Thought Gallery October 2005

October 1
Image of the Day
This month is decicated to war image pictures from soldiers in the field and is intended to provock some thought into the actions we let our troops and country do to protect our freedoms and way of life.
October 2
Image of the Day
Shepherds wanted -- accountancy skills preferred
BUDAPEST - Do you have an accountancy qualification and are you familiar with the bureaucracy of the European Union? Perhaps a career as a shepherd on the plains of southern Hungary beckons. The "puszta" flatland, traditional home to more than a million sheep, is running out of qualified shepherds and is now importing them from neighboring Romania. Not only are herd numbers growing, but shepherds must have accountancy skills and, since the country joined the EU last year, be capable of applying for grants, the newspaper Nepszabadsag reported. Ference Silay, who trained as an architect, is an ethnic Hungarian from Romania who now earns a living from the award-winning herd he owns in Domaszek, southern Hungary. "Being a shepherd isn't just sitting next to your dog on the field all day, smoking a pipe," he told the paper.

October 3
Image of the Day

Burglar, scared by corpse, phones police
AMSTERDAM - A Dutch burglar phoned police after fleeing in panic when he found the corpse of an 89-year-old woman in a house he broke into in The Hague. Police said they were still searching for the burglar who "got the fright of his life." "He said he was the burglar and that he found a corpse," a police spokesman said. "He found the mortal remains in one of the rooms and left the home to call emergency number 112." Police were investigating if anything was stolen and believed the woman may have been dead for some time.

October 4
Image of the Day
'Brilliant' killer of old ladies stalks city
MEXICO CITY - Long used to kidnappers and drug hitmen, Mexico's capital is now in fear of another type of criminal: a serial killer in women's clothes who strangles and batters old ladies in their homes. Police believe a single murderer is responsible for the unusual killings of four elderly women in the city so far this year and may have committed some of 37 others since 2003. Bizarrely, three of the four victims had prints of the painting "Boy in Red Waistcoat" by 18th century French artist Jean-Baptiste Greuze hanging on their walls, but prosecutors say that might just be a coincidence. The murderer, dubbed the "Mataviejitas," or "Little Old Lady Killer," is either a tall, powerfully built woman or a man who dresses in female clothes, talks their way into the victims' houses and kills them with household objects. "It is a criminal acting alone, who is very careful, is brilliantly clever and acts with a lot of skill, winning the confidence of old people," the city's chief prosecutor, Bernardo Batiz, told reporters.
The killer takes trophies from the crime scenes. "One of the reasons we know it is a serial killer is that they took totemic items, like a ring or a religious statue from the victims' homes as a trophy," said criminologist Miguel Ontiveros, who is involved in the investigation. In the four cases that police say are definitely linked, the victims were strangled by women's tights, a curtain cord or a phone cable after they opened their doors to the killer. Detectives think the murderer may have posed as a doctor or nurse. Investigators suspect the killer might have murdered up to 15 old women but a lack of clues and a slow-moving justice system in a teeming city with a high crime rate has made it difficult to link the murders. "We are looking for a needle in a giant haystack but we are going to find it," said Batiz. The killer may be getting careless and police believe they now have his or her fingerprints. A government body that aids the elderly is distributing 500,000 leaflets to warn of the danger. "The elderly need to be more cautious and not open their doors to people they don't know or who come up to them in the market or outside the church offering to take them home or help them," said Laura Perez, spokeswoman for the National Institute for the Elderly.
October 5
Image of the Day
China bear bile farmer eaten by own animals
BEIJING - A Chinese man who raised bears to tap them for their bile, prized as a traditional medicine in Asia, has been killed and eaten by his animals, Xinhua news agency said. Six black bears attacked keeper Han Shigen as he was cleaning their pen in the northeastern province of Jilin on Monday, Xinhua said. "The ill-fated man died on the spot and was eaten up by the ferocious bears," it said, citing a report in the Beijing News. In practices decried by animal rights groups, bile is extracted through surgically implanted catheters in the bear's gall bladders, or by a "free-dripping" technique by which bile drips out through holes opened in the animals' abdomens. More than 200 farms in China keep about 7,000 bears to tap their bile, which traditional Chinese medicine holds can cure fever, liver illness and sore eyes. Bear farming was far more widespread before the cruelty involved came to light and Beijing introduced regulations to control the industry in 1993. Animal welfare groups have called on China to completely ban bear farming, arguing that traditional herbal medicines can serve the same purposes as bear bile. Xinhua said police sent to the scene of Monday's killing injected one of the bears with tranquilizers "but failed to tame the mad animal." Police then threw meat into the bears' pen to distract them so they could recover Han's remains, it said without elaborating.
October 6
Image of the Day
More bones of hobbit-sized humans discovered
LONDON - Australian scientists said on Tuesday they have discovered more remains of hobbit-sized humans which belong to a previously unknown species that lived at the end of the last Ice Age. Professor Mike Morwood, of the University of New England, in Armidale, Australia, stunned the science world last year when he and his team announced the discovery of 18,000-year-old remains of a new human species called Homo floresiensis. The partial skeleton discovered in a limestone cave on the remote Indonesian island of Flores in 2003 was of a tiny adult hominid, or early human, only one meter (3 feet tall), that would have walked upright and had a chimpanzee-sized brain.
Morwood and his team said it represented a unique species of early humans that evolved to a naturally small size because of environmental conditions and the isolation of the island, which was also home to exotic creatures such as miniature elephants and Komodo dragons. But critics suggested the small hominid was not a new species and was more likely a pygmy human or a creature that suffered from a form of microcephaly, a condition that causes an unusually small brain. "The finds further demonstrate ...(it) is not just an aberrant or pathological individual but is representative of a long-term population," Morwood and his team said in a report in the science journal Nature.
The newly found remains, dug up in 2004, consist of a jaw, as well as arm and other bones which the researchers believe were from at least nine individuals. A jaw bone reported last year and the latest one were probably from the same species, according to the scientists. Both share similar dental features and lacked chins. The new species, dubbed "Flores man," is thought to be a descendent of Homo erectus, which had a large brain, was full-sized and spread from Africa to Asia about 2 million years ago. "Although the original skeleton is estimated to be 18,000 years old, a child's radius (arm bone) was found in deposits estimated to be 12,000 years old," Daniel Lieberman, of Harvard University in Massachusetts, said in a commentary in the journal. He added that if the remains were from a population of short microcephalic humans they would have had to survive a long time or been susceptible to a high frequency of dwarfism. "Such possibilities strain credulity," Lieberman added. CAT scans of the inside of the skull found in 2003 suggested it was a normal adult and not a diseased or mutant species. The brain could have been advanced enough for tool-making.

