Tuesday, June 30, 2009
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. – A Wisconsin teenager using a classic excuse for evading schoolwork missed a class trip to Peru despite his tale being true: The dog ate his passport.
Officials at Chicago's O'Hare airport told 17-year-old Jon Meier the chewed-on document was fine, but authorities in Miami rejected it and wouldn't let him board the southbound aircraft.
His family's 1-year-old golden retriever, Sunshine, chewed a corner of the document, obscuring some numbers. Meier couldn't get another passport in time to join the trip with his Spanish class from Eau Claire North High School. The 12-day trip ended Monday.
Meier says he can't blame anyone, not even Sunshine: "I love her too much."
Information from: Leader-Telegram
LONDON (Reuters) – Having sex every day improves the quality of men's sperm and is recommended for couples trying to conceive, according to new research.
Until now doctors have debated whether or not men should refrain from sex for a few days before attempting to conceive with their partner to improve the chance of pregnancy.
But a new study by Dr David Greening of Sydney IVF, an Australian centre for infertility and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment, suggests abstinence is not the right approach.
He studied 118 men with above-average sperm DNA damage and found the quality of their sperm increased significantly after they were told to ejaculate daily for seven days.
On average, their DNA fragmentation index -- a measure of sperm damage -- fell to 26 percent from 34 percent, Greening told the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Amsterdam on Tuesday.
Frequent sex does decrease semen volume but for most men this is not a problem.
"It seems safe to conclude that couples with relatively normal semen parameters should have sex daily for up to a week before the ovulation date," he said in a statement.
"In the context of assisted reproduction, this simple treatment may assist in improving sperm quality and ultimately achieving a pregnancy."
Greening said it was likely frequent ejaculation improved the quality of sperm by reducing the length of time they were exposed to potentially damaging molecules called reactive oxygen species in the testicular ducts.
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler, editing by Paul Casciato)
Sunday, June 28, 2009
'Infomercial King' Billy Mays Found Dead in Home
DEVELOPING: Television pitchman Billy Mays — who built his fame by appearing on commercials and infomercials promoting household products and gadgets — died Sunday.
Mays, 50, was found unresponsive by his wife inside his Tampa, Fla., home at 7:45 a.m. on Sunday, according to the Tampa Police Department.
Police said there were no signs of forced entry to Mays' residence and foul play is not suspected. Authorities said an autopsy should be complete by Monday afternoon.
"Although Billy lived a public life, we don't anticipate making any public statements over the next couple of days. Our family asks that you respect our privacy during these difficult times," Mays wife, Deborah, said in a statement on Sunday.
Mays was well known for his numerous television promotions of such products as Orange Glo and OxiClean. He was also featured on the reality TV show "Pitchmen" on the Discovery Channel, which followed Mays and Anthony Sullivan in their marketing jobs.
Born William Mays in McKees Rocks, Pa., on July 20, 1958, Mays developed his style demonstrating knives, mops and other "as seen on TV" gadgets on Atlantic City's boardwalk. For years he worked as a hired gun on the state fair and home show circuits, attracting crowds with his booming voice and genial manner.
After meeting Orange Glo International founder Max Appel at a home show in Pittsburgh in the mid-1990s, Mays was recruited to demonstrate the environmentally friendly line of cleaning products on the St. Petersburg-based Home Shopping Network.
Commercials and informercials followed, anchored by the high-energy Mays showing how it's done while tossing out kitschy phrases like, "Long live your laundry!"
Recently he's been seen on commercials for a wide variety of products and is featured on the reality TV show "Pitchmen" on the Discovery Channel, which follows Mays and Anthony Sullivan in their marketing jobs. He's also been seen in ESPN ads.
His ubiquitousness and thumbs-up, in-your-face pitches won Mays plenty of fans. People line up at his personal appearances for autographed color glossies, and strangers stop him in airports to chat about the products.
"I enjoy what I do," Mays told The Associated Press in a 2002 interview. "I think it shows."
Mays was on board a US Airways flight that blew out its front tires as it landed at a Tampa airport on Saturday, MyFOXTampa.com reported.
US Airways spokesman Jim Olson said that none of the 138 passengers and five crew members were injured in the incident, but several passengers reported having bumps and bruises, according to the station.
Authorities have not said whether Mays' death was related to the incident.
Discovery Channel spokeswoman Elizabeth Hillman released a statement Sunday extending sympathy to the Mays family.
