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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bamboozled! Amazing pictures of a 30 stone Silverback gorilla who has one too many - and ends up with a sore head

By Bill Mouland

When wildlife photographer Andy Rouse was told he would find a family of endangered gorillas high on the mountain, he did not expect to find them this high.

Sitting back in the foliage as if it was a cocktail bar, the mountain gorillas had been gorging on alcoholic sap from fresh bamboo shoots and were looking distinctly the worse for wear.

Some were propping up the bar with a bleary air, while others staggered to their feet obviously hoping the mountain police would not ask them to walk in a straight line.

Kwitondo , the Silverback

And for my opening number... Kwitondo is about to do it his way, but first a swift half of potent alcoholic sap from a bamboo shoot to get him in the mood

Kwitondo

Who are you looking at? A fighting drunk Kwitondo takes offence when he's reminded that it's his round

'It was not exactly Gorillas In The Mist, more like gorillas who were p*****,' said Rouse, 43, who was on his fourth trip to see the animals in the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda, Central Africa.

'I had heard they sometimes get like this, but I had never actually seen it. It was just like any family party when one or two members have a little bit too much to drink.

'The boss of the group, a huge silverback called Kwitonda, and some of the younger males were completely out of it.

Kwitonda

How many fingers am I holding up? Kwitonda suddenly feels the effects of his liquid lunch as he finds difficulty in focusing on the forest about him

Kwitonda

One too many: The sozzled gorilla can't resist last orders, but finds he's reached his limit and sinks into a maudlin reverie before starting to nod off

'Some were running round cackling to each other, others were going mad swinging through the trees, some were just lying on the ground in an inebriated state.

'Normally, they eat handfuls of other vegetation, like a sort of salad to soak up the sap, but this time they were just enjoying a drink.'

The bam-boozled family lives between 8,000 and 13,000 ft up the mountain and are some of the 380 gorillas still living in Rwanda, an area made famous after Dian Fossey's conservation work there.

Mountain Gorilla

Closing time: A pie-eyed and legless Kwitonda keels over as he attempts to get up from the bar

Mountain Gorilla

Hangover: He wakes up the next day with a pounding headache, but he has the perfect solution - another hair of the gorilla, barman!

The book and film, Gorillas In The Mist, told how the animals were threatened by loss of habitat, poachers and disease. Miss Fossey was murdered by poachers in 1985.

To protect the gorillas, photographers and safari groups are not allowed to go within 21ft of them.

Mr Rouse said: 'I was allowed to stay with them for only an hour each day and it was difficult taking photographs of them at their party because I was laughing so much. It was hilarious.'

As these remarkable pictures show, 30-stone Kwitonda could hold his liquor - up to a point.

'When I went back the next day, it was all very quiet, as if they were nursing gorilla-sized hangovers.'

Original here

Pink elephant is caught on camera

By Rebecca Morelle


Pink baby elephant in Botswana (Mike Holding)
The little pink calf was spotted in amongst an 80-strong elephant herd

A pink baby elephant has been caught on camera in Botswana.

A wildlife cameraman took pictures of the calf when he spotted it among a herd of about 80 elephants in the Okavango Delta.

Experts believe it is probably an albino, which is an extremely rare phenomenon in African elephants.

They are unsure of its chances of long-term survival - the blazing African sunlight may cause blindness and skin problems for the calf.

Mike Holding, who spotted the baby while filming for a BBC wildlife programme, said: "We only saw it for a couple of minutes as the herd crossed the river.

"This was a really exciting moment for everyone in camp. We knew it was a rare sighting - no-one could believe their eyes."

Baby pink elephant in Botswana
The harsh sun poses a serious threat to the animal's survival, say experts

Albino elephants are not usually white, but instead they have more of a reddish-brown or pink hue.

While albinism is thought to be fairly common in Asian elephants, it is much less common in the larger African species.

Ecologist Dr Mike Chase, who runs conservation charity Elephants Without Borders, said: "I have only come across three references to albino calves, which have occurred in Kruger National Park in South Africa.

Baby pink elephant in Botswana (Mike Holding)
Surviving this very rare phenomenon is very difficult in the harsh African bush
Dr Mike Chase, Elephants Without Borders

"This is probably the first documented sighting of an albino elephant in northern Botswana.

"We have been studying elephants in the region for nearly 10 years now, and this is the first documented evidence of an albino calf that I have come across."

He said that the condition might make it difficult for the calf to survive into adulthood.

"What happens to these young albino calves remains a mystery," said Dr Chase.

"Surviving this very rare phenomenon is very difficult in the harsh African bush. The glaring sun may cause blindness and skin problems."

However, he told BBC News that there might be a ray of hope for the pink calf as it already seemed to be learning to adapt to its condition.

I have learned that elephants are highly adaptable, intelligent and masters of survival
Dr Mike Chase, Elephants Without Borders

Dr Chase explained: "Because this elephant calf was sighted in the Okavango Delta, he may have a greater chance of survival. He can seek refuge under the large trees and cake himself in a thick mud, which will protect him from the Sun.

"Already the two-to-three-month-old calf seems to be walking in the shade of its mother.

"This behaviour suggests it is aware of its susceptibility to the harsh African sun, and adapted a unique behaviour to improve its chances of survival."

He added: "I have learned that elephants are highly adaptable, intelligent and masters of survival."

