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Astronomy Picture of the Day


Saturday, July 26, 2008

2 Faced Baby Born in India

A very special girl was born last March in a small suburb of Delhi, India.

She was born with 4 eyes, 2 noses, 2 mouths, 2 ears, and 1 dimple on a shared cheek.

Similar to Lakshmi Tatma, a 2 year-old girl born with four arms and four legs, she is reverred as a reincarnated god by her local villagers, who sing and dance regularly for her.

2faces 2 Faced Baby Born in India picture

“I had never seen something like this in my life so naturally I was a little scared when I first saw her,” her father was quoted as saying.

The young girl and her mother are both healthy and the family has no intentions of seeking surgery to correct the deformities.

“The doctor said everything is normal when she was born. So where’s the need to get medical help?” said the child’s father. “She’s fed through one mouth and sucks her thumb with the other. We use whichever mouth is free to feed her.”

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New Orleans: District Attorney Charging Minor Pot Offenders With Felonies

New Orleans, LA: Hundreds of low-level pot possession offenders are facing five-to-20 years in prison after being charged with felony offenses by The New Orleans new district attorney, according to an investigative report published this week by the newspaper New Orleans City Business.

The report finds that a disproportionate number of felony cases filed by District Attorney Keva Landrum-Johnson are related to the prosecution of small-time marijuana offenders who are facing their second or third possession offense. Critics of the policy charge, including Steve Singer, the Chief of Trials for the New Orleans Public Defenders Office, charge that the filings have “clogged the courts with non-violent, petty offenses, drained the resources of the criminal justice system and damaged low-income African-American communities.”

Under Louisiana law, first time pot possession is a misdemeanor offense. However, DA's may charge repeat offenders with either a misdemeanor or a felony. Under state law, a second marijuana possession offense is punishable by up to five years in prison. A third offense is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The city's previous DAs routinely charged repeat pot possession offenders with misdemeanors rather than felonies, the paper reported.

It estimated that the city courts could handle nearly 4,000 marijuana possession cases this year.“District Attorney Landrum-Johnson may think she's being 'tough on crime,' but really she's being dumb on crime,” NORML Legal Counsel Keith Stroup said. “Her constituents are demanding that she crack down on violent crime. Instead, the DA is clogging the courts and wasting police and prosecutorial resources by throwing the book at pot smokers.”

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'Dude, I Can't Talk, I'm Being Chased by the Police'

Grayson Clevenger, 27

MINNEAPOLIS -- Burnsville police are searching for an armed suspect wanted for first degree burglary.

The suspect, who led police on a multi-state chase, was identified as 27-year-old Grayson Lee Clevenger.

Burnsville police said Clevenger answered his cell phone at one point during the chase, telling a detective he couldn't talk because he was being chase by the police.


Around 1:45 p.m. Tuesday, Burnsville detectives responded to a Burningham apartment complex in an attempt to arrest Clevenger for first degree burglary.

When police arrived, they saw a suspect matching Clevenger's description get into a stolen Dodge Durango.


Detectives followed the vehicle until marked patrol cars could meet up and attempt a stop.

In an attempt to end the pursuit peacefully, detectives called the suspect on his cell phone. Clevenger answered the phone, saying, "Dude, I can't talk, I'm being chased by the police" and hung up.


The suspect led police on a chase briefly into Wisconsin and back into Minnesota.

The chase ended near Huron Blvd near the University of Minnesota campus. There, the suspect abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot.

Clevenger eluded police and remains at-large

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The 5 Creepiest Death Rituals From Around the World

By David Knight

Let's face it, there isn't a non-creepy way to deal with a dead body. We fill it with chemicals and bury it, or burn it. But as unpleasant as that business is, some cultures have taken body disposal to a whole, new, terrifying level.

Sutee (Self-Immolation)

What Is It?

Self-immolation (or Suttee) was a traditional Hindu ritual practiced in India, whereby a grieving widow will voluntarily lie by her husband's side on his funeral pyre, where she's burned alive next to the corpse.

Suttee had been practiced throughout India for centuries, before it was outlawed by the occupying British in 1829 (though occurrences have persisted until present day, causing it to be banned again in 1956, and again in 1981--some people just don't listen).

As you can imagine, once the flames got going it was common for widows to decide this wasn't such a great idea and try to run the hell away. This was considered highly dishonorable, so bystanders would helpfully jab the widow with bamboo canes or even tie her down to keep her on the fire.

In one 18th century incident, when a widow got beyond the pokers and doused the flames in a nearby river, helpful onlookers threw her back on, remembering first to break her legs and arms to save her from future indignities.

Dear God, Why?

Back in the day, widows in India were way, way down on the social ladder. Everything about a widow was considered impure, from her touch and her voice to her very presence. She was something to be shunned and abhorred, which must have reduced the husband's funeral to a lot of cursing and spitting. Apparently they didn't think the grief of losing a husband was quite enough.

