weeks and months, I hope that we can work together, Democrats and Republicans and Independents alike, to make progress on these and other issues.
That’s why, next week, I’ve invited the leadership of both parties to the White House for a real and honest discussion – because I believe that if we stop talking at one another, and start talking with one another, we can get a lot done.
For what we are called to do again today isn’t about Democrats or Republicans.  It’s not about left or right.  It’s about us.  It’s about what we know this country is capable of.  It’s about what we want America to be in this new century.
A vibrant nation that makes sure its children are the best-educated in the world.  A healthy, growing economy that runs on clean energy and creates the jobs of tomorrow.  A responsible government that reduces its deficits.  An America where every citizen is able to go as far as he or she desires.
We can do all this, because we’ve done it before.  We’re made of the same sturdy stuff as the travelers who sat down to the first Thanksgiving, and all who came after – who worked, and sacrificed, and invested, because they believed that their efforts would make the difference for us.
That’s who we are.  We shape our own destiny with conviction, compassion, and clear and common purpose.  We honor our past and press forward with the knowledge that tomorrow will be better than today.  We are Americans.  That’s the vision we won’t lose sight of.  That’s the legacy that falls to our generation.  That’s the challenge that together, we are going to meet.
To every American, I am thankful for the privilege of being your President.  To all our service members stationed around the world, I am honored to be your Commander-in-Chief.  And from the Obama family to yours, have a very Happy Thanksgiving.  Thank you.

Random Celebrity Photo

Wonder Woman Lynda Carter
Wonder Woman Lynda Carter

Retro Celebrity Photo

Theda Bara
Theda Bara

Why Is Cthulhu on This 300-Year-Old Gravestone?

Jess Nevins of io9 has pictures of the tombstone marking the grave of Rev. Ichabod Wiswall (1637-1700) in Duxbury, Massachusetts. Though largely forgotten today, Wiswall was a prominent political figure in 17th Century Massachusetts. It is unclear why his grave bears the image of cosmic entity Cthulhu:
Duxbury does not feature in any of Lovecraft’s fiction; “Arkham” is based on Salem, “Innsmouth” is based on a combination of Ipswich and Gloucester, and “Dunwich” is based on Athol. But Duxbury was no stranger to sea serpents, even in Wiswall’s day. The English writer John Josselyn’s An Account of Two Voyages to New-England (1674) described the 1639 sighting of a sea serpent off Cape Anne, north of Duxbury, which sparked a rash of sea-serpent sightings along the Massachusetts coast, including Duxbury. And in 1857 Henry Thoreau wrote in his journal that Daniel Webster had seen a sea-serpent off the coast of Duxbury.
So it makes a kind of sense for a Lovecraftian cephalopod to appear on the Reverend Wiswall’s gravestone. The only question remaining is, is Wiswall dead in his grave, or does he merely wait there, dreaming?

Wizard of Id


China's dilemma over U.S. ship

The aircraft carrier’s arrival in the Yellow Sea is a scenario China had hoped to prevent.  

Iceland's unusual election

The hard-hit nation is drafting a new constitution that really will be the voice of the people.  

US in Afghanistan longer than Soviets

Stick a fork in it and move on.
The Soviet Union couldn't win in Afghanistan, and now the United States is about to have something in common with that futile campaign: nine years, 50 days.

On Friday, the U.S.-led coalition will have been fighting in this South Asian country for as long as the Soviets did in their humbling attempt to build up a socialist state. The two invasions had different goals — and dramatically different body counts — but whether they have significantly different outcomes remains to be seen.

What started out as a quick war on Oct. 7, 2001, by the U.S. and its allies to wipe out al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and the Taliban has instead turned into a long and slogging campaign. Now about 100,000 NATO troops are fighting a burgeoning insurgency while trying to support and cultivate a nascent democracy.

Secrets of a happy U.S. city

The sidewalks and signs are pleasing, but what's missing is even more notable.  

Computer program IDs the 'most boring day in the 20th century'

A computer program named True Knowledge has calculated the most boring day in history, or at least, in the 20th century. That day is April 11, 1954.

