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Saturday, January 3, 2009

World's oldest woman dies at age 115

She was left a widow at 57 and outlived three of her six children

Iamge: Maria de Jesus outside her house in Tomar, central Portugal
Nacho Doce / Reuters file
Maria de Jesus smiles outside her house in Tomar, central Portugal, in this Sept. 9, 2006 photo. She was born Sept. 10, 1893.

LISBON, Portugal - A woman who lived to see five of her great-great grandchildren born and was believed to have been the world's oldest person has died in Portugal at the age of 115, officials said.

Maria de Jesus died Friday morning in an ambulance near the central Portuguese town of Tomar.

She had been listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's oldest person. That title now falls to an American, 114-year-old Gertrude Baines, who lives in a Los Angeles nursing home.

Born Sept. 10, 1893, de Jesus was widowed at 57, outlived three of her six children, had 11 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

On Friday, she ate breakfast normally, but then was taken to hospital because of a swelling, her daughter Maria Madalena told state news agency Lusa, without elaborating.

De Jesus was 115 years and 114 days old.

"I regret the death of this lady, she really was the sweetest person," town councilor Ivo Santos said in Tomar, central Portugal, 84 miles north of Lisbon.

There are now only 82 women and nine men verified as being 110 or older, according to gerontologist Dr. Stephen Coles of the Gerontology Research Group at the University of California, Los Angeles.

But he said there could be hundreds more in places such as China, India or Africa where they would not have caught the attention of the Gerontology Research Group, a small volunteer organization that tracks supercentenarians and verifies their birth dates through birth certificates and other documents.

In the genes?
Coles said the supercentenarians appear to share one trait that might account for their longevity — they come from families whose members are long-lived.

"Whether they drink alcohol or not, it doesn't matter. Whether they smoke cigarettes or not doesn't seem to matter," he said. "The thing that does seem to matter is that they chose their parents wisely."

"It's in the genes. It's in the DNA," he said.

Before de Jesus, Edna Parker of Indiana had been the world's oldest living person until she died in late November. She was 115 years, 220 days old.

Baines — the new titleholder, born in Georgia on April 6, 1894 — spent most of her life in Ohio, where she worked as a dormitory housekeeper at Ohio State University in Columbus, Coles said. Her only daughter died at age 18.

Coles said he asked the staff at Western Convalescent Hospital to tell Baines she is now the oldest living documented person in the world.

"She's very healthy. Her only complaint, as far as I can tell, is arthritis in her left knee," he said. She uses a wheelchair.

He described her as mentally sharp, saying "she doesn't forget anything."

Baines voted in the November presidential election, the Los Angeles Times reported.

She voted for Barack Obama "'cause he's for the colored people," said Baines, who is black and the daughter of former slaves.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

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'Hello 911? I'm driving drunk'

By JAMES MacPHERSON, Associated Press Writer James Macpherson, Associated Press Writer

BISMARCK, N.D. – Police get calls about drunken drivers all the time, but rarely do they come from the alleged offender. A 17-year-old girl in Bismarck called 911 on New Year's Eve "to report herself driving under the influence," police Lt. Randy Ziegler said. "I've never heard of such a thing happening, and neither has anyone here."

The girl told authorities her location shortly before midnight Wednesday and officers found her in a parked car near downtown, Ziegler said. She failed a sobriety test and was arrested for failing to have control of her vehicle while intoxicated.

The girl, whose name was not released because of her age, was not cited for drunken driving, Ziegler said.

"Her keys were in her purse and she was parked," Ziegler said. "She did tell us that she had been driving around for hours."

The call probably was a plea for help, he said.

"She told us her life was spiraling out of control, and she had spent the majority of time drinking over the past two weeks," Ziegler said.

The girl was released to her parents Thursday.

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'Santa Shooter' Led 2 Lives While Plotting Murders

MONTROSE, Calif. — Before donning the Santa Claus suit that would disarm his first victim, Bruce Pardo spent months plotting his Christmas Eve massacre behind a mask of friendliness that fooled his neighbors, lawyer and the ex-wife he killed along with eight of her kin.

As early as last summer, Bruce Pardo was purchasing ammunition and guns and ordering supplies to build a device to torch his former in-laws' home. In early fall, the unemployed electrical engineer ordered a custom-made, extra-large Santa Claus suit from a seamstress.