"Everyone that knows him was aware of his larger-than-life personality, generosity and warmth," Hillman's statement said. "Billy was a pioneer in his field and helped many people fulfill their dreams. He will be greatly missed as a loyal and compassionate friend."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Doctor tells police about Jackson's final moments
LOS ANGELES – The cardiologist who was with Michael Jackson during the pop star's final moments sat down with investigators for the first time to explain his actions — and left three hours later as a witness, not a suspect.
Dr. Conrad Murray "helped identify the circumstances around the death of the pop icon and clarified some inconsistencies," Murray's spokeswoman Miranda Sevcik said in a statement Saturday. "Investigators say the doctor is in no way a suspect and remains a witness to this tragedy."
Murray, a physician with a tangled financial and personal history who was hired to accompany Jackson on his planned summer concert tour, reportedly performed CPR until paramedics arrived. The pop star was declared dead later at UCLA Medical Center.
Police confirmed that they interviewed Murray, adding that he was cooperative and "provided information which will aid the investigation."
The interview took place on a busy day when one of Jackson's lawyers was chosen to represent the family's legal interests and celebrities descended on Los Angeles for a star-studded public celebration of the King of Pop's life.
L. Londell McMillan, who represented Jackson last year in a breach of contact lawsuit and has advised high-profile clients such as Prince, was picked to help the family by Katherine Jackson, the singer's mother, said a person who requested anonymity because the matter is private.
The legal move came as the Rev. Jesse Jackson revealed that Michael Jackson's family wants a second, private autopsy of the pop superstar because of unanswered questions about how he died.
"It's abnormal," Jesse Jackson said from Chicago a day after visiting the Jackson family. "We don't know what happened. Was he injected and with what? All reasonable doubt should be addressed."
People close to Jackson have said since his death that they were concerned about his use of painkillers. Los Angeles County medical examiners completed their autopsy Friday and said Jackson had taken prescription medication.
Medical officials also said there was no indication of trauma or foul play. An official cause of death could take weeks.
There was no word from the Jackson family on funeral plans. Many of Jackson's relatives have gathered at the family's Encino compound, caring there for Jackson's three children.
It remains unclear who Jackson designated as potential guardians for his children. Those details — likely contained in the 50-year-old singer's will — have not been released.
An attorney for Deborah Rowe, the mother of Jackson's two oldest children, issued a statement Saturday asking that the Jackson family "be able to say goodbye to their loved one in peace."
Sisters Janet and La Toya arrived Saturday at the mansion Jackson had been renting and left without addressing reporters. Moving vans also showed up at the Jackson home, leaving about an hour later. There was no indication what they might have taken away.
The Jackson family issued a statement Saturday expressing its grief over the death and thanking his supporters.
"In one of the darkest moments of our lives we find it hard to find the words appropriate to this sudden tragedy we all had to encounter," said the statement made through People magazine. "We miss Michael endlessly."
There was no immediate word on whether the second autopsy was being performed right away. Jesse Jackson described the family as grief-stricken.
"They're hurt because they lost a son. But the wound is now being kept open by the mystery and unanswered questions of the cause of death," he said.
Organizers of the annual BET awards show — which recognizes the best in music, acting and sports — scrambled to revamp Sunday's show to honor Jackson and his legacy.
Previously announced acts, such as Beyonce and Ne-Yo, hoped to change their planned performances to honor Jackson, said producer Stephen Hill. Other artists who hadn't planned to attend the ceremony, including Usher and Justin Timberlake, tried to catch last-minute flights to Los Angeles to participate.
Associated Press writers Anthony McCartney; Sophia Tareen in Chicago; Juan A. Lozano in Houston; and Gillian Flaccus, Brooke Donald, Beth Harris and Mike Blood and AP Global Media Services Production Manager Nico Maounis in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
Friday, June 26, 2009
HUNTINGDON, Pa. – A high school secretary illegally changed grades in a school computer system to improve her daughter's class standing, according to criminal charges filed Thursday.
Caroline Maria McNeal of Huntingdon is accused of using the passwords of three co-workers without their knowledge to tamper with dozens of grades and test scores between May 2006 and July 2007 at Huntingdon Area High School in central Pennsylvania, the state attorney general's office said.
McNeal, 39, is alleged to have improved her daughter Brittany's grades and reduced those of two classmates to enhance Brittany's standing in the 2008 graduating class.
School officials corrected the grades before the students graduated, prosecutors said.
