Sunday, October 19, 2008
The small marsupials chronically suffer from the fatal Facial Tumor Disease, and without a vaccine for the cancer, scientists fear the species could be wiped out in less than 10 years.
The last hope for the species lies in the 500 breeding adult devils currently living in 18 different wildlife parks and zoos. The Taronga Zoo and Conservation Society released a plea to the public today for funding to research the disease. They hope to raise at least $250,000 to expedite the development of the vaccine.
The healthy devils in captivity are being held in quarantine in order to prevent the spread of the cancer. Taronga Zoo alone already holds 115 devils, but spokesman Mark Williams said they need to breed more.
“What they know at the moment is because the devils are quite a close genetic line they think the devils system doesn’t recognize the cancer as a disease and that’s why it’s getting a go with them,” Williams said. “They’re trying to crack the code on this cancer so that they can do something scientifically to stop it.”
Marsupials are often plagued with high mortality and disease, causing many species to go extinct. A similar carnivorous marsupial, the Tasmanian Tiger, went extinct in the 1930’s from over-hunting and disease, and now even Kangaroos are facing an extinction threat from global warming.
The zoo has set-up a website where visitors can breed their own virtual Tasmanian Devil, read more about the creature, and donate to the program easily.
Now that she's royalty, Anne Jennings dances down the hallways, bursts into excited giggles and hugs her BFFs, or "best friends forever," without warning. Of course, she did pretty much all those things before being named homecoming queen at Libertyville High School, but somehow, life has become more magical.
As a 17-year-old with Down syndrome, the senior "has been walking on air" since being crowned this month.
"Before, I was just plain me," said Jennings, selected by student vote out of 17 nominated girls. "When I was queen, it changed. It's amazing. Everyone loves me. I love me."
Her mother's videotape of the Oct. 3 school assembly when her daughter was crowned says it all. After Jennings learned that she was among the top five members of the court, the video images began shaking. By the time the crown was placed on Jennings' head, the background noise boomed with the sounds of students cheering wildly.
"Amazing. Unbelievable," she said later. "You teach kids to do the right thing and treat people all like individuals, and look what happens."
She credits the warmth shown by classmates to the years that Jennings spent in regular education classrooms, where she was taught through 8th grade. Since entering high school, Jennings has spent more time in separate special-education classes, but she has maintained friendships from early childhood.
Megan Collins, 16, a junior, is among those who voted for Jennings.
"Once she was nominated, she was so happy and excited," Collins said. "I heard her say, 'I don't want people to vote for me out of pity' because of her challenges. I knew she would appreciate it more than the other girls."
Lauren Vogg, 14, a freshman, attended Adler Park Elementary School with Jennings. Today, Vogg and her friends volunteer for a program called Best Buddies that teams them with students with disabilities. She voted for Jennings.
"I think over the years, we have recognized her more as a high school student and not just a person with special needs," Vogg said.
Other Libertyville students started a Facebook group, "Annie Jennings for Homecoming Queen," that accumulated more than 300 members—something Ellen Jennings didn't discover until after her daughter was crowned.
"I was just blown away," she said.
One person wrote on Facebook: "Annie has already won in my book! She is beautiful outside AND more importantly INSIDE."
At school, Jennings is still glowing, said security worker Mike Dolan.
Every day at 10:45 a.m., she returns from an off-campus work program, hops off a bus, enters the school and greets Dolan with a fist bump, which she calls "knuckles."
"She has been walking on air," Dolan said.
Jennings shares lunch, gym and keyboarding classes with the "normies," as she refers, with affection, to her mainstream peers. After graduating from Libertyville High next spring, she plans to enter Hawley Transition School in Mundelein, where she will learn independent-living skills such as how to manage money, use public transportation and keep a job.
She hopes to attend college after that, and marry her boyfriend, who took her to the homecoming dance, she said. She relives that weekend every time she looks at the pictures, with her smiling in a black dress and shawl.
"The paparazzi took a lot of pictures," said Jennings, a Special Olympics athlete and fan of the Jonas Brothers. "We ate out at Lino's. I had to give a speech."
For years Jennings has struggled with questions about what makes her different from others.
"She would ask, 'Why did God make me have Down syndrome?' " Ellen Jennings said, sitting near her daughter in the family's living room.
Anne Jennings, exasperation in her voice, piped up: "And she has no answers to give me."
Her mother paused, then replied.