April 11, 1954: The Most Boring Day in the 20th Century

Computer scientist William Tunstall-Pedoe, developer of the search engine True Knowledge, has determined that April 11, 1954 was the most boring day of the 20th Century. His conclusion is based on an estimate of notable births, deaths, and events:
Every day something of significance happens, a person is born who is destined for fame, there is an event in the arts or sports, history is created. With 300 million of these facts fed into the “brain” of True Knowledge, Tunstall-Pedoe’s Cambridge company, the computer was asked: “What was the most boring day in the 20th century?”[...]
Nearly five million people are using True Knowledge every month, asking their own questions and contributing factoids and context to improve the quality of search.
Many of these facts include dates. The system has a unique understanding of the importance of the entities in the world which can be calculated as a number, such as events beginning and ending, births, deaths, wars, founding of businesses and the release of publications. So you can find out what happened on a particular day. For example, who was born on May 3, 1983?
“It occurred to us that we are able to objectively measure the importance of every day in history. Some days are highly eventful and on some days far less happens and we can also objectively estimate the importance of these events.


'Revolution' scene from the film Across The Universe which featured Beatles songs to describe the events in the lives of its characters and the 1960s.

In Norway, a Landscape Hotel Surrounds Its Guests with Nature, But It's No Cheap Trip

juvet-hotel photo
Photos courtesy of JSA Architects + Juvet Hotel
The Juvet Landscape Hotel in Gudbrandsjuvet, Norway is accurately named. Its seven rooms (each a separate building) offer spectacular views of the surrounding area: mountains, streams, valleys, and, no one room can be seen from any other. Once you get over staring out the window and get yourself outdoors, you can ski (even in summer), hike, go white water rafting, camp, and visit the Geirangerfjord Mountain Farm, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Article continues: In Norway, a Landscape Hotel Surrounds Its Guests with Nature, But It's No Cheap Trip

Fifteen Amazing Structures That Were Built To Last


There are now almost 7 billion people living on Earth. By 2050, UN estimates that the worldwide population will grow to 9 billion people. This means that more structures need to be built for shelter, to entertain and provide culture.

Will this be a test against time - to build as much as possible in the shortest period of time or will it be a creative competition to construct inspiring buildings that will stand the test of time?

Here are 15 of the oldest buildings that were built by our predecessors, appreciated by us and to be cherished by our successors.

Google — an engine of knowledge creation?

Search engines like Google have become part of everyday life, not least in the academic context. But if knowledge is power, then search engines themselves are gaining ground as power nodes in their own right.

Can you spot the error

Can you spot the error?

Ghana bans second-hand underwear

Market traders in Ghana will be banned from selling second-hand underwear from next February, trade regulators say. According to the Ghana Standards Board, used pants - and other second-hand goods like handkerchiefs and mattresses - are unhygienic and could pose a health hazard. The importation of these items was banned in 1994 but never implemented. Some traders in a market in the capital, Accra, said they were unhappy the move might affect business.

There is a lot of consumer demand for second-hand clothing, often imported from Europe, as it is cheaper than locally produced items. It is the same in many African countries. "Ghana is a third world country; we've been doing this all along, so why are they talking about a ban now?" Millicent, a trader in Kantamanto Market in central Accra, said. "The authorities should think again because our livelihoods are at stake."

Cynthia, another market trader, defended the business. "Second-hand underwear and other clothes we sell here at Kantamanto Market are better quality than new undies in the stores," she said. She admitted that some of the imported underwear was stained but said customers rummage through the piles and inspect goods before buying. "No matter how poor the person is, they will not chose stained ones and we throw them away," she said. One trader insisted that all the goods she sold had been disinfected.

Second-hand clothing is often referred to as "obroni wewu", which literally translates as "white man's deads". Some customers also seemed dismayed by the news of the forthcoming ban, he says. "I've been wearing 'obroni wewu' all my life from infancy - all the clothes you see on me today from up to down are 'obroni wewu' - and I never fell sick because of used clothes," says Doris, a shopper at Kantamanto Market. The Ghana Standards Board has re-iterated that it is not all used clothes that are banned.

Something you don't see everyday

Alice in Wonderland - Underwater

World's Most Expensive Bottle Of Tequila

Mexican distiller Hacienda La Capilla has produced a bottle of tequila that it is expected to fetch $3.5 million at auction, making it the most expensive drink of its kind in the world.

The bottle is coated in a layer of 4,100 brilliant-cut diamonds and 2.380 kg of pure platinum. The Tequila bottle will now be going on tour in Europe and the Middle East in the hope of attracting potential buyers.

