Thought Gallery October 2004
October 1
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Model Tomoko Misawa shows off the alleged world's most valuable diamond in Tokyo. The diamond is certified as 100-carat, D-color and flawless and will be on a special display at a Tokyo department store with a price tag of US$26.6 million
October 2
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It's amasing how fast good advertising will get a job done.  I got the heatherwood house rented out this weekend securing a last loose string to be able to move over to the Dos Cabezas house.
Mount St. Helens spews more steam and ash as government scientists remained on alert for a larger eruption at the Washington state volcano, which woke last week after 18 years of slumber. This image is taken from a VolcanoCam at the Johnston Ridge Observatory.
October 3
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Conen, a 7-month-old joey koala, receives some tender, loving care from his keepers at the San Diego Zoo, in San Diego. Four times a day, the zoo's animal care staff bottle feed Conen after learning that his mom had stop producing milk and could no longer provide the proper maternal care. Although he is being hand reared, the joey koala who weighs about 480 grams or 17 ounces, will continue to remain with mom for the next two to three years. The San Diego Zoo is home to more than 30 koalas, the largest colony outside of Australia.

October 4
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A yaguarete, an Argentine mountain cat, named Fabio smells flowers at the Buenos Aires Zoo. The Zoo placed flowers in the animal cages and prepared special meals to celebrate the start of the Spring season.
October 5
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Vibrator shuts down Australian airport
BRISBANE, Australia - Hundreds of airline passengers suffered disruption to their travel plans when a major regional airport was shut down for an hour after a humming and vibrating adult sex toy was mistaken for a bomb. The vibrator was discovered at 9:15 am (2315 GMT Sunday) by a security officer who checked out a suspicious package inside a rubbish bin at the terminal cafeteria of Mackay Airport in the northeastern state of Queensland, a police spokeswoman said. The terminal was evacuated immediately while passengers who had just arrived from a flight, check-in staff, cafeteria employees and hire car personnel were all forced to leave. Cafeteria manager Lynne Bryant said her staff had been cleaning tables when they noticed a strange humming noise coming from the rubbish bin. "It was rather disconcerting when the rubbish bin started humming furiously," she said. "We called security and next minute everybody was being evacuated while they checked it out." The police spokeswoman said another two flights were expected to land at that stage and alternate arrangements were made for the passengers to collect their luggage away from the terminal. She said the emergency situation was revoked just before 10:00 am when the package was identified as "an adult novelty device".  Bryant said at the time of the upheaval the airport had been quite busy with two main flights due in and out of the airport - wreaking havoc with people's schedules. She said in retrospect the humming sounded exactly like a vibrator - but it was better to be safe then sorry. "You can't afford to take chances," she added.
October 6
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France May Allow Jamming of Mobile Phones
PARIS - Watch a movie or make a mobile phone call. Soon, in France, you might not be able to do both at once. The government's industry minister has approved a decision to let cinemas, concert halls and theaters install cell phone jammers — on condition that emergency calls can still get through, officials said.Jean Labbe, president of the National Federation of French Cinemas, said the measure was a response to "a long-standing request" from cinemas of all sizes. Cinemas have invested heavily to improve comfort, and "the authorization of jammers is the cherry on the cake," he told France Info radio. Industry Minister Patrick Devedjian gave the go-ahead Friday, backing a decision by the Telecommunications Regulation Authority to allow jammers, his ministry said in a statement. Devedjian specified however that emergency calls and calls made outside theaters and other performance spaces must not be affected.
October 7
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Presidential winner faces 'twin deficits' battle

WASHINGTON - Whoever wins the November 2 presidential election will inherit massive budget and trade deficits that pose huge economic challenges that will give little relief for President George W. Bush or rival John Kerry. Washington has gone from a federal budget surplus of 236 billion dollars in 2000 to an estimated deficit of 422 billion dollars for the fiscal year that ended September 30. Moreover, in the area of trade and investment, the United States had a deficit of 166.2 billion dollars in the second quarter in the current account deficit, the broadest measure of trade and investment flows. The twin deficits are telling the United States that it is consuming more than it is producing, and requiring foreign investors to fill the gap with capital. But many economists say this is unsustainable and will further weaken the dollar, erode US living standards and destabilize the global economy. Both candidates claim they will halve the deficit, but economists are skeptical.