"Your job is to figure out what your gifts are and what you have to contribute to the world," she said.
In some ways, being named homecoming queen has changed the way Jennings thinks about Down syndrome, "that it's not the worst thing in the world that could happen to someone," Ellen Jennings said.
Her daughter agreed, saying that at first, high school was scary and sometimes boring.
"Now I know why," she said. "This was going to happen."
First introduced in Finland, wife carrying is an actual sport where male competitors race while carrying a female teammate. The objective is for the male to carry the female through a special obstacle course in the fastest time. Major competitions are held in Sonkajarvi, Finland, Monona, Wisconsin and in Marquette, Michigan.
Talk about tough love.
2. Man versus Horse
In Wales there's a famous race called the Man Versus Horse Marathon. A cross country course is laid out, and human competitors pit their stamina against that of a posse of chosen horses. The course is 22 miles long with many natural obstacles to overcome. The steep slopes are a great test of the endurance of both man and beast, and the tricky forestry, which a man may dart through but which a horse can only travel around, is equally difficult terrain. The ultimate aim is to run the course and beat the first horse. This was recently done for the first time by a marine who had been training especially for the event. He won a large cash prize - a prize that's been getting bigger every year.
3. The World Beard And Moustache Championships
Facial hair can certainly make a man more masculine, but a competition? The World Beard And Moustache Championships is a biennial competition where men show off their extraordinary beards and moustaches. Categories include Dali moustache, goatee and full beard freestyle.
If only the competitors played in rock bands.
4. Underwater Rugby
The game of underwater rugby is played in a swimming pool of approximately 4m depth. Two teams of 11 players aim to make a goal by getting the weighted ball in the opposing team's basket. Each basket is at the bottom of the pool. This is quite an exciting game as normal gravitational rules do not apply to any of the manoeuvres or tactics you might instinctively seek to employ.
5. Putting Your Toe To Good Use
A popular activity for children, toe wrestling is now a competitive sport. The World Toe Wrestling Competition first started at a pub in Derbyshire, UK in 1976. Locals thought it would be a great idea to hold a competition where individuals lock toes together and force their opponent’s foot to the ground. The organizers applied in 1997 to get the sport included in the Olympics, but unfortunately, it was not accepted.
6. Rock Paper Scissors League
This is a sport started on a dare... right? The U. S. Association of Rock Paper Scissors. That's right, U.S. Association... damn proud. The USARPS League is the official Rock Paper Scissors League of the United States. It is sponsored by Bud Light. Matti Leshem is the co-commissioner of the USA Rock Paper Scissors League In April 2006, the inaugural USA Rock Paper Scissors League Championship was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Following months of regional qualifying tournaments held across the US, 257 players were flown to Las Vegas for a single-elimination tournament at the House of Blues where the winner received $50,000. The tournament was shown on the A&E Network on June 12, 2006.
7. Unusual swimming
Even though it does seem kind of gross, bog snorkelling is a sporting event where competitors swim in a water-filled trench cut through a peat bog. Competitors must wear snorkels and flippers and can only complete the course by swimming with their flippers and not using traditional swimming techniques.
The World Bog Snorkelling Championships take place every August Bank Holiday in a dense peat bog near Llanwrtyd Wells, in Wales.
8. Chess Boxing
If you’re looking for a sport that combines using your strength as well as intelligence, then chess boxing is for you. The sport is a combination of boxing and chess with the different games alternating after each round. A match between two individuals lasts up to eleven rounds, starting with a four minute chess round and followed by two minutes of boxing.
The sport is governed by the World Chess Boxing Organization whose motto is:
“Fighting is done in the ring and wars are waged on the board”
9. Cheese Rolling
Cheese rolling is probably one of the simplest sports out there. From the top of hill, a round of Double Gloucester cheese is rolled and competitors chase after it. The first individual across the finish line at the bottom of the hill wins (the cheese of course).
Competitors aim to catch the rolling cheese but this rarely happens as it has a one second head start and can reach speeds up to 112 km/hr. In 1997, the cheese took a wrong turn down the hill and accidentally injured a spectator.