Apparently at some point in history, when the widows asked what they could do to redeem themselves someone said, "Why don't you just set your fucking self on fire? How about that?"

Though it was also believed that the husband and wife could be reunited after death, which is why sometimes the husband's most cherished possessions were burnt so that he could use them in the afterlife or trade them on the Indian afterlife's thriving black market.

Buddhist Self Mummification

What Is It?

Self-mummification was practiced until the late 1800s in Japan, by people who thought being a mummy looked so awesome they couldn't wait until actual death to be one. It's been outlawed since the early 1900s, and when we describe how it works, you'll see why. Just wrapping yourself up in bandages and waiting for the Grim Reaper doesn't seem to cut it.

No, to mummify yourself properly, you'll need over 2,000 days of preparation. Here's how to do it, the Buddhist priest way:

First we've got to get all of the fat off of your body. They did this by changing their diet to just nuts and seeds. The priest could eat nothing else for 1,000 days.

Next, we need to remove as much moisture from your body as possible. Since your body is mostly moisture, this may cause you some discomfort. The priests would eat only a small amount of bark and root from pine trees, for another 1,000 days. Then they'd drink a special tea (and by "special" we mean "incredibly poisonous") made from the sap of an urushi tree.

If the tea causes explosive diarrhea and vomiting, you'll know it's working. Again, this will reduce the amount of moisture inside you, but more importantly the sap will soak into your guts, lining them and thus protecting them against maggots.

Next you'll be sealed in a small, stone room--just big enough to sit in the lotus position. You're done! Now you just have to wait to die!

Dear God, Why?

This was all tied to the Buddhist idea that to achieve enlightenment, you must separate yourself from the physical world entirely so that at death, instead of being reborn, you become one with Buddha. That's why 1,000 days after they finally keeled over in the stone room, a crowd would gather to peer inside, seeing how the mummification went. Most of the time, it didn't work.

If the priest had successfully mummified himself, he would be revered as Buddha, and presumably everyone would have a massive party to celebrate, and they'd gorge themselves on shrimp and tiny cocktail sausages. Except for those who were already well on their way to self-mummification. They'd have the nut roast.

Tibetan Buddhist Sky Burial

What Is It?

We can thank the Buddhists for this one as well. Tibetan Sky Burial is a form of human dissection practiced in Delaware. No, we're kidding. It's from Tibet.

A corpse is sliced up, usually atop a mountain, and left for the birds. Tibetans call the practice jhator, which means giving alms to the birds. And also legs, torsos and heads as well.

The bodies, wrapped in white cloth, are bought to the burial site, where the monks have enticed vultures and other airborne scavengers. Monks unwrap the bodies, a process that probably isn't all that pleasant considering they've been left alone for three days (per Tibetan custom).

One or more monks then set about the body with axes and, according to witnesses, are very casual and sometimes laughing and joking as they do it. This underlines the fact that Tibetans consider the body merely a vessel, and not that the guy they're dismembering was just a total dick when he was alive.

When the body is dismembered, the vultures swoop in and squabble over the chunks of carcass. The bones are then smashed to bits with mallets, mixed with flour, then fed to smaller birds.

Dear God, Why?

Since they believe in reincarnation, they see no need to preserve the body, as it's just an empty vessel. So why not just let the birds eat it? And subsequently poop out onto the landscape for hundreds of miles around?

They've been doing sky burial since at least the 12th century, according to the Tibetan Book Of The Dead (yes, it's a real book and no, it you can't use it to raise zombies. We checked).

It should be noted that where this is practiced, there isn't a lot of timber available for funeral pyres and the hard rocky soil makes digging graves difficult. So we're thinking the whole ritual started with one guy saying, "Ah, fuck it. Just leave 'em here for the birds." Then later somebody gave a fancy name to it.

Aboriginal Body Exposure

What Is It?

Australian Aboriginal beliefs are very diverse, and as such, there are many traditional methods of dealing with corpses, such as burial, cremation, mummification and cannibalism, though the latter is hotly disputed. Probably because all the evidence has been eaten.

Exposure on raised platforms, however, was one of the more common rituals, particularly in the North. There are two main burial stages. The first is to leave the corpse on a raised platform and cover it with leaves and branches until the flesh has rotted away, a process which can take months.

Next they retrieve the bones from the platform and paint them with red ochre. The bones are then either placed in a cave until they become dust or are placed inside a hollowed out log. Or, in some cases they are carried around by relatives for up to a year, which we're guessing makes for some awkward first dates.

This is sometimes followed by a total destruction or abandonment of the deceased's property, and for a time no one is allowed to say the name of the deceased.

Dear God, Why?