October 7
Image of the Day
Jewish mystics to Madonna: Lay off our sage!
JERUSALEM - Word that Madonna's upcoming album includes a paean to a 16th-century Jewish mystic has prompted the rabbis who guard his legacy to accuse the pop idol of sacrilege and hint at divine punishment. The "Confessions on a Dance Floor" collection includes a song titled "Isaac" -- in reference, entertainment media say, to Rabbi Isaac Luria, founder of the Kabbalah school of mysticism which counts Madonna, 47, as one of its devotees. The custodians of Luria's tomb and seminary in the northern Israeli town of Safed accused her of breaking a taboo. "There is a prohibition in Jewish law against using the holy name of our master, the Sage Isaac, for profit," the seminary's director, Rabbi Rafael Cohen, told the Israeli newspaper Maariv. "This is an inappropriate act, and one can feel only pity at the punishment that she (Madonna) will receive from Heaven. The Sage Isaac is holy and pure, and immodest people cannot sing about him," he said. Catholic-born Madonna, famed for her racy lyrics and on-stage antics, has drawn frequent censure from ultra-Orthodox Jews who say her embrace of Kabbalah debases their religion. Deemed especially provocative was Madonna's music video for "Die Another Day," in which she wove phylacteries around her arm, a custom usually reserved for Jewish men, before escaping from an electric chair on which Hebrew letters spelling out one of the 72 names of God appeared. "This kind of woman wreaks an enormous sin upon the Kabbalah," said Rabbi Yisrael Deri, caretaker of Luria's tomb.
October 8
Image of the Day
Earthworms, Cat Receive Church Blessing
FARGO, N.D. - John Christensen brought his earthworms and his cat to church. The 9-year-old is creating his own worm farm, and he chose a couple of the community's founding members to attend Sunday's service. "They can share the Good News," joked John's father, Tom Christensen. John's earthworms and his cat, Arthur, were among about 20 animals taking part in the annual Blessing of Animals ceremony at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Fargo. The animals — mostly dogs, a few cats, one parakeet — gathered inside the church garage for Sunday's ceremony, led by the Rev. Jeffrey Wald. The blessing is associated with the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, known as the patron saint of animals. "Animals help us to see God's magnificence in his creation," said Wald, who has given the blessing for 13 years. He acknowledged it means more to owners than to their pets. Like children in the pews on Sunday morning, the animals don't always remain still for Wald's prayers, so he prefers to work fast. This year's ritual lasted only a few minutes. "They start barking and hissing," Wald said, "so you've got to get them blessed and out of there."
October 9
Image of the Day
Prize Pumpkins Weigh in at Over 1,200 Lbs
WARREN, R.I. - A Rhode Island welder won a contest for the biggest pumpkin Monday with an entry weighing 1,443 pounds, while a retired Washington firefighter won a similar contest in California with an entry weighing 1,229 pounds. Scott Palmer took top honors at the 12th annual Rhode Island Southern New England Giant Pumpkin Growers Championship. Joel Holland won the annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off. The world record is a 1,446-pound pumpkin grown last year by Al Eaton, of Ontario, Canada, according to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. "Best day of my life. I got my family here, helped me grow it all year, what else is there to say?" said Palmer, who took home $3,500 as the victor. Holland said his pumpkin could make roughly 600 pumpkin pies but instead will be displayed in a parade in Half Moon Bay this coming weekend, then carved into a jack-o'-lantern for Halloween. "Maybe we'll set a record for the size of a pumpkin pie next," said Holland, who has won the competition five years in a row. He won last year with a pumpkin that weighed exactly the same amount. Holland's pumpkin had to be removed from the back of a pickup truck with a crane. Holland, 56, attributed his success to two decades of pumpkin growing experience and the favorable climate at his Puyallup, Wash., home. The Atlantic Giant was hand-pollinated and grew from July to October. Contenders beware: Holland plans to use the seeds from this year's giant to spawn another behemoth.
October 10
Image of the Day
World Helpless Against Assaults of Nature
WASHINGTON - In a more hopeful time, buoyed by the promise of science, it was thought hurricanes could be tricked into dispersing, earthquakes could be disarmed by nuclear explosions and floodwaters held at bay by great mounds of dirt. Such conceits are another victim of a year of destruction. The planet's controlling forces romp over dreams like those. Usually the best that can be done is to see the danger coming long enough to run. Rich and poor nations have taken the hit over a period so twisted in nature's assaults that one month, rich is helping poor and the next, poor is helping rich as best it can, and then the poor gets slammed once again. The United States, giver of tsunami aid in December, accepted hurricane aid from some of those same countries in September. Now it is giving to South Asia a second time, in response to the weekend earthquakes. India is sending tents, food, blankets and medicine to its foe, Pakistan, geology briefly shoving aside geopolitics. More than 176,000 people died in the earthquake and tsunami of December; an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 in the quake Saturday; perhaps 1,000 or more in Guatemalan landslides last week; more than 1,200 in Katrina. Asian beaches, mountainous Kashmir villages and American urban streets and casinos all were overwhelmed.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. After World War II, nothing seemed too far-fetched for science, not once the atom was split and, again, not once men stepped on the moon. In one of the most enduring efforts, still alive but hardly about to happen, man thought he could seed clouds, make it rain reliably and put a stop to devastating drought. The effort continues, especially in China; there, rockets, anti-aircraft guns and aircraft regularly pelt the sky with chemicals. The results so far: China has lots of experience, but limited success, in making the rains come. If humans are inexorably warming the globe, they've proved unable to fine-tune the megaforces to their benefit.
They can cause earthquakes, little ones, by injecting fluids into deep wells, filling huge reservoirs with water or setting off nuclear explosions, but they can't prevent any, says the U.S. Geological Survey. Any notion of "lubricating" tectonic plates to relieve destructive tension would only make things worse, if it made any difference. Earthquakes can't be forecast, either. Danger zones and long-term probabilities can be surmised, but "there currently is no accepted method to accomplish the goal of predicting the time, place and magnitude of an impending quake," the survey says. The idea of hauling icebergs to hurricane-prone waters to cool things off did not fly. Research continues on trying to fool hurricanes into thinking they're over land. One trick being tested: coating the ocean with a thin, biodegradable, oily film to deny a hurricane the evaporation that feeds its fury, in essence mimicking conditions after landfall.