10. Unicycle Hockey
Sometimes, games involving large, toothless Canadians armed with wooden sticks can seem a bit too easy. So how do you make ice hockey more difficult? Play it on unicycles! Following the same basic rules as ice hockey, "uni-hockey" enjoyed scattered success for nearly 25 years in America, Europe, and Asia. Leagues even formed in Germany and Great Britain. Then the new millennium arrived, complete with plenty of flashing lights and pretty zeroes. Distracted by all the excitement, the few remaining enthusiasts climbed aboard their one wheel chariots and rode off into the sunsetOriginal here
He won't be going abroad, however, to bask in the aura of great Italian masters. Instead, this artist will remain at home, contemplating his next masterpiece while gnawing on his paintbrushes – between mouthfuls of hay.
Cholla is a mustang-quarter horse mix whose paintings have been featured in art exhibits from San Francisco to New York and now overseas.
His creation, „The Big Red Buck,“ was selected for exhibit in the 3rd International Art Prize Arte Laguna, Oct. 18-Nov. 2, Mogliano Veneto, Italy.
"We have to admit that we did not expect the application of a horse."
More than 3,000 paintings, sculptures and photographs were entered in this year's competition. In painting, there were 1,770 from artists around the world. The international contest is organized by the Italian cultural association MoCA in collaboration with Arte Laguna and is aimed at promoting contemporary art.
A spokeswoman for the competition acknowledges there was some consternation among the judges when they realized Cholla was of the equine species.
„We have to admit that we did not expect the application of a horse,“ Arte Laguna spokeswoman Cristina Del Favero said in response to an e-mail inquiry by The Associated Press.
„At first we were very perplexed, but we subsequently looked for more information about Cholla on the Web and the jury decided to accept his application by considering his prestige in the USA.“
While Cholla was not eligible to win any cash prizes, „he obtained a special mention,“ Del Favero said.
Viviana Siviero, president of the four-member jury, said she at first was suspicious of Cholla's entry.
„All of us knew that Cholla is a horse. When the organization informed me about that, I was at first doubtful and incredulous,“ Siviero said, adding she researched Cholla to ensure his authenticity. „Sincerely, some of the jurors were perplexed or even angry. Some others were amused about it.“
In selecting his work as an honorable mention, Siviero said, the jury „did not value ... his gesture nor his chromatic choice, since it has to be considered the result of casualty.“
"The brush stroke Cholla uses to get his vision down on paper ... the watercolor's dance ... and especially the fascinating completion of the works ... Cholla clearly grabs me and holds me as I watch him paint with the fire of Pollock and fixed gaze of Resnick."
Rosalba Giorcelli, curator at Giudecca 795 Art Gallery, said she and her associate were curious, after seeing Cholla's work, why he was not eligible for a special award in the upcoming Arte Laguna.
„We could not understand until we browsed the Web and found out he was ... a horse!“ she said in an e-mail. „The more we were learning about Cholla, the more we were thrilled and excited about offering a solo exhibit.“
Renee Chambers, Cholla's owner and assistant, says his international acclaim proves his artistic talents.
„Yes, it's a novelty that a horse can paint,“ she said. „But it's not about novelty anymore. It's about his validation as an artist.“
Cholla's painting career began by accident, Chambers said. He'd follow her around when she'd paint the corral each year, and one day her husband quipped, „You should get that horse to paint the fence.“
Chambers instead tacked a piece of paper to a railing, bought some watercolors, mixed them up, and handed a brush to Cholla, who gripped it in his teeth and stroked the paper.
„He's been painting ever since,“ she said.
If art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, then Cholla – named after a species of cacti found in the desert southwest – certainly has a following and a growing reputation.
John Yimin, an art lover and critic, wrote on his Web site, www.outsiderart.info: „The brush stroke Cholla uses to get his vision down on paper ... the watercolor's dance ... and especially the fascinating completion of the works ... Cholla clearly grabs me and holds me as I watch him paint with the fire of Pollock and fixed gaze of Resnick.“
Yimin said he started his site „to connect to artists and build them a popular place to show their work.“
„As for Cholla, when I first got the submission, I had to bend the rules a little because I don't accept submissions from agents, dealers or anyone other than the artist. Because I remember 'Mister Ed,' I took a look and figured I'd see some dopey horse tied to a tree with a paintbrush taped to its forelock,“ he said, referencing the 1960s TV comedy about a talking horse.
„Instead, even in a small frame video, I saw intelligence, purpose and a differing vision exposed to me for the first time. I was and remain awed,“ Yimin said.
The 23-year-old bay has only been painting for four years, but original pieces have sold for $900 and as high as $2,200, said Chambers, who busies herself as Cholla's agent.
He exhibited this summer during a Western show at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, and will have a solo show at The Art Cafe in Davison, Michigan, in November.
