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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Shy Fish Inspire Boldness in Mates













How do you make a fish come out of hiding? Pair it up with a shy mate, a study published Thursday has found.

British researchers studying the behavior of tiny stickleback fish have found that they are much more willing to take risks in search of food in pairs than alone.

Not surprising, perhaps, given that fish tend to find protection in numbers.

But they also discovered that the fish would slip into the role of leader or follower and that the shier the follower, the bolder the leader would become.

"Our study shows that the process by which leaders and followers emerge is a dynamic one," said Andrea Manica of the University of Cambridge.

"Individuals aren't simply born leaders or followers, but their role in a pair -- and, we could speculate, in a larger group -- is the result of social feedback where everyone plays a role."

Manica and her team first sorted the bold from the shy by studying which fish were more likely to leave the safety of weeds at the deep end of a tank to access food in a shallower, empty part of the tank.

They then removed an opaque partition so the fish could see their neighbor and noted how often the fish left the reeds and in what order.

All the fish made far more forays for food and synchronized their trips out of cover, with the bolder fish leading the bulk of the time.

Bold fish paired with the shiest mates became significantly more prone to leave cover and stay there even after the shy fish returned to the reeds, the study published in the peer review journal Current Biology found.

The findings show that leadership, which is often exhibited in many different kinds of animals, arises from differences in the way individual fish respond to their partner's movements, the researchers said.

"If a shy individual is paired with a very bold individual, the latter 'inspires' the former into becoming a very faithful follower," Manica said.

"Conversely, a very shy individual seems to bring out the leadership of the bolder companion, which becomes a much stronger leader than if it was paired with a less shy companion."

Original here

PETA protests Westminster dog show (Klan hoods and all)

PETA turns out at Madison Square Garden to protest the Westminster dog show, complete with KKK robes

True to the promise it made last week, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals turned out at Madison Square Garden today to protest the 133rd annual Westminster dog show.

Group members, decked out in Klansman robes and armed with brochures that read "The KKK and the AKC: BFF?", argued that purebred dogs suffer from breeding practices designed to produce show winners rather than healthy animals. A sample statement from the brochure (written in the first person as if by a Klan member):

Like the Klan, dog breeders who subscribe to the AKC standards are all about the sanctity of "pure bloodlines." So what if beagles have epileptic seizures, Dalmatians are deaf, and pugs can barely breathe because of how they are purposely bred to look a certain way? Looks are everything!

In a statement, PETA Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch referred to what she termed the AKC's "fetish for body image," saying that the kennel club's promotion of purebreds "means money for breeders but creates sick dogs and vet bills for their guardians."

In response to such claims, Westminster spokesman and commentator David Frei told the Associated Press, "I can't speak for everyone, but the vast majority of the people exhibiting and handling and showing at Westminster are more interested in the health of dogs than anything else ... We want to produce the next generation of healthy and happy dogs, not just for the show ring but for the couches at home." (Kathy Weichert, the breeder of last year's Westminster winner, Uno, shared Frei's sentiments when she talked to Unleashed last month.)

Further, PETA and other animal activist groups argue that dog breeding compounds the issue of pet overpopulation, with homeless dogs dying in shelters for lack of homes while breeders continue to produce new puppies. The brochure handed out by hooded protesters today elaborated on the connection PETA draws between pet overpopulation and dog breeding:

We tip our hoods to breeders who are responsible (oh, they'll modestly say that it's only "indirectly") for the number of mixed-breed dogs who never make it out of the animal shelter alive. AKC officials don't rub out these "inferiors" directly, but they know that every "purebred" puppy bought from a breeder means "lights out" for another mutt at the animal shelter.

But how successful was today's protest? The AP reports:

"Is this really the KKK?" somebody asked the woman in the white robe and the pointy hat...

Most passers-by seemed more puzzled than offended, though those who didn't stop walked away thinking they really had seen the KKK. The most common reaction was to pull out a cell phone and start snapping photos.

Police monitored the situation from nearby, but the scene was mostly calm. One shouting match broke out during the hour-long protest.

Earlier, a man strode away yelling, "That's disgusting! I'm going to buy more fur!"

The findings reported in a BBC documentary called "Pedigree Dogs Exposed" led the BBC to drop coverage of Crufts, Britain's biggest dog show. The BBC's statement cited issues including "spaniels with brains too big for their skulls and boxer dogs that suffered from epilepsy," and the British Kennel Club last month announced sweeping reforms to the standards of many of the breeds it recognizes in an effort to address health concerns.

PETA had asked the USA Network to follow the BBC's lead and drop its coverage of Westminster, a request the network ignored.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Original here

Army doc, 74, ready to deploy to Afghanistan

Senior Combat Doc
John Bazemore / AP
Dr. John Burson, a 74-year-old retired ear, nose and throat specialist, recently finished a weeklong training course at Fort Benning in prepration for deployment as a field surgeon in Afghanistan.

FORT BENNING, Ga. - Dr. John Burson balked when a skeptical Army staffer asked him to undergo a three-day physical exam to make sure he was fit to deploy as a field surgeon to Afghanistan.

"Look, I'm training to run a half-marathon," replied Burson, 74, a retired lieutenant colonel. "You come down and check to see if I can make it."

Burson won the debate and was declared fit for duty. The ear, nose and throat specialist from northwest Georgia wrapped up a weeklong training course this week at Fort Benning before his scheduled deployment Friday for a 90-day rotation with a unit of the 101st Airborne Division.

The first of two stints in Iraq proved unforgettable back in 2005, he said. Burson was among several doctors assigned to keep watch over an imprisoned Saddam Hussein.

The fallen dictator, who was three years younger than Burson, told him: "I'm glad they sent me one with gray hair this time."

Several of Burson's uncles and cousins enlisted during World War II, inspiring him to seek an Army officer's commission in the 1950s. But it would be five decades before he went to war.