Attorney General Tom Corbett said the case involves "a serious violation of the public trust."
"Our citizens depend on people in public positions, including school employees, to protect the safety and security of these records and not use confidential information for their own benefit," Corbett said.
McNeal was charged with 29 counts of unlawful use of a computer and 29 counts of tampering with public records. Each count is a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum of seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine, said Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for Corbett's office.
No telephone number was listed for Caroline McNeal. Brittany McNeal is not charged with any wrongdoing.
Jill Adams, the school district superintendent, said prosecutors have asked school officials not to comment publicly about the case.
"We would like to have it be finished, over and done," she said.
In all, McNeal is accused of altering nearly 200 scores and grades covering four school years.
The situation came to light in October 2007, when an employee of the high school guidance office discovered conflicting SAT scores for Brittany.
Scores provided directly by the College Board showed a cumulative score of 1370, while an unknown source had previously entered 1730, according to court papers.1
Further investigation revealed that the data had been entered from Caroline McNeal's computer starting more than a week before SAT scores for other students were entered.
Three other secretaries at the school told investigators they had shared their passwords with Caroline McNeal during vacations or other prolonged absences.
BERLIN (Reuters) – A toy nuclear power plant built by two six year-olds sparked a public alert in Germany, only for authorities to discover the would-be security threat was the shell of a computer with a radiation warning sign stuck to it.
Fire services and police cordoned off several streets and told residents to stay indoors in the western town of Oelde after the two boys left their mock power station on the street when they went home for dinner Monday evening.
"It wasn't a prank, they were just playing," a local police spokeswoman said Tuesday. "The boys tried to go back later to carry on but the fire brigade wouldn't let them through."
The lock-down of the area began when a passer-by saw the metal object with the yellow and black symbol on it, took fright and alerted authorities, the spokeswoman said.
Police sent out warnings on local radio for residents to remain in their homes while a radiation detector was rushed to the scene to investigate the old computer casing and the warning sign, which the boys had printed out from the internet.
After the object had been identified, the boys' parents explained to police the children had gone out to "play nuclear power station" that evening, the spokeswoman said.
(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Sophie Hares)
Thursday, June 25, 2009
King of Pop Michael Jackson is dead: report
LOS ANGELES — Pop giant Michael Jackson, who took to the stage as a child star and set the world dancing to exuberant rhythms for decades, died on Thursday after being taken ill at his home, the Los Angeles Times said. He was 50.
"Pop star Michael Jackson was pronounced dead by doctors this afternoon after arriving at a hospital in a deep coma, city and law enforcement sources told The Times," the newspaper reported on its website.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The Belgian teen-ager who made headlines across the globe after claiming a tattoo artist had drawn 56 stars on her face, rather than the three she asked for, has admitted she lied.
Kimberley Vlaeminck from the city of Kortrijk, 90 km (56 miles) northwest of Brussels said she fell asleep during the procedure, and woke up in pain when her nose was being tattooed.
But the 18-year-old was caught off camera on Dutch television when she said she quite liked the tattoo, but lied about asking for all 56 stars when she saw her father's furious reaction.
Tattoo artist Rouslain Toumaniantz said Vlaeminck initially liked her new look, and that she got what she asked for.
(Reporting by Antonia van de Velde, editing by Paul Casciato)
TUSTIN, Calif. – Police say a California man donning a bustier and watching porn on a computer in an apartment complex gym was arrested after officers found drugs in his backpack.
Sgt. Todd Bullock says 45-year-old Stephen Murdoch of Tustin was arrested early Tuesday after a security guard spotted him in a workout room that was supposed to be closed and locked.
When police peered inside, they saw Murdoch — also in a miniskirt, fishnet stockings and heels — hiding behind exercise equipment and watching an adult film on a laptop.
Officers noticed Murdoch was sweating profusely and talking quickly. They arrested him on suspicion of drug possession after allegedly finding marijuana, methamphetamine and pipes in his bag.
Murdoch did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
GRAND FORKS, N.D. – A North Dakota woman accused of breast-feeding her 6-week-old baby while drunk has pleaded guilty to child neglect.
Twenty-six-year-old Stacey Anvarinia could face up to five years in prison when she's sentenced on the felony charge in August.
Judge Sonja Clapp says Anvarinia will not have to register as an offender against children.
Police officers who responded to a domestic disturbance call at Anvarinia's home on April 13 say they saw an intoxicated Anvarinia breast feeding. Health officials say alcohol consumed by breast-feeding mothers can be absorbed into an infant's system.