Is work created by an animal truly art?
„We live in a world with constantly shifting boundaries and obviously expanding definitions,“ said Kurt Kohl, curator at The Art Cafe.
„The horse is creating art on the level of a very young child,“ he said. „There may not be a lot of thought behind the process, but one could also ask the same question about Pollock or De Kooning or Rothko.“
„The action of the art is in the viewers response to it,“ Kohl said. „And that's why we decided to hang it on our walls.“
„Cholla's work is to be considered as an action, a product that gives life to emotions, controlled neither by the horse nor by the observer,“ she said.
Comparing Cholla to Jackson Pollock, an abstract painter, she said, „Pollock preferred to work on a wall or on a floor than at easel, since he liked hard surfaces better.
„In a way, Cholla is more impressionist, at least in his habit, since he finds his inspiration in the open air, next to his portable easel.“
In 2005, Cholla was featured on „The Martha Stewart Show.“ The lifestyles diva proclaimed, „Cholla painted a beautiful horse drinking from a champagne glass, a flute, making a toast.“
Chambers, a tiny woman trained in ballet, shrugs off naysayers who may think Cholla is a gimmick.
„It's an innate ability he has,“ she said. „He wants to paint. It's in him.“
Chambers prefers to believe Cholla's talents are evidence of the wonders of evolution.
„I totally believe in the evolution's creative energy,“ she said. „If we can have it, why not an animal? Art is an expression of intelligence and Cholla's highly intelligent.
„It's not a stupid pet trick.“
He looks like a drowned rat. But clinging to his very own surfboard, this is simply a pet exploring his wild side.
Tofu, as he is known, and his 14-year-old owner hit the waves twice a week at their local beach in Hawaii.
Along with his fellow rat Fin, Tofu catches waves of up to 4ft and even rides tunnels of water known as 'tubes'.
Surfin' USA: Boomer Hodel with Tofu his incredible surfing rat. The teenager built a surfboard for his rats Tofu and Fin and spent weeks teaching them to hold on until they can now handle full tube waves in Haleiwa, Hawaii
'Running on a wheel isn't enough for Fin and Tofu - they like a more extreme rush,' said owner Boomer Hodel.
'When they first started they were pretty shaky and would fall off quite a lot, but now their balance is so good they fall off less than most human surfers.'
The rats - both one-year-olds - surf for 20 minutes at a time before drying off in the sun.
Each time, they are raring to get back to the water. 'Rats are natural swimmers,' Boomer said. 'And they have a very adventurous spirit.'
Hodel started their training by gently pushing the rats into tiny ripples at the water's edge before moving them on to more advanced waves.
Both the rats can swim and, after some early tumbles, can now perform tricks - often catching tubes in front of stunned onlookers.
Hodel draws big crowds of spectators at his local Laniakea Beach.
Both the rats can swim and after some early tumbles can now perform tricks
He said: 'They love surfing. Fin's favourite trick is a tube ride - where the wave breaks over him and he rides through a tunnel of water.
'Sometimes he falls off his board and I have to take him back to the beach to warm him up with a towel. But he is always raring to get back out there.
'The first time I took the rats down to the beach it was to give them a wash because they were all dirty. But they loved the water so much I had to take them back.'
Hang 10: Hodel started by gently pushing the rats into tiny ripples at the water's edge, then moved on to more advanced waves and taught him to perform tricks like 'tube-riding'
The water-loving rats are even on a special diet to stay in shape.
'It has really boosted their performance,' said Hodel.
'I give them high protein, low carbohydrate foods. Rats are natural swimmers and have a very adventurous spirit.'
He made the 1ft-long surfboards himself with the help of pals Jeremy Martin and Akila Barrnett , both 14.
Ratical: Children watch Fin the incredible surfing rat in action
Hodel got the idea when he snapped his surfboard on a big wave and decided to turn each half into a smaller surfboard using sandpaper and fibreglass.
His incredible pets were caught on camera by Hawaiian photographer Clark Little.
He said: 'I saw these kids walking down the beach with two rats and some tiny surfboards so I went over to see what they were doing.
'I couldn't believe it when the rats started surfing. They was really good, surfing very fast and having a grand old time.
'I thought it was weird at first at first but they both seem to really enjoy it and the rats are good swimmers.
'Rats are survivors. Maybe that's why these ones are so good at extreme sports.'