By the time Burson was trained as a young officer, the Korean War was winding down. Years later, after he left active duty to join the Army Reserve, his unit was told to prepare for a tour in Vietnam. But the call never came.

Burson retired from military service in 1985 and thought he'd hung up his uniform for good. Then an e-mail came a few years ago from the Army's surgeon general, who was seeking retired military doctors to volunteer for rotations in Iraq.

'He enjoys doing it'
Burson, then 70, sent a reply asking if he was too old. The answer led to his first war tour.

"He likes to say, 'Where else can a 74-year-old go and have fun?'" said Barbara Burson, his wife of 53 years. "I don't know if I see it as fun, but he enjoys doing it. And anyone would feel good about being able to contribute."

Burson isn't the oldest service member to deploy since the U.S. went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, but he's certainly atypical.

It's not clear how many others in their 70s have volunteered, or who's the oldest, said Wayne Hall, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon. Retired Army Reserve Col. William Bernhard, a Maryland physician, was 75 when he served in Afghanistan in 2006.

Burson keeps a steady exercise regimen, working out four to five times a week lifting weights, playing racquetball and occasionally mountain biking. Burson runs on an elliptical machine at home, which is easier on his knees. He used it to run the 12-mile half-marathon to sway the Army from requiring a new physical exam.

However, all deploying soldiers must answer questions about their overall health during a screening. Army doctors can order a physical if there are concerns, said Master Sgt. Keith O'Donnell, a spokesman for the Army's Human Resources Command.

Before his first rotation to Iraq four years ago, Burson had to pass a physical exam and the Army fitness test. Soldiers 62 and older have to do 16 push-ups and 26 sit-ups, and run 2 miles in 20 minutes. The youngest recruits must do twice as many push-ups and sit-ups, and run 2 miles in less than 16 minutes.

These days, Burson said, his preparation involves more paperwork than physical training, though he does have to go to the firing range to qualify with a 9mm handgun — the only weapon he'll carry.

"I'm not really a very good shot," Burson said. "I could probably do better throwing the pistol at a target."

'He doesn't look 74'
In Afghanistan, Burson will oversee a medical staff treating about 1,000 soldiers. He'll likely spend much of his time working in a base clinic, but could be called to treat soldiers wounded during combat patrols. When he served in Iraq, it wasn't unusual for him to work through mortar rounds being fired at his base camp.

"There's an element of risk," Burson said. "But statistically it's probably not any more hazardous than driving to work."

Lt. Col. Twanda Young said about 400 soldiers, reservists and civilian contractors go through the Fort Benning training center she commands each week, preparing to join units already overseas. Burson isn't the only gray-haired volunteer she's seen — but she said his abilities make his age irrelevant.

"He doesn't look 74," Young said. "He's very vibrant. He just wants to soldier like anybody else, which is a testament to his character."

Burson's wife said it's not surprising he wants to keep soldiering. Retiring doesn't seem to be in his blood.

Several years ago, she said, Burson planned to retire from his medical practice and turn it over to his partner. When it came time to sign the paperwork, he couldn't bring himself to do it.

Could Afghanistan be her husband's last deployment?

"We can't help but hope that," Barbara Burson said. "He doesn't make any promises."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Original here


Nine out of 10 parents swear in front of children

By Chris Irvine

Jonathan Ross: Bafta awards 2009: Jonathan Ross's best jokes
Jonathan Ross pictured recently at The Orange British Academy Film Awards Photo: GETTY

The average child hears their mother or father utter six expletives a week with up to 86 per cent saying they felt their parents' swearing as well as the language of celebrities such as Gordon Ramsay and Jonathan Ross set a bad example.

The poll of 3,000 11-year-olds show two out five children were using swear words at an earlier age, admitting to using them in their everyday language because they heard their parents use them.

More than one in three however have asked their parents to stop swearing in front of them with almost half admitting it upset them.

Peter Foot, chairman of the Campaign for Courtesy said: "We need parents to be the ones to put their children right before they ever get to school with 'please' and 'thank yous', rather than leaving it to teachers.

"But this is awful, appalling really. There are some age groups now who can't say a single sentence without the F-word in it."

A spokesman for research site youngpoll.com, which carried out the study, said: "When youngsters hear their parents use swear words so frequently, it's inevitable that they will pick up bad habits.

"Parents should be aware that children are easily influence and will try to replicate what they say whether it's swear words or not.

"When adults hear a young child swear it's very easy to find it humorous, yet any use of bad language should be nipped in the bud at an early age."

Original here

Hero Woman Changes In Front Of Open Window

NEW YORK—Local heroine Emily, the smokin' hot neighbor lady from across the street, reportedly went above and beyond the call of duty Monday by selflessly changing her clothes within full view of her bedroom window.

Sources said the humble woman—whose last name remains a mystery as no one has yet summoned the courage to speak to her—did not accept any praise for her heroic act, nor did she mention her altruistic stripping to anyone afterward. But her sacrifice that evening will not soon be forgotten, as her fearless nakedness inspired dozens of passersby and saved the neighborhood from a debilitating drought of T&A sightings.

"I never thought I'd see this day," said Juan Ramirez, 23, one of countless local residents who said they owed the gallant Emily more than they could ever repay. "You could see everything. Everything. Thank God she happened to be there, naked."

Enlarge Image Viewers

Displaying what eyewitnesses described as "enormous" bravery, an incredible rack, blond pubic hair, and a stalwart willingness to put others' needs before her own, the amazing woman reportedly pulled off a very tight sweater, paused to brush her long, flowing hair, and then reached with both hands behind her back to unfasten her bra. In an impressive act of charity and goodwill, she then proceeded to remove her pants and underwear—slowly, and with great care—before changing into a different outfit, thereby gaining status as a true hero to anyone within 150 feet of her window.

The heroic woman's nude form was reportedly visible for 35 to 40 heart-stopping seconds, and, according to sources, she never once wavered in the completion of her valiant act despite the chilly February air.

