Thoughts Gallery June 2004
June 1
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Scientists to Study 'Cross-Dressing' Fish
ADELAIDE, Australia - A scientist appealed for help in studying what she calls the "cross-dressing" sexual antics of cuttlefish off the coast of southern Australia. Cuttlefish often gather in huge populations to mate in waters off the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia state, South Australia Museum researcher Dr. Bronwyn Gillanders said. And one of the ways small male cuttlefish get a girl is by tricking larger males through "cross-dressing," she said. The smaller cuttlefish change their body color — making larger males believe they are females — to avoid being chased away. The larger males do not consider them a threat, giving the smaller cuttlefish a chance to quickly revert to their normal color and mate with females. Gillanders appealed to members of the public to tell researchers investigating the animal's habits where they are gathering. "Although cuttlefish's sexual antics are a wonderful display to divers and snorkelers, the fact is that the cuttlefish will die soon after they lay their eggs," she said. "This gives us a window of opportunity of only two or three months, following on from their mating season, to gather as much information as we can."

June 2
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Lisa Simpson to Issue Cry for Cornish Freedom
LONDON - Lisa Simpson, the pointy-haired schoolgirl of the U.S television hit series "The Simpsons," is to embrace the cause of Cornish independence. In a Christmas Day special edition of the animated comedy, Lisa will run around the Simpsons' home in Springfield shouting "Rydhsys rag Kernow lemmyn," which translates as "Free Cornwall Now." Matthew Clarke, of the Cornish Language Fellowship, told the Independent newspaper on Tuesday he was contacted in an e-mail by "The Simpsons" executive producer Tim Long asking for translation help. "In an upcoming episode Lisa Simpson briefly takes up the cause of Cornish independence," the e-mail said. "Our hope is to have the character run around the house yelling 'Free Cornwall Now' in Cornish." Long wanted to include Cornwall in the cartoon after seeing a Cornish comedian perform in the United States. Nestled in southwestern England and bordered by water on three sides Cornwall has remained stubbornly distinct from the rest of the United Kingdom. Nationalists in the county think the area should be accorded the status Wales and Scotland enjoy, having devolved powers if not outright independence.
June 3
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Brazil Sets Example for Taming AIDS
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - A decade ago, health experts predicted an AIDS explosion in Latin America, striking hardest at Brazil, with its teeming population and sexual permissiveness. But the explosion never came, and experts say Brazil's handling of the problem may keep it from ever happening. "If you look over the map of HIV/AIDS in Latin America it looks like the African map from 15 years ago," said Paulo Lyra, a consultant on Latin America for the Pan American Health Organization.
"But what's different with Latin America is that it is by far the developing region with the most access to antiretroviral treatment." Antiretroviral drugs reduce the HIV in the bloodstream, making HIV infection a chronic disease rather than a terminal one. In Latin America and the Caribbean, about 400,000 people are believed to need AIDS drugs and about 55 percent are getting them. In Africa, an estimated 4.4 million people need drugs but only 2 percent are getting them.
With a population of nearly 180 million, Brazil has by far the largest number of patients. By manufacturing cheap generic versions of the otherwise expensive AIDS drug cocktail and offering them free to all who need them, the country has put itself at the forefront of Latin America's war on AIDS. Brazil's drug industry faced a threat when the country entered the World Trade Organization, which mandates compliance with trademark rules. But it was able to negotiate deep discounts with pharmaceutical makers simply by threatening to break the rules if treatments became too costly. Brazil was a global pioneer in the manufacture of cheap generic AIDS drugs and still manufactures those patented before it signed its intellectual property law. It distributes these to patients who have not yet developed resistance and need more advanced drugs. Brazil spends about 1.5 percent of its health budget, or $175 million a year, on anti-AIDS drugs. The giveaway cut the death rate in half in just four years, saving an estimated 100,000 lives. Since then, the death toll has crept back up, but only gradually.
June 4
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Bolivian Indigenous Aymara fishermen line up their boats in order to cross a cable to provide an island with electricity in the Titicaca lake, south of La Paz, Bolivia. With most of the rural population withouth access to electricity, Bolivians are expected to vote on July 18 on a referendum to decide the future of the country's mammoth natural gas reserves, that could be used to generate elecricity. As several other Latin American countries, Bolivia the poorest of South America, has seen the gap between rich and poor increase during the years of economic liberalization and now struggles to retake control over its state companies and energetic resources.