Original here

Walking catfish spotted in the Thames by angler

Walking catfish: Walking catfish spotted in the Thames by angler
Walking Catfish

The air-breathing fish, which can survive out of water for 'extended periods' as it searches for water, was found in the Thames Estuary at Woolwich by angler Birol Koca.

Mr Koca immediately phoned the Environment Agency who sent an officer to the scene to confirm the find.

The walking catfish, or Clarias batrachus, is a species of freshwater airbreathing catfish found primarily in Southeast Asia.

The fish, which could be a 'significant risk' to the environment, used its pectoral fins to 'wiggle' on land as it searches out a new home.

Catfish can pose a threat to the environment if they escape into the wild by competing with native fish for food and habitats and spreading disease or parasites, the Environment Agency warned.

In Florida the fish has become a 'pest' after it was brought over from Thailand in the 1960s.

Residents of the US state regularly have to stop cars to wait for huge 'shoals' of the fish to pass as they shuffle along the road looking for water.

Mr Koca said: "I spotted the fish laying on the shore and instantly recognised it as a catfish.

"I knew that these fish should not be in our local rivers so I called the Environment Agency's 24 hour incident line. It looked dead, but I wanted to make sure."

Fisheries officer Emma Barton said: "Non-native fish can pose a significant risk to the local environment.

"The local angler acted very responsibly. By working with us, they have helped ensure that the Thames and the wider environment is protected. We urge others to do the same."

She added: "This species which is native to South East Asia has the ability to walk over land using its stiff pectoral 'spines' and a back-and-forth movement of the body.

"It also has an air-breathing organ which functions much like a lung when it's on land."

It is likely that the catfish was illegally introduced from an aquarium after it grew too large for its home.

Local Graham Telfer, 32, said: "Let's hope this isn't a sign of things to come. The last thing we need is a bunch of walking catfish taking to the streets.

"Hopefully we've caught this in time and we're not going to face an invasion of these bloody things."

Original here

Mystery woman looked after elephant in back yard

Mystery woman looked after elephant in back yard
Belfast Zoo has launched a bid to identify a mystery woman who looked after one of its elephants in her backyard to save it from German bombs during the Second World War. Photo: PA

The baby elephant, Sheila, was moved out of the zoo because of fears it could be killed or freed to wreak havoc by bombers during the 'Belfast Blitz' of 1941.

She was one of the lucky ones at the zoo, which is built on the hills in the north of the city.

Many animals were killed because of public safety fears of an escape during the bombing.

The Ministry of Public Security ordered 23 zoo animals to be killed in case they got free and attacked people - they included a tiger, a black bear, a lynx, a hyena, two polar bears and six wolves.

Instead of meeting the same fate, Sheila was walked down the road by keepers to a red-brick house on the Whitewell Road where a woman gave her sanctuary in her back yard for several months until the bombing was over.

The woman has never been identified and the zoo knows her only as "the elephant angel".

But as it celebrates its 75th birthday zoo bosses have decided to finally identify the elephant angel.

It says it has many unusual stories from down the years, but is convinced that of the angel must be their most curious.

Zoo manager Mark Challis said: "The care provided by our mystery lady is unique to zoo history and we would like to make contact with her family and properly document this gap in our past."

The zoo has a couple of grainy black and white photographs of two women sitting on a garden seat watching Sheila drinking out of a tin bucket beside the back door of the house.

Giving house board to an elephant may be frowned upon by today's animal welfare officers, but in wartime needs must.

And the love and care Sheila got during her months in her temporary home did her no harm - she went back to the zoo and lived for another quarter of a century, dying of a skin complaint in 1966.

Original here

China's last eunuch spills sex secrets

Photo

By Emma Graham-Harrison

BEIJING (Reuters) - Only two memories brought tears to Sun Yaoting's eyes in old age -- the day his father cut off his genitals, and the day his family threw away the pickled remains that should have made him a whole man again at death.

China's last eunuch was tormented and impoverished in youth, punished in revolutionary China for his role as the "Emperor's slave" but finally feted and valued, largely for outlasting his peers to become a unique relic, a piece of "living history."

He had stories of the tortuous rituals of the Forbidden City, Emperor Pu Yi's last moments there and the troubled puppet court run by the Japanese during the 1930s. He escaped back to the heart of a civil war, became a Communist official and then a target of radical leftists before being finally left in peace.

This turbulent life has been recorded in the "The Last Eunuch of China" by amateur historian Jia Yinghua, who over years of friendship drew out of Sun the secrets that were too painful or intimate to spill to prying journalists or state archivists.

He died in 1996, in an old temple that had become his home, and his biography was finally published in English this year.

It unveils formerly taboo subjects like the sex life of eunuchs and the emperor they served, the agonizing castrations often done at home and also often lethal, and the incontinence and shame that came with the promise of great power.

"He was conflicted over whether to tell the secrets of the emperor," said Jia, adding that Sun preserved a loyalty to the old system because he had dedicated so much of his life to it.

"I was the only person he trusted. He did not even confide in his family, after they threw away his 'treasure,'" Jia added, using traditional eunuchs' slang for their preserved genitals.

They were discarded during the chaotic 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, when having anything from the "old society" could put lives at risk.

"He only cried about two things; when telling me about the castration and about the loss of his 'treasure'," said Jia, who works as an energy bureaucrat, but devotes all his spare time to chronicling the dying days of Imperial China after a childhood enthralled by the eunuchs and princes who were his neighbors.

STERILITY AND POWER

Over years of painstaking research, he has gleaned arcane details about every aspect of palace life, along with secrets about the emperor's sexuality and cruelty that would look at home on the front page of tabloid newspapers.