Wipe-out: Hodel takes his pets surfing for 20 minutes at a time before heading back to the beach to warm up in the sun and dry off with a towel
By Clara Moskowitz
The economy, the election, and myriad other problems are really stressing out ... pets.
When humans get stressed, often their pets take on that stress, too.
"Dogs and cats are very good at picking up stress in people, as are birds," said James Morrisey, a veterinarian at the College of Veterinary Medicine of Cornell University in New York. "I've worked with a parrot who lived with a woman who had a seizure disorder, and the parrot could tell when she was about to have a seizure and warn her."
In addition to carrying the burdens of people, animals — especially wild creatures — have plenty of their own to stress about. Animals will even seek out "comfort food" when they're all wigged out. And stress in animals, as with humans, can be a good or a bad thing.
"In general, the more intelligent an animal is, the more psychological stress it can undergo," Morrisey said. "The less you're thinking about things, the less psychological stress you can potentially be under."
Animals experience stress for a variety of reasons.
A 2004 study of stress-related illness in cats found that the biggest source of stress for domestic cats is unfriendly relationships with other cats in the house.
"Although many owners of cats taking part in the study reported that a fear of strangers was the most common problem they observed, this tends to be a short-term stressor," said researcher Danielle Gunn-Moore of the University of Edinburgh Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. "If a cat is living with another cat where there is a conflict, this is a chronic situation causing long-term stress."
And a 2006 study found that dogs in shelters get majorly stressed out by the excessive barking of the other dogs there.
"While employees may wear hearing protectors, dogs don't have that option," said Crista Coppola, an adjunct instructor in the department of veterinary medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Excessive noise in shelters can physically stress dogs and lead to behavioral, physiological and anatomical responses."
Prey animals in the wild understandably fret about being eaten, and foragers worry about finding enough food.
That nervous look on a squirrel's face? Yes, you might be anthropomorphizing. But the squirrel indeed has a lot to worry about, and the stress of it all may not be good for him.
Wild animals in captivity are often anxious about being cooped up. And the stressors of social animals can sound strikingly similar to the popularity concerns of high school girls.
Mark Wilson, a neuroscientist at Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Georgia's Emory University, studies captive female rhesus macaque monkeys, housed in groups as they would live in the wild. The monkeys naturally form a hierarchy with some females dominating others, and subordinates enduring harassment and a general lack of control.
"Subordinate females tend to show more anxiety behaviors — things like excessive body scratching, body shakes, excessive yawning, self-grooming, pacing," Wilson said.
Basically, the life of a subordinate female seems to be more stressful.
Overall, though, humans may win the "most neurotic animal" award.
"I think humans probably do get more stressed out because of all the things we deal with in our lives," Wilson said in a telephone interview. "Not to be specieistic here, but animals tend to live fairly stable lives. That having been said, though, danger and stress are a part of animals' everyday lives."
The ice cream cure
Whereas a human might respond to stress by curling up on the couch and eating a pint of ice cream, how do animals handle the strain?
Pretty much the same way, it turns out.
Typically, the subordinate rhesus monkeys had a lower appetite than the dominant macaques, and ate less of their usual low-fat, high-fiber diet.
"But when we gave them a diet more like the American diet, high in fat and sugar, what happens is the subordinates eat more," Wilson told LiveScience. "It's a comfort food. The dominant monkeys don't eat it in excess like the subordinates."
Even rats, stressed out by being stuck in confining tubes for 10 minutes, prefer lard and sucrose water more than non-stressed rats.
What's more, the effects of stress on an animal's body are stunningly similar to stress's effects on humans.
In both humans and animals, stress causes the body to release adrenaline and cortisol hormones. These chemicals cause heart rate and respiration to speed up, and suppress the immune system. Stress also clamps down on the reproductive system, reducing libido and reproductive hormones, which ultimately increases the risk for cardiovascular disease.
All these all-too-human effects have also been measured in animals.
Wilson's subordinate rhesus monkeys, for example, have disrupted reproductive cycles, are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease than dominant females, and seem to show up with higher rates of infection and illness.
"Stress is adaptive to a certain degree, but after a while it's really maladaptive," Wilson said. "One of the first things to be affected is the reproductive system. Yeah, it makes some evolutionary sense that you don’t want to reproduce if you're in danger. But when your reproductive system shuts down, you have all these secondary effects, like increased cardiovascular disease risk, which are really maladaptive."