Aboriginals do believe in the human soul, though they consider the soul to have two sections. The rituals are dealing with the fact that one of those parts (the ego) tends to come back and haunt the living, and as every horror movie has taught us, ghosts are dicks. The destruction of the deceased's home and refusal to acknowledge him is their way of telling the ghost to fuck off.

Now you'd think the part about carrying around the actual bones of the dead person would increase the chances of a haunting, but this is a culture that was never exposed to the movie Poltergeist and who thus does not know any better.

Space Burial

What Is It?

Space burial is obviously a fairly modern death ritual, unless there was some ancient, burly fellow who could throw things really fucking high. But it is no less insane, especially seeing as it costs about the equivalent of a small Eastern European nation's GDP to perform.

Yes, You can purchase your own space burial, though the cost depends on just how far out into space you want to end up. You can have your ashes sent into low orbit for a while for as low as $695, but getting a spot on a deep space Gemini Module can run up to $60,000.

Above: A $60,000 plaque that says "You're Dead and in Space."

The first one of these was performed back in 1997, from an aircraft carrying a modified Pegasus rocket, which contained ashes of 22 people (including Timothy Leary and Gene Roddenberry). The rocket blasted into orbit 11 kilometers above the Canary Islands, of all places, whereupon it will remain aloft in the heavens for eternity.

Oh, wait, no. It re-entered the atmosphere in 2002 and was immediately burned to a crisp.

Dear God, Why?

This has been a symbolic gesture for deceased who had an interest or career in space (though an expensive symbolic gesture, especially considering you still have to have the body cremated ahead of time). But in Timothy Leary's case, he actually requested it, possibly out of a simple desire to make disposal of his remains as absolutely inconvenient for the world as possible.

Though we do have to give credit to Clyde Tombaugh (the man who for 70 years successfully hoodwinked the world into believing Pluto was a real planet) because his space burial will let him go down as having traveled further than any other human. A bit of his remains were stuck aboard the New Horizons spacecraft, launched by NASA in 2006 and headed for the "planet" Pluto.

Tombaugh is somewhere around Saturn by now, and will make it to Pluto in the summer of 2015. At that point the craft will likely be intercepted by an alien life form, who will likely interpret the inclusion of a dead person's ashes as a symbolic declaration of war.

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Woman sees family die on mountain

The Mont Blanc massif - file pic
The Mont Blanc massif claims climbers' lives on a regular basis

A 50-year-old woman has witnessed her husband and three children falling to their deaths while climbing near Europe's highest peak.

The Dutch woman watched as the four victims, who were roped together, fell 1,600ft (500m) down an icy slope in the French-Italian Alpine range.

The woman was treated in hospital for the effects of shock.

The family had been climbing Mont Dolent - part of the Mont Blanc massif - which is 12,500ft high.

"We think one of them slipped and pulled the others down," Oscar Tajola, head of the mountain rescue team in the Italian town of Courmayeur, told the Associated Press news agency.

The woman saw the accident as she descended the mountain alone by another route, officials said.

She later identified the bodies of her husband, who was 56, their 20-year-old son, and two daughters, aged 17 and 23, which were recovered by Italian mountain rescue workers.

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Alarming Study on Teen Dating Violence Is Flawed

By Benjamin Radford, LiveScience's Bad Science Columnist

A recent study made headlines across the country: The "Tween and Teen Dating Violence and Abuse Study" was commissioned by Liz Claiborne and the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline. Among the headlines: 62 percent of 11- to 14-year-olds know someone in an abusive dating relationship, and one in five of those age 13 to 14 knows someone who has been struck in anger by a dating partner.

According to one reporter from a Las Vegas newspaper, "The image of the innocence of youth was shattered by the new study," which "found shocking horrors in teen dating."

In an effort to show just how shocking and unexpected the findings were—even to teens themselves—the reporter interviewed two teens. One high schooler, Ryan Sniezyk, said that he doesn't think that any of his friends are being abused. "I don't know anything about that," he said. "Maybe they are keeping it from me." Another young man agreed, saying that his experience didn't reflect the new study's findings.

The dating violence may be a hidden epidemic, or there may be another reason that the statistics are shocking and the teens don't know anything about it: They aren't accurate.

Parents may want to remove their fingers from the panic button and take a closer look at the study. Some of the most alarming statistics are misleading.

First, a quick quiz: Let's say you read a statistic from a study that says 75 percent of students at Harvard say they know someone who has cheated on a test. What does that mean? Does that mean that three-quarters of Harvard students are cheaters? Many people will read it that way, but they are wrong. In an extreme hypothetical explanation for how wrong this could be, it's possible that only one student at Harvard cheated, but everyone knew about him.

The teen dating study contained many questions asking the respondent if they knew other people who experienced certain events. For example, question 11 is: "Do you know anyone among your friends and people your age who have been called names, put down, or insulted?"