Although she did not reappear at the window for the remainder of the evening, nearby residents said Emily had already done far more for them than anyone could have expected, momentarily uniting the entire neighborhood in an unprecedented outpouring of private appreciation for her gracious nipple exposure.

"She is a true example of just how generous a human being can be," said Jim Petersen, 32, who lives two houses down from his new idol. "I think I speak for everyone huddled here tonight when I say I'll never forget what that benevolent woman did for us."

According to local sources, this one topless sacrifice has saved the entire block from the Emily's-naked-body deprivation that has haunted the area since she first moved in June 2007. After more than 18 excruciating months of drawn curtains, fears had begun to mount that the hypnotic curves of her glorious body might never be glimpsed by anyone in the vicinity.

"When I first saw her moving into the building, bending over to pick up cardboard box after cardboard box, I knew it was going to get bad," said neighbor Tommy Riordan, 35. "She had this tank top on, and cutoff—I don't even want to go into it. But it was clear that the whole block would be facing a major crisis from that moment on."

With no relief in sight, tension reportedly reached a breaking point last Saturday, when Emily answered the buzzer of her building and signed for a package wearing a terry-cloth robe. However, just when all seemed lost, sources said, she surprised everyone by removing not only her clothing, but also the neighborhood's heavy burden of half-formed naked-Emily fantasies.

"I didn't think we'd ever see all that pain and suffering alleviated, but God bless her, she did it," said Riordan, closing his eyes to remember the triumphant moment all over again.

"She did it!" he added with a cheer.

Though those most affected by her altruism said her fortitude and mettle deserves a showering of praise, the self-effacing Emily was too modest to take credit for her daring act.

"I just got home, changed out of my work clothes, and then went to the deli," the humble hero said. "I don't understand why everyone's treating me like some kind of saint."

"Who are you people?" she added. "Stop looking at me like that."

Original here

Mayor Aims to Add Spark to Flagging Sex Lives

Luis Acosta/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Skaters tried out the rink set up before Christmas in Mexico City’s main square. It was one of Mayor Marcelo Ebrard’s efforts to make the capital more livable (and maybe score a few votes in July).

By MARC LACEY

MEXICO CITY — Flashing a boyish grin, the silver-haired septuagenarian fidgeted nervously. His voice dropped to a whisper. A reddish hue enveloped his face. All this because he was asked how the latest social program to be offered by Mexico City’s government was affecting his home life.

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David Rochkind for The New York Times

Mexico City’s government is offering poor men 60 and over free Viagra. “Everyone has the right to be happy,” the mayor said.

“Things have changed,” Angel Posadas Sandoval, 74, finally confessed, not going into specifics but nonetheless making himself abundantly clear.

He was talking, however obliquely, about the free Viagra the government is giving away to poor men age 60 and above.

With midterm elections looming in July, Mayor Marcelo Ebrard has been rather creative in his attempts to make life more livable for the people of this sprawling metropolis, which finds itself clogged with traffic, overwhelmed by smog, prowled by criminals and reeling from the global financial crisis.

The mayor dumps sand at public pools to create artificial beaches. He bans cars from major roadways on Sundays and turns them into sprawling bike paths. The largest skating rink in the world, one that makes Rockefeller Center’s patch of ice look puny, went up in the Zócalo, Mexico City’s central square, for the second straight year over the Christmas holidays.

This weekend, for Valentine’s Day, the government is sponsoring a mass kiss-in, in an attempt to break the world record and raise awareness about domestic violence. “Bésame Mucho,” or “Kiss me a lot,” was recently adopted as the city’s motto by tourism officials, and Mr. Ebrard is expected to preside over the event, though his staff was not sure whether he would be publicly smooching his wife, a former soap opera actress.

But the free Viagra is what had Mr. Posadas, a retiree, hemming and hawing on a recent afternoon. After reading an announcement about Mr. Ebrard’s latest gesture, he summoned the courage to broach the topic of his erectile dysfunction at a local government health center. After undergoing an in-depth health exam and receiving a lecture on the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases, Mr. Posadas recently became among the first men in the city to be issued a handful of government-subsidized pills.

Apparently, they worked. “Now, I’m able to fulfill my wife,” he said. Mr. Posadas, the father of two and grandfather of six, acknowledged that his sex life had slowed somewhat in recent years.

The initiative may be more about politics than anything else, and with nationwide elections looming in July, candidates across Mexico are beginning to lay the groundwork for their campaigns.

To bolster the fortunes of his leftist Party of Democratic Revolution and to further his own dream of becoming the country’s president in 2012, Mr. Ebrard has pushed to legalize abortion and gay civil unions in the capital and crack down on illegal street vendors and unlicensed taxi operators, who have long been associated with crowds and crime. His plan to expand subway and bus service is ambitious and popular.

In announcing the erectile dysfunction program in November, Mr. Ebrard, 49, portrayed it as a way of bringing smiles to the faces of those who have reached the tercera edad, or third age, as Mexicans call the golden years.

“Everyone has the right to be happy,” the mayor said, noting that many of the poorest elderly people do not qualify for employer-based health plans and have been abandoned by their families. “They don’t have medical services, and a society that doesn’t care for its senior citizens has no dignity.”

An estimated half of Mexican men over the age of 40 experience difficulties achieving erections, said Dr. Irán Roldán, a specialist in geriatrics who helps run the new program at Mexico City’s Department of Public Health. But the subject has not been one that many men have felt comfortable talking about before.

Getting men into public clinics with the promise of free erectile medicine, Dr. Roldán said, could help them get treatment for other related health problems, like diabetes, hypertension, obesity and depression. “This is a public health problem,” she said.

So far, huge crowds have not turned out for the free Viagra, Levitra or Cialis, which are the three tablets being offered. Fewer than 100 inquiries have been made at health clinics and only about a dozen or so men whose erectile dysfunction has been diagnosed have begun the process to get the pills, health officials say. They range in age from their early 60s to 82.