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By December — as his divorce became final — Pardo put the final touches on his horrific plan by renting two getaway cars and booking a flight to Illinois.

Yet by all accounts, the 45-year-old man moved through life during those crucial six months as if nothing were amiss. His divorce attorney said he was always upbeat and even his wife's attorney said he was civil throughout the nine-month proceedings.

"He was planning that for months," said Henry Baeza, owner of Montrose Home Bakery where Pardo dined the day of the killings. "And the other 45 years he was a totally normal man. It doesn't make no sense."

In July, Pardo began purchasing guns and hundreds of rounds of heavy ammunition, and started building a device to spray highly flammable racing fuel in his in-laws' home, police said.

At about that time, Pardo had lost his six-figure income at ITT Electronic Systems Radar Systems in Van Nuys and was desperately seeking work. His estranged wife, who had moved in with her sister and brother-in-law and was seeking a divorce, was awarded spousal support as his debts stacked up.

By fall, according to court papers, Pardo appeared to be increasingly desperate.

In September, he custom-ordered an extra-large Santa Claus suit from costume maker Jeri Deiotte, whose shop is less than two miles from Pardo's home in this quiet Los Angeles suburb.

He told Deiotte the $300 suit — complete with boots, belt, glasses and a hat — was for a Nov. 8 holiday party. He said he needed it extra-large so he could be extra-jolly, a request that chills Deiotte in retrospect.

"He wanted it huge, bigger than he was," said Deiotte, who later called police. "That's what triggered it to me because I heard on the news that he carried some guns inside."

On Dec. 18, Pardo and ex-wife Sylvia Pardo reached a final divorce settlement: He kept the house and cars, but she got the diamond wedding ring, $10,000, most of the furniture and the couple's dog, Saki.

Pardo was supposed to deliver a $10,000 cashier's check to her attorney by Dec. 19, but he never showed up. He told his attorney he was still trying to come up with the cash.

Five days later, cafe owner Baeza chatted with Pardo as he stopped in for his usual raspberry cheese Danish and coffee. This time, he also ordered a turkey sandwich for lunch and ate it in a corner booth, looking out the window at the street bustling with Christmas shoppers.

Baeza still replays that last conversation in his mind, searching for a clue to what happened just 11 hours later.

"He shook hands with me and said 'Goodbye and merry Christmas to you and your family,"' said Baeza. "And I said 'You, too' and he just smiled a little."

At 10 p.m., Pardo's next-door neighbors saw him pulling out in a car they'd never seen before and wished him a merry Christmas. They now realize the car was probably one of the rented getaway vehicles and they shudder to think they may have been the last people to see him before his rampage.

"My dad was like 'Where are you going?"' recalled Arvin Garcia, 17. "And he said 'I'm going to a Christmas party,' and then he left."

An hour and a half later, around 11:30 p.m., Pardo approached his former in-laws' house in Covina 20 miles away and knocked on the door. He had four guns and his fuel-spraying device, disguised as a present.

A little girl excited to see Santa opened the door and he shot her in the face. He entered the house firing, at first indiscriminately and then targeting his ex-wife's family. At one point, he may have knelt down to shoot a group of family members who dove under a table where they had been playing cards, according to police accounts and 911 calls.

During the shooting, Sylvia Pardo's sister Leticia frantically called 911 while hiding in a neighbor's house with her 8-year-old daughter, the girl who'd answered the door but was only wounded in the side of her face.

"I have a feeling I know who it is," the sister said, and identified the shooter as her former brother-in-law. "They're going through a divorce right now."

When it was over, Pardo's ex-wife, her parents, her two brothers and their wives and her sister and her sister's 17-year-old son were dead — nine of the 25 guests at the annual holiday bash.

The teen was upstairs using a computer and perished in the fire after the house exploded from the fuel vapor. Michael Ortiz sent an e-mail to his friends at 11:25 p.m., said Sylvia Pardo's best friend, Roxanne Jauregui, who spoke to the teen's father afterward.

Police later said Pardo also intended to kill his own mother, who was to attend the party, but she decided not to go at the last minute because she felt sick. Pardo apparently felt she was siding with his ex-wife in the divorce; the two women remained close friends.

Police believe Pardo cut short his rampage when the fuel from his device ignited before he expected — probably set off by a pilot light or candle. He suffered third-degree burns so severe they seared the Santa costume to his flesh.

"He was probably in a great deal of pain," said Lt. Tim Doonan, who's supervising the investigation.