June 5
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A visitor looks at Rasputin's penis displayed at the first Russian museum of erotica in St. Petersburg. The museum was founded by Igor Knyazkin, the chief of the prostate research center of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences.
June 6
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Town Grills 48-Foot Bratwurst
CAMPBELLSPORT, Wis. - It was no mere weenie roast here when residents of this community 50 miles north of Milwaukee cooked what they hope is the world's largest bratwurst. The village of Campbellsport grilled a 48-foot long bratwurst made of 25 pounds of pork, said Joel Fleischman with the Campbellsport Area Chamber of Commerce. The village decided to go for the world record to celebrate its volunteer fire department's 100th birthday, he said.It took more than 45 minutes and 85 pounds of charcoal to cook the Campbellsport bratwurst. It was made by Loehr's Meat Service and paraded through town on a flatbed semitrailer with police escort and a high school marching band, Fleischman said. "Our little town's pretty fired up tonight," he said. A local retired welder made a 50-foot long grill for the brat, which was then topped with more than 400 ounces of ketchup and mustard, four gallons of relish and more than a pound of onions. It was served in 160 portions at $10 apiece to raise money for the fire department.

June 7
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TORONTO - A blind Quebec student, who was denied entry to English classes at a Canadian university because his guide dog responds only to French commands, will be allowed to attend class, the school said. Yvan Tessier was turned away from an English immersion course at the University of New Brunswick because he would be forced to give his dog, Pavot, instructions in French.
       Students in the course are expected to communicate only in English, at all times, during the intensive five-week course. That was to include talking to the dog, but the university relented, saying in a statement that Tessier will be allowed to use "essential commands in his native French language to his guide dog." Earlier, Tessier said he would file a complaint with the human rights commission if the university stuck to its decision. "They don't have the openness of spirit to understand that it's better for me and my mobility to operate with my guide dog. It's only 17 commands in French; it won't compromise the English program," he said from Fredericton, New Brunswick.
       Tessier has been guided by the black Labrador retriever for the past two years. Pavot was trained by the Quebec-based Mira Foundation specifically for French speaking clients. "We were astonished by this," said Pierre Noiseux, a spokesman at the foundation which placed Pavot with Tessier. "The dog doesn't speak French or English. He doesn't know how to spell 'en avant.' He doesn't know it's French. He just knows that 'en avant' means forward." The university, in the eastern Canadian town of Fredericton, New Brunswick, said it turned Tessier away because it did not have enough time to prepare for his special needs.
       "In the past, the service has been provided that we do teach their guide dogs commands in English, so the dog learns English as well," a university spokeswoman told CBC Television. Tessier said it would take too long to teach Pavot English commands. The Mira Foundation said it was also dangerous to teach the dog new commands just as Tessier arrives in unfamiliar surroundings. "He's in a new city, he needs a dog that will be really alert," Noiseux said. "Sure we could take the dog, bring him back and recode. But why would I do that? The guy is French."

June 8
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Italians Face Jail Terms for Abandoning Pets
ROME - Italy is finally cracking down on the many fickle pet owners who dump their cat or dog on the roadside as they head to the beach for their summer vacation. The Senate gave final approval Thursday to an animal cruelty bill which would impose prison terms of up to one year and fines of up to 10,000 euros ($12,350) for those convicted of abandoning their pets .Some 150,000 dogs and 200,000 cats are abandoned in Italy every year -- many of them at the start of summer holidays -- according to animal rights groups. About 85 percent of them are killed by cars, hunger or thirst. The law also cracks down on anyone found guilty of killing or torturing animals, or organizing dog fights or clandestine fur industries. Animal rights activists believe that hundreds of animals, especially stray cats, are deliberately injured, tortured or maltreated each month in Italy.