        "Both presidential candidates have made lofty promises with respect to deficit reduction, tax cuts, and expanded health care coverage. However, it would take a great deal of luck and skill for either candidate to deliver on all these promises," said Lehman Brothers economist Joseph Abate. Abate noted that Kerry, who proposes to raise taxes on households earning more than 200,000 dollars per year while expanding tax releief to others and boosting health care credits, could increase the deficit. But he said the Bush plan to make permanent the recent tax breaks enacted by Congress would be an even bigger fiscal drain. According to congressional estimates, he said the cost of the full Bush package would exceed 2.2 trillion dollars over the next decade while Kerry's plan would likely increase debt by 1.1 trillion dollars over the same period. "Neither candidate could reasonably be called a model of fiscal prudence," Abate said.
"Given the size of these estimates, neither candidate, despite talk of fiscal propriety, is likely to succeed in halving the budget deficit by 2009. Instead, over the next decade, these plans are likely to swell the Federal debt by between 30 and 50 percent." Some analysts see a future in which a debt-crippled Washington crowds out the credit markets, leading to higher US interest rates and a weaker dollar that roils the global economy. But that has not been a campaign topic. "This subject isn't going to be discussed honestly in an election. Bush and Kerry want to talk about what they're going to give people," said Peter Peterson, a former commerce secretary who heads the Concord Coalition, a group advocating balanced budgets. "When this country consumes more than it produces, government drains our very limited national savings."
Stephen Roach, chief economist at Morgan Stanley said the United States has gone from being the world's biggest creditor two decades ago to the world's biggest debtor, and is squandering the money it is borrowing. "America is no longer using surplus foreign saving to support 'good' growth," he said. "Instead, it is currently absorbing about 80 percent of the world's surplus saving in order to finance open-ended government budget deficits and the excess spending of American consumers." Sung Won Sohn, chief exonomist at Wells Fargo Bank, said the United States is likely to muddle through the deficits, but will pay through lower living standards and higher interest rates. "We borrow 1.8 billion dollars every single day from overseas in order to offset the current-account deficit," Sohn said.  "The US will be able to raise enough money to fund the deficits. The issue is the source of funding and the price.  "The US will rely increasingly on less stable sources of funding and pay higher interest rates. It is a fait accompli that the dollar will depreciate further. The dollar depreciation will lead to higher inflation and interest rates, hurting the economy, including housing. "If not corrected, our children might have to devote an increasing portion of their work day to pay interest, dividends and rents to foreign investors."

October 8
Image of the Day
Kendall Shaw, 3, from Palo Alto, Calif., plays on top of the winning pumpkin in the 31st Annual World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Half Moon Bay, Calif.. At left are friends Honoka Kishino, 3, from Sunnyvale, Calif., and Tina Sato, 3, from Santa Clara, Calif. Joel Holland, from Puyallup, Wash., won with his 1,229 Atlantic Giant pumpkin with a prize of $6,145.
October 9
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For the turtles : Animal rights activist mimick turtles as crawl on the beach of Kuta, in Bali island during a protest calling for the protection of the local ecosystem.
October 10
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October 11
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October 12
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Robot Use to Surge Sevenfold by 2007
GENEVA - The use of robots around the home to mow lawns, vacuum floors and manage other chores is set to surge sevenfold by 2007 as more consumers snap up smart machines, the United Nations said. That boom coincides with record orders for industrial robots, said the U.N.'s annual World Robotics Survey. The report, issued by the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe and the International Federation of Robotics, said that 607,000 automated domestic helpers were in use at the end of 2003, two-thirds of them purchased that year. Most of them — 570,000 — were robot lawnmowers. Sales of vacuum cleaning robots reached 37,000.