Still, the new program has managed to provoke a spirited debate on a topic that was considered taboo before: sex among senior citizens.

One of Mr. Ebrard’s long-shot rivals for the presidency, Fidel Herrera, 59, the governor of Veracruz State from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, dismissed the Viagra handouts as ridiculous. “What’s the point of encouraging old people to have sex?” he asked in a recent interview. “There’s such a thing as nature. You can’t play God.”

But others disagreed with that take.

“Nobody pays attention to us,” said Bernarda Valenzuela, 77, whose husband died in an accident years ago. “Those children who care for their parents only worry about giving them food and changing their clothes, as if we were children. They forget that we feel many things, even sexual things. We’re not made of wood.”

But Pepe Castro, 65, a barber who dyes his hair jet black, thought the money spent on the pills could be better used on more pressing matters. “There’s other things more important,” he said. “Everyone wants sex, no matter the age, but the government ought to be paying for medicines to keep people alive, not this.”

As for Mr. Posadas, he has used three pills already and has three left from his initial batch. Soon, he will return to the clinic for more tests and, he hopes, another supply.

His artificial knee still hurts him and his cholesterol is elevated. But other than that, he said he felt quite robust. “I’ll enjoy whatever time I have left,” he said, flexing his biceps a bit.

Original here

Belated Aikman Graduation An Inspiration To Illiterate Teammate

LOS ANGELES – Former UCLA Bruin quarterback Troy Aikman completed two college courses this week and will finally graduate, twenty years after he left school for the NFL. In addition to fulfilling a promise to his mother, the NFL Hall of Famer’s story served as an inspiration to at least one teammate. Backfield-mate Emmitt Smith, who somehow received a diploma from the University of Florida in 1996, has returned to Bellview Elementary School in his hometown of Pensacola, FL, to learn remedial English.

“I first notice there was… …were some speakin problem when I got fired from job at ESPN, where on NFL Countdowns,” said Smith, “but I knew it were time to gets help when I tried to type up my resu… my res… my List of Job. Not only did my word prospector get blowed up, but my computer gets blowed up, too.”

ESPN doesn't pay Emmitt to speak.  Oh, wait.

ESPN doesn't pay Emmitt to speak. Oh, wait.

Bellview Principal Orville Burgess originally declined comment, citing privacy reasons. She eventually agreed to the following statement:

“Emmitt is functionally illiterate. The staff at Bellview Elementary and I are pleased to assist him in any way we can. Please allow him the privacy to sit in the little kiddies’ desk without public scrutiny in this brave time and please no cameras during recess. I must admit to laughing when he said that ‘Tom Brady needs to get in his lineman’s behind.’ It’s almost a shame we won’t hear any more such wisdom.”

At press time, this publication is still attempting to confirm that the school specifically banned Troy Aikman from visiting Smith due to allegations that he scared several of the little boys.

Reaction at the University of Florida, Smiths alma mater, was mixed. “We certainly wish Emmitt all the best.” said University Chancellor Dr Bernard Machen. “He may be illiterate, but he’s still a Gator.”

“Unfortunately, there were a lot of things that happened back when Steve Spurrier was coach which we aren’t proud of now,” Machen continued. “Emmitt is just one disgrace of many from that era. A little part of me died every time he went on TV and tried to speak. I just hope he’s really trying to learn this time. He certainly never applied himself when he was here. I’m actually embarrassed that this university gave him a degree. On the other hand, some moron at ESPN actually thought it would be a good idea to pay him real money to speak in public.”

In Dallas, where Smith made his fame, the reaction was unconfirmed.

“How ‘bout them Cowboys?!” hollered one fan when asked about Emmitt. When asked his name, he simply yelled again, “How ‘bout them Cowboys?”

The fan took a deep breath, presumably to ask a third time – just in case anyone within the acre hadn’t heard him – but a mysterious man in a green jersey promptly punched him square in the mouth. The man in green then described his actions as “community service.” Next, he then proceeded to grab the Dallas fans Stetson hat and pass wind upon it, presumably continuing his community service project. Upon completion of this act, he next removed the fans Texas-shaped belt buckle from his designer jeans and introduced it elbow-deep into the fans intestinal cavity, where it now resides in close proximity to the Dallas fans head. Any relationship between the man in the green jersey and the writer should be dismissed as “purely coincidental.”

Estimates vary as to how long it will take Smith to complete his remedial training, but most experts figure it will take anywhere from 4 to 6 years for Smith to un-screw himself. Smith, however, is undeterred.

“This is important to… uh, for… uh, to… me,” Smith pleaded, “Like Jimmy V said, ‘don’t quit. Don’t even quit.’ And as my grammar get better, my writin get that much more better. And if Troy can graduamate, then why nots I? I has to change the stripes of this doggone leopard.”

Original here

Body Language Reveals Wealth

By Jeanna Bryner

A flashy handbag or Armani suit can signal a person's wealth, but so can their body language, according to a new study. People of higher socioeconomic status are more rude when conversing with others.

Psychologists Michael Kraus and Dacher Keltner of the University of California, Berkeley, videotaped pairs of undergraduate students who were strangers to one another, during one-on-one interviews. In total, 100 undergraduate students participated.

The researchers then looked for certain gestures that indicate level of interest in the other person during one-minute slices of each conversation.

They found that students whose parents were from higher socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds engaged in more of what he called "impolite" behaviors, such as grooming, doodling and fidgeting. Lower SES students showed more "I'm interested" gestures, including laughter and raising of the eyebrows

The higher SES students fidgeted with nearby objects for an average of two seconds, while those from lower SES backgrounds almost never fidgeted during the 60-second clips. Upper SES students also groomed themselves for short stints while lower SES students didn't. Rather, the lower SES students nodded their heads, laughed and raised their eyebrows an average of one to two seconds more than their upper SES counterparts.