For centuries in China, the only men from outside the imperial family who were allowed into the Forbidden City's private quarters were castrated ones. They effectively swapped their reproductive organs for a hope of exclusive access to the emperor that made some into rich and influential politicians.

Sun's impoverished family set him on this painful, risky path in hopes that he might one day be able to crush a bullying village landlord who stole their fields and burned their house.

His desperate father performed the castration on the bed of their mud-walled home, with no anesthetic and only oil-soaked paper as a bandage. A goose quill was inserted in Sun's urethra to prevent it getting blocked as the wound healed.

He was unconscious for three days and could barely move for two months. When he finally rose from his bed, history played the first of a series of cruel tricks on him -- he discovered the emperor he hoped to serve had abdicated several weeks earlier.

"He had a very tragic life. He had thought it was worthwhile for his father, but the sacrifice was in vain," Jia said, in a house stacked with old books, newspapers and photos.

"He was very smart and shrewd. If the empire had not fallen there is a high chance he would have become powerful," Jia added.

The young ex-emperor was eventually allowed to stay in the palace and Sun had risen to become an attendant to the empress when the imperial family were unceremoniously booted out of the Forbidden City, ending centuries of tradition and Sun's dreams.

"He was castrated, then the emperor abdicated. He made it into the Forbidden City then Pu Yi was evicted. He followed him north and then the puppet regime collapsed. He felt life had played a joke at his expense," Jia said.

Many eunuchs fled with palace treasures, but Sun took a crop of memories and a nose for political survival that turned out to be better tools for surviving years of civil war and ideological turbulence that followed.

"He never became rich, he never became powerful, but he became very rich in experience and secrets," Jia said.

Original here

Michigan 15-year-old dies after police Taser him

BAY CITY, Mich. – Police in Michigan say a 15-year-old boy has died after being Tasered by officers who were trying to break up a fight.

Police didn't release his name and say state police are investigating.

A Bay City police news release says officers answered a report of an early morning fight on Sunday. The statement says two males were arguing in an apartment, and one of them "attempted to fight the officers."

Police say officers Tasered him, and his reaction led them to immediately call for emergency medical help. He was pronounced dead at Bay Regional Medical Center.

Deputy Chief Thomas Pletzke tells WNEM-TV police placed one officer on administrative leave.

Original here

How to lose your job in 140 characters or less

by Olivier Blanchard

Via the Thinkhammer blog and the I’m Not Really A Geek blog, this great little cautionary tale / wake-up call for people who don’t quite grasp that EVERYTHING they post on the internet is 100% public.

If you aren’t familiar with this story yet, let me set it up for you:

1. Dude gets job with Cisco.

2. Dude posts less than enthused opinion about the Cisco job on Twitter (actually naming Cisco as his new employer).

3. Cisco employee on Twitter spots the post and promptly responds.

4. Dude blocks his Twitter updates (hides them from public view)… but it’s too late. The damage is done, and he probably spends most of the day wondering if Cisco will now rethink its job offer.

Check this out:

theconnor_ciscofatty2

And the response by the Cisco guy:

fatty_answer

Ouch. @theconnor probably didn’t expect that, did he?

But the question is… What did he expect? That a comment posted on a public stream in the fastest growing social media “channel” on the planet, one currently used by 2,000,000 people and feeding into other services like Facebook and MySpace would go unnoticed?

Just because your boss, coworker, spouse or neighbor doesn’t know about Twitter, doesn’t read blogs and refuses to join FaceBook doesn’t mean your comments on the web won’t get back to him/her.

What you post on the internet today may not come back to haunt you tomorrow, but it definitely will someday. Everything on the web is archivable, which means it is also searchable. Comments you make today will be popping up in searches ten years from now.

What does this all mean? Simple: Everything you say/write can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion someday, somehow. Your behavior on the web can cost you a new job, a promotion, your career, your marriage, your friendships, endorsements, and even take you out of contention for college scholarships, military/law enforcement service, or public office.

So please, please, PLEASE, for your own sake THINK about what you are about to post to the web (especially blogs, social networking sites and Twitter). Before you click “send,” “publish” or “update,” assume that everyone you know will read your comment. And by everyone, I mean your boss, coworkers, parents, grandparents, exes, recruiters, future employers, and yes, even your kids (even if you don’t have any yet).

Use your brains. The internet is a very public place. More so even than the water cooler. Exercise the same common sense and decorum you would in “real life” social situations.

Have a great Thursday.

Original here

In Canada, Helping Avert Attack on a British School

By JOHN F. BURNS

LONDON — The police in Britain have credited a group of young Internet users with alerting them to a Web posting by a 16-year-old who said he planned to attack his high school with “arson and other forms of violence,” enabling officers to arrest the teenager as he approached the school carrying a knife, matches and a plastic jerrycan of what the police described as “flammable liquid.”

Skip to next paragraph
John Morstad

J. P. Neufeld, a Montreal student, notified the authorities after seeing a threat posted on the Web. The British police then arrested a 16-year-old who they said had a can of a “flammable liquid.”

The incident on Tuesday morning, which involved a high school in Attleborough, a market town 85 miles northeast of London, occurred at a time of growing concern about the role of Internet chat rooms and other forums in giving a platform to disturbed young people with resentments that eventuate in attacks on schools and other targets. In some fatal school attacks in the United States and elsewhere, the assailants’ use of Web forums to air festering grievances has been seen as part of the process that led to the assaults.