One of the responses to Hurricane Katrina was decidedly lower tech: Civil engineers proposed putting up old-fashioned air raid sirens so people would know to get away. The belief persists that humans will someday be able to dial up a thunderstorm at will, tweak the jet stream to avoid floods and starve a tornado of its energy once it starts spinning. Such faith is reflected in a decade-old report done for the U.S. Air Force, on the possibilities of modifying the weather for military advantage. The study suggested extreme examples of made-to-order weather, such as steering severe storms to particular areas or achieving large-scale climate change, were beyond reach over the next 30 years. But kicking up fog, rain and clouds was considered doable in that time. The Air Force said later it did not plan to meddle with Mother Nature. The study, subtitled "Owning the Weather in 2025," came to little. A decade later, the weather still owns us.

October 11
Image of the Day
Two particularly intriguing exhibits were the H2O 2000 gas generator machine, a revolutionary welding and cutting device, and also a newly developed process of recycling polystyrene caught the eye of many conference attendees. H2O 2000 Gas Generator Machine powered by water and 220V current only. It can use any kind of filtered water, and draws only a few amps of electricity. Yet it can produce flame temperatures in excess of 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Environmentally Friendly! The only by-product of the gas is water vapor! In years to come, cars will use this to run on water! Does not require storage of bottled gases. Weight 160 lbs The generator is a little 160-pound gizmo on wheels that is powerful indeed. In the words of The Center for Strategic Alliance Inc., “we can now make fire from water.” The Center for Strategic Alliance Inc. is a small consulting business with offices in Hickman, Ky.
This technology, with more than five years in research and development at Hydrogen Technology Applications Inc. (HTA), illustrates that the solutions to our energy and environmental woes may be in the common elements that surround us. The patented process safely generates a molecularly stable hybrid hydrogen/oxygen gas (Klein/HHO) on demand from water. The gas is extremely environmentally friendly in that it has no polluting subgases when burned and produces only pure water in vapor form. It is currently being used to cut, weld, solder and fuse such materials as metal, plastics, ceramics and glass in commercial as well as artistic applications. Unlike pure hydrogen gas, HHO gas remains highly stable, reducing the fear of explosions that often accompany pure hydrogen systems.
The generator is highly mobile and has been used in coalfields to fuse critical pipelines carrying coal slurry. Storage and transport of highly combustible materials, such as propane, natural gas and acetylene, can be eliminated. HTA Inc. has donated several Klein/HHO gas generators to Kentucky universities and technical training centers during its introduction program. Its goal is to partner with Kentucky in the artistic and technical training necessary to take advantage of this technology. A manufacturing facility in Kentucky is a high priority. As fossil fuels become diminished and increasingly costly, HHO gas offers a viable alternative. Its potential to move us forward in the realm of energy independence and environmental health makes this an exciting innovation.
October 12
Image of the Day
British firm takes offence at fashion clothing line for ferrets
LONDON - Ever mindful of its image, British luxury goods firm Burberry has threatened legal action against a company making garments in its trademark check pattern -- for ferrets. In what must count as one of the more unusual trademark disputes of recent years, Burberry's lawyers have sent letters to Ferret World, the country's only outlet for clothes made especially for the rodents, a popular pet. According to Wednesday's edition of the Daily Telegraph, the trouble began when the shop in Dudley, central England, advertised a check-patterned fur-lined ferret cap and cape ensemble "in the famous Burberry design".
Owner Simon Bishop said he was shocked to get a letter from Burberry saying he had violated its intellectual property rights, and agreed to remove the mention of the company's name from his shop's website. But Burberry also demanded he send them a sample of the material used to make the 6.99 pound (10.20 euro, 12.20 dollar) outfits -- claimed to give your ferret "that out of town look" -- hand over the names of all purchasers and promise never to sell anything similar again. "Burberry should get a life," Bishop told the newspaper, saying he was still being threatened with legal action even though his material was a standard tartan, not the Burberry check.
"As far as I can see, their trademark refers to jackets and headwear for humans, and dog coats. How a two-inch cap for a ferret fits into that is anyone's guess," he added. Burberry became famous for its invention of the gabardine waterproof raincoat and for providing kit to officers in the British armed forces during World War I. In recent years it has revitalised its image and become a leading manufacturer of luxury branded clothing and other goods. However, in Britain its check pattern caps and scarves have been adopted by some young football hooligans as a sort of uniform, hitting the brand's cachet. A spokesman for Burberry said the firm had no plans for a line of ferret accessories, but "that's not to say there won't be."
October 13
Image of the Day
October 14
Image of the Day
UNICEF PSA shows bombing of Smurfs' village
A shocking, adults-only public service ad for the United Nations Children's Fund to be broadcast across Belgium this week shows warplanes destroying the Smurfs' village. Approved by the family of the Smurfs' late creator, "Peyo," the 25-second advertisement depicting the bombing was previewed last week on Belgium's main evening TV news. UNICEF and IMPS, the family company which controls rights to the blue-skinned characters, have stipulated that the PSA is not to be broadcast before 9 p.m. Small children who saw the message by accident last week cried in terror. Reactions from adults who viewed it ranged from approval to shock.
The ad is intended to spearhead a fundraising campaign by UNICEF's Belgian division to raise the equivalent of about $120,000 U.S. to rehabilitate ex-child soldiers in Burundi.  The cartoon begins with a pastoral scene: the Smurfs dance around a campfire hand in hand, singing the Smurf song. Bluebirds fly past and rabbits scamper around the Smurf's village of mushroom-shaped houses -- until whistling bombs fall from the sky without warning. The Smurfs scatter and try to run from the bombs, before blast waves and explosions forced them down.
In the final scene, a scorched, torn Baby Smurf cries, surrounded by fallen Smurfs. "Don't let war affect the lives of children," the final frame of the message reads. UNICEF spokesman Philippe Henon told the British newspaper The Telegraph that shocking the public was his organization's intention. The UN agency had decided that the usual images of wartime suffering in the Third World no longer affected TV viewers as easily as they once did. "It's controversial. We have never done something like this before, but we've learned over the years that the reaction to the more normal type of campaign is very limited," Henon said.