Still, Pardo managed to change out of the suit and knock out lights in the street before he drove to his brother's house 40 miles away and parked his rented car.

He left the remains of the singed suit in the car, booby-trapped with a trip wire set to ignite black powder and detonate several hundred rounds of ammunition when disturbed.

Then, Pardo broke into his brother's house and shot himself once in the head.

Investigators found $17,000 in cash strapped to his legs with Saran wrap and in a girdle around his middle, along with a plane ticket to Illinois.

The car exploded when a bomb squad tried to dismantle the booby trap, but no one was hurt.

Police later found another a second getaway car, a rented sport utility vehicle, outside the home of his ex-wife's divorce attorney in nearby Glendale, packed with a spare fuel tank, maps, clothing and Christmas presents.

That discovery was a grim coda to an already morbid tale: Police said Pardo probably would have added the attorney to his list of victims if he hadn't been so badly burned.

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Bank error leaves man $208 billion overdrawn

A BRITISH man was left in major shock when his bank statement showed him to be £100 billion ($208 billion) overdrawn.

As if the credit crunch was not hitting Britons hard enough, Donald Moffat was temporarily in deep, deep, deep financial trouble - due to a "technical error''.

The 38-year-old, from Irvine on Scotland's east coast, said his wife noticed the somewhat "major discrepancy of two £50-billion debits'' after he logged on to his account online.

"When I saw it - I've been shaking, I've been feeling sick - everything,'' the stunned student and part-time care worker told the BBC.

"We knew we still had quite a bit left in the account as we checked last night before we went out.

"This morning I went out to get a few things then, when I came back, my account was overdrawn by that amount.''

Barclays bank said in a statement: "A technical error caused some customer accounts to be incorrectly debited.

"The problem was immediately identified and corrected within less than an hour, and all affected customer accounts are now showing correct balances.

"No customers will be financially impacted by this error. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused our customers.''

Original here

7 Classic Disney Movies That Taught Us Terrible Lessons

By Mackenzie Beverly

Maybe we're too hard on Disney. After all, they simply remake classic stories in cartoon form. What's not to like?

Well, as you'll see, it all depends on just how much thought you apply to it. Here's seven pretty terrible lessons that Disney films taught us, whether they meant to or not.

The Lion King: To Be Successful, Sometimes People Got to Die

Simba always knew that he was going to succeed his father, Mufasa, as the next Lion King. But fate liked spitting in poor little Simba's face, and his dear old dad got trampled to death by wildebeests. Of course, Mufasa's death was really caused by the evil Scar, Simba's uncle.

Later, all grown up, he reclaims his thrown and Scar suffers the double whammy of falling off a cliff and getting torn apart by hyenas. So after two particularly nasty and horrendous deaths, Simba finally becomes the lion king.

The Supposed Message:

We all have responsibilities we can't ignore. And don't trust that creepy uncle.

The Actual Message:

In order for you to be successful, other people will have to pay. And ultimately, that's okay, because the ends justify the means!

First you have Scar, who knew he couldn't be king of the pridelands until that dick Mufasa and his brat son were out of the way. So Scar did away with both of them, killing Mufasa and banishing Simba, and, as a result, he got to be king for a descent amount of time.

Then when Simba started to grow some balls, he took back his throne... but only after Scar himself took a dirt nap. It's true that Simba didn't intentionally kill him, but you know who did? The screenwriter. After all, the movie doesn't end with Simba convincing Scar to renounce his evil ways, or putting Scar in lion jail.

In fact, Lion Jail isn't even real.

No, the message was sent loud and clear: Simba could not be the true king unless Scar was dead. And they even arranged it so that Simba wouldn't have any of the pesky guilt that would have come with actually doing the deed himself. Everyone lived happily ever after. Except Scar of course, whose body was slowly pooped out by several hyenas the next day.

Cinderella: Sort of Like "The Secret"

Cinderella is forced by her bitchy stepmother to clean the house from stem to stern every day. The only thing that prevents her from swallowing a bottle of pain killers is her belief that someday her dreams will come true.

One day Cinderella plans to attend a ball thrown by the prince, but the fact that she has a cutthroat bitch for a stepmother completely slipped her mind. She is forbidden from going.

Luckily, it turns out Cinderella has a fairy godmother, who uses her magic to hook Cinderella up with a ride, a beautiful outfit and a pair of what would seem like grossly impractical glass heels. At the ball Cinderella uses her innate flirting skills and rocks the prince's world, to the point that the next day the prince whisks her away to be his princess.