That's a simple, clear question that does not yield a simple, clear meaning because the answer tells us very little about the prevalence of abusive behavior. It doesn't take into account multiple reporting of the same incident among survey respondents. For example, let's say there's a fight at a high school and someone gets stabbed. If you later take a survey of students at the school and ask them if they know or heard about anyone who was stabbed, hundreds of people will say yes. But that doesn't mean that hundreds of people were stabbed, it just means that all of the people asked had heard about the one person who was attacked.

Many of the teen dating study's questions suffered exactly this problem.

What is needed are valid numbers on the number of people actually being abused, not percentages of people who have heard about others' abuse. There's also the problem of definitions. The study includes being called names or being put down as abuse. By this definition, if anyone you have been involved with has ever put you down or criticized you, you were in an abusive relationship. With such a broad definition, the high abuse rates found are hardly "shocking."

Statistics don't speak for themselves, they must be interpreted with caution. If you don't know what questions were asked, how they were phrased, or don't understand what the answers mean, the numbers are meaningless. There may indeed be "shocking horrors" in teen dating, but these particular statistics do not reflect them. Teen dating violence and domestic abuse are serious issues, and deserve both credible research methods and good journalism.

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Pet rabbit hops to rescue to save owners from fire

Homeowner Michelle Finn cradles her pet bunny, called Rabbit

(Simon Mossman/EPA)

Standing in her damaged home, Michelle Finn cradles the pet bunny who saved her and her husband. And no, that’s not soot

A pet rabbit has been credited with saving an Australian couple from a fire that started in their house while they slept. The rabbit woke its owners, Michelle Finn and her partner Gerry Keogh, by scratching on their bedroom door when smoke poured through the house in the Macleod area of Melbourne.

“Gerry only got home from work about 5.30 because he works a night shift and about 7am we both woke to the sound of a thumping rabbit,” Ms Finn told The Age newspaper in Melbourne. “We heard windows breaking at the back of the house and got up to see what was wrong and the house was on fire.”

Neighbours arrived with hoses to help before fire crews arrived. Firefighters said that a smoke alarm had been removed while the house was being renovated.

Ms Finn said that the pet, named Rabbit, was allowed to roam freely around the house unless they had guests. “It was very lucky for both of us,” she said. “I don’t think he was very impressed \.”

The fire caused A$80,000 (£39,000) of damage and ruined two years of renovations, which the couple had just completed.

Mick Smith, a commander for the Metropolitan Fire Service in Melbourne, said that Rabbit had played a crucial role in preventing a tragedy. “The rabbit saved the couple,” he said.

Mr Keogh, a nightclub employee, said that although he and Ms Finn faced the difficult task of rebuilding, Rabbit had also been left homeless by the fire, which ruined his cage.

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Mona Lisa mown into suburban garden lawn

Chris Naylor with his grass Mona Lisa Photo: PA

Tania Ledger from Croydon in south London employed a 3D art expert who reconstructed the famous painting for the The Da Vinci Code film to do the same in her garden.

Chris Naylor took two days to replicate Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece in grass, using a small lawnmower and a handful of garden tools.

The design will grow out within a few weeks but Mrs Ledger, 48, says that is what made the project so exciting.

“It’s like a hair cut - if you don't like it you can grow it out and you can try out as many new looks as you like,” she said.

"Having experimented with topiary already, my lawn seemed like the perfect blank canvas to host my next creation."

Garden art, previously considered the preserve of manor houses and stately homes, is becoming increasingly popular among domestic gardeners, according to Clare Foggett of Garden News.

"Many of the gardens at this year's Chelsea Flower Show featured creative ideas that are easy to copy in your own gardens, such as beautiful cloud-pruned trees, where shrubby hornbeams were pruned Japanese-style to reveal their stems and the remaining growth shaped to form round 'clouds'."

A B&Q spokesman said: "We've certainly noticed a growing trend in decorative gardens this year.”

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Only Remaining Rhyme Rapper Can Think Of Is 'Cliff Clavin'

ATLANTA—Rapper Young Jeezy, attempting to put the finishing touches on his latest single "U Know Da Club," has exhausted every rhyme possibility for his song's third verse with the exception of "Cliff Clavin," the fictional postal-worker character portrayed by actor John Ratzenberger on the long-running TV show Cheers. "I've already got 'dance-club maven,' 'hip-hop haven,' 'yes I been cravin',' 'ain't misbehavin',' 'pussy gonna cave in,' 'G's I been savin',' 'steel engravin',' and 'rantin' and ravin','" Young Jeezy said. "I guess I could use 'shock-wavin'' or 'clean shaven,' but they just don't make as much sense in context as 'just like Cliff Clavin.'" Jeezy is also struggling to complete a track called "Ideal Woman," since he cannot find a single rhyme for "Rhea Perlman."

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