In the Attleborough case, the teenager’s use of a Web forum to announce his plan appears to have been the step that made it possible for the attack to be foiled.

Still more notable, the first alert to the police in Norfolk, the largely rural county where Attleborough is located, came in a telephone call from a 21-year-old student in Montreal, more than 3,200 miles away, after he read the posting threatening the school attack while eating his breakfast in a university dormitory.

Only 50 minutes elapsed between that call and the arrest of the youth outside the school, according to a timeline drawn up by J. P. Neufeld, the Montreal student, who said he drew on his own computer records and the accounts given to him by the Norfolk police. In that time, Mr. Neufeld said by telephone on Friday, two other people browsing on the same Web site, newgrounds.com, which is used for sharing music files and user-created animations, provided the information that enabled the police to identify the school that was the target of the planned attack, and the would-be attacker.

The Norfolk police have confirmed that they arrested the 16-year-old student and detained him under Britain’s mental health act. They declined to identify him.

A police spokesman, Superintendent Katie Elliott, credited the arrest to Mr. Neufeld and the other Web browsers who provided warning of the attack. “It goes to show that things written on the Internet can be viewed across the world,” she said, “and we thank the person who has read this and done something about it.”

Mr. Neufeld, who is from Winnipeg, Manitoba, said he was in his dormitory room at 6:40 a.m. on Tuesday, browsing on his computer, when he noticed the posting threatening the attack. What drew his attention to the posting, he said, was that it carried a signature in initials, identified in British news accounts as T. B., and a photograph beneath it taken in the aftermath of the 1999 attack on Columbine High School in Colorado, showing the feet of some of the 13 victims of the two Columbine students who committed the massacre.

The posting consisted of an announcement of the impending attack, Mr. Neufeld said. “What he wrote was, ‘Today at 11:30 GMT I will attack my school with arson and other forms of violence. Those bastards will pay.’ ”

Mr. Neufeld said that the message urged browsers to “watch this site” and to link to the Web sites of local news media in Norfolk, including the BBC’s newsroom in the region, but that it gave no indication which school, or even which town, was the target.

Mr. Neufeld said he made a cellphone call immediately to the Norfolk police. He said his sense of urgency was prompted by his realization that the four-hour time difference between Montreal and Britain meant that there was less than an hour between his sighting of the posting and the time given for the planned attack.

When he spoke to the police, he said, explaining what he had seen on the Web, “they were very polite, and made it plain that they didn’t think it was a hoax at all.”

Mr. Neufeld said that within minutes of his spotting the posting, another youth went online on the newgrounds.com Web site saying he was a “friend of the arsonist” and giving the teenager’s name and the name of the school. A third person, also in Britain and also familiar with the youth and the school, then made a call of his own to the Norfolk police, Mr. Neufeld said.

Until Friday, only sketchy accounts of the incident had appeared in Britain. A fuller account appeared Friday in The Globe and Mail, a Toronto newspaper, and in several regional newspapers in eastern England.

Mr. Neufeld, a student at Concordia University, said the incident demonstrated the ways in which individuals on the Web can contribute to the well-being of others.

“If somebody was standing on a street corner and said, ‘I’m going to go and blow up my school,’ somebody would report it to the police,” Mr. Neufeld said. “In that sense, the Internet is just another public space, where people have to keep their eyes and ears open.”

Original here

Google forced to black out hundreds of Street View photos after privacy protests - but site gets record number of visits

By Daily Mail Reporter

  • The Metropolitan Police deny they were consulted before launch of Street View
  • Google Maps received one in every 250 net users in UK on Friday

Hundreds of pictures from Google's new Street View service have been removed after concerns were voiced about invasion of privacy.

But Google has insisted it was 'less than expected'.

Google Maps received one in every 250 UK internet visits on Friday, with onsite traffic rising by 41 per cent, web monitoring firm Hitwise said.

Blacked out: This image of a man emerging from a sex shop in Soho has been removed

The firm added US Google Maps posted an 84 per cent increase in visits as British web users began checking out places in America.

The Street View application allows users to access 360-degree views of roads and homes in 25 British cities and includes photographs of millions of residential addresses, people and cars.

Google said some businesses had been quick to make the most of the new technology.

A Google spokeswoman said today the number of removal requests had reached the 'hundreds', but it had been 'less than expected' given the 'tens of millions' of images available on the site.

She said: 'We take privacy very seriously which is why when we announced Street View for the UK we explained our easy to use removals process for images people found inappropriate - simply click to report a concern and report the image.'

She added most images had been removed within hours of receiving a request and users could request car number plates to be more effectively blurred or images of their homes removed.

google street view

This image of youths throwing stones in Scotland spotted by the Mail Online reader

Another spokesman said the site had seen record numbers of visits since the launch.

Areas of cities across Britain have been 'blacked out' after a string of complaints from people captured by the U.S. firm's cameras.

Images of several homes were removed along with a one picture showing a man emerging from a sex shop in Soho, central London.

Thousands of pictures were believed to have been taken down but a Google spokesman today said it was in the hundreds.

Street View allows users to zoom in on homes and properties across the country, sometimes even through windows.

An image of a man vomiting outside a pub in Shoreditch, east London, was also blacked out by the firm. The screen now just says: 'This image is no longer available.'

But a picture of a man being arrested in Camden, north London is still available.