"We're talking seconds here, but that is a pretty big difference when you consider that we coded one minute of interaction time," Kraus told LiveScience. "So how many times a day are you nodding if you're lower socioeconomic status?"

It comes down to our animalistic tendencies, Kraus explained. Like a peacock's tail, the seemingly snooty gestures of higher SES students indicates modern society's version of "I'm fit," and "I don't need you."

"In the animal world, conflict arises when you're battling for status. So it's adaptive for us to avoid those conflicts and tell us we know 'I'm higher status than you, so don't bother having a conflict with me,'" Kraus figures.

Lower SES individuals can't afford to brush off others. "Lower SES people have fewer resources, and by definition should be more dependent on others," Kraus said.

Original here

Abortion laws to blame for bush fires?

This is surely the most unusual statement made in the wake of Victoria's bushfires. A press release from Catch the Fire Ministries reads (in part):

CtfmCatch the Fire Ministries (CTFM) leader Pastor Danny Nalliah said he would spearhead an effort to provide every assistance to devastated communities, although he was not surprised by the bush fires due to a dream he had last October relating to consequences of the abortion laws passed in Victoria.

He said these bushfires have come as a result of the incendiary abortion laws which decimate life in the womb.

Yesterday (Monday 9th February 2009), the front page of the Herald Sun newspaper reported "The Darkest hour for Victoria".

A few months ago the news media should have reported "The darkest hour for the unborn" but unfortunately the "Decriminalization of Abortion bill" went through parliament and was passed, thus making many people call Victoria "the baby killing state of Australia", Mr Nalliah said.

He said on November 7th last year we had sent out an email to our national network and a posting on our website carried an urgent post titled, ‘STOP PRESS. URGENT PRAYER NEEDED REGARDING AUSTRALIA, ESPECIALLY THE STATE OF VICTORIA’ following a dream he had on the 21st of October 2008, which he shared with his team on 22nd October.

Following is an excerpt from the dream which was published in the article:

"In my dream I saw fire everywhere with flames burning very high and uncontrollably. With this I woke up from my dream with the interpretation as the following words came to me in a flash from the Spirit of God. That His conditional protection has been removed from the nation of Australia, in particular Victoria, for approving the slaughter of innocent children in the womb.”

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The 20 Wildest Webcams


WebcamI just watched a wedding, went deep-sea diving, and checked out a crowded karaoke bar--all without having to lift my keister off my cushiony desk chair.

I may be lazy, but I'm not alone. Reality TV has exposed us as a nation of voyeurs. Whether the subject on screen is people behaving naturally in the city or animals acting out in the wild, we love watching the parade go by--and these days, you don't even have to get dressed to get your peep on.

We've tracked down 20 of the wildest Webcams awaiting your eyes on the Internet. Some are amusing, some are adorable, and some are just plain unusual. But each is interesting in its own unique way. (Note: Webcams are notoriously flakey. Proceed at your own risk!)

So go ahead--take a look. You know you want to.

1. Truckin'

Buckle up and hit the road with a guy who calls himself "Big Rig Steve." Steve, a truck driver, installed a functioning Webcam on the dash of his semi. He uses a laptop with a mobile broadband modem to broadcast live streaming video of his adventures around the world. This is one cool use of technology well worth your visit.

2. Beautiful Bartenders

Beautiful Bartender WebcamThis bar in St. Paul, Minnesota, evidently has developed a reputation for putting the shakers and the taps in the hands of some good-looking gals. A strategically located Webcam lets you keep tabs on their serving technique and (of course) their many other fine attributes. From the look of their outfits, global warming has already hit Minnesota hard.

3. Eiffel Tower Interactive

Eiffel Tower WebcamEnjoy a stunning view of the 19th-century Parisian landmark, with full Webcam zooming and panning capabilities. Stop by the site at night (in France, that is) to see Gustave Eiffel's masterpiece fully illuminated. Note: You must sit through a brief pre-cam advertisement before the tower will appear in all its architectural glory.

4. Skater Central

Simi Valley Skatelab WebcamA pair of user-controllable Webcams offer you a front-row seat--and the ability to zoom and to pan horizontally and vertically--inside Skatelab skate park, in Simi Valley, California, with interesting views of multiple ramps. Don't forget your knee pads to protect your tender joints from sympathy pains.

5. A Whale of a Time

SeaWorld San Diego WebcamSee SeaWorld San Diego's Shamu and friends in all their belly-flopping glory. (In the image at right, Shamu lies upside down on the bottom of the tank, doing her impression of a "killed whale" instead of a killer whale.) Incidentally, Shamu is a stage name--and a trademarked one at that--for various orcas at various SeaWorlds; think Mickey Mouse or Ronald McDonald. The Webcam is live only from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time, with a replay starting at midnight.

6. Karaoke on Camera

The power of the Webcam brings endless fuzzy nights of uninhibited, atonal crooning behind a microphone into crystal-clear focus for all the world to enjoy. Two Friends Patio Restaurant in Key West, Florida, has set up a fun camera that lets you see and hear who's singing, and then gauge for yourself whether they've knocked back one mai tai too many. An eight-clip Karaoke Hall of Fame limited to Two Friends performers--including newlyweds from Chicago bringin' tha vanilla on "Ice Ice Baby"--sets the bar at a seemingly attainable height.

7. Guided Geyser

Yellowstone National Park WebcamThis breathtaking view of Yellowstone's Old Faithful Geyser tracks its regular eruptions, as well as blows from other steamholes nearby. The spectacle and the performer never disappoint. (Note: Internet Explorer is your best bet for experiencing a download-free eruption through this Webcam.)

8. Bubble Blaster

Bubble WebcamPress a button to blast bubbles through a Florida family's wired backyard. Why anyone would set up this unusual visitor experience is beyond us, but a "commercial bubble machine" pumps a trail of delicate soapy globes each time you hit the Bubbles button on the site--and it's pretty much irresistible. (We did it three times!) There's no audio component, so no Lawrence Welk accompaniment, unfortunately.