The Smurfs first appeared in a Belgian comic in 1958. They are known as "Smurfen" to Flemish speakers in the country and "Schtroumpfs" to its French speakers.  Publicist, the ad agency behind the PSA, decided that the best way to show the effects of war on children was to remind Belgium's TV viewers of their oldest-happiest memories. The agency's original plans were even more graphic, said Julie Lamoureux, Publicis' account director for the campaign: "We wanted something that was real war -- Smurfs losing arms, or a Smurf losing a head -- but they said no." "I think it will wake up some people. It is so un-Smurf-like, it might get people to think," said a spokesman for the official Smurf fan club. "That crying baby really goes to your bones," added Hendrik Coysman, managing director of IMPS.
October 15
Image of the Day
World's Most Elusive Rat Dead After 18-Week Chase
It seemed like a good idea. Let a lone rat loose on a rodent-free island and then figure out how to kill it. That way, when other islands are invaded by rats, you'll know what to do. Scientists figured they'd trap this foot-long varmint in no time. Eighteen weeks later, they finally trapped it with some fresh penguin bait. On another island. A real rat race
Rodents are a problem just about everywhere. In New Zealand, at least 11 islands have been invaded by Norway rats since 1980, in each case after rats from earlier invasions had been eradicated. The invaders disrupt local ecosystems. In the new study, announced today, a Norway rat was originally lured into a trap with chocolate. Its DNA was recorded, and the rat was outfitted with a radio collar and set free on the tiny island of Motuhoropapa off the coast of New Zealand.
With no rats to compete with, the test subject traversed the entire island for about four weeks before settling on a home range, data from the radio collar showed. For the next four weeks, conventional rat-trapping techniques were employed -- snap traps, live traps and waxed devices -- without success. After 10 weeks, the radio signal was lost.
Then the researchers found rat feces on the island of Otata, 1,300 feet (400 meters) away across the open ocean. The DNA was a match, confirming a suspicion scientists had, that rats were good swimmers. The elusive creature had made the longest confirmed open-water crossing of any rodent in history. Different methods were used on Otata: buried traps, peanut butter, poison and even trained dogs. Not until more than four months after its release was the rat finally killed, in a trap baited with fresh penguin.
The scientists, led by James Russell at the University of Auckland, sagely conclude that conventional methods didn't work well. They also have an idea why: Being alone, the rat didn't behave as it would have in a rat-infested city; and with no competition for food, the bait was less attractive than it otherwise would have been. The results are detailed in the Oct. 20 issue of the journal Nature. "Our results may help in the design of conservation strategies to keep islands free of invasive rodents," the researchers write.
October 16
Image of the Day
Israel's ties with Muslim nations on upswing
JERUSALEM - When a devastating earthquake rattled Iran two years ago and killed tens of thousands of people, the Islamic nation welcomed aid offered by every country - even the United States - except Israel. After another temblor decimated parts of Pakistan earlier this month, the second largest Muslim nation in the world agreed to accept help from the Jewish nation, setting the stage for boxes marked with the Star of David to begin heading east as soon as this week. In a region where small gestures can mark the start of something much larger, Pakistan's decision to take Israel's aid is a political tremor that could shake up the Middle East landscape.
"I think more and more Muslim countries realize that Israel is no longer a pariah, and they have to grow up and accept the fact that it may be beneficial to have relations with Israel at various levels," said Efraim Inbar, the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Israel. In the weeks since Israel ended 38 years of military rule over the Gaza Strip by forcibly removing thousands of Jewish settlers who had lived amid 1.3 million Palestinians, it has racked up significant political rewards.
First came a long-planned public handshake in Istanbul, Turkey, between the foreign ministers of Israel and Pakistan, marking the first official contacts between the Jewish and Muslim nations. Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom hailed the moment as the beginning of the end for the "iron wall" that's long separated Israel from most of its Arab neighbors. "Israel has no conflict with the Arab and Muslim world," the Tunisian-born Shalom said in an interview. "Just the opposite is true. We share many common interests and values. ... I always believed that the Arab and Muslim world has a critical role to play in advancing peace and stability." That worldview seems to be making inroads across the Middle East. While Israel has established informal relations with its neighbors, the Gaza Strip gambit has given Arab and Muslim nations an excuse to acknowledge those ties publicly.
Indonesia's foreign minister met with Shalom at the United Nations, and a prominent newspaper in the world's largest Muslim nation cautiously welcomed the talks by saying that "Israel, unlike what Arabs often said in the past, indeed cannot be `thrown into the sea.'" The Jakarta Post weighed in by suggesting that Indonesia "opening some form of relationship with Israel is a prerequisite" to playing a larger political role in the region. And Shalom himself published a landmark opinion piece in an Indonesian newspaper.
After Shalom met with his Pakistani counterpart, President Pervez Musharraf told the American Jewish Congress that he could envision a day when there were more formal ties between the nations. "What better signal for peace could there be than opening embassies in Israel by Islamic countries like Pakistan?" he asked. In Kuwait, a leading newspaper carried an opinion piece that encouraged Arab nations to follow Pakistan's lead. "Israel is not a bogey, and the notion of a greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates is no more than a scarecrow that the Arabs have used to justify their despotism, domestic injustice, and political, financial, and administrative corruption," wrote Yusuf Nasir Al Suwaydan, a Saudi.
The thaw may be reaping benefits for Israel, but it's not without risks for the Arab and Muslim leaders who've been buffeted by criticism in their own countries. Hard-line Pakistani lawmakers walked out of a Parliament meeting to protest the meeting with Israel, a nation that Pakistan doesn't officially recognize. When an Afghan newspaper recently reported that plans were under way for Afghanistan to officially recognize Israel, President Hamid Karzai's office quickly rebuffed the claim and said it would never do so until there was an independent Palestinian state. The vehement opposition from the general public could make it difficult for leaders across the Middle East to go much farther in building ties with Israel until more progress is made with the Palestinians, said Mouin Rabbani, a Jordan-based senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. "At the end of the day, these states and governments in principle don't have any objection to going farther than they have already gone, but are being held back by their public opinion which is opposed to such relations," Rabbani said.
October 17
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House Votes to Ban Obesity Blame Lawsuits
WASHINGTON - The Republican-controlled House voted Wednesday to shield fast-food chains from lawsuits that blame them for making people fat. Nicknamed the "cheeseburger bill," the measure stems from lawsuits accusing McDonald's of causing obesity in tens of thousands of children. The food industry has asked Congress and state legislatures to protect it from liability, and so far, 21 states have agreed. "You cannot litigate personal choices and lifestyles," said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich. House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said potential costs from the lawsuits threaten the food industry and its 12 million employees and raise food prices for consumers. "These suits would be laughable if they were not so harmful," Sensenbrenner said.