In animal populations, as in humans, some individuals have better coping mechanisms to deal with stress, which gives them an adaptive advantage.
To better understand how to combat the effects of stress in the body, Wilson and his colleagues recently conducted an experiment with female rats, in which they increased the amount of a neurohormone called corticotropin releasing factor (CRF), thought to be a driving factor of the body's response to stress, in the rats' brains.
Sure enough, those rats experienced anxious and depressive behavior, decreased libido and disrupted ovarian cycles — all changes seen in human females exposed to chronic stressors.
The researchers hope that by learning about this chemical, they can move toward designing ways for all species to fight the damaging effects of stress.
A British Muslim convert with a mental age of ten was unable to blow up a restaurant because he'd locked himself in a toilet.
Nicky Reilly, 22, had gone into the cubicle of an Exeter eaterie to assemble the nailbombs from chemicals in bottles. He then planned to rush among the 50 diners - many of them children - and detonate the devices.
However, he found he couldn't unfasten the lock and then one of the bombs exploded, setting the others he was holding off.
Reilly, who was groomed over the internet by extremists into becoming a suicide bomber, was arrested when he staggered outside with serious facial injuries.
A CCTV image of Muslim convert Nicky Reilly entering the Giraffe restaurant in Exeter where he launched a failed suicide bomb attack
Failed attack: Reilly admitted attempted murder after planning to blow up a family restaurant in Exeter
Prosecutor Stuart Baker said: 'He was unable to open the lock of the cubicle door and come out, by which time the first device had already exploded.'
Anti-terror investigators believe Pakistani radicals targeted Reilly because of his history of mental illness.
A plot was hatched involving the Giraffe restaurant in Exeter, where 50 diners, many with their children, were enjoying the half-term break on May 22 this year.
Yesterday, Reilly, who has changed his name to Mohammad Abdul-Aziz Rashid Saeed-Alim, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to preparing a terrorist attack and attempted murder.
After the attack police searching his home in Plymouth found a suicide note in which he quoted Osama Bin Laden and evidence that other possible targets had been a police station and a shopping centre.
A large number of extremist websites and a video titled ‘homemade bombs’ were found on his computer.
He had gone online to find out how to make bombs and discuss targets with chatroom contacts in Pakistan.
Officers are still trying to trace the extremist cell that successfully targeted him via his YouTube page – on which he called himself Chechen233.
The case is a chilling echo of terrorist methods in Iraq, where the disabled have been persuaded to blow themselves up.
Reilly’s bungled attack came as a shock to police, but it emerged that the 6ft 3in, 18-stone bomber was ‘known’ to officers.
Yesterday he was remanded in custody for sentencing on November 21.
The judge, Mr Justice Calvert-Smith said Reilly had ‘long nursed an ambition’ to become a martyr.
Reilly, circled in red, was spotted on CCTV shortly before the attack. Below, he is arrested by police after the failed bombing which left him with serious facial injuries
He said: ‘During the early months of 2008 he was in frequent touch with apparently two other people as yet unidentified with whom he discussed his plans and from who he received a certain amount of encouragement and information over the internet using a website called Chechen233.
'There was some debate, which is revealed by comments on the computer,
about what sort of person should be targeted in due course, whether public servants such as police officers or other public servants or ordinary citizens.
‘In the end the decision was made to target ordinary citizens in a restaurant.’
The bottle bomb with which Nicky Reilly attempted his suicide attack, and right, the scene in the toilet cubicle after the device exploded in his face
Over several months, the court heard, he bought enough materials to make two types of bomb.
The judge said: ‘He appears to have tried to increase the potential for injury and death both to himself and others by putting chemicals in glass bottles and filling those bottles with a total of around 500 nails.’
With six bottles in a rucksack, three containing caustic soda, three kerosene and another chemical contained in drain cleaner, Reilly took the bus from Plymouth to Exeter and, after a cup of coffee, went into the Giraffe toilets.
‘As he prepared the caustic soda devices in the toilet of the restaurant they began to
explode,’ Mr Justice Calvert-Smith said.
Nicky Reilly (left) as a boy, pictured with his younger brother Luke
‘He was subsequently, as the world knows, arrested and injured himself.’
After the case, Assistant Chief Constable Debbie Simpson of Devon and Cornwall Police said: ‘The incident in Exeter shows that terrorism remains a real and serious threat to all communities across the UK and not just our major cities.’