       Pessimists wonder how easy it will be to track down Italians who abandon their pets and bring them to justice, but at least one Italian region has come up with a solution. In northern Piedmont, the government has introduced a bill requiring all dog owners to plant microchips in their pets. The bill is aimed at keeping track of the animals, but is also seen as a way of keeping an eye on their owners. "We'll be able to find dogs when they're lost and it will also be a deterrent for those people who want to 'lose' their dogs before vacation," said Cristina Cellerino of the region's health department.

June 9
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Alligator Sellers Stung by Undercover Cops
LONDON - An alligator has been rescued from the trunk of a car by undercover police who answered an advertisement offering the creature for sale. The 3.5 ft Spectacled Cayman alligator was rescued after the sellers turned up for a meeting in a car park in the Scottish capital Edinburgh, with the animal in a wooden box in the boot. The reptile was "not very happy" after the journey and having been kept in a bathtub for eight weeks, a police spokesman said. A man was charged with cruelty against wildlife. The alligator is now being cared for in a sanctuary.

June 10
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Bald People Eat Free at Calif. Eatery
LODI, Calif. - Bald is beautiful in Lodi — at least to Gary Arnold, a restaurant owner who charges customers according the amount of hair on their head. A full head of hair will get you nowhere with Arnold, who sports a naked noggin himself. But customers who come to Gary's Uptown Restaurant and Bar on Wednesdays with less than 50 percent of their hair get up to 50 percent off their food. The real thing — a totally hairless head — will fetch a clean 100 percent off. Arnold doesn't care if the customer shaves, or is naturally endowed with a lack of hair. The bald eat free — even the repeat customers, he said. Not only that, but they get to chose from a special menu, which includes filet of snapper, flat iron steak and chicken fettucine.
Arnold calls it a "win-win" situation. News of the place has reached beyond Lodi to Modesto, Sacramento and Stockton. The hairless of the region congregate in his dinning room, which can look like an advertisement for Hair Club for Men on any given Wednesday, he told the Lodi News. This has doubled business on what used to be his slowest day. And the men can feel at ease in a supportive environment that nurtures their lack of cover. "Years ago, being bald was looked down upon," Arnold said. "Now I think it's trendy." Stockton resident Rich Handel, finishing off a discounted Cesar salad — the 50 percent reduction mirroring his half-gone locks — agreed, saying this was the first time he benefited from being bald.

June 11
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Man Accused of Stealing Boy's Socks
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A man accused of grabbing a 9-year-old boy, carrying him behind a Kroger store and stealing his socks has been arrested on kidnapping and robbery charges. Maurice C. Teague told officers he has more than 500 pairs of children's socks. Investigating officers said they couldn't confirm the number but said they found "a lot" of socks at Teague's home, police spokeswoman Sherry Mercurio said. Police said Teague, 28, accosted the boy Friday evening and dropped a piece of identification as he fled. They arrested him at his home on Sunday, Mercurio said. He's jailed on $75,000 bond. "It's odd, obviously — someone going after little boys' socks," Detective Guy Patete said. Police said the child was on his way home from the grocery around 6:30 p.m. when Teague asked to buy his socks for $5. The boy refused again when Teague offered him $10, and Teague picked him up, ran behind the store and pulled the boy's shoes and socks off his feet.Police said the boy picked up Teague's identification and his mother called police. Teague, who has no criminal record, at first denied the account but then admitted grabbing the boy, police said.
June 12
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Filipinos know all about the breathtaking shoe and jewelry collections Imelda Marcos amassed during two decades as first lady, but a Manila court is making them wait to watch a film she says makes a joke of her life. After hearing complaints from Marcos's lawyers, a judge issued a 20-day restraining order on the documentary 'Imelda,' which had been due for an advance media screening later in the day and for general release on July 7. Marcos inspects imported shoes during a visit to the Philippine entertainment exposition at the World Trade Center in Manila, June 18.
June 13
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Two Jailed for Eating Rare Tiger
BEIJING - China has sentenced two farmers to jail terms of up to nine years for eating a rare Manchurian tiger after leaving it to die in a trap, the Beijing Evening News reported. A court in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang convicted Zhang Lichen and Gong Weisheng of killing an endangered rare species recently, the paper said. The two men found the tiger caught in a trap in a mountain last year but did not report it to the authorities. They left the tiger to die and returned six days later to bring the beast home, skin it and eat its meat. "The two men knew selling a tiger was a crime, but they thought eating a dead tiger's meat did not break the law," the newspaper said.