The measure, which won approval on a 306-120 vote, would prevent class action lawsuits blaming restaurants and food companies for weight gain or obesity. The House passed a similar bill last year, but the Senate ran out of time to act. Two-thirds of American adults are overweight, and nearly one-third are obese, while obesity among children and teenagers more than doubled in the past 30 years, according to government estimates. Critics of the bill contend that a better way to make people responsible for how they eat is to require nutrition information on menus and menu boards.
"But of course this silly legislative effort has nothing to do with encouraging personal responsibility and everything to do with pleasing a powerful and politically connected industry," said Michael Jacobson, director of the Washington-based Center for Science in the Public Interest. A food industry lobbyist said lawsuits against food companies are the wrong way to fight obesity in America. "More energy must be put into solving the problem of obesity, and less into assigning blame for the purpose of collecting legal fees," said Hunt Shipman, executive vice president of government affairs and communications for the Food Products Association. Courts have dismissed most obesity claims, but an appeals court in New York reinstated one lawsuit against McDonald's earlier this year. It is still pending.
October 18
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Cosby: Parents Must Set Goals for Kids
COMPTON, Calif. - Bill Cosby, who created a stir in the black community when he criticized young people for the way they speak, challenged parents in this crime-plagued, largely minority city to set goals for their children. "Somebody said 'I'm either flippin' burgers or sellin' some drugs,'" said Cosby, echoing a common complaint of young people in poor communities. "But people flippin' burgers never seem to say 'I want to be the manager of the burger place.'" Cosby's visit to Compton High School Wednesday, where he spoke to several gatherings of students, parents and teachers, is part of a 15-city tour he hopes will bring a message of hope and self-improvement to the black community.
Last year Cosby, 68, accused young black people of squandering the civil rights accomplishments of the 1950s and '60s. "These people marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education and now we've got these knuckleheads walking around," Cosby said of today's youth. "I can't even talk the way these people talk, 'Why you ain't,' 'Where you is' ... and I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk," he added in his talk last May.
Cosby's message Wednesday was warmly received by many, including Lamiya Patrick, a 16-year-old Compton High School sophomore, who said the comedian proved anyone could make something of themselves if they tried. Cosby, who grew up in a poor Philadelphia neighborhood, left high school in the 10th grade but went on to earn a doctorate in education and to succeed in movies, television and nightclubs. "We can relate in Compton because there are a lot of broken homes. ... It doesn't mean you can't succeed," said Patrick. Some, though, resented the visit. "There's no reason for him to come here and jump on black men who have been held down for years," said Daima White, a 77-year-old retired nurse and mother of five.
October 19
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U.S. May Still Be in Iraq in 10 Years
WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declined to rule out American forces still being needed in Iraq a decade from now. Senators warned that the Bush administration must play it straight with the public or risk losing public support for the war. Pushed by senators from both parties to define the limits of U.S. involvement in Iraq and the Middle East, Rice also declined to rule out the use of military force in Iran or Syria, although she said the administration prefers diplomacy.
"I don't think the president ever takes any of his options off the table concerning anything to do with military force," Rice said. Rice appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations committee for only the second time since members gave her an unexpectedly tepid endorsement to replace Colin Powell in January, and she fielded pointed questions about U.S. intentions and commitment on Iraq from lawmakers who said they are hearing complaints at home."Our country is sick at heart at the spin and false expectations," Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., told Rice. "They want the truth and they deserve it."
Rice said Iraq's police and Army forces are becoming better able to handle the country's security without U.S. help, and she repeated President Bush's warning that setting a timetable for withdrawal plays into terrorists' hands."The terrorists want us to get discouraged and quit," Rice said. "They believe we do not have the will to see this through."Rice said the United States will follow a model that was successful in Afghanistan. Starting next month, she said, joint diplomatic-military groups — called Provincial Reconstruction Teams — will work alongside Iraqis as they train police, set up courts, and help local governments establish essential services.
By State Department design, Rice testified before the committee just days after Iraq apparently approved its first constitution since a U.S.-led coalition ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003. Her appearance also coincided with the start of Saddam's trial in Baghdad for a 1982 massacre of 150 of his fellow Iraqis.Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., agreed with the Bush administration's stay-the-course approach but said there are legitimate questions to ask about the future."We should recognize that most Americans are focused on an exit strategy in Iraq," said Lugar, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman. "Even if withdrawal timelines are deemed unwise because they might provide a strategic advantage to the insurgency, the American people need to more fully understand the basis upon which our troops are likely to come home."
An AP-Ipsos poll this month found 61 percent of respondents disapprove of Bush's handling of Iraq while 32 percent said they approve. In August, 53 percent said the United States made a mistake by going to war while 43 percent said it was the right decision.The figures represent a sharp drop-off from strong support for the war in the early going. The war also had overwhelming support in Congress, including from most of Rice's questioners. "One thing the Vietnam generation learned is no foreign policy can be sustained without the informed consent of the American people. And we haven't gotten that informed consent in terms of them knowing what they're signing on to from here on out," Sen. Joseph P. Biden Jr., D-Del., told Rice. "So I'm not looking for a date to get out of Iraq. But at what point, assuming the strategy works, do you think we'll be able to see some sign of bringing some American forces home?"
Rice did not address the Vietnam comparison, and said the question of withdrawal is one for military planners."I really don't want to hazard what I think would be a guess, even if it were an assessment, of when that might be possible," Rice said of a troop withdrawal.Later, Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., told Rice that her response to questions about U.S. troop withdrawal leaves open the possibility that U.S. forces could be in Iraq five or even 10 years down the road. Rice did not dispute that."I don't know how to speculate about what will happen 10 years from now, but I do believe that we are moving on a course on which Iraqi security forces are rather rapidly able to take care of their own security concerns," Rice responded.
Boxer read quotation after quotation from administration figures about Iraq, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's February 2003 prediction that the war could "last six days, six weeks, I doubt six months," to make the point that the war has not gone as the administration predicted. Sen. George Voinovich , R-Ohio, read portions of a letter from a father who lost a son in Iraq. The letter called the war a "misguided effort." "We have to really level with the American people," Voinovich told Rice. "This is not going to be over in two years ... we're not going to just be able to walk out of Iraq and this is going to be over."