The Supposed Message:

Dreams do come true!

The Actual Message:

If you wait around long enough, the universe will practically hand stuff to you.

"Could you fix my credit score while you're at it?"

No one is denying the fact that Cinderella's life was one big shit stain. But in her state of mind, she actually thought that her dreams would just sort of happen if she sat around being miserable long enough. It never occurred to her that she had the ability to just tell her stepmother to go fuck herself.

Instead she kept scrubbing floors and believing that, if she continued to wish very hard and take absolutely no action, everything would fall into place. And what do you know, the bitch gets a fucking kingdom out of it.

So don't worry, girls. Some kind of "Fairy Godmother" will sweep into your life at any moment, and find you a man to take care of everything. Just keep wishing!

The Little Mermaid: A Little Deal with the Devil Never Hurt Nobody

A little mermaid named Ariel, who is presumably little in title only since she has one impressively big rack, dreams of living her life on shore and finding her true love. Well, a clearly evil sea-witch named Ursula offers to give the naive mermaid legs in exchange for something she probably might need in the future: her voice.

When Ariel makes it to shore, she realizes the Sea-Bitch screwed her, as her legs work with the grace of a drunken paraplegic and she can't speak. So now she must somehow make Prince Eric fall in love with her while appearing to be either mute or retarded.

By some miracle, the prince takes the bait (again, note the rack) but then Ursula, who in the cartoon seems to be portrayed as a black drag queen, goes after the couple. The prince is forced to kill Ursula by stabbing her with a ship. As a result, Ariel gets both her legs and her voice.

The Supposed Message:

True love conquers all!

The Actual Message:

A little compromise with evil is okay, as long as everything works out okay in the end!

Ariel loved to sing, and she sang pretty damn well. But she wanted to live on shore and find love so bad that she made a "deal" with a "devil" and "sells" her beautiful voice, or "soul" so to speak.

And guess what? It worked. Sure, the writers threw in some complications in the form of Prince Eric having to send Ursula straight to Disney Hell, but the fact of the matter remains that Ariel would never have gotten to meet Prince Eric at all had she not compromised with the evil queen in the first place. She made a figurative deal with the devil, got everything she wanted and came out completely unscathed.

So keep that in mind if you have to, say, sleep with some dude to get that acting role. None of that will matter once you achieve your dreams!

Beauty and the Beast: Just Because He's Abusive, Doesn't Mean He's Not a Really Good Guy

After a spoiled prince pretty much tells an old beggar woman to fuck off, he is transformed into a beast, as it turns out the beggar is an enchantress. And she makes it very clear that until he learns to love and thus is loved in return, there will be no ladies in his life and it's just going to be him and his hand for a very long time.

As luck would have it, there happens to be a woman out there named Belle with a heart big enough to share with unfortunate-looking people such as the Beast, and she's not too bad to look at either. When her father is kidnapped by the Beast, Belle offers herself in exchange for his freedom.

Against all odds, they fall in love. The townspeople snap and try and kill the Beast, but because Belle admits she loves him, the Beast turns back into a man and the two live happily ever after.

The Supposed Message:

Treat others the way you wish to be treated!

The Actual Message:

Underneath the abusive exterior of your man is a loving heart he's just dying to share with you.

First of all, Belle was a prisoner in the Beast's fucking castle. Nothing says "I love you" like house arrest. Secondly, he wasn't exactly whispering sweet nothings in her ear. The Beast hurled insults at Belle at every chance, and came close to pimp slapping the shit out of her on more than one occasion.

But she ignored all that unimportant trivia, because the Beast had a loving heart! Sure he gets angry sometimes, but that's just how he is. And, in the end, he turned back into a sexy, romantic prince. It's all good now.

Her patience paid off, girls, and it will for you, too! If you just stick with it and don't judge your man too harshly. Or call the cops.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame: The Ugly Dude Never Gets the Girl

Quasimodo is born with a hunched back and a face that only a mother could love. Too bad his mother gets killed by an asshole named Frollo.

Quasimodo moves into the bell tower of a cathedral and becomes the hunchback of Notre Dame. He then winds up in a love triangle with the lovely gypsy Esmeralda and the aforementioned Frollo.