By the end of 2007, some 4.1 million domestic robots will likely be in use, the study said. Lawnmowers will still make up the majority, but sales of window-washing and pool-cleaning robots are also set to take off, it predicted. Sales of robot toys, like Sony's canine AIBO (news - web sites), also have risen. The study said there are now about 692,000 "entertainment robots" around the world. Colin Angle, Chief Executive of iRobot Corp. of Burlington, Massachusetts, said many consumers had been introduced to the idea of household robots 40 years ago with Rosie, the mechanical housekeeper for the futuristic cartoon family The Jetsons. But until now robots have failed to live up to their promise. "Our biggest hurdle right now is skepticism," Angle said. But "we are just at a point where robots are becoming affordable ... and some of them can actually do real work."  UNECE said household robots could soon edge their industrial counterparts, which have dominated the figures since the U.N. body first began counting in 1990. Industrial robots have nonetheless continued to recover from the slump recorded in the 2001 study. "Falling or stable robot prices, increasing labor costs and continuously improving technology are major driving forces which speak for continued massive robot investment in industry," said Jan Karlsson, author of the 414-page study.
       In the first half of 2004, business orders for robots were up 18 percent on the same period a year earlier, mostly in Asia and North America. Japan still remains the most robotized economy, home to around half the current 800,000 industrial robots. After several years in the doldrums, demand there jumped 25 percent in 2003. But Europe and North America are fast catching up, the study said. European Union (news - web sites) countries were in second place, with 250,000 robots in operation by the end of last year, mostly in Germany, Italy and France. Demand from North American businesses rose 28 percent, with some 112,000 robots in service by the end of last year. The machines are also taking off in richer developing countries, including Brazil, China and Mexico, spurred by plummeting prices.
       Taking the global average, a robot sold in 2003 cost a quarter of what a robot with the same performance cost in 1990, the study found. It said that by 2007, world industrial robot numbers will likely reach at least 1 million. The term "robot" covers any machine that operates automatically to perform tasks in a human-like way, often replacing the human workers who did the job previously. In most cases, robots move under their own propulsion and do not need to be controlled by a human operator after they have been programmed.
Most industrial robots are used on assembly lines, chiefly in the auto industry. But increasingly, companies are using them for other tasks, the study said. There are now some 21,000 "service robots" in use, carrying out tasks such as milking cows, handling toxic waste and even assisting in operating theaters. The number is set to reach a total of 75,000 by 2007, the study said. By the end of the decade, the study said, robots will "not only clean our floors, mow our lawns and guard our homes but also assist old and handicapped people with sophisticated interactive equipment, carry out surgery, inspect pipes and sites that are hazardous to people, fight fire and bombs."
October 13
Image of the Day
A devotee to the Chinese Shrine of Jui Tui in Phuket, Thailand, has his face pierced with a host of kitchen knives as he and others prepare to take part in the annual Vegetarian Festival 2004. Ritual Vegetarianism in Phuket traces it roots back to the early 1800's. The festival begins on the first evening of the ninth lunar month and lasts for nine days. Participants in the festival perform acts of body piercing as a means of shifting evil spirits from individuals onto themselves.
October 14
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Located between the Crown and the Crescent of The Palm Jebel Ali, the Water Homes are a series of elevated retreat homes linked together by boardwalks to form a 12km chain. Positioned strategically, they form a verse of Arabic poetry composed by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, which when read from above reads: "Take wisdom from the wise - not everyone who rides a horse is a jockey". The 1060 Water Homes boast luxurious amenities inside and feature private moorings for personal boats.

For the world’s elite craving the ultimate in poetic retreat, Atlantis Marketing is offering these Water Homes which can double as holiday hideaways and private getaways. Paparazzi, after all, can’t chase yachts.

October 15
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A pedestrian walks past a giant billboard at the major Sydney intersection bearing Chinese- Australian woman Helen Zou's ad seeking a husband
October 16
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Shaolin Qigong : Shaolin monk Shi Niliang demonstrates the art of "Qigong" as he meditates while hanging by the neck for nearly a minute at his martial art school in Quanzhou, southeast China's Fujian province.
October 17
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A sign is displayed at a movie theater about the Afghan elections next to a Afghan restaurant in the Little Kabul area of Fremont, Calif. Residents of Little Kabul, the nation's largest concentration of Afghan emigres, are watching closely as their homeland prepares to hold its first direct presidential election. As millions of voters in Afghanistan get ready to cast ballots Saturday, some residents of Fremont's Little Kabul see the landmark vote as a crucial step for a budding democracy.
