Thoughts Gallery November 2006
November 1
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Filipina avoids prison after wearing bullet amulet
MANILA - A Filipina domestic helper held by police in Brunei for possessing a "bullet amulet" in her wallet has been cleared and allowed to depart the oil-rich state, the foreign department has said. The Filipina, whose name was withheld, was arrested in October while on transit in Brunei to Dubai, where she was to take a job as a maid, the department said in a statement. "The Filipina was spared from a possible jail sentence for possession of ammunition, which carries a penalty of five to 15 years' imprisonment," the statement said. The woman had told authorities in Brunei the bullet was given to her by an old woman as an amulet that would aid her in conceiving a child. After years of trying, the woman became pregnant and decided to keep the amulet with her all the time. Filipino diplomats in Brunei managed to convince authorities to let the woman go, arguing that she posed no threat. Amulets and lucky charms are popular in rural areas of the Philippines, which are steeped in folklore and pagan traditions despite the country being Asia's bastion of Catholicism.
November 2
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Marijuana grow ops overrun Toronto building
TORONTO - A Canadian police search for marijuana grow operations mushroomed as officers discovered 22 units in a Toronto high rise were being used to cultivate the illegal drug, four times more than expected. "It was quite shocking to us that there would be (22) in one particular apartment building," Toronto police Det. Sgt. David Malcolm told a news conference. Police found over 6,000 marijuana plants worth an estimated street value of over C$6.0 million ($5.31 million) scattered throughout the 22 apartments in the north Toronto building. Media reports said police were originally alerted to the marijuana operations last April when a fire broke out in one of the units. Malcolm declined to specify what tipped off police.
Armed with search warrants for just five apartments in the 13-storey high rise, police discovered they had just scratched the surface. "This is a huge public safety issue to other tenants in this building based on the use of electricity, and the threat of fire," Campbell said. "The damage to some of those units is extensive, not to mention the chemicals being poured down the drain system." Three men have been charged with various offenses including possession and production of marijuana and police say they expect to make more arrests. In 2004, police raided an abandoned brewery near the Ontario city of Barrie which had 30,000 marijuana plants in what was called the biggest growing operation in Canadian history. Police said the operation was the size of a football field, a street value of C$30 million ($26.55 million).
November 3
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China ant-breeding project has sting in the tail
BEIJING - A company in northeast China raised $379 million from gullible members of the public by promising big profits from a project to breed ants, Xinhua news agency said. The Donghua Ecological Breeding Company, in Liaoning province, offered returns of 35 to 60 percent on investment in the bogus project, Xinhua said. The state agency cited the Public Security Ministry which had detailed the case as an example of how fraudsters were becoming more imaginative. The report did not explain why the public would want to invest in ants but, in the southern region of Guangxi, black ants are sold by the bagful to be steeped in tea or soaked in liquor as a natural remedy for ailments such as arthritis. The number of economic crimes in China had risen by nearly 10 percent so far this year, the ministry said, warning that the trend could lead to social instability. It said it had recovered 13 billion yuan ($1.65 billion) in losses from more than 60,000 cases of fraud, pyramid selling and illegal fund-raising.

November 4
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Drunken Swedish moose drowns after apple binge
STOCKHOLM - A moose that became inebriated after binging on fermented fallen apples in northern Sweden drowned when it fell through the ice of a frozen inlet, a Swedish tabloid has reported. "The moose appears to have eaten too many fermented apples and become confused out on the ice," Luleaa police spokesman Erik Kummu told Aftonbladet on Thursday. Emergency services were scrambled but they were unable to save the four-legged apple thief. For several days prior to the moose's demise, local residents had contacted police after seeing the animal munch its way through rotting fruit, Aftonbladet said. Drunk moose are relatively common in Sweden in late autumn as the animals eat fallen apples which ferment slightly on the ground.