9. Stadium Snooping

Giants Jets Stadium WebcamWatch hardworking construction teams slowly piece together Meadowlands Stadium, the future shared NFL home of the New York Giants and the New York Jets. Now if someone can convince Arte Moreno to buy both teams, he'll be free to rename them "the New York Giants and New York Jets of East Rutherford, New Jersey."

10. Wakiki Beach

Wakiki Beach WebcamPack your virtual bags, hop into your virtual catamaran, and head over to Oahu. The City of Honolulu has set up streaming views of one of its most beautiful beaches, with a statue of surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku front and center. Adding to the mood is music that'll make you feel like a Hawaiian (or Jamaican--that second song has kind of a reggae flavor) prince or princess. Just remember to take off your crown and get back to work after a few minutes, your highness.

11. Elephants and Apes and Bears (Oh My)

San Diego Zoo Panda WebcamThe highly respected San Diego Zoo provides some "aww"-inspiring views of its exhibits with a set of four Webcams recording the antics of some of zoo's most celebrated denizens: apes (orangutans and siamangs, to be precise), African elephants, pandas, and polar bears.

12. Under the Sea

Monterey Bay Aquarium WebcamCheck out the medley of live underwater and above-water Webcams showing aquatic life at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. Attractions include cameras trained on the aquarium's kelp forest tank, outer bay tank, aviary, penguin exhibit, sea otter environment, and freshwater otter exhibit. All of those extremities adapted for underwater travel really put the web in Webcam.

13. Inside 'Ellen'

The Ellen Degeneres Show WebcamView behind-the-scenes activity at the studios of comedian Ellen Degeneres's talk show, in the form of still shots updated every 10 seconds from each of three Webcam, including one trained on the audience. This site also shows a cool record of the last 24 hours of video from each of the cameras.

14. Beach Bums

Tauranga City, New Zealand Beach WebcamYou can vicariously experience the good life down under through this Webcam as residents of Tauranga City, New Zealand, take to the waves. This interactive Webcam lets you scan the length of beautiful Mount Maunganui beach; a companion cam provides a panoramic view of Tauranga Harbour. And if your concerns are more pedestrian, the BayfairCam invites you to watch the foot traffic outside the entrance of a Kmart in the Bayfair Shopping Centre in Mount Maunganui.

15. Niagara Falls

Niagra Falls WebcamThis Webcam, perched atop the Embassy Suites Hotel on the Ontario side of the Niagara River, provides a spectacular live view of the rip-roaring vertical rapids of Niagara Falls, where visitors have traveled to ogle the thundering whitewater (and to honeymoon) since around 1820.

16. Cubicle Cam

Mandy's Cubicle WebcamEscape the drudgery and sterile solitude of your cubicle by visiting Mandy, a Jersey girl who gives the world a 9:30-to-6:30 (Eastern Time) window into her desk-bound work life. Thanks to her Webcam's fishbowl lens, her workplace resemble the brightly lit interior of a jumbo jet. How does her ergonomic setup compare to yours?

17. Whiskey Watching

The Bruichladdich Distillery on Scotland's Isle of Islay has set up a moving camera that enables you to watch a fine single-malt whiskey mature. (But please, don't fall for the "Smell Whisky online" feature.) Warning: This riveting experience is not for the faint of heart; if you can handle it, however, you may be ready to graduate to the Official Watching Paint Dry Webcam, for an eyeful of a process that doesn't take 10 years to complete.

18. The Wedding Chapel

Las Vegas Wedding Chapel WebcamWalk down the aisle with starry-eyed couples at a Las Vegas wedding chapel. The Chapel Cams aren't always available, but click Other Cameras and then Multiple Camera Views for a reliable stream. (Note: We suspect that late-night viewing is the most productive.) Extra points for a Britney sighting.

19. Poolside Party

Myrtle Beach, S.C. WebcamOnce the weather warms up, this poolside Webcam will let you watch the crowds chilling in and around the pools at the Avista Resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. (Note: In winter, the chilling may be a bit close to the bone to encourage much activity.) A quick pan up, and you can scan the shore, too.

20. Tee Time

You may not have time to tee off during the day, but that doesn't mean you can't stop by the oldest golf course in the world. St. Andrew's Old Course in Scotland gives you a multicamera, user-controlled panel to take an armchair stroll around the grounds and see how the day's players are doing. Morning is the best time to visit from the States because of the time difference.

All right, you have your online sightseeing roadmap--now get started on your adventures. Just don't get too excited and do something silly like set up a Webcam of you watching Webcams. That might be getting a little too wild.

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5 Reasons Being Single Sucks Even More Than You Thought

By Dan Seitz


There's a lot to love about being single. You save money on Valentine's Day gifts, you get to meet new and interesting people and sometimes you even get to have sex with them.

But it's not all knocking boots and freedom. There are some aspects of single life that might, in fact, be seen as less than desirable. And then there are these five facts that will make you wish you got married in high school ...

#5.
You Get Paid Less

Single People Tell Themselves:

Of course my married co-workers take home a little more scratch than me! They tend to be older and lamer, and most corporate pay-scales are directly tied to how old and lame you are.


"We deserve more money, because we're so close to death."

The Truth:

You've got one part right: Your married co-workers take home more money. Just how much you're getting cornholed depends on who you ask, but a recent study pegged it at about 27 percent.

But it's not just age. The above study was based on identical twins where the bachelor was just as educated as his married dopelganger. In fact, even if you and a married man do the same job at the same level of competence for the same number of years, the guy with the ring takes home more than you.


"And I don't even like my wife, you chump!"

There are a couple of possible explanations for this and, contrary to what you might want to believe, none of them involve your boss being jealous of your electrifying sex life. The explanation married guys are most likely to cite is a little old fashioned elbow grease. It's hard not to hustle when the option behind door number two is "let your wife and kids starve to death." Meanwhile, single guys are more likely to take a sick day to sleep off an especially bad hangover, or quit a great job because the nachos in the cafeteria suck.