Attorneys believe it's the first such case prosecuted in North Dakota.
Information from: Grand Forks Herald
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
AUGUSTA, Ga. – A 62-year-old man struck it big twice in the Georgia Lottery. Earl Fritz won the top prize of $777,777 in the instant game Super Lucky 7's. That dwarfed the $1,000 he won a week earlier in a different game. The carpenter said he felt lucky a week ago and now feels a little bit luckier.
Fritz said he didn't realize he had won the big prize at first because he wasn't wearing his glasses.
The first win came in the instant game Extreme Green.
Fritz and his wife have not decided what to do with the money.
Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com
BERLIN (Reuters) – A dog in Germany shot by a drunken man with a gun took swift revenge by biting off the end of the man's nose, authorities said on Monday.
Police said the armed man was snooping at night in the yard of a house in Stadtlauringen in northern Bavaria when he shot the Bernese mountain dog from point-blank range.
Before collapsing, the dog leapt at the 39-year-old man and bit off the end of his nose, a local police spokesman said.
Bleeding profusely, the man called police and was taken for treatment in a nearby hospital. His motives for being in the yard were unclear, police said.
Doctors removed a bullet from the dog's shoulder and discharged it from a clinic after an operation lasting several hours.
(Reporting by Dave Graham; editing by Michael Roddy)
Monday, June 22, 2009
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico's navy has seized more than a tonne of cocaine stuffed inside frozen sharks, as drug gangs under military pressure go to greater lengths to conceal narcotics bound for the United States.
Armed and masked navy officers cut open more than 20 shark carcasses filled with slabs of cocaine after checking a container ship in a container port in the southern Mexico state of Yucatan, the navy and Mexican media said Tuesday.
"We are talking about more than a tonne of cocaine that was inside the ship," Navy Commander Eduardo Villa told reporters after X-ray machines and sniffer dogs helped uncover the drugs. "Those in charge of the shipment said it was a conserving agent but after checks we confirmed it was cocaine," he said.
Drug gangs are coming up with increasingly creative ways of getting drugs into the United States -- in sealed beer cans, religious statues and furniture -- as Mexico's military cracks down on the cartels moving South American narcotics north.
President Felipe Calderon has sent 45,000 troops and federal police across Mexico to try to crush powerful smuggling cartels. But traffickers armed with a huge arsenal of grenades and automatic weapons are far from defeated, worrying Washington as violence spills over into U.S. states like Arizona.
Some 2,750 people have died in drug violence in Mexico this year, a pace similar to that of 2008, when 6,300 were killed.
Led by Mexico's most wanted man, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, smugglers from the Pacific state of Sinaloa are fighting a turf war with rivals. Guzman seeks to control Mexican and Central American smuggling routes into the United States.
(Reporting by Robin Emmott; editing by Patricia Zengerle)
Saturday, June 20, 2009
POLSON, Mont. – Therapy dogs can be a comfort for seniors and those recovering from illnesses and injuries. So how about therapy chickens? Jana Clairmont of Polson, Mont., calls her therapy birds — a white rooster and Cornish game hen — "Fowl Play."
On Thursday, she took them to visit residents at Polson Health and Rehabilitation Center in northeast Montana.
Many seniors were raised on farms, Clairmont says, and holding a chicken can bring back memories.
As one man stroked the rooster, Alex, the bird stretched out his neck and rested it across the man's forearm, like a puppy.
Clairmont has arranged visits to retirement and assisted living homes, and says she'd like to take Alex and Carlita, the hen, into classrooms this fall.
Information from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com
HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. – The bride wore white — and a face mask. A Chicago couple married in surgical masks and latex gloves Sunday after learning less than 48 hours before that they both had swine flu. Ilana Jackson and Jeremy Fierstien went ahead with the ceremony after doctors assured them guests wouldn't be at serious risk.
But to be sure, the 26-year-olds kept a 10-foot distance from family and friends at all times, even walking around the gathering instead of down the aisle at a Highland Park synagogue.
Jackson says they'd joked about swine flu after both experienced vomiting, achy limbs and fever. But they never thought they really had it.
She says the circumstances were unfortunate but that they took it in stride.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
A Very Costly Kiss: Senior Denied Diploma
For teens, there is no greater joy than graduating high school. Shaking off the shackles of education and claiming that hard-fought diploma is truly an epic day. Unfortunately, for several students at Bonny Eagle High School in Maine, their natural exuberance has led to some surprisingly serious problems.