Incredibly, Reilly’s YouTube page was still online yesterday. It included clips of the September 11 attacks and a video entitled‘How to make a benzine bomb’.
Al Franken can draw an almost perfect map of the United States freehand from memory while answering questions about health care and cracking jokes about the Red States. How impressive is that?
Franken auctions off his drawings at the end of each fundraiser. Is this a sign of desperation or genius?
[The idea] stems from a bar bet Franken made some years ago in which he claimed to be able to name all fifty states.
When he got to the end, the count was only 49, and there was no way to remember which state he had accidentally skipped. So he decided to learn how to draw a map of all 48 states so he could keep track. Source: Greg Laden
I guess that's better than the Beer Pong for Chastity fundraiser I came up with.
If you're not familiar with Franken's politics, here are some classic Franken quotes to help you catch up:
"[G. W. Bush's] pro-air pollution Clear Skies Initiative is designed to clear the skies of birds." - The Truth (with jokes)
"No Child Left Behind is the most ironically named act, piece of legislation since the 1942 Japanese Family Leave Act." - in response to the 2004 SOTU address
"During the Reagan Administration, Bob Dole was present at a ceremony that included each living ex-president. Looking at a tableau of Ford, Carter and Nixon, Dole said, 'There they are: Hear No Evil, See No Evil and Evil.'" - Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot
"If you put the two Bushs together in their over seven years of their two presidencies, not one new job has been created. Numbers do not lie. If you extrapolated from that, if the Bushs had run this country from its very beginning to the current time, not one American would have ever worked. We'd be hunter-gatherers." - in response to the 2004 SOTU address
"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me."
- (as Stuart Smalley)
Source: Al Franken Sense
They may know a lot about selling scanty underthings but, when it comes to preventing thefts, Victoria's Secret employees are rather less competent, police said after more than $11,000 worth of bras were stolen from the chain's store at The Westchester mall this week.
"This is an ongoing problem for us,'' an exasperated Deputy Public Safety Commissioner Daniel Jackson said after Wednesday's bra heist - the 12th at the two Victoria's Secret stores in the city this year.
"We've met a number of times with both store managers and corporate loss-prevention representatives and made suggestions as to how they can reduce their vulnerability. Apparently, they've made a corporate decision not to implement any of our suggestions," Jackson said.
Sinthia Palmar, manager of the store at The Westchester, had no comment on Jackson's statement yesterday.
"I wouldn't know about that, because I wasn't here (Wednesday),'' she said, referring questions to the chain's corporate office. Officials from Limited Brands, the parent company, did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
Wednesday's theft occurred about 5 p.m. Police said a store videotape shows a man, who appears to be shopping, motioning two other men inside after sales associates leave the front of the store. The two men crouch at a large display of pricey bras while the first man acts as a lookout. The two then empty several drawers of bras into a shopping bag. One man leaves the store briefly and returns with another bag, which they quickly fill.
The two men leave the store with 231 bras valued at $11,048, while the lookout takes an item off a rack and uses it to set off the security alarm to help cover their escape. When a sales associate checks on him, the lookout apologizes for getting too close to the door, then hangs the item back on the rack and walks out.
The whole caper took less than three minutes.
Even faster thefts have taken place recently. On Oct. 7 a man grabbed 13 bras worth $720 from the Westchester store and took off before anyone noticed. A week earlier, 16 bras valued at $768 were stolen from the branch in the Galleria in similar fashion.
Jackson would not discuss specific security issues at the White Plains stores or say what suggestions police have made, but a visit to both locations yesterday showed why they could be enticing to thieves who specialize in taking items quickly and running away.
Large displays of expensive bras, panties and other merchandise are steps away from garage-sized doors at both stores, with no one seeming to be stationed at any of the entrances. Sales associates occasionally straightened out merchandise on display in the front, but did not appear to spend a lot of time there unless they were helping customers. There were no uniformed security guards in either store at lunchtime, although a mall guard did glance into the Galleria store as he rolled past on a Segway.
The allure of easy pickings at Victoria's Secret is apparently no secret to thieves across the country, police said. Just this month thefts totaling thousands of dollars were reported at stores in Fairfield, Conn.; Vineland, N.J.; Murfreesboro, Tenn.; and Bonita Springs, Fla.
Jackson said police were trying to determine what's happening to all of the hot bras, speculating that they may be sold on a black lingerie market.
"Clearly they're not all for someone's personal use,'' he said.