October 20
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Invisible ink: Laser printers' secret code cracked
Secret Service has deal with makers to add tiny dots that tell when and on which machine a document was printed, privacy group says. Watch what you print: The government could use it to track you down. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco consumer privacy group, says it has cracked the code behind tiny tracking dots that many color laser printers hide in every document as part of a secret agreement between printer makers and the Secret Service.
The yellow dots are invisible to the naked eye. But viewed under blue light with a magnifying glass, they can be used to identify the date and time a document is printed and the serial number of the printer, according to foundation researcher Seth David Schoen. Secret Service officials say that the coding is used only to pursue counterfeiters and that the government doesn't have much interest otherwise in what people print at their homes and offices. But Electronic Frontier lawyer Lee Tien said that overlooks some serious privacy concerns.
"The problem is that tracking counterfeiters also means putting in technology that allows you to track every document," Tien said. "The second, bigger problem is that what we're talking about is stealthy, very out-of-the-public-sight deals that are being made between the government and private sector," he said. If the government and industry make a secret deal over printer technology, Tien says, could there be more agreements unknown to the public to track Americans using other commonplace technology?
According to the foundation, a wide range of color laser jet printers -- which are falling in price and beginning to find a market among individual consumers -- contain the technology. They include some of the most popular models made by Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Xerox Corp. A Dell spokesman said officials who could comment on the report were traveling and not available Wednesday. Hewlett-Packard issued a statement saying it supported agreements with law enforcement that reduced counterfeiting.
"As a responsible market leader, H-P supports the voluntary cooperation between industry and the central banks of many nations to reduce the risk of counterfeiting activities," the world's No. 1 printer seller said. H-P said it was one of many printer companies working with a group of 27 countries to develop and implement printer technology that will prevent counterfeiting. The existence of the printer technology has been known for years. But according to the foundation, it is the first to crack the code behind it. "We've seen 10-year-old printers with this tracking code in it," Tien said.
October 21
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This guide is part of the Machine Identification Code Technology project. It explains how to read the date, time, and printer serial number from forensic tracking codes in a Xerox DocuColor color laser printout. This information is the result of research by Robert Lee, Seth Schoen, Patrick Murphy, Joel Alwen, and Andrew "bunnie" Huang. We acknowledge the assistance of EFF supporters who have contributed sample printouts to give us material to study. We are still looking for help in this research; we are asking the public to submit test sheets or join the printers mailing list to participate in our reverse engineering efforts.
The DocuColor series prints a rectangular grid of 15 by 8 miniscule yellow dots on every color page. The same grid is printed repeatedly over the entire page, but the repetitions of the grid are offset slightly from one another so that each grid is separated from the others. The grid is printed parallel to the edges of the page, and the offset of the grid from the edges of the page seems to vary. These dots encode up to 14 7-bit bytes of tracking information, plus row and column parity for error correction. Typically, about four of these bytes were unused (depending on printer model), giving 10 bytes of useful data. Below, we explain how to extract serial number, date, and time from these dots. Following the explanation, we implement the decoding process in an interactive computer program.
Because of their limited contrast with the background, the forensic dots are not usually visible to the naked eye under white light. They can be made visible by magnification (using a magnifying glass or microscope), or by illuminating the page with blue instead of white light. Pure blue light causes the yellow dots to appear black. It can be helpful to use magnification together with illumination under blue light, although most individuals with good vision will be able to see the dots distinctly using either technique by itself.
This is an image of the dot grid produced by a Xerox DocuColor 12, magnified 10x and photographed by a Digital Blue QX5 computer microscope under white light. While yellow dots are visible, they are very hard to see. We will need to use a different technique in order to get a better view.
The topmost row and leftmost column are a parity row and column for error correction. They help verify that the forensic information has been read accurately (and, if a single dot has been read incorrectly, to identify the location of the error). The rows and columns all have odd parity: that is, every column contains an odd number of dots, and every row (except the topmost row) contains an odd number of dots. If any row or column appears to contain an even number of dots, it has been read incorrectly.
Each column is read top-to-bottom as a single byte of seven bits (omitting the first parity bit); the bytes are then read right-to-left. The columns (which we have chosen to number from left to right) have the following meanings:
  • 15: unknown (often zero; constant for each individual printer; may convey some non-user-visible fact about the printer's model or configuration)
  • 14, 13, 12, 11: printer serial number in binary-coded-decimal, two digits per byte (constant for each individual printer; see below)
  • 10: separator (typically all ones; does not appear to code information)
  • 9: unused
  • 8: year that page was printed (without century; 2005 is coded as 5)
  • 7: month that page was printed
  • 6: day that page was printed
  • 5: hour that page was printed (may be UTC time zone, or may be set inaccurately within printer)
  • 4, 3: unused
  • 2: minute that page was printed
  • 1: row parity bit (set to guarantee an odd number of dots present per row)

The printer serial number is a decimal number of six or eight digits; these digits are coded two at a time in columns 14, 13, 12, and 11 (or possibly just 13, 12, and 11); for instance, the serial number 00654321 would be coded with column values 00, 65, 43, and 21. We have prepared a computer program to automate this decoding process. Below, you can interactively enter a dot grid from a DocuColor page and have it interpreted by our program. If you don't have a microscope, a magnifying glass should be a practical substitute.

October 22
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October 23
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A garment found with the Peruvian mummy in Lima's Huaca Pucllana ceremonial complex
October 24
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Christmas present for Welsh villagers: electricity
LONDON - It is something virtually every Briton takes for granted and they will be paying for it themselves, but four families in rural Wales are delighted with their early Christmas present: mains electricity. Locals in Ystrafellte, a small huddle of farmhouses in the hilly Brecon Beacons region of south Wales, were celebrating after their homes were connected to Britain's National Grid, the BBC reported. The village's 16 inhabitants are the last in Wales to receive mains power, having previously relied on noisy generators after dark and lived without power during the day.
Each family has paid 20,000 pounds (30,000 euros, 34,500 dollars) as a connection fee, due to the high costs of linking the mains grid to their remote homes. "It is difficult to understand what it will mean to us," said Jean Llewellyn, who has lived on a farm in the village with her mother all her life. "Until we got a generator in 1976 we only had candles and oil lamps for lighting. "Even today we only use the generator during the hours of darkness up until we go to bed. "It has only ever been at Christmas that we put the generator on in the day, so we can celebrate and watch TV in the day."