On Friday night, when the senior class was waiting to graduate, excitement began to grow. Students bounced a large inflatable rubber duck. The noise level rose. And then came "the kiss." When called, one student walked on stage to receive his diploma and blew a kiss to his family. The school administrator, clearly not the sentimental sort, sent the student back to his seat ... sans diploma.
The seemingly harsh punishment has sent the Web all aflutter. Searches on "student denied diploma" and "bonny eagle high school" are both through the roof. Additionally, blogs and news papers are chiming in with opinions on whether or not the administration overreacted. The student's mother has given interviews and is quite upset at her son's treatment. According to an article from Fox News the outraged mother said, "A bow, a kiss to your mom is not misbehavior."
But the administrators feel they were just enforcing the rules that students agreed to. At a meeting following the debacle, school superintendent Suzanne Lukas said that "if a student doesn't adhere to the expectations, then the consequences are clearly spelled out."
This isn't the first time that rambunctious (dare we say "fun"?) behavior affected a graduation ceremony at Bonny Eagle. "Four years ago we had some issues with silly string and beach balls," said Lukas.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
BERRIEN SPRINGS, Mich. – Authorities said a man faces a felony charge after allegedly spitting on a police officer's McDonald's breakfast sandwich. Police said a 32-year-old man was working the drive-thru window at the southwest Michigan restaurant when an unidentified officer bit into an Egg McMuffin on June 3 and immediately realized something was wrong.
A police report obtained by The Herald-Palladium said the restaurant's assistant manager noted the sandwich contained a "stringy with mucus" substance. She placed the sandwich in the off-duty manager's trash bin, but said it disappeared while she phoned him.
The suspect, a parolee who spent 14 years in an Indiana prison, said he has nothing against police. He's being held in the Berrien County Jail on a $10,000 bond.
A June 23 preliminary hearing has been set.
Information from: The Herald-Palladium
LONDON – A British pup had a narrow flush with disaster after his 4-year-old master decided to give him a bath in the toilet. Daniel Blair was quoted as telling Britain's Daily Mirror tabloid that he tried to clean the muddy 1-week-old cocker spaniel because he was muddy, and he flushed him down the drain.
His mother Alison was quoted as saying she thought the dog was dead, but a drainage firm was able to locate the beleaguered animal in a pipe 20 yards away from the house using specialist camera gear.
Pictures of the wet, frightened-looking puppy trapped in a pipe were posted to the firm Dyno-Rod's Web site and broadcast on British television Monday .
The company says the dog is now fine.
On the Net: Dyno
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
BERLIN (AFP) – A dog out on a walk happened upon a live US grenade from World War II and eagerly delivered it to his master, police said Monday, but authorities were able to defuse the explosive before it went off.
A 40-year-old woman had let the dog off its leash near a stream on a walk Sunday on the outskirts of the town of Erkrath in western Germany's Neander Valley.
The animal found the grenade on the ground, picked it up in its jaws and trotted back to its owner.
"She recognised immediately that it was probably an old, rusted hand grenade," police said. "On the orders of the woman, the dog obediently put his find back next to the stream."
She then alerted the authorities who blocked off the area and dispatched a munitions expert who identified the object as a still live American hand grenade from World War II and defused it.
Germany is still littered with unexploded Allied munitions more than six decades after the war, leading frequently to major evacuations when they are discovered in densely populated areas.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – One Florida couple is starting married life with 182 years of experience between them. Ebenezer Rose, 93, wed 89-year-old Monica Hayden on Sunday in West Palm Beach. The couple said they decided to get married after a brief courtship. Rose said he told Hayden that "each of us is living a lonely life. Why not get married?"
The couple first met in church about 20 years ago.
Rose's first wife died about four years ago after 58 years of marriage. Hayden is twice-widowed.
Information from: The Palm Beach Post, http://www.pbpost.com
Monday, June 8, 2009
VaSSALBORO, Maine – The owner of a Maine topless coffee shop destroyed by fire says he plans to have clothed waitresses collect donations in the parking lot to raise money to rebuild.
Under town zoning rules, Donald Crabtree would need a new permit to start operating his business from a trailer or other structure on the property in Vassalboro, just north of Augusta.
Crabtree tells the Kennebec Journal newspaper he's going to set up a tent instead and have employees hand out free doughnuts and coffee next to a collection jar.