June 14
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Man Jailed for Shooting Off His Testicles
LONDON - A British man who accidentally shot himself in the testicles after drinking 15 pints of beer was jailed for five years on Tuesday for possessing an illegal firearm, a court spokesman said. David Walker, 28, was arguing with a friend at a pub in South Yorkshire, northern England, when he went home to get his sawed-off shotgun, which he jammed into his trousers. But as he walked back to the pub, the gun went off, blasting pellets into his testicles. Doctors later removed what remained of his testicles during emergency surgery. Walker admitted possessing a prohibited weapon at a hearing in June at the court in Sheffield.
June 15
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All Night Phone Flirt Costs a Fortune
BERLIN - A German man reported a female chat-line worker to police after facing a phone bill for $7,244 following an all-night flirt session with her. The woman calling herself Tina rang the 28-year-old man on his mobile phone. "She said she had found his number on the Internet and would really like to chat to him," a police spokesman in the westerly town of Wesel said on Wednesday. She gave the man a number and asked him to ring her back, saying it would be a cheap rate. The pair then became locked in a six-hour conversation. "The man said they talked about far more than just sex," the spokesman said.
June 16
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Hey! You! Get Off of My Cloud
BEIJING - A storm is brewing in China as drought-plagued regions accuse each other of stealing clouds for rain-seeding. With the help of modern technology, scientists can fire rockets filled with various substances into light, fluffy clouds to make them rain. "But the practice has caused considerable controversy in recent days, with some saying that one area's success with rain has meant taking moisture meant for one place and giving it to another," the China Daily said.The row over rainclouds was particularly heated in several cities in central Henan province. "Meteorological officials in Zhoukou were soon accusing their counterparts in Pingdingshan of overusing available natural resources by intercepting clouds that would have likely drifted to other places, say, like Zhoukou," the newspaper said. Much of China is short of water and cloud-seeding is common, especially over major cities.
June 17
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A Thai waiter wears a condom over his head while serving a cocktail as a patron looks on at the Cabbages and Condoms restaurant in Bangkok on July 8, 2004. The restaurant, founded by Mechai Viravaidya, better known as 'Mr Condom', aims to educate the public about safe sex.
June 18
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Al-Jazeera Pledges Honest News Coverage
DOHA, Qatar - The popular Arab news channel Al-Jazeera, which the United States has accused of bias, has issued a code of ethics, vowing to "uphold journalistic values" and to be sensitive to the victims of the wars and disasters it covers. The code, issued in a statement at the end of a two-day international media forum that concluded Tuesday, said the station will "strive to reach and deliver the truth, respect our audience." Al-Jazeera often has been criticized for its coverage of the war on Iraq, especially by the United States. The statement pledged to "take into account the feelings of the victims of crime, wars, oppression and disasters, and the feelings of their families and the viewers."
Had a nice relaxing birthday, now all I need is some nice cool weather to go with it.  Wish i had a nice view of a beach from my house window like this.  Don't think I would make it into work as often...
June 20
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Here's a picture of my friend Kellis Shanahan and her fiance Jason Ackley.   They are engaged to get married a few months from now on April 3, 2005.
June 21
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Do Dumb Blonde Jokes Slow Mental Activity??
BERLIN - Blondes perform intelligence tests more slowly after reading jokes playing on their supposed stupidity, said psychologists in a newly published German study. Some 80 women of various hair colors were tested on their mental capacity to work quickly and precisely in a series of psychometric tests. Before sitting the tests, half the participants had to read "dumb blonde" jokes, such as: "Why do blondes open yogurt pots while still at the supermarket? -- Because it says 'Open Here' on the lid."
"No blonde woman believes she is stupid," said Jens Foerster a social psychologist from the International University Bremen in northern Germany. "But after exposure to negative social-stereotypes about them, the fair-haired participants performed significantly more slowly in the tests." Foerster explained the result by saying that when people are told they can't perform a task well, they work more slowly but more cautiously, to try to make fewer mistakes."The study shows that even unfounded prejudices generally dismissed as untrue can affect an individual's confidence in their own ability," said Foerster.