Have you spotted any quirky pictures on Street View? Email us a link to the image at stories@mailonline.co.uk

'We cannot give out numbers for the complaints we have received, but we are dealing with them and blacking out the images within hours,' said a Google spokeswoman.

'We know the service is not perfect, but we are relying on users to tell us where there are problems. We are happy to remove any images people are not happy with.'

The service, launched 48 hours ago, has already been hugely popular, with Google saying 'hundreds of thousands' of people had viewed London's streets.

At Thursday's launch the company pledged to blur all faces and numberplates using special software.

A spokesman for the Information Commissioner's Office yesterday said it will investigate any complaints.

Still on the site: Three police officers snapped arresting a man in Camden

'The ICO is satisfied that Google is putting in place adequate safeguards to minimise any risk to the privacy or safety of individuals,' he said.

'Individuals who have raised concerns with Google and who do not think they have received a satisfactory response can raise that concern with the ICO.'

Google unveiled the controversial Street View on Thursday. The images are not 'live' but were taken by a fleet of Google cars last summer as they drove along more than 2,000 miles of public roads.

Google says its software automatically blurs '99.9 per cent' of faces and car number plates.

Within hours of it going live the service, available through the Google Maps website, had attracted millions of hits.

But despite Google's pledge to protect privacy, not all faces and number plates were blurred, and some people were easily recognisable.

google

This image of a man being sick outside a poll hall in east London has been removed

Street View was launched in America two years ago and has since been expanded to cities in France, Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

The British version features tens of millions of photos of 25 cities including London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Manchester, Oxford and Leeds.

More towns and cities will be added over the next few years, and the photos are expected to be updated every two or three years.

Google believes Street View will be popular with shoppers trying to find stores, drinkers looking for pubs, and house buyers wanting to find out more about neighbourhoods.

The service is free and available on personal computers and to those with a mobile phone, iPhone or BlackBerry.

Google's Ed Parsons said the company would black out any photos if homeowners objected to their properties being on display using an online application form.

Street View London: people getting fined for not paying their fares on the bendy bus removed this morning

'Privacy is really important to us,' he said. 'We recognise that there have been concerns about that and we think we have addressed those concerns.'

He added: 'The images you see on Street View are the same images you would see if you were to walk or drive down the road yourself.'

A spokesman for Google said image were being taken down as people reported them via the website, something which is an on-going process and was a planned part of Street View.

The pictures are detailed enough to please even the most critical curtain twitcher. They reveal the scrawls of graffiti vandals and whether lawns are manicured or streets littered.

In America, one image - which has since been removed - showed a woman exposing her underwear as she got out of a car. Others showed a man apparently entering a sex shop and two women sunbathing on a lawn of a university campus.

How Street View works

Britain's data watchdog the Information Commissioner's Office was so concerned about Street View that it wrote to Google last year asking for privacy guarantees.

It said: 'We are satisfied that Google is putting in place adequate safeguards to avoid any risk to the privacy or safety of individuals-Further, there is an easy mechanism by which individuals can report an image that causes them concern to Google and request that it is removed.'

But the campaign group Privacy International says the website could be an invasion of privacy.

A spokesman said: 'These images are being captured without people's permission for commercial use, and we believe that is not legally acceptable.

'They are also putting into place a system for updating these images in the future, and for storing the images digitally where they could be misused.'

The British cities on Street View are Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Scunthorpe, Sheffield, Southampton, Swansea and York.

Original here

Boat Made of 16,000 Plastic Bottles to Sail from Cali to Australia

60,000 civilians to get lessons in how to spot terrorists as Jacqui Smith warns of random attacks

By Matthew Hickley

 Jacqui Smith

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith believes the Government and population must work together to protect Britain from terrorist attacks

Sixty thousand civilians are being trained to spot terrorists, Gordon Brown revealed yesterday.

In the latest Labour anti-terror initiative, huge numbers of staff on rail networks, at airports, shopping centres, public buildings and sports venues have been picked out by MI5 and the police to be taught how to watch for 'suspicious behaviour' and respond swiftly in the event of an atrocity.

The Home Office plans are likely to raise questions over the effectiveness of an army of amateur 'terrorist-watchers'.

There are fears they will swamp the police and security services with spurious alerts or single out law-abiding British Muslims, which could also inflame religious tensions.

Citing security grounds, the Home Office would not provide details of the training, which MI5 helped to draw up, beyond that it centred on improved vigilance and response to terrorist attacks, including evacuation and crowd-control procedures.

Writing in a Sunday newspaper, the Prime Minister said the public 'should be under no illusion' that 'the biggest security threat to our country and other countries is the murderous agents of hate that work under the banner of Al Qaeda'.


Home Office insiders acknowledged that for many of the 60,000, the training will merely build on similar duties they undertake as part of their everyday work.


The ambitious scheme is the latest in a series of Labour schemes on terror which have met with limited success.

It was announced as Home Secretary Jacqui Smith prepares to publish tomorrow what she claims is the Government's most detailed counter-terrorism strategy to date: Contest Two. It will take in lessons from the November attacks in Mumbai.

GUNMAN

Lessons have been learnt from the attacks in Mumbai in November which killed dozens of people

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Jacqui Smith

The Prime Minister has warned about the murderous threat Al Qaeda poses

On BBC1's Politics Show yesterday Miss Smith said an attack on Britain remained 'highly likely'.

Home Office officials said Britain would be spending £3.5billion a year on counterterrorismby 2011, while the number of specialist police officers has risen from 1,700 to 3,000 since 2003. Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said the public should help in fighting terrorism.