Reach Richard Liebson at email@example.com or 914-694-3534.
RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) -- A Georgia grandmother who came under suspicion because all five of her husbands had died was released Thursday from a North Carolina jail where she had been held on charges in one of their deaths.
Betty Neumar, 76, posted $300,000 bond. She was being held on a muruder-solicitation charge.
Betty Neumar, 76, posted $300,000 bond late Thursday morning at the Stanly County jail, where she's been held since her arrest in May, Sheriff Rick Burris said.
He did not know the conditions of her release or where she got the money. It was not clear if she would be allowed to leave the state.
Neumar is charged with solicitation to commit first-degree murder in the 1986 death of husband No. 4, Harold Gentry.
"I can't believe they let her out. It's just wrong, flat out wrong. I don't understand," said Gentry's brother, Al, who pressed law enforcement for more than two decades to get the case reopened.
Prosecutors allege Neumar tried to hire three people to kill Gentry in the six weeks before his bullet-riddled body was found in his rural North Carolina home.
Since her arrest, police in Florida and Ohio have begun to re-examine the deaths of her first child -- Gary Flynn -- and three of her other husbands, though she faces no charges in those cases. Georgia police recently closed their re-examination of the death of her fifth husband, John Neumar, saying they have no evidence she was involved.
A message seeking comment was left Thursday with Neumar's attorney, Charles Parnell. He has said in the past that prosecutors have been using the other deaths to unfairly paint his client as a black widow.
Al Gentry said law enforcement officers have told him to be careful since he was instrumental in Neumar's arrest.
"Now my back has a big target on it," said Gentry, who said he regularly carries a gun for protection.
Burris said he was surprised Neumar was able to post the bond, recently lowered from $500,000, but confident in the prosecution's case. Burris said it will likely take several months for prosecutors and defense attorneys to review all the court documents.
"It's going to take a lot of time," he said. "I wish it was going to court today. But I don't make the rules, I just abide by them."
Sheriff Lt. Scott Williams, the lead investigator in the case, said he also was surprised by Neumar's release.
"We don't know where she came up with the money," he said, referring to Neumar's 2000 bankruptcy filing.
Records show she and her late husband John Neumar owed $206,300 on 43 credit cards, and the bankruptcy filing allowed the couple to wipe away the debts. John Neumar's son, John K. Neumar, has said the money troubles surprised him because his father had no debt before he entered an almost 14-year marriage with Betty Neumar.Burr Bail Bonds, which Neumar used to post bail, did not return messages left at its Albemarle office.
The mother-of-two's family was left devastated by her brutal murder
A man has been jailed for life for stabbing his wife to death over a posting she made on the social networking site Facebook.
Wayne Forrester, 34, told police he was devastated that his wife Emma, also 34, had changed her online profile to "single" days after he had moved out.
The Old Bailey heard Forrester drove to her home in Croydon, south London, and attacked the mother-of-two.
He stabbed her with a kitchen knife and a meat cleaver on 18 February.
Forrester, who pleaded guilty to murder, was ordered to serve a minimum term of 14 years.
Judge Brian Barker, the Common Serjeant of London, told him: "You committed a terrible act. There is no possible excuse or justification.
"This is a tragic killing and what you have done has caused untold anguish."
What on earth could Emma have done to result in such a brutal, callous attack?
Liza Rothery, victim's sister
Forrester, an HGV driver, was drunk and high on cocaine when he attacked the mother of two in the early hours as she slept.
He beat her, tore out clumps of her hair, and repeatedly stabbed her in the head and neck.
Neighbours were woken up by her screams. They found him sitting outside the house covered in blood and called the police.
The court heard Forrester thought his wife, a payroll administrator, was having an affair and had threatened to kill her.
The couple, who had been together for 15 years, had a "volatile" marriage, jurors were told.
'Devastated and humiliated'
The day before the murder, he called her parents and complained about his wife's Facebook entry which he said "made her look like a fool", the court heard.
In a statement to police Forrester said: "Emma and I had just split up. She forced me out.
"She then posted messages on an internet website telling everyone she had left me and was looking to meet other men.
"I loved Emma and felt totally devastated and humiliated about what she had done to me."
In a victim impact statement, Mrs Forrester's sister Liza Rothery said the murder had had a "devastating" impact on her and parents Frances and Robert.Miss Rothery added: "What on earth could Emma have done to result in such a brutal, callous attack on a defenceless woman?"