Private Media Group Makes it To the Top of the Top Five Losers at NASDAQ List

(NASDAQ:PRVT) Private Media Group, Inc. engages in the acquisition, refinement, and distribution of video and photo rights for adult feature magazines, movies, and the Internet, currently is trading at a price of $1.21, a dramatic change of -15.97% from its previous day’s close.

The stock is trading at a volume of 179,903 compared to its average volume of 3.80K trading shares. The stock is trading with a loss of -6.92% from its open this morning. Currently, the company has a market capital of approximately 25.22M.

(NASDAQ:CYAN) Cyanotech Corporation engages in the cultivation, production, and sale of natural products derived from microalgae worldwide, currently is trading at a price of $2.90, a dramatic change of -12.65% from its previous day’s close. The stock is trading at a volume of 853,632 compared to its average volume of 13.84K trading shares. The stock is trading with a loss of -11.85% from its open this morning. Currently, the company has a market capital of approximately 15.60M.

(NASDAQ:AMCN) AirMedia Group Inc., through its subsidiaries, operates digital media network in China for air travel advertising. It operates digital frames and digital TV screens that display advertisements in airports and airplanes, currently is trading at a price of $6.91, a dramatic change of -8.48% from its previous day’s close. The stock is trading at a volume of 1,247,611 compared to its average volume of 481.24K trading shares. The stock is trading with a loss of -7.12% from its open this morning. Currently, the company has a market capital of approximately 453.23M.

(NASDAQ:STRC) SRI/Surgical Express, Inc. provides central processing and supply chain management services to hospitals and surgery centers, currently is trading at a price of $3.65, a dramatic change of -7.83% from its previous day’s close. The stock is trading at a volume of 103,036 compared to its average volume of 14.40K trading shares. The stock is trading with a loss of -8.98% from its open this morning. Currently, the company has a market capital of approximately 23.69M.

(NASDAQ:PSTI) Pluristem Therapeutics Inc., a development stage bio-therapeutics company, engages in the research, development, and production of placental-derived adherent stromal cells (ASCs), currently is trading at a price of $1.24, a dramatic change of -7.46% from its previous day’s close. The stock hit a new 52 weeks high of $6.06, with a current trading volume of 31960 compared to its average volume of 131.53K trading shares. Currently, the company has a market capital of approximately 27.07M.

Upper-Class People Have Trouble Recognizing the Emotions of Other People

Psychological researchers Michael W. Kraus, Stéphane Côté, and Dacher Keltner noticed that poorer people tended to be more dependent upon relationships that wealthier people:
For example, if you can’t afford to buy support services, such as daycare service for your children, you have to rely on your neighbors or relatives to watch the kids while you attend classes or run errands[...]
So they wondered if lower-class people were able to perceive the emotional states of others at a higher level than upper-class people. They decided to use educational attainment as a determinant of social class and tested the comparative ability of college graduates and non-college graduates at reading facial expressions:
These results suggest that people of upper-class status aren’t very good at recognizing the emotions other people are feeling. The researchers speculate that this is because they can solve their problems, like the daycare example, without relying on others — they aren’t as dependent on the people around them.
A final experiment found that, when people were made to feel that they were at a lower social class than they actually were, they got better at reading emotions. This shows that “it’s not something ingrained in the individual,” Kraus says. “It’s the cultural context leading to these differences.” He says this work helps show that stereotypes about the classes are wrong. “It’s not that a lower-class person, no matter what, is going to be less intelligent than an upper-class person. It’s all about the social context the person lives in, and the specific challenges the person faces. If you can shift the context even temporarily, social class differences in any number of behaviors can be eliminated.”

Hell hath most assuredly frozen over

We agree with something Ron Paul has said ....

If we tolerate the TSA, there's something wrong with us
~ Ron Paul

Adam Savage owns the TSA

You are owned!

Note to Faux News

The Onion is satirical.