But he added: 'My big concern is that the Government is still not doing enough to tackle individuals and groups who are fostering the hatred and extremism that lies behind the terrorist threat.'

Original here

Playboy Posts Unedited Back Issues Online, for Free

Sex sells, especially when it's free.

Through a partnership between Microsoft and Bondi Digital Publishing, Playboy Enterprises has put 53 back issues of Playboy on the Web, viewable through Microsoft's Silverlight viewer.

The images are free to access at PlayboyArchive.com, with no age verification required.

The issues cover the years 1954 through 2007, and appear as they did in the print version, with advertisements left intact. To do so, Bondi Digital Publishing - the software pioneers that developed the platform for The Complete New Yorker - scanned and re-typed each issue of Playboy, the company said in a statement.

"Playboy has an incredibly rich history and an intensely loyal readership," said Hugh M. Hefner, Playboy founder, editor-in-chief and chief creative officer, in a statement. "This is the perfect opportunity to offer them something they have always wanted and also a great way to allow a whole new generation to easily explore the magazine."

Users will need to install Microsoft's Silverlight player, naturally. The Web component was developed with Microsoft's Partner of the Year, Vertigo.

The player does not allow full-screen viewing, but users can pan around the digital image, which loads large enough so that text can be easily read. When the archive first loads, an array of Playboy covers can be viewed and clicked upon; after that, several pages from the inside of the magazine appear. A table of contents is also available, and the archive is searchable.

The site went live late Thursday, and was announced at Microsoft's Mix09 show in Las Vegas.

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15-Year-Old Student Saves Choking Teacher

A 15-year-old in Southern California who hopes to become a firefighter saved his English teacher's life with the Heimlich maneuver when she was choking on an almond. Judy Rader said she popped a few of the nuts into her mouth at the start of Wednesday's third period class at Cypress High School. Freshman Sam Barrera sprang into action after she started hopping up and down and gasping. The teen wrapped his arms around her from behind and squeezed hard, dislodging the nut. He learned the lifesaving technique in an online health course. For the effort, the teacher rewarded Barrera with a big hug of her own.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press.


The Five Best Office Pranks Of All Time

capture90

Pranks aren’t something that only high school kids are entitled to. Once in a while we as adults like to have some fun too. When it comes to pranks there are three kind of pranks that seem to get the most attention : high school pranks, wedding pranks and one of the most popular ones are the office pranks. If the company you are working doesn’t make you suffer behind isolated and stuffy cubicles, you probably have pulled pranks on your co-workers or the other way around.

These office pranks are some of the best that we have come across and although there were quite a few we wanted to include, we think 5 is more than enough (we have to leave some room for you to share as well). Below are the top 5 office pranks that the applicant team thinks are some of the best office pranks ever pulled.

Enjoy!

Missing Hallway

This has to be one of the best office pranks ever. These guys built a wall and blocked the hallway that lead to 11 offices. One of the best executed office pranks. The only thing that could have been done better was to record workers reaction and less usage of “WTF?” Besides that this certainly is one of the best office pranks we have seen in a long time. We have no idea why the CEO is looking up in the ceiling though.

Golf Balls

After a long tiring day at the office, the first thing we want to do is jump in our vehicle and head home. The guy you are about to see in this video didn’t have a clue what his colleagues had planned for him. We are sure this end of the work day will be the one he will remember for the rest of his life.

Taking Office To The Streets

This one doesn’t really qualify as an office prank and is more so carried out on other people walking on the street. However, the prank is pulled in an office setting so we had to include it here. The idea of this prank and the amount of time that has gone into setting each of them up for a surprise must have been painstakingly hard. They pulled it good and certainly falls under one of the best office pranks ever simply because it’s done in an office setting.

Scaring a Co-Worker Enough To Fall Off a Chair

The prank you are about to see is probably one that has been pulled on you or one that you have pulled on someone else. We remember this one circulating on the internet like a wild fire. All this lady wants is to beat the game and impress her co-workers. Check out how well these people got her.

Job Interview

When appearing for a job interview you want to make sure everything goes right. Slightest mistake and you might not get the job offer. We are sure these job applicants knew they weren’t getting the job after opening the toilet door while someone was taking care of the nature call. Check it out.

These are some of the office pranks we found to be the best among thousands floating on the web. If you have any that you would like to share please feel free to drop the link in your comments.

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8 Awesome Cases of Internet Vigilantism

By Ian Fortey


Yet another unintended side effect of the web has been the birth of the Internet lynch mob. Now, everything from child abuse to bad customer service can get the online masses whipped into a frenzy of Old Testament-style vengeance.

Whether this is good, bad, or downright terrifying, we'll let you be the judge.

#8.
Sasha Gomez and the Stolen Sidekick

A 16-year-old New Yorker, Sasha Gomez, made the unfortunate choice to steal the phone she found in the back of a cab. The victim had to buy a new phone and when she logged into her account, she found pictures of Gomez along with her AOL screen name, as Gomez hadn't been a criminal long enough to know that you don't put your name and photo on shit you steal.

A friend of the victim, Evan Guttman, tracked down the thief and sent her an IM asking her to return the phone, to which he was politely told to jam his head in his ass and see if he could look out his own mouth again. All Guttman did in response was to make a simple webpage that included the pics of Gomez and a description of what happened. These things always start small...