June 22 
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Billionaire Family Fights Over Fortune
CALCUTTA, India - One of India's biggest business families is squabbling over the fortune of one of its members who died leaving assets worth about $440 million to an accountant who is not even a relation. Basant Kumar Birla, patriarch of the Birla family, said on Wednesday the family was stunned to learn that his cousin's widow had willed her inherited business empire and real estate to her chartered accountant, Rajendra S. Lodha.
Priyamvada Birla, who died last week at 76, had no children. Her husband, Madhav Prasad Birla, died in 1990 leaving her businesses that ranged from chemicals and optic fiber cables to schools and hospitals. They also owned prime real estate in Calcutta. "The will has shocked us. We are united and will take legal action and go to court to fight this. How can assets and money be given to someone who is an outsider?" Basant Kumar Birla told Reuters in Calcutta where many of the Birla family are based.
The powerful Birlas -- business leaders for over a century -- have interests spanning automobiles, cement, education, software, telecom, metals, chemical and textiles. Their total turnover runs into several hundred billion rupees. Some newspapers in India -- which have given front-page billing to the spat -- estimated the will left 50 billion rupees ($1.10 billion) in assets to Lodha who was not available for comment. If the will is executed, it will be the first time the assets of the Birla family -- many of whom count among the who's who of corporate India -- will go outside the family.
June 23
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Man Exposes Self During Airport Screening
MINNEAPOLIS - Daryl Miller didn't make it through airport security because he couldn't keep his pants on. Airport police said a security screener was waving a metal-detecting wand over Miller's pants area when Miller pulled his shorts down to his ankles. He wasn't wearing any underwear. Miller then said, "There, how do you like your job," thus ending the screening, according to the police report. He was charged with indecent exposure and released on $300 bail. "We've never had anybody do that before," said airport police Lt. Matt Christenson. "But it's not abnormal for people to become frustrated with the screening process." Miller also became belligerent during the screening, Transportation Security Administration officers told police. One TSA employee also told police that Miller had a note inside a magazine in his bag with an expletive, and told a TSA employee "Oh yeah, it's for you" when asked who the note was directed at."This person exposed themself in a public area, a clear violation of the law, and we needed to take some action on that, otherwise everybody would be dropping their pants," Christenson said.
June 24
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Smelly Flower Attracts Fans in Texas
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Just about any other flower would smell sweeter, but that hasn't stopped plant lovers from enduring the stench of the rare blooms of the Amorphophallus titanum plant. Braving an odor likened to rotting flesh, crowds this week viewed the blooms of the plant — nicknamed the giant corpse flower — that's growing in the shade house of the Mast Arboretum at Stephen F. Austin University. The blooms at SFA are the first to be recorded in the state of Texas. Only about two dozen such blooms have been recorded in the United States since the plant, native to Indonesia and Sumatra, was introduced in 1937. An arboretum research associate, Dawn Stover, said she's enjoyed the opportunity to more closely examine the plant. "It's been really fun watching it open," she said. Crowds gasped at the beauty of the small flowers inside the plant which was pollinated Monday from a plant that recently bloomed at the University of Connecticut. Reaching a height of 5-feet, 1-inch, the bloom's unique appearance, size and odor made the plant the center of attention.
June 25
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DotComGuy Goes Bust and Changes Name
DALLAS - Call it the DotComGuy bust. The man who legally changed his name to DotComGuy changed it back Tuesday — to Mitch Maddox. In 2000, Maddox spent one year at home and living off purchases made on the Internet. Video footage of his life was streamed on the Internet 24 hours a day and attracted worldwide media attention. He later got married and on Tuesday he and his wife, Anne, appeared in court to legally change their names to Maddox.Meanwhile, an auction for the DotComGuy name and the domain name dotcomguy-dot-com was to end in April, but it's been extended — and it's now on e-Bay.
June 26
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Wayward windsurfer hits tree and car
BERLIN - Gusts of wind propelled a German windsurfer from a Baltic Sea beach into a tree and -- after he climbed down -- 10 metres further into a parked car, police say. The 25 year-old had just finished riding the waves and was still attached to his board by the security strap when a gust of wind caught his sail and blew him into the tree. When a bystander helped the man down from the tree a second gust carried the windsurfer straight into the nearby parked car. Police in the eastern German town of Schwerin said the man was now recovering from slight injuries.