October 18
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Microsoft, Swatch Offer New Wireless Watches
NEW YORK - Microsoft Corp. and watch maker Swatch are offering a new line of wireless data watches, the companies said, bringing the era of Dick Tracy wristwatch radios one step closer. The watches offer news, sports, weather and stock quotes, among other snippets of content, via Microsoft's MSN Direct wireless data service. Twice the number of information channels of earlier Microsoft-based models are available. Known as the "Paparazzi" line, the computerized Swatches also offer local entertainment updates through a deal with publisher Time Out, as well as a chance to meet celebrities.
The watches come with three levels of service. Each comes free with local weather, news headlines and stock index levels. For $40 a year, users can receive more weather data, personalized news and sports scores, stock quotes, horoscopes and the like. For $60 annually, they can receive instant messages and calendar reminders from their PC if they use Microsoft Outlook software. Microsoft and Swatch began work on watches three years ago. "This is a new way of getting information," Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect, told a news conference.
       "It's glanceable information and it's a combination of the two things that I think people really care about -- fashion, something that's fun and exiting, and technology that brings them personal information," he said. Paparazzis retail for $150, or two to three times the cost of conventional watches sold by the Swiss watch maker. With the addition of Swatch, there will now be 12 Microsoft "wrist-top" watch models on sale for the holiday season. The first such watches were introduced at the start of this year. Other manufacturers include the youth-oriented watch maker Fossil, Finnish sports gear maker Suunto and luxury brand Tissot, another Swatch Group brand. The existing watches range in price from $129 for a Fossil to $725 for a Tissot. All of the watches are bulky and masculine, a function of the need to embed a wireless antenna in the watch body or wristband. The watches utilize unused local FM radio channels to broadcast general content as well as personalized scheduling information to watches. Messages can also be delivered to the watches using Microsoft Messenger instant-messaging software.
True two-way phone features like those used by Tracy, the iconic U.S. cartoon detective, would require stronger batteries and smaller chips than are now economical. Newer models of the Microsoft watches are thinner and more stylish than the first versions of the computerized watches introduced a year ago. Microsoft has also overcome congestion problems that hampered wireless data delivery in the first few months of operation, a spokesman said.

What happens when my watch crashes
now from a windows error?
October 19
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More than two dozen top fund-raisers for President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry are current or former senior managers of companies punished for trading with Iran or Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
October 20
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Patterson Elementary School nurse Beth Cloud, right, and teacher's aide Sue Price, left, examines Ashlyn Blocker's feet for scrapes, after recess. If she's scratched or cut, Ashlyn never complains because of her rare disease. The 5-year-old is among a small number of people in the world known to have congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis, or CIPA - a rare genetic disorder that makes her unable to feel pain.
October 21
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Fuel prices at a Citgo Gas Station stand out next to the Sears Tower in downtown Chicago October 5, 2004. Oil prices may cost as much as 10 percent less next year if Democratic challenger John Kerry defeats President George W. Bush in the election, some energy analysts said. Kerry is seen as more likely to use the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to cool prices and is expected to have a less aggressive policy in the Middle East, lowering the risk of supply disruptions from the energy-rich region.
October 22
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Italian woman banned from army for being too fat
ROME - A young woman volunteer has been banned from the Italian army for being too fat, media reported. The 1.65-metre (5.4-foot) tall 21-year-old, identified only by her first name, Francesca, was considered unsuitable for the army as her 78.5 kilos (173 pounds) was "incompatible with the parametres of physical aptitude of military service", it said. She had argued before an administrative tribunal in the central coastal city of Ancona that she had passed her first army medical, but then put on weight during her first 10 months of training due to the stodgy food served. But her argument did not hold weight with the court, which said that she had failed to lose her surplus kilos during a convalescence period given her by the military go to on a diet. However, her lawyer said on Tuesday she was not going to take the matter lightly, and that she would appeal the ruling. He said that for Francesca, who hails from Catania in Sicily, "the army was her choice of lifestyle and a work opportunity. "I don't think that all the military you come across in Italy have perfect figures," he said. The woman joined the Ascoli Piceno regiment near Anconi in 2001.