And even if your married co-worker is the slap dick and you're the responsible one, the perception still may not change. From your boss's perspective, that guy's money is going toward feeding his kids. Yours could be going toward any number of elicit activities he's vaguely aware of. One of those sex parties he's seen on those HBO documentaries, perhaps.

#4.
You Work More

Single People Tell Themselves:

In an unprecedented act of kindness, American corporations decided their employees were working too hard and began enforcing something called "work/life balance." Of course they had their selfish reasons. A happier employee will do better work, and get sick less. But who cares? Less work means more time for us single folk to go out and have indiscriminate sex with one another, right?

The Truth:

If you're single, work/life balance is yet another way for the world to punish you for being unloved. One way the "balance" is enforced is the Family and Medical Leave Act, which gives any employee the right to take time off if a spouse, child or parent gets sick.

But what if you're struggling to save up enough money for a ring for your girlfriend of seven years when she gets hit by a bus? According to work/life balance, you'd better have some vacation time saved up. Otherwise, you're just going to have to learn to weep a little quieter, because you're sort of bumming out the rest of the folks in Accounts Receivable.


Take it outside.

There's also the unofficial considerations. Married employees simply have more legitimate excuses to ask for time off: a kid's birthday party, an anniversary dinner, Christmas. Yes, single people are more likely to be asked to work on holidays. The logic goes: You're single, you don't have a wife or kids, what could you possibly have to do? It doesn't matter if you were planning to spend the day delivering presents to sick children. Someone's got to pick up the slack for the married guy who keeps taking time off to attend his daughter's dance recital.


"Dance Recital."

But don't worry too much about vacation time. Thanks to something called per person double occupancy (PPDO), you wouldn't be able to go on good vacations anyways. Essentially, hotels, cruise lines, pretty much anything that isn't a plane or a train, is designed and priced for couples. The travel industry wants as many people as possible roaming the streets in a capitalist frenzy. The more people they can pack into a hotel or a cruise ship, the happier they are. If that means punishing you for being unloved, so be it. Maybe you'll learn not to be so lonely next time.

#3.
The Government Hates You

Single People Tell Themselves:

The tax code has something called the "marriage penalty," which is supposed to make married couples pay more. See? Uncle Sam remembers what it was like to be a squirrel trying to get a nut.

The Truth:

Actually, 51 percent of married couples get a tax bonus, and it can be up to $1300 a freaking year. Just enough for your co-worker to take his wife on that Hawaiian vacation while you do all his work.

The benefit comes if there's an income disparity; i.e. one partner is making more than the other. If they're pulling in the mad bucks and their spouse is working a part time job, or just a full-time job that sucks, they wind up paying less. You're stuck with the full tab.

To add a little salt to the hemorrhaging wound in your bank account, married couples can choose to file jointly or separately. So they have plenty of wiggle room to get the lowest taxes possible. So basically, instead of getting a tax break, you're doing the equivalent of buying another wedding gift for all the happily married couples you know every April 14th.


You paid for that wine. And that mustache.

And if you think the government's a dick to private citizens around tax time, you should try fighting wars for them. You might expect the military to pay people who get shot at pretty well, regardless of whether or not they're married. But in fact, a soldier with a ring on their finger is entitled to an extra $250 a month based on a piece of legislation left over from WWI called Family Separation Allowance. They also get an increased housing allowance, which is untaxed money. So basically, married soldiers get bigger houses and enough money to install a jacuzzi in the backyard. But hey, at least you single folks get to play the field in Iraq.


Above: The field in Iraq.

#2.
People Hate You

Single People Tell Themselves:

Fine, so I'm poor, over-worked and my government hates me. So what? That doesn't mean I should rush into anything. Only fools rush in! Elivis said that, and he was practically a genius. It's not like I should shack up with the next biologically viable human being I pass on the street, right? Right?

The Truth:

Rutgers University did a study that gathered empirical data of social stigma associated with being single and, well ... it's not pretty. Single men were viewed as being stupid and dishonest, and single women were more likely to be harassed and treated badly at restaurants. In fact, the study yielded so much material, that report we linked up there runs 58 freaking pages.

Even with the divorce rate hovering around 50 percent, marriage is still considered the norm. And if you're single for too long, there's a chance you'll stay that way.


You. Forever.

Time spent single is a lot like time spent in the bathroom. It's the most natural thing in the world, until you're there just a moment too long. But once you hit that point, there's no turning back. People start to wonder what's wrong with you. Gross images start popping into their heads. The next time they see you, you might smell a little funny to them. But hey, look on the bright side, at least nothing's actually wrong with you, right?

#1.
You Are Going to Die Soon

Single People Tell Themselves:

Well, at least I have my health...

The Truth:

We'd hate to send the message that you single folks are all alone in this world, with nobody to rely on but yourself ... since you can't even rely on yourself, really. See, even your body hates you for being single.


"Hello? Anyone?"

Opinions vary on why single people are more likely to get sick and die. Some think it's because marriage offers moral support to get through the tough times. Others think it's just that a spouse is more likely to nag you into going to the doctor. Of course those are things you can counteract without getting married. Just buy a dog and schedule regular medical checkups, right?

But that won't change the fact that married people have a better immune systems than you. They don't have to be happily married. Even divorced people are better at fighting off illness. It's like marriage is an all purpose vaccination that never wears off.


"If only he would've married. Then he wouldn't be so pathetic. And dead."

You'd think the health care system would be designed to accommodate all the strange and fascinating diseases you single folks have waiting in your future. But married people get the better of that too, often choosing between two subsidized plans, and paying less per person. In fact, they get such a good deal that people literally get married just to get on their partner's health plan. While this might sound pathetic to you now, it will sound a lot more reasonable when you realize that the grapefruit sized lump on your neck isn't going to remove itself. If it does remove itself, you're probably going to have to go to the ER and get that shit stitched up.