Glenn Beck believes in four insane things before breakfast

Bob Harris had this to say:
Glenn-Beck Missed in the brouhaha over Sarah Palin's verbal flub about our North Korean "allies," and much more telling:
According to host Glenn Beck's own transcript, Beck's very next utterance was to proclaim that the "mystery" jet contrail recently seen in California (explained weeks ago (even by Fox News online) as almost certainly an optical illusion created by still air and a jet contrail from a known UPS delivery flight) was in fact a secret two-stage missile launch by the Chinese government to assert their power over America, "sending a signal that the world has changed."
Beck then went on to state that the Chinese "control the world."
Did Sarah Palin, would-be leader of the United States, disagree with any of this?  Nope.
Palin's verbatim response: "Well, that's right."
For Beck's (and apparently Palin's*) version of reality to be accurate, of course, these four logical conditions must also be true:
(a) China can launch missiles in or near U.S. waters in broad daylight without provoking any American response; (b) the Pentagon either does not know this, and therefore cannot defend our shores, or they do know, and are now engaged in a massive coverup (either one of which must be sufficient for both Beck and Palin to question their avowed support of the Pentagon); (c) for the missile to have any meaning, China must have assumed that the Pentagon would understand the source and significance, something even Americans ourselves apparently cannot assume, according to (b); and (d) China must have also either assumed that the Pentagon would be cowed and not respond, or been eager to start a hot war with massive loss of life for no explicable reason.
Beck's assertion -- with which Palin showed no disagreement whatsoever -- requires belief in no less than four different insane things -- and that's even if the contrail hadn't already been fully explained. 
And this gets virtually no comment anywhere.
Apparently we've all been numbed by stupidity for so long that while the media can still grok an obvious up-is-down screw-up, the presence of mind-blowing nests of illogic immediately adjacent to the famous gaffe... that's just dismissed as normal. 
*Some may suggest that Palin was agreeing only with Beck's unique notion of Chinese global dominion. After all, Beck's assertion about a Chinese missile occurred a full eight seconds before her statement of agreement. One can defend Palin simply by insisting that eight seconds is an unreasonably long time to retain information.

Non Sequitur


Bad Cops

Fired Illinois cop charged with wife's murder

Jailhouse surveillance video shows Canadian police officers hitting a detained woman and cutting her shirt and bra off with scissors

Cops bust seven men playing chess in upper Manhattan park

New York sheriff's captain charged with rape

Fired Oklahoma cop charged with child sex abuse

Washington sheriff's deputy charged with rape

Fired Mississippi deputy gets seven years for incest

Video shows mounted police charging London student protesters

Video footage has emerged showing mounted police charging a crowd of protesters during this week's tuition fees demonstrations, the day after the Metropolitan police said tactics "did not involve charging the crowd".

Tens of thousands of school and college pupils and university students demonstrated in largely peaceful protests across the country against government plans to increase tuition fees and scrap the education maintenance allowance, but there were violent scenes at the central London protests.

Contains NSFW language.
Hundreds of protesters were corralled or "kettled" by police, and later advanced upon by mounted officers. Many who were in the crowd complained of being charged by police on horseback.

Police have denied that mounted officers charged at protesters; however, a five-minute video posted on YouTube shows a number of officers on horseback advancing at speed through a crowd of people.

Spanish woman claims ownership of the sun

A Spanish woman says she now owns the sun after she filed papers with lawyers at her home at Vigo Galicia in Spain. Angela Duran, 41, said: "International law forbids anyone to claim a planet, but nobody ever said anything about stars and the sun is a star.

"I checked and found that despite all the people buying stars no-one had purchased the Sun in our solar system and, as it was free, I decided to take it. My lawyer laughed when I filed my claim but he checked with the officials that register such things and discovered it was possible.

"I now have a certificate that says I am the owner of the sun, described as a star of spectral type G2, located in the center of the solar system, located at an average distance from earth of about 149,600,000 miles ...'."

"I am trying to have it recognized internationally. Then I plan to make a tax for solar power users." She added: "I will use 50 per cent for a sun state budget, 20 per cent for solar pensioners, another 20 per cent for research and health and 10 per cent to end hunger on earth."

South Carolina woman puts gun on grave to clear spirit

Some people lay flowers or notes at gravesites.
A woman in South Carolina left a handgun.
Just remember folks this is about the 'other' Carolina.

Portland bomb plot thwarted

A Somali-born teen tried to blow up a van at a crowded Christmas tree lighting, the FBI says.  

Break-in Has Goldilocks/Porn/Home Alone Angle

A brownie-baking burglar made himself at home this week on Braddock Road until a concerned neighbor found the gun-toting intruder inside Thanksgiving morning and he fled.

But first he surfed the victim’s computer for pornography, slept in his bed, stole his gun, guzzled his orange juice and was apparently trying to steal his pickup and liquor before he was found, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office incident report.