October 25
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US firm turns cremated remains into precious gems
CHICAGO - Everyone said she was a gem. Now, just eight ounces of cremated remains is all it takes to turn your mother into a diamond. In fact, there's enough carbon in those ashes to make about 20 gems. And there will still be several pounds of ashes left over to display on the mantelpiece. So far, nobody's ordered more than 11 diamonds, said Dean VandenBiesen, vice president of operations for LifeGem, which uses super-hot ovens to transform ashes to graphite and then presses the stone into blue and yellow diamonds that retail for anywhere from 2,700 to 20,000 dollars.
"It's not for everyone," VandenBiesen admitted, adding that for those who do chose to immortalize their loved ones in jewelry, the experience is extremely positive. "We have people that approach us who have just experienced a tragedy and they say I can't wait, I'm so excited about this," he said. "In the field of death care, when someone says I'm really excited about this, I think we've achieved what we wanted to do which is change the culture of death."
The success of LifeGem is just one example of a radical shift in the funeral industry, said Mark Musgrove, immediate past president of the National Funeral Directors Association. Americans are moving away from traditional funerals and are seeking instead less somber occasions that reflect the personality of the deceased. They are also looking for alternative ways to remember their loved ones. While a decline in religiosity has contributed to the shift, Musgrove said it's mainly a reflection of a cultural phenomenon.
"Back in the 60's the baby boomers were getting married in scuba gear," he said. "They're getting older and they have the same individualism." A quick stroll through the exhibition hall of association's annual conference shows just how far the 11-billion dollar US funeral home industry has moved towards "personalization." Jeff Barrette is leaning on a maroon motorcycle, his leather vest and scull and crossbones bandana a striking change from the dark suits of most of his customers. Displayed in his booth are urns made out of the engine cylinders of Harley Davidsons and mounted on stands with epitaphs like "Rider's Last Rest," which doubles as the company's name. "It holds 270 cubic inches -- you could fit a big guy in there," Barrette told a potential customer, before explaining that the urn's carrying case is specially constructed to fit on the back of a bike in case "you want to take your buddy for a ride." Demand for the 1,350 dollar hand-made urns has been slow, Barrette said, but that's to be expected in a niche market.
Memorial videos and websites, however, are a bustling business, said Joe Joachim, president of funeralOne, who has signed up 1,500 funeral homes in the past five months. "Our ultimate goal is creating the ultimate funeral experience," Joachim said. "We want to make this a celebration of life and take it to the next level." FuneralOne offers software that allows funeral homes to help families create videos, burn them onto DVDs and even make personalized brochures and websites. It also offers webcasting services so people who can't make the funeral can watch online. The two-and-a-half-year-old company has recently partnered with another firm which makes solar-powered video screens that can be mounted on a tombstone and play a 5 to 10 minute tribute. The 7-inch (18 cm) serenity panels will hit the market in January and Vidstone and chief executive officer Sergio Aguirre said he expects to sell up to 100,000 in the first year. "Everyone has a story to tell, and what better way than to share it?" he said.
October 26
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Robotic fish to cause a splash at London aquarium
LONDON - The world's first self-controlled robotic fish were due to be unveiled at the London Aquarium, officials said. The three aquatic robots were developed by a team at the University of Essex, in southeast England, to teach the public more about robotic technology. Built to look like the real thing, the fish can swim around a specially designed tank, avoiding obstacles and reacting to the environment. They have sensor-based controls to navigate autonomously.
Project leader Huosheng Hu and his robotics team worked with the aquarium for three years, studying the behavior and movement of a variety of fish before creating the robots. "This work has many real-world applications including seabed exploration, detecting leaks in oil pipelines, mine countermeasures and improving the performance of underwater vehicles," Hu said. The fish feature jewel-bright scales and can swim as fast as a tuna, accelerate like a pike and navigate like an eel. "Our robotic fish are really wonderful to look at and very entertaining. It's amazing how beautiful and graceful their movements are -- they're going to be incredibly popular with our visitors," said aquarium director Foster Archer.
October 27
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A debate is raging in Chile over who has the rights to a mythic treasure trove supposedly found by a robot metal detector on the islands that inspired the novel about castaway Robinson Crusoe. The 300-year-old booty hasn't even been dug up, so nobody knows whether it's really been found, but the Chilean treasure hunters say they won't reveal its hiding place unless the government guarantees them the right to half of it. The treasure seekers who own the robot claim the machine detected a treasure that could be worth some $10 billion. "There's a big fuss on the island about this supposed find ... but the truth is everyone is counting their chickens before the eggs are hatched," Leopoldo Gonzalez, mayor of the Juan Fernandez islands, told Reuters by telephone.
Treasure hunters have been looking for years on the Juan Fernandez archipelago, about 400 miles west of mainland Chile, for a treasure legend says was buried there in the 18th century when the islands were a frequent refuge for pirates on long voyages in the Pacific. The stories say Spanish sailor Juan Esteban Ubilla y Echeverria buried a treasure there in 1715, that it was dug up and buried again by English sailor Cornelius Webb, who sent a coded letter about its location in 1761 to British Admiral Lord George Anson. That letter was discovered in England in 1950 and sent to Chile, inspiring several fruitless digs on the islands.
The booty is supposed to include coins, jewels, gold bars and more than one papal ring. The archipelago is also famous because in 1704 Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk was marooned there for five years, and his survival inspired Daniel Defoe's novel "Robinson Crusoe." Rodrigo Irrazabal, a lawyer for Wagner, the Chilean company that claims to have found the treasure, told National Television the firm will only reveal the location if the government agrees to apply civil laws that say treasures should be equally divided between the finders and the government.
The company says it will give its half to three Chilean charities: The House of Christ, the Baptist Church and the Telethon, as well as to the local government on the islands. Wagner said it found the treasure with its TX Spider robot, called Arturito -- the name means Little Arthur but sounds like Star Wars android R2D2 when spoken in Spanish. The same robot has helped in criminal investigations in Chile by finding a body and an arms cache, media reports say. Wagner has said the treasure could be unearthed by 12 hours of digging in three sites.
Some government officials say it is not clear whether civil code should apply, or the National Monuments and Archeological Excavations law which says archeological, anthropological or paleontological finds belong exclusively to the state. "We haven't clarified yet how the wealth would be distributed," said Paula Quintana, an official in Chile's fifth regional government. It administers the islands, home to 800 people, who work mainly in fishing. To complicate matters, the treasure was found in a protected nature reserve and Wagner cannot dig without filing an environmental impact report. "A lot of countries might want to claim a part of this but the truth is we've been the guardians for 300 years and that gives us a right on our own merit," Mayor Gonzalez told National Television.