But hey, happy Valentine's Day single people! You might want to hang onto all that money you're saving on gifts.

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8 TV Ads That Hate Women

By Cole Gamble


Advertisers use three main strategies to lure folks into buying their products: sexism, boobs and sexism. Since Cracked already presented a lengthy dissertation on the enchanting properties of boobs (published in Popular Mechanics, thank you), we thought it high time to cover the other side of the equation. So here are the eight most glaringly sexist commercials of all time.

#8.
Goodyear Polyglas Tire

We can't stress enough how important it is to have safe tires.

After a couple bloated Midwesterners speak earnestly about the virtues of the Goodyear Polyglas Tire, we get down to the nitty-gritty. Cue the perilous music.

Announcer: But a Polyglas tire means more when your wife is driving at night.

Look at her eyes glazed over in terror. Traffic! Potholes! Pedestrians! As reflecting street signs and traffic lights explode across her retina like a Michael Bay movie, the lady driver retreats into her primitive reptile brain. She's unable to do much more than dart her head around and wait for death.

But thank fucking God she's on Goodyear Polyglas Tires. Amazingly she makes it to the airport to pick up her husband, the George to her Lenny, and she immediately scoots the hell over into the passenger seat and lets a MAN behind the wheel.

Hubby gives her a look like she's a dog trying to stand on her hind legs. "Isn't that cute, she thinks she's people!"

#7.
Diamonds Are Forever

The "Women are attracted to shiny things" card has been played by advertisers before, but De Beers takes no prisoners.

A man proclaims love for his woman loudly, bravely and in one of the most romantic spots in the world.

This generally irks her, and so he gives her a diamond and she's okay with him again. Because passionate heartfelt sentiment doesn't hold a candle to cold, hard ice.

Advertisers exhibit no shame when it comes to interminably reminding men no matter how much love and heart they pour into a relationship, you will never mean anything more to your mate than the sheer mass of pricey trinkets you can cram down her throat. No one is more blatant about this than the diamond industry. Constantly they remind you "A Diamond is Forever," which is true. That's why it's the first thing she demands in your divorce hearing. It would be nice if a guy could avoid going into severe debt with rare gems by simply looking directly into his loved one's eyes and saying meaningfully, "I love you."

Too bad she won't be able to hear him; apparently the only language women understand is the Morse code of twinkling shiny things.

#6.
Got PMS? Milk Ad

Men everywhere make a mad dash for milk, buying up cow juice in ridiculous quantities. Some even resort to raiding milk trucks.

Why are all these men buying milk? Because according to the milk council, milk can dampen the effects of PMS.

Watch the guy intrepidly enter the house armed with milk like it's a sword to slay the fire breathing dragon that is his wife's angry vagina.

#5.
Rose Petal Collage

"Come on into my home!" this commercial's jingle begins. Little girls play about a miniature house, smiling so broadly the producers must have told them they could trade their impending puberty in for a pony.

The song continues to rhapsodize about the joys of cleaning, doing laundry and taking care of babies. Another lyric, "Taking care of my home is a dream, dream, dream."

So true, what little girl doesn't dream of a future of domestic servitude, never leaving the house and wondering why their husbands need to take 12 "business trips" a month?

This commercial proclaims, "Little girls, realize your dreams of growing up to do household chores! There's no glass ceiling in the go-go world of homemaking."

Sounds antiquated? This spot came out last year.

#4.
Folger's: Pretty Wife, Ugly Coffee

In the 60s, Folger's was the king of sexist commercials.

In this one, the dutiful wife waits on her man with skin-crawling obsequiousness. The man tells her she makes crappy coffee and she looks at him like he just snapped a kitten's neck.

Luckily the wife has a vaguely foreign neighbor who turns her on to the magic of Folger's. The next morning, wifey serves it and daddy approves. The ad then shows this sending her into such a paroxysm of delight that we expect her uterus to go flying out of her hard enough to break a window.

#3.
National Airlines - Fly Maggie

Just a few decades ago, little girls only saw two career options in the movies and on TV: receptionist or stewardess (now known as the less gendered "flight attendant").

During the golden age of air travel, airlines used the attractiveness of their stewardesses as a selling point. Here we have a stewardess, apparently named Maggie, who doesn't sell you on National Airlines safety record. She doesn't advertise National Airlines comfort and service. She doesn't even tell you of National Airlines competitive prices or on-time track record.

No Maggie gives you but one reason to fly her airline: She has an attractive vagina.

This commercial wastes no time. It cuts to the chase and pretty much says, "If you fly National, you get to bang Maggie." You hear that? Reach for the sky, aspiring little girls!

#2.
Yoplait

Here we have two women who are super gay for yogurt, clearly.

Lounging in robes, as sassy single women are wont to do, they completely lose their shit for fruit-flavored paste.

In the throes of their yogurt orgasms (yorgasms?), such womanly pleasure reminds them of other female delights: Shoes! Shopping! Chocolate! It's like the Cathy comic strip come to life.

#1.
First Ever Barbie Commercial

The commercial that launched 150,000,000 eating disorders.

Original Barbie had so many career options, like dressing pretty and getting married. As the commercial jingle informs us,

"Barbie's small and so petite,
Her clothes and figure look so neat...
Some day I'm gonna be exactly like you
Till then I know just what I'll do.
I'll make believe I'm you."

We don't know if Barbie was the first personal shame device offered commercially, but she certainly is the most successful one. Whenever a little girl starts feeling good about herself, good old Barbie is there on the dresser with her patronizing stare to take the little lady down a few pegs (confident women are the ruination of modern society, we tells ya!). Barbie will always be there to remind the girl, "You'll never be as pretty or as loved as me."

What an insufferable bitch. No wonder Skipper took to cutting herself.

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