The homeowner had been out of town on vacation since Tuesday, so a neighbor decided to check out the vacant Northwest Jacksonville home about 10 a.m. Thursday when he noticed one of its garage doors was open. Finding nothing out of place in the garage, he closed the door and called the homeowner’s wife just in case.

She asked him to check inside, so he used a spare key and did. That’s when the neighbor was confronted by a young man in the living room, who pointed a gun at his face and said, “Whoa, whoa, hold up, hold up,” according to the police report.

The neighbor ran back outside and called police, who surrounded the home and searched it with a dog, but found no one.

What they did find was evidence that he had gotten into an unlocked car in the driveway and opened the garage door with the remote inside. The gun he had was stolen from the homeowner’s bedroom.

Police found the remains of brownies that he had baked and several pornographic websites active on the home’s computer. The keys to the pickup were in the vehicle, along with a nylon bag of stolen liquor on the front seat.

Hollywood publicist's killer used hollow-point bullet

Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen's killer fired at least four shots into her car, including at least one hollow-point bullet, in last week's Beverly Hills attack, according to a leaked coroner's report.

Although the three-page report has not been made public, Los Angeles County coroner spokesman Brian Elias confirmed to CNN that a document shown in a local newscast appeared to be authentic.

The document was written by investigators on the first day of the investigation to help the doctor who would perform the autopsy the next day, Elias said. The full autopsy report is expected to be released next week, he said.

Chasen, 64, died from gunshots fired into her Mercedes-Benz as she turned off Sunset Boulevard on her way home from a star-studded premiere celebration for the movie "Burlesque" in the early morning of November 16.

The mysterious murder in a posh Beverly Hills neighborhood not only stunned her friends, but also sent fear through the exclusive community.

"One bullet was recovered from her back while at the hospital and is possibly from a 9 mm hollow point," according to the document shown on Los Angeles television station KTTV.

Hollow-point bullets are controversial because the slug is designed to expand after it enters a body, causing greater damage to tissue than a solid bullet.

The report included details previously disclosed by police, including the belief Chasen was shot while she was stopped at a red light at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Whittier Drive. "An unknown vehicle pulled up and someone fired approximately four rounds into her vehicle," it said.

"After being struck by gunfire ... she then made a left turn and drove for approximately a quarter mile before she crashed her car into a pole," the report said.

Chasen was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai hospital 45 minutes after the shooting, the report said.

Details about how many shots hit Chasen and where they entered will not be known until the autopsy report is released, likely next week, Elias said.

The initial examination, apparently done at the hospital soon after Chasen's death, revealed three gunshot wounds to her chest area, the report said.

At least three other wounds were found on her right shoulder and upper back, the report said. But it was not indicated if those were where the bullets might have exited the body.

The report also confirmed that investigators found no shell casings at the scene and only the passenger side window and passenger seat were damaged by the gunfire.

The lack of official information about the investigation has spurred speculation by residents and reporters about the killing.

Beverly Hills Police Chief David Snowden asked journalists a week ago to keep "erroneous information, theories or speculation" out of their stories. The chief assured residents that it was "a rare, isolated incident and that the Beverly Hills community remains one of the safest in the nation."

There is no prevailing theory on whether the attack was road rage or a planned hit, a police official said. No motive or suspects have been identified, he said.

Beverly Hills detectives scanned Chasen's computers and phone logs for leads and went door to door for video clues from residential security cameras, a police spokesman said.

Chasen had been on the red carpet at Grauman's Chinese Theatre just hours earlier, walking with songwriter Diane Warren as she and "Burlesque" star Cher were interviewed about the music in the film.

Warren, who contributed the song "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" to the movie's soundtrack, said Chasen also went with her to the after-party at Hollywood's W Hotel.

Warren, who wrote Toni Braxton's tearful ballad "Un-Break My Heart," said she was "devastated beyond belief."

"This was a nice woman," Warren said. "Everybody loved Ronni. She was the best at what she did."

Chasen's work for three decades earned her a reputation as a publicist who could help create Oscar buzz for clients, which many times ended with Academy Awards.