His home and business were destroyed Wednesday in a deliberately set fire just hours after he had talked with local officials about making the business more like a strip club.
Information from: Kennebec Journal, http://www.kjonline.com/
Friday, June 5, 2009
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A Kentucky pastor is inviting his flock to bring guns to church to celebrate the Fourth of July and the Second Amendment.
New Bethel Church is welcoming "responsible handgun owners" to wear their firearms inside the church June 27, a Saturday. An ad says there will be a handgun raffle, patriotic music and information on gun safety.
"We're just going to celebrate the upcoming theme of the birth of our nation," said pastor Ken Pagano. "And we're not ashamed to say that there was a strong belief in God and firearms — without that this country wouldn't be here."
The guns must be unloaded and private security will check visitors at the door, Pagano said.
He said recent church shootings, including the killing Sunday of a late-term abortion provider in Kansas, which he condemned, highlight the need to promote safe gun ownership. The New Bethel Church event was planned months before Dr. George Tiller was shot to death in a Wichita church.
Kentucky allows residents to openly carry guns in public with some restrictions. Gun owners carrying concealed weapons must have state-issued permits and can't take them to schools, jails or bars, among other exceptions.
Pagano's Protestant church, which attracts up to 150 people to Sunday services, is a member of the Assemblies of God. The former Marine and handgun instructor said he expected some backlash, but has heard only a "little bit" of criticism of the gun event.
John Phillips, an Arkansas pastor who was shot twice while leading a service at his former church in 1986, said a house of worship is no place for firearms.
"A church is designated as a safe haven, it's a place of worship," said Phillips, who was shot by a church member's relative for an unknown reason and still has a bullet lodged in his spine. "It is unconscionable to me to think that a church would be a place that you would even want to bring a weapon."
Phillips spoke out against a bill before the Arkansas General Assembly that would have permitted the carrying of guns in that state's churches. The bill failed in February.
Pagano, 50, said some members of his church were concerned that President Obama's administration could restrict gun ownership, and they supported the plan for the event when Pagano asked their opinion.
Marian McClure Taylor, executive director of the Kentucky Council of Churches, an umbrella organization for 11 Christian denominations in Kentucky, said Christian churches are promoters of peace, but "most allow for arms to be taken up under certain conditions."
Taylor said Pagano assured her the event would focus on promoting responsible gun ownership and any proceeds would go to charity.
"Those two commitments are consistent with the high value the Assemblies of God churches place on human life," she said in an e-mail message.
Pagano is encouraging church members to bring a canned good and a friend to the event. He said guns must be unloaded for insurance purposes and safety reasons.
He said the point was not to mix worship with guns, though he may reference some passages from the Bible.
"Firearms can be evil and they can be useful," he said. "We're just trying to promote responsible gun ownership and gun safety."
Thursday, June 4, 2009
CANBERRA (Reuters) – A student who fell with a noose around his neck during a mock class hanging that was arranged by teachers has enraged Australian authorities.
The high school student fell from a table while fellow students, under the supervision of a teacher, were photographing a staged hanging as part of an English class project.
"It beggars belief that such an incident could take place," Queensland state Education Minister Geoff Wilson told local radio on Wednesday.
"I'm a parent. The last thing I've ever wanted any of my children to do is put a rope around their neck," Wilson said.
Students and teachers rushed to the boy and cut the rope when he fell, Education Queensland Assistant Director-General Lyn McKenzie said, although local newspapers said the boy turned blue before he was freed.
The student was allowed to go home with his mother after being examined by paramedics, while authorities launched an investigation into how the incident occurred.
(Reporting by Rob Taylor; Editing by Miral Fahmy)
ADELANTO, Calif. – Authorities arrested a woman for allegedly trying to kidnap her daughter's boyfriend and haul him away to Northern California. A sheriff's spokeswoman said Tuesday that two women went to the young man's home on Saturday afternoon and tried to tie him up with duct tape.
The victim told authorities the women said they were taking him to get him away from one of the women's 21-year-old daughter. Authorities said both women were arrested on suspicion of attempted kidnapping.
Officials said the girlfriend was later arrested for investigation of dissuading a witness and extortion for allegedly trying to get her boyfriend to recant his statements on the kidnapping to authorities.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
CULVER CITY, Calif. – In a chewy chow-lenge, Takeru Kobayashi outlasted Joey Chestnut when the eating titans faced off to see who could devour the most pizzas.