When spurned by the girl, Frollo tries to burn Esmeralda at the stake. Quasimodo rescues her and, after that, the twisted, malformed freak is able to freely go out in public without people pointing and shaking their fists at the sky in reaction to God's twisted design. Quasimodo and Esmeralda get married and... oh, wait, no. She winds up with some other dude.

"The order goes: handsome guy, then the goat and then you, Quasimodo."

The Supposed Message:

Don't judge a book by its cover!

The Actual Message:

Ugly guys don't get the girl, even if they're devoted and awesome. That's just how it works, sorry.

From the first moment Quasimodo laid his misshapen eyes on her, the poor dope was madly in love with Esmeralda. They seemed destined for each other. French society had given both of them the middle finger, and they both liked sticking it to Frollo.

But just as Quasimodo was starting to feel good about himself, Esmeralda meets another guy: the dashing and completely non-deformed Captain Phoebus. And who in their right mind would pass up tall, dark and handsome for short, pale and abominable?

Quasimodo ended up alone while Phoebus and Esmeralda made some sweet, sweet gypsy magic. So for you hideous guys out there, true love and heroism is great and all, but at the end of the day, we just can't have you infecting the gene pool.

Sleeping Beauty: If a Guy Saves Your Ass, it Belongs to Him

There's always that one person who wasn't invited to the party for very good reasons, but feels they are entitled to show up anyway. The party crasher in this Disney movie happens to be a very powerful, very evil fairy named Maleficent who curses the birthday girl, Princess Aurora, to prick her finger on a spindle of all things and, well, die.

Suddenly, the music stops with a needle scratch and there's an awkward silence as the evil bitch makes her exit. However, a fellow party-going fairy counteracts the curse by blessing the princess, saying that the princess will instead merely fall asleep until a prince--and she means any prince--comes along and pretty much date rapes her.

"Man, if any of you were princes, I'd totally be giving it away for free, straight up. You don't even know."

Sure enough, Aurora falls asleep. But then Prince Philip (who has been stalking the princess) kills Maleficent, then kisses the princess and probably enjoys a grope fest, which will remain the prince's little secret and Aurora's repressed memory as they live happily ever after.

The Supposed Message:

True love will conquer all!

The Actual Message:

That guy who comes along and saves you from a crisis? Marry him! He's the one!

"Let's just skip to the vows, I'm in a hurry."

When a rational woman wakes up to find a man practically on top of her, their first instinct would be to reach for the mace. Not our princess; she basically didn't know his ass from Adam, but she went ahead and married the guy. One kiss at the right time, and she knew she had found Mr. Right.

You may notice that this winds up as the exact polar opposite of the Hunchback of Notre Dame lesson, taken so far in the other direction that it winds up being even more wrong. Never mind that "compatibility" stuff and the all the time it takes for most folks to find out if they have it. If you're in a tough spot and a handsome guy saves the day, you instantly belong to him. Forever and ever!

Though we guess it only works if you're not a hunchback.

The Fox and the Hound: Sometimes People Are Different, and That's Awful

After his mother gets capped and is presumably turned into a tasteful wall ornament, a little fox named Tod is taken in by an old woman to be raised on a farm. Tod eventually meets a hunting dog named Copper and the two hit it off.

Tod thinks the two will be friends forever, but over the winter Copper leaves on a hunting trip, and when he returns he's a full fledged fox-killing machine. When Tod goes to see Copper, he is attacked by Chief, Copper's mentor. Chief gets injured, and Copper makes it his mission in life to see former friend Tod meat packaged.

Eliminate on sight.

Copper and his owner eventually find Tod and try to take him down. When a bear jumps into the fight, Tod saves Copper and his owner. So they decide to call a truce, and the two go their separate ways.

The Supposed Message:

Even though we're different, we can still get along.

The Actual Message:

And by "get along" we mean "don't kill each other." We certainly do not mean "live together." Don't be silly, you belong to different races!

Our fox and hound find their long friendship thoroughly obliterated and end up trying to kill each other. Only after the member of the pursued and persecuted race does a favor for his oppressor (when the hunted saves the hunter's life) does the hound grant the fox permission to continue living.

But not as equals; the hound returns to his home with the humans and the fox returns to the wild.

That is how we will heal our racial and socioeconomic differences: by separating ourselves. If only we could institute some kind of "segregation" where all of us could be with our own kind, none of this unpleasantness would happen.

Thanks for showing us the way, Mr. Disney!

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