Secondhand Smoke Kills More Than 600,000 A Year

I sat outside a Starbucks in Houston, Texas the other day, trying to enjoy my soy latte but I was surrounded by smokers. I didn't ask them to stop--it was a smoking-allowed area--but perhaps I should have anyway, and I could have told them about a new study, published yesterday in The Lancet, which finds that secondhand smoking kills more than 600,000 lives each year around the world.
Article continues: Secondhand Smoke Kills More Than 600,000 A Year

Greedo in Heels

Greedo may not have shot first, but at least you thought the Star Wars character was male. Well, the character might be male, but he was played by two actors because of scheduling problems: Maria de Aragon and Paul Blake. I believe this photo probably shows Aragon in costume.

Something That Looks Like It Should Be On Your Breakfast Plate

Doesn't that look like a boiled egg?

'Pickled Orange' Pudding Sells Out

A Christmas pudding containing a pickled orange was sold out in British supermarkets Saturday after becoming the surprise hit of the season.

The Proper Punishment


Culinary DeLites

Turn a favorite side dish into filling sweet potato fritters with smoky pinto beans.

Five ways to fight bloating

Eat more potassium-rich foods like bananas and spinach to flush excess liquid.  



Animals Getting Fatter Too

Before you worry too much about putting on those holiday pounds, consider this: We're not the only species with weight issues.  

Upping the cute factor

It's a little like a Broadway production, a little like a race, and a lot of fun to watch.  

The Week in Animal News: Endangered Species Strike a Pose, Pelicans Lost in Siberia, and More

animal photoshoot news photo
Photo: Joel Sartore
If you thought screaming babies or rowdy toddlers made snapping just one decent photo a herculean task, just wait until you see what unruly models endangered species can be in front of the camera.
We have this story and more -- from a whale reunited with its rescuers and a rare spider rediscovered in England to the dismal state of the Gulf of Mexico shrimp haul -- in our roundup of news from the animal world this week.
The Week in Animal News: Endangered Species Strike a Pose, Pelicans Lost in Siberia, and More Slideshow
Article continues: The Week in Animal News: Endangered Species Strike a Pose, Pelicans Lost in Siberia, and More (Slideshow)

Powing the fields

This is actually illegal in North Carolina.
Yes, someone tried to plow their fields with an elephant - it wasn't pretty ...
So they passed a law forbidding such foolishness in the future.

Indian elephant is cured after five years of tusk ache

Dentists in the Indian state of Kerala say they have successfully repaired a working elephant's cracked tusk in the first operation of its kind. They performed the procedure on Devidasan, a 27-year-old bull elephant, by filling the 50cm (19.6in) long, 4cm (1.5in) deep crack with special resin. Forty-seven tubes of the resin were needed to fill the gap, which was causing the animal some discomfort.

Devidasan was not tranquilized during the two-and-a-half-hour operation. The dentist who carried out the operation, CV Pradeep, said that the elephant was fully co-operative and appeared much happier once it was all over. Dr Pradeep said that he was able to do the operation after discovering that the crack in the tusk could be tackled using the same method for dealing with cracks in human teeth.

The resin he used was specially designed to bond the crack together. "It was literally an elephantine task, because we had to find specialist equipment and modify it," Dr Pradeep said. "The main difference between this and a similar operation carried out on humans is that we were not able to use X-ray screening, because none of our mobile X-ray units was large enough to suit the elephant's needs."

Dr Pradeep, a professor at the PSM dental college in the town of Trichur, said that if the crack remained untreated dirt would have gathered inside it and potentially caused a deadly infection. He said it was difficult to say how long the crack would remain sealed because no operation like this had been carried out before. But he said that he expected the seal to last several years as long as the tusk did not grow too much in the meantime.

Alaska Coast Declared Critical Polar Bear Habitat

Photo: flickrfavorites, Flickr, CC
In Alaska, over 187,000 square miles, or 120 million acres, have been designated 'critical polar bear habitat' under the Endangered Species Act. The designation resulted as part of a settlement in the ongoing lawsuit brought against the US Department of the Interior by some of the most powerful conservation groups in the country. The lawsuit aims to protect the polar bear by having it listed as 'endangered' as opposed to 'threatened'. Here's what the news means for polar bears:
Article continues: 120 Million Acres of Alaska Coast Declared Critical Polar Bear Habitat

Rare bears brought to light

Spirit bears are rarer than pandas, and their whereabouts have been well guarded until now.

Seventeen rare sea turtles rescued off Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Seventeen rare sea turtles suffering a variety of ailments are recovering at the New England Aquarium after being rescued over the past two days off of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.