November 5
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November 6
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November 7
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November 8
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November 9
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November 10
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November 11
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November 12
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November 13
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November 14
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November 15
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November 16
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November 17
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November 18
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November 19
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November 20
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November 21
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November 22
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November 23
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November 24
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Barmy Army threaten boycott over Aussie fun police
BRISBANE, Australia - England's Barmy Army has threatened to boycott the rest of the Ashes series, accusing Australia's "fun police" of ruining the atmosphere at the first Test in Brisbane. The English support group complained they were being treated like children by overzealous security guards at Brisbane's Gabba and were fuming after their trumpeter was thrown out of the ground Thursday for playing his instrument. Barmy Army founder Paul Burnham described the ejection as "surreal" and accused Cricket Australia of trying to curb England's fans as part of their campaign to win back the Ashes. "It seems to me that Cricket Australia just want to win, full stop," Burnham told Australian Associated Press. "They believe the Barmy Army will help England win so it just seems everything is geared to try and make sure there is no fun in the game. "We just want to come over and have a good time ... not to be treated like school children."
Burnham said many England fans were so disillusioned with their treatment at the Gabba that they were boycotting the ground and watching the game at their hotels. He said the Barmy Army would consider cancelling a wide range of activities planned around the Ashes series if the heavy-handed treatment continued at other Test venues. "Absolutely. We are waiting to see how it develops before giving advice to people coming over (from England) for the Sydney and Melbourne Tests," he said. Cricket Australia has adopted a zero-tolerance approach to crowd antics after South African players were subjected to racist taunts by Australian fans earlier this year. More than 40 fans were ejected from the Gabba during the opening day of the Ashes Wednesday. They included including Barmy Army trumpeter Bill Cooper, whose brass horn is deemed a banned item under Gabba regulations alongside weapons, guns and knives. Even Australian fans, many of whom would normally dismiss the English complaints as yet more pommie whingeing, have been taken aback by the lack of atmosphere at the Gabba. "It's been very quiet, the Barmy Army were far noisier last time they were here," Brisbane local Margaret McVey told AFP.
Australia's dominance of the Test's opening stages may have subdued the Barmy Army in any case, but supporter Craig Gill said the English fans had a proud tradition of singing loudest when their team was at its worst. He blamed Cricket Australia's ticket allocation, which favoured home fans, for dispersing the England supporters throughout the Gabba, meaning there was no focal bloc of fans to originate chants and songs. The Gabba has beefed up security with 130 police officers and more than 300 security guards and ushers on duty to control the crowd. Authorities are also monitoring the stands with 85 security cameras, almost double the number installed across Brisbane's entire central business district. Crowd members are being urged to "dob in a yob" (inform on a lout) by sending mobile phone text messages to stadium security. Activities such as the "Mexican wave" are prohibited and people caught bouncing beach balls through the crowd during quiet periods of play not only face losing their ball but also being banned from the ground for 24 hours. Comment was being sought from Cricket Australia.
November 25
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November 26
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Turkeys try for fast train out of Jersey
Some wild turkeys, it appears, were trying to get out of New Jersey before Thanksgiving Day. A spokesman for the NJ Transit said train officials reported a dozen or so wild turkeys waiting on a station platform in Ramsey, about 20 miles northwest of New York City, on Wednesday afternoon. The line travels to Suffern, N.Y. "For a moment, it looked like the turkeys were waiting for the next outbound train," said Dan Stessel, a spokesman for NJ Transit. "Clearly, they're trying to catch a train and escape their fate." Transit workers followed the bird's movements on surveillance cameras. "I have no idea how they got there," Stessel said. A Ramsey police dispatcher said the department had received three calls about the traveling turkeys who also were blamed for causing morning rush hour traffic problems on a roadway. "From time to time, I've heard calls that there are turkeys on the loose," said Erik Endress, president of the Ramsey Rescue Squad, a volunteer group. "Maybe they're trying to make a break."
November 27
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November 28
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November 29
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November 30
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