October 23
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Pumpkin pet : A dog in Halloween costume joins the Halloween parade with his owner at the Omotesando district in Tokyo.
October 24
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Chance, a 2-year-old English Sheepdog, wears a Superman costume during a costume contest at Piccadilly Pets, in Palo Alto, Calif. Chance and owner Clive Davies won first place.
October 25
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Along with a Wisconsin 'cheesehead' cowboy hat, a young woman wears a shirt showing her support for the Republican Party during a rally for President George W. Bush in Milwaukee. Bush and Democratic nominee John Kerry are making a final push through a handful of crucial swing states today in a last-ditch hunt for the votes that could break open a deadlocked White House race.
October 26
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Bush Campaign to Recut Doctored Ad
INDIANOLA, Iowa - President Bush's campaign acknowledged Thursday that it had doctored a photograph used in a television commercial to remove the president and the podium where he was standing. The campaign said the ad will be re-edited and reshipped to TV stations.
A group of soldiers in the crowd was electronically copied to fill in the space where the president and the podium had been, aides say. "There was no need to do that," said Mark McKinnon, head of Bush's advertising team who shouldered the blame. "Everyone technically works for me so I accept the responsibility."
The original photograph shows a sea of soldiers sitting behind the president as he stands at a podium just left of the center of the frame. Bush was speaking at Fort Drum in New York on July 19, 2002. Democrats said it is fitting that Bush would fabricate an advertising image.
"This administration has always had a problem telling the truth from Iraq to jobs to health care," said Kerry spokesman Joe Lockhart. "The Bush campaign's advertising has been consistently dishonest in what they say. But today, it's been exposed for being dishonest about what we see. If they won't tell the truth in an ad, they won't tell the truth about anything else."
McKinnon said a video editor he declined to identify was told to edit the picture to focus on a young boy waving a flag. On his own initiative, the editor removed the podium and copied the faces, McKinnon said."I didn't even know it was done," he said. The doctoring was first revealed on an Internet site. "There was no intention on anybody's part to try to represent anything that wasn't true," McKinnon said
The Bush campaign noted that Bush was addressing a large group of troops in both the original and edited version. "Bush is talking to the troops, the troops are real," said Bush spokesman Steve Schmidt said. He noted that the crowd the president was speaking to was much larger than depicted in the ad. The ad, released Wednesday, is an emotional appeal in which Bush defends his decision to go to war and empathizes with fallen soldiers and their families. The ad is running on national cable networks and in local media markets in at least one state, Ohio.
October 27
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Japanese cartoon figure Hello Kitty toasts with guests, including former Hong Kong actress Gigi Fu, after cutting a birthday cake in Hong Kong. The twinkling-eyed cartoonish character, which was invented and promoted by a Japanese company called Sanrio in 1974 and has become one of the most popular Japanese cartoon figures around the world, celebrated its 30th birthday.
October 28
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A polar bear at the San Diego Zoo gets into the Halloween spirit as he plays with a pumpkin, at the Zoo's Polar Bear Plunge. Kalluk, a 735-pound sub-adult male bear pounced on, tackled and hugged the large plastic jack-o-lantern which provided him hours of amusement.
October 29
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Tourists and residents make their way through a flooded St. Mark's Square in Venice, northern Italy. An exceptional 137-centimeter (54 inch) high tide flooded eighty per cent of the town disrupting public transportation and flooding shops.
October 30
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We had Noah's first birthday party today with the extended family.  At least 50 people showed up to enjoy bbq and relax over the afternoon and celebrate Noah turning one years old.
A handout image released on October 31, 2004 shows three torpid dormice, in the winning photograph of the BBC TV Countryfile photographic competition. The image was taken by Steven Robinson at Wakehurst Place in southern England as part of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew's monitoring program of this endangered species in conjunction with English Nature

October 31
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Oil traders bet on a Kerry win, as U.S. crude prices fell below $50 on speculation a Kerry victory on Tuesday would ease the global tensions that fueled this year's record-breaking rise. Both campaigns expressed optimism and counted on vast get-out-the-vote operations to make the difference on Election Day, when more than 100 million Americans will choose a leader for the next four years.