Next the page was linked on Digg, and Gizmodo, and from there to hundreds of other sites. Hundreds of thousands of people read the story, remembered the last time they fell victim to some asshat with sticky fingers, and started a massive virtual campaign of harassment against Gomez. People from all across the planet were sending e-mails, some of them likely with the most strongly worded LOLcats you can imagine.

Of course this wasn't nearly enough for the more industrious types who tracked Gomez down on MySpace and started to harass her and her friends. Then it was time for the real hardcore avatars of justice (or the insane) to bring it into the real world, actually finding her address in Queens and driving past her home shouting accusations and 4chan memes.

Eventually the thief's brother--a military police officer--got involved and told Guttman to back off, which at this stage would be like telling to butterfly to stop the hurricane it triggered. This incited a new shitstorm and earned the brother a reprimand from his military bosses. Before the situation could get out of hand and martial law declared, the thief gave up and turned in the phone. She was arrested and the story was added to the annals of cyber-mob justice.

#7.
Patrick Pogan, Cyclist Abuser

We can probably all agree that things like murder, theft and cycling are wrong. It's hard not to be sympathetic then when you hear about the New York City cop who, during a demonstration by cyclists protesting... something or other, felt the need to pick one at random, on camera, to absolutely blow right off his bike for no discernible reason at all. He just hurled him like a ragdoll into a crowd.

The officer claimed the cyclist had veered into him, and so the biker was charged with assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. And it would have ended there, if there was no such thing as the Internet.

Unfortunately for Pogan, the entire incident was filmed by someone who, seeing a whole bunch of annoying cyclists in the same place, knew something like this was bound to happen. The video was posted on YouTube where the whole world could see the officer move closer to the cyclist, the cyclist trying to veer out of the way and then Pogan sending him flying for no reason other than his own terrifyingly poor impulse control.

A few million views later, charges against the cyclist were dropped since it was now clear that Pogan's recollection of events may have been slightly skewed by all the meat in his head. Pogan's badge and gun were taken away and he was given a desk job for seven months until finally he was fired for his actions and now faces criminal charges.

His lawyer says he quit so that he could focus on defending himself, which can't be easy considering there's that whole video thing out there. We're guessing he's either going to go for "it was all done with CGI" or "the NYPD's official policy is to toss around bicycle protesters because they find it amusing."

#6.
Her Name is Dog Shit Girl

Let it be known henceforth that if your dog shits on a subway, you damn well better clean it up. You may think the subway is already chock full of human shit so your dog's waste isn't going to upset the fecal balance, but just to be on the safe side you best have some little baggies handy.

Back in 2005, a South Korean woman took some manner of tiny dog on a subway, where it promptly shat on the floor of the car. South Koreans, being polite folks, asked if she wouldn't mind cleaning the steamer up. She declined. One passenger even offered her a tissue. She used it to wipe the dog's ass but left the shit on the floor. South Korean politeness just about ran its course at that point.

A passenger on the train snapped some photos of the woman with a camera phone. Some hours later her photo was on various popular websites across Korea with the label "dog shit girl" attached. Like clockwork, within a few days her name and personal info were posted everywhere as well, the results of Internet users with a lot of time and a lust for shit-free subways on their hands.


Sure do use a lot of symbols just to write "Dog Shit Girl."

The woman herself was harassed on the street and soon requests for information about her family popped up, as people wanted to meet and harass dog shit mom and dog shit dad, maybe see if there were any dog shit babies wandering about. Eventually she was forced to quit her university in shame and issue a public apology online in which she inexplicably threatens to commit suicide if the harassment didn't stop.

She didn't, as far as we know, but the story did make its way around the world, even getting picked up in the Washington Post. What else has this woman accomplished in her life? What are her goals, or talents? We will never know. From now on, she's Dog Shit Girl.

#5.
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Hates Children

If there's one thing that unites mankind, it's our all consuming need to get to the can when diarrhea strikes. You can be a Shaolin monk, a soccer mom, a marine or a five-year-old girl, but when that feeling starts to brew down below, may God have mercy on anyone who stands in your way.

Sadly, this credo was lost on the management of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Huntington Beach, who refused to let a five-year-old girl use their bathroom. The result was a child evacuating the troops right there in the store, across herself and her mother and whatever else was in range, while the employees supposedly chuckled and showed the kind of indifference to the suffering of children that only a job like retail can teach you.


Now every time you want to eat diarrhea, you'll be thinking about chocolate milk. Gross.

The mother of the girl called the manager to complain and was told that the employees who refused access to the washroom were in the right, as there were insurance concerns and Lord knows if you let one child with diarrhea into your bathroom, you'll have to let dozens more in, and before you know it the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is little more than a highway rest stop with Mallomars.

Naturally, no massive shit storm like this (see what we did there?) can go unpublished, so the tale hit Consumerist.com as an example of some pretty terrible customer service. The story wound up on Digg and everywhere else and, well, you know what comes next. (We've provided a helpful visual aid below. The boy represents the Internet, and the diarrhea represents this story. See how the "story" forcefully explodes out of the Internet at a dangerously alarming rate? That's what it was like.)

The manager's contact information hit the Internet, including Google Earth shots of his home. That was then used to facilitate death threats and threats of shit being smeared across said home, which is the standard Internet reaction to not only bad customer service but health scares, insurance fraud and Thursdays.

It didn't end until the CEO of the entire company stepped in, personally issuing an apology to the mother and pointing out that the franchise in question was not acting in accordance with company policy, or even state law; apparently it's required that any business serving the public make a restroom facility available. We're assuming over the next week, several hundred random strangers showed up to the store demanding to use the shitter, just daring them to refuse.