Kobayashi, a six-time world hot dog eating champion from Japan, consumed 5 3/4 P'zones in a six-minute span of chaotic consumption Saturday to edge Chestnut. The 25-year-old from San Jose, Calif., wolfed down 5 1/2 P'zones on Stage 15 at Sony Studios.
"I'm a little bummed," Chestnut said. "There's nobody I like beating more than him, he pushes me harder than anybody."
The arch rivals are best known for their annual Fourth of July hot dog eating showdowns on New York's Coney Island. Chestnut has beaten his Japanese competitor the last two years, winning last year in a five-dog eat-off after they tied at 59 frankfurters in 10 minutes.
This time, they went cheek-to-jowl in a stomach-centric contest sponsored by Pizza Hut featuring the P'zone, a pizza weighing one pound with pepperoni and other ingredients sealed inside a crust. At nearly 12 inches long, it resembles a calzone.
Jaw strength and stomach capacity were sorely tested in consuming one of the most filling foods on the competitive eating circuit.
A serious-looking Chestnut prepped by opening his mouth wide and loosening his jaw. Kobayashi stretched his lean limbs and whispered with his interpreter.
Then it was time.
Chestnut took an early lead, squeezing a P'zone in his left fist while alternately slugging from a water bottle. Soon, liquid splashed all over Chestnut's white jersey and dripped from his mouth.
Kobayashi took a tidier approach.
He roared back to take the lead for good on his second P'zone, tearing off bites of the golden crust, then folding it over and sipping carefully from a series of white paper cups that he refilled with water.
"The crust was very chewy so my technique was to try to drink as much water as possible to soften up the crust in my mouth," Kobayashi said through his translator.
No dunking was allowed, and containers of marinara sauce accompanying each P'zone were tossed aside by both chowhounds.
A small crowd gathered a few feet from the elevated food fest cheered the men on, with Chestnut's highway patrolman brother yelling inches from his face to eat faster.
Chestnut couldn't keep up with his 31-year-old rival from Tokyo.
At the six-minute mark, Kobayashi raised his arms in triumph and lifted his red jersey to show off a set of washboard abs.
"It was tough. Kobayashi came to win," Chestnut said. "I was raised on pizza so it was natural for me to eat it, but I was a little slow to get going and he came out fast."
The thought of a Japanese outeating an American in a pizza contest wasn't lost on Kobayashi, who is recovering from TMJ, a painful jaw disorder.
"I love pizza," he said. "When I come to America, pizza is my happiness. I look forward to eating it."
Chestnut said he wasn't used to eating pizza that quickly.
"It's doughy," he said. "It takes a lot of chewing. He got off to a really good technique early on, his rhythm was drinking water and swallowing. I changed mine a couple times and never got in the right rhythm."
Kobayashi ended a three-event losing streak to Chestnut, a 25-year-old whose weekday job is in construction management.
"I wanted to prove that I'm champion," Kobayashi said. "A champion will stand up to any battle."
He said he would go for another Fourth of July hot dog championship and then probably retire. Chestnut will be ready and waiting on Coney Island.
"I'll see him in five weeks and I'm going to push him really hard there," he vowed.
Portions of the pizza event will air on the Spike TV "Guys' Choice" show on June 21.
Monday, June 1, 2009
BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese health authorities are putting a stop to restaurants serving chickens which have been bitten to death by poisonous snakes and cooked up for a supposedly detoxing meal.
The dish, served by a small number of eateries in the southern province of Guangdong and the south-western city of Chongqing, has generated a storm of publicity and controversy in the Chinese media and amongst bloggers.
A video showing a cook holding a snake and forcing it to bite a live chicken until it dies has been widely circulated online, (http:/you.video.sina.com.cn/b/21145091-1405053100.html) generating mainly angry comments.
"It's disgusting and really cruel," wrote one poster on the popular portal sina.com.cn.
"Not only is it cruel and blood-thirsty, but totally amoral," the Chongqing Business Daily cited a neighbour to one of the restaurants as saying.
Health authorities in Guangdong have already told restaurants to stop serving "poisonous snake-bitten chicken" and now those in Chongqing have joined in.
"Although nobody has been poisoned, this at the very least is an irregular way of slaughtering poultry," the business newspaper quoted a local health official as saying.
One dish, prized among some in Guangdong, is monkey brains scooped from a live animal, which has regularly upset animal rights campaigners in the West.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Nick Macfie; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)