June 27
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Cyber Dissident Jailed for 19 Months
HANOI - A Vietnamese court sentenced a 73-year-old former colonel to 19 months in prison on Wednesday for using the Internet to criticize government policies as Hanoi expands a crackdown on cyber dissidents. The court ordered Pham Que Duong's release at the end of this month because of the time spent in jail since his arrest in December 2002. "Pham Que Duong was sentenced to 19 months in jail for abusing democratic rights harming the interest of the state, rights and interests of organizations and citizens," Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Dung said. The decorated former army officer wrote critically on the Internet about corruption in Vietnam and advocated democratic reforms, human right groups have said.
June 28
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A Nepalese farmer carries a traditional hanging basket called 'kharpan' on his shoulders. With drought crippling parts of western Nepal, women in the world's only Hindu kingdom are reverting to the ancient tradition of ploughing fields naked in a bid to appease the rain god.
June 29
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DNA Test to Check for Genghis Khan Kin

LONDON - A London restaurant is offering diners the chance to learn whether they are descended from the rampaging Mongol ruler Genghis Khan — and win a free meal if they are. The promotion by the restaurant Shish has proved surprisingly popular, exemplifying how Genghis Khan, once reviled in the West as a tyrant, has gained new respect in his own country and among academics. "We've had Mongolian people who've traveled across London to give us their details," said Hugo Malik, bar manager of Shish, which is giving away one DNA test at each of its two London branches every day through Friday. "They said, 'Grandad always used to tell us we were descended from Genghis Khan.'"
        Grandad may have been right. Oxford Ancestors, the firm doing the testing, says as many as 17 million men in Central Asia share a pattern of Y chromosomes within their genetic sequences, indicating a common ancestor. Since Genghis Khan conquered vast tracts of Asia and Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries and sired many offspring, it was assumed that the men share his genetic fingerprint. "He was an all-conquering tribal leader," said David Ashworth, a geneticist and chief executive of Oxford Ancestors. "He took their cities, he took their land, he took their women." Because there are no known tissue samples from Genghis Khan, the genetic tests are based on an assessment of probabilities.
The tests are part of the burgeoning field of bioarchaeology, which uses biological techniques to learn about ancient ancestors. For $330, Oxford Ancestors will tell customers which maternal clan they belong to. The Genghis Khan test is part of a plan to do the same for paternal ancestry by mapping patterns of Y chromosomes, the genetic material handed down from fathers to sons that changes little over generations. Women have two X chromosomes, while men carry one X chromosome and one Y — so only men can take the Genghis Khan test."At certain markers on the Y chromosome, if it matches the Genghis Khan pattern, then on the balance of probability you are descended from the Great Khan," Ashworth said. Shish, which specializes in grilled kebabs, said it was offering the tests to honor Mongolia's decision to reintroduce surnames.
In the 1990s, Mongolia's democratic government decided to reverse a 70-year-old policy that banned surnames in hopes of breaking the power of feudal clans. By June 30, more than half the population had chosen the name Borjigin, or Master of the Blue Wolf — Genghis Khan's clan name. It was the latest step in the rehabilitation of the Mongol ruler. Reviled in the West as a bloodthirsty conqueror and condemned in communist Mongolia as a symbol of a backward past, Genghis Khan is now celebrated by Mongolians as the father of their nation.
Many Western academics also have reassessed his legacy, recasting him as a brilliant military tactician, innovative ruler and early globalizer whose empire, at one point stretching from the Sea of Japan to the Danube, saw an unprecedented mingling of goods and cultures. Genghis Khan's descendants should "feel a sense of pride that they are descended from such a successful leader of men," Ashworth said. "These ancient conquerors lived in a very different world to us, and where they got was because of their own hard work. We can't really judge them morally."

June 30
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Takeru Kobayashi, center, of Nagano, Japan, poses with 53 1/2 hot dogs after winning the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating contest, in New York. Kobayashi, the number one eater in the world broke his previous record of 51 1/2 hot dogs by eating 53 1/2 hot dogs in twelve minutes.