#4.
Zhang Ya Pisses Off China

Have you ever experienced a large scale national disaster and thought to yourself "goddamn death and destruction, why aren't people paying attention to me?" and then gone on to post a video with similar sentiments on the Internet? Did you also express joy at the deaths of some of the victims and wish they had died sooner, while claiming some of the survivors were too unattractive to be on TV and lamenting that the news coverage was preventing your favorite shows from airing?

Do people often call you a douchebag? You may be Zhang Ya, a Chinese girl with apparently nothing even remotely close to common sense or decency.

It was after the Siuchan earthquake in 2008, when Zhang made what amounts to a YouTube video bitching about how the earthquake and all its victims were really ruining her day. This in turn lead to an epic scale shitstorm of angry fallout with the video being posted and reposted across the Internet and angry responses jammed with what was probably some extremely creative Chinese cursing.

The girl was eventually arrested and held in custody for three days after personal information was posted online (and in such detail that people even knew her blood type). Some websites say she was brought in for protection from the massive mob of angry Chinese bloggers, while other sites claim she was arrested for what she posted, citing some Chinese laws about defamation and endangering public stability.

So, that kind of adds another dimension to the whole Internet flame war thing, doesn't it? Piss enough people off in a video blog and suddenly you're in some forced labor camp making lead-painted toys.


Is this what Chinese justice looks like? Honestly, we have no idea.

#3.
Alan Ralsky: Spamming the Spam King

If you love email spam, you can thank Alan Ralsky. He started spamming back before anyone knew what spam was, in the late 90s. By 2001, he managed to push so much shit through the Verizon servers he shut them down, leading to a lawsuit from Verizon.

That lawsuit was settled and by 2002, Ralsky was rolling in enough dick enlargement cream cash to buy a $750,000 mansion. He continued spamming, using a database of 250 million names, charging companies to send out their shit e-mails for them. Up to 70 million a day, by his own admission.

As with all great assholes, the taint of arrogance was right around the corner, under the ballsack of stupidity. Ralsky, smug and potentially borderline retarded, did an interview with the Detroit News in which he seemed quite pleased with himself and the legal way he was doing business.

Readers didn't find things as amusing as he did and when the interview was posted on Slashdot, some people went out of their way to find the address to his new home, which they then posted. The result was Ralsky being signed up to every hardcopy mailing campaign people could find.

Snail mail, as the kids call it, started arriving at Ralsky's mansion by the truckload. Literally by the truckload, as tons of it was delivered to his house each and every day. Ralsky's reaction was to complain that he was being harassed and was going to sue. This lead to massive bouts of laughter and an unprecedented level of not giving a shit. But at least the man won't have to leave home to do his Christmas shopping.

#2.
The Youtube Cat Abusers

For some reason, the information age tends to make assholes want to go global. By, for instance, abusing a cat on camera and posting it on YouTube.

When a 14-year-old kid decided he'd post his own cat torture video, he probably didn't foresee the massive response he'd get once it spread across the Internet, leaving YouTube and heading to places like 4chan and other corners of Hell where the foolish are punished for their glaring webcam indiscretions. There, the denizens that some call "Internet detectives" and that we call "tentacle child porn enthusiasts" tracked the abuser down through his Facebook and MySpace accounts, because assholes are also generally not bright enough to not wallpaper the Internet with their own photos and personal information.

The result of Anonymous's detective work is that there appeared an entire website devoted to the teen, including his picture, links to the videos he made, the names of his parents, their addresses, phone number (as well as work addresses and numbers) and the website address of his father's business, which is now strangely absent from the Internet.

In a curious twist, the use of gay fan fiction also came into play, on websites that review the father's business, featuring such charming passages as "Tito was naked, standing in front of him with a big Hawaii boner staring him in the face. 'As the ancient Hawaiians used to say... it's time for a dicking!'"

The news media caught wind of the story, and then local police started getting inundated with calls from all around the world. Businesses in town got the same treatment including a number that weren't involved in any way due to the wrong information being spread online. Oddly, the police response to this was to politely ask people to stop as they might "stalk the wrong person."

The cat was taken out of the home. The abuser and his brother (also in the video) were charged by the local cops.

Debate rages to this day as to whether Anonymous went too far, since they tend to not apply this much righteous rage or sympathy to actual human beings. But then there is the case of Chris Forcand...

#1.
Chris Forcand vs. Anonymous

The Internet gets a bad rap for being the refuge of the socially maladjusted and sexually deviant (wait, can something still be considered a "bad rap" if it's true?). But when you get cases like that of Chris Forcand, you realize that sometimes one type of deviant can rise up to fight another.

Forcand, a Canadian who resembles George the Animal Steele, was on MSN trying to solicit sex, panties and dirty pictures from what he believed was a teenage girl.

Instead, he was flirting with our friends Anonymous. This in turn lead to not only an amusing Encylopedia Dramatica page, but actual real world consequences.

Forcand's life was picked apart. Transcripts and photos from his conversations were forwarded to his church and posted on his Christian blog along with his contact info.

Finally the police got involved, setting up their own sting operation, ironically using the same technique as Anonymous. The result was Forcand being arrested in what was described as the first time an Internet predator was ever brought to justice through Internet vigilantism, at the hands of a group that only approves of child molestation when it's being done by an anime tentacle monster, and in other special circumstances where they find it amusing.

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