October 28
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Here's a picture of one of my gifts to Noah, I have a friend who's an artist create some artwork for Noah. 
It's a worldview of a child in a fishbowl, with animals looking inside on his world inside the fishbowl.
October 29
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Electronic paper moves from sci-fi to marketplace
AMSTERDAM - In Neal Stephenson's sci-fi novel "The Diamond Age," a young girl's companion is a book with amazing qualities -- it talks, and the words magically change with the story. A decade after Stephenson's book was published, what was once labeled science fiction is finding its way to the real-world market. "Electronic paper" is a display technology that makes possible flexible or even rollable displays which, unlike current computer screens, can be read in bright sunlight. But, much like when LCD displays came to the market, consumers are first likely to see the technology in clocks and watches. The popular example of an electronic newspaper that automatically updates itself wirelessly is still years away.
A number of companies are currently working on such displays -- LG.Philips LCD (034220.KS) and Massachusetts-based E Ink announced last month that they have developed a protype 10-inch display, and Fujitsu showed a color display in July. Philips' Polymer Vision unit aims to mass-produce a rollable 5-inch display by the end of 2006, and among the first consumer products is a watch with a curved elect
ronic paper display from Seiko Epson (6724.T), due to hit the Japanese market next year. Electronic paper was invented in the 1970s at Xerox' Palo Alto Research Center by Nick Sheridon, who now works as research director at Xerox subsidiary Gyricon, which makes electronic paper signs. "If you remember the green-screen monitors -- it drove him crazy and he was looking for something that was easier on the eyes," Gyricon spokesman Jim Welch said.
The technology at the heart of electronic paper? Tiny black and white particles that are suspended in capsules about the diameter of a human hair. The particles respond to electrical charges -- a negative field pushes the negatively charged black particles away to the surface, where they create a black dot. Positively charged white particles create the opposite effect. At a 10th of a millimeter, the thickness of an ordinary sheet of paper, electronic paper is much thinner than the liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) used in today's computers and mobile phones.
It also consumes 100 times less power because it does not require a back light and only needs electricity to change the image, not to hold it. Like ordinary paper, it reflects light, making it readable even in difficult conditions such as direct sunlight. Michigan-based Gyricon is already selling e-paper signs and message boards that can be updated wirelessly -- allowing, for example, to centrally update room signs throughout a building. But it is the potential for boosting mobile Internet use that makes electronic paper displays particularly attractive, said Karl McGoldrick, Chief Executive of Polymer Vision. Displays that can be rolled up mean that while the screen gets bigger, the actual device can stay small. "Beyond smart phones, beyond PDAs, displays are simply too small to have any value from a mobile Internet perspective," McGoldrick said. "This year, there will be something like 700 million mobile phones sold and, out of those, just 5 percent will be smart phones. If you want to bring the mobile Internet to the mainstream, you need to attack the other 670 million phones."
In the first step, McGoldrick envisions a pocket-size standalone device that can download content directly from a PC, via the mobile network or wireless Internet. He said Polymer Vision was currently talking to manufacturers and content providers alike to put such a device together. The firm says its 5-inch display will be priced comparably with LCD displays of the same size. Ted Schadler, an analyst at market research group Forrester, cautioned that manufacturers needed to make sure their devices did not end up being a "solution looking for a problem."  "It's not enough to build a product. You have to build an end-to-end solution. Of course Apple has done that brilliantly with the iPod, and they're continuing to push the envelope there, but they're about the only ones," Schadler said.
An electronic newspaper, when the technology is finally available to produce one, still may not be the device to rescue newspaper publishers from an aging readership and dwindling circulation numbers. Such a device could well be sold by newspaper publishers who would subsidize it in order to sell subscriptions, but it would have to offer other sources to be attractive, Schadler said. "If you would lock consumers into just one news service, they will not find it interesting. Users might want to read a blog, a competitor, a magazine, a book -- not just the Financial Times, the Herald Tribune, the New York Times," he said. "They have to be really careful how they open the access to make it more valuable," Schadler said.
October 30
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Archaeologists Discover Ancient Church
JERUSALEM - Israeli archaeologists said Saturday they have discovered what may be the oldest Christian church in the Holy Land on the grounds of a prison near the biblical site of Armageddon. The Israeli Antiquities Authority said the ruins are believed to date back to the third or fourth centuries and include references to Jesus and images of fish, an ancient Christian symbol. "This is a very ancient structure, maybe the oldest in our area," said Yotam Tepper, the head archaeologist on the dig. The dig took place over the past 18 months at the Megiddo prison in Israel's northern Galilee region, with the most significant discoveries taking place in the past two weeks, Tepper said. Scholars believe Megiddo to be the New Testament's Armageddon, the site of a final war between good and evil. Tepper said the discovery could reveal more about an important period of Christianity, which was banned until the fourth century.
"Normally, we have from this period in our region historical evidence from literature, not archaeological evidence," he said. "There is no structure you can compare it to. It is a very unique find." Channel Two television, which first reported the story, broadcast pictures of a detailed and well-preserved mosaic bearing the name of Jesus Christ in ancient Greek and images of fish. Pietro Sambi, the Vatican's ambassador to Israel, praised the find as a "great discovery." "Of course, all the Christians are convinced of the history of Jesus Christ," he told Channel Two. "But is it extremely important to have archaeological proof of a church dedicated to him? Certainly."
Joe Zias, an anthropologist and a former curator with the Israeli Antiquities Authorities, said the discovery was significant but unlikely to be the world's oldest church. He said Christianity was outlawed until the time of Emperor Constantine in the fourth century, and there were no churches before then. "The earliest it could be is fourth century and we have other fourth-century churches. I think what is important here is the size, the inscription and the mosaics," he said. "I think it is an important find ... but I wouldn't say it was the oldest church in the world."
The Antiquities Authority said more than 60 prison inmates participated in the dig in recent months. Channel Two said there is speculation Israel may move the prison and open a tourist attraction in its place. "If it's between a prison and a church, I would like a church," Zias said. "You can put a prison anywhere." Israeli Tourism Minister Avraham Hirshzon said the discovery could greatly increase tourism to Israel. "If we nurture this properly, then certainly there will be a large stream of tourists who could come to Israel," he told Channel Two.
October 31
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Gory ads aim to wean young Britons off junk food
LONDON - A hamburger bun filled with bones, gristle and gory connective tissue is the latest tool aimed at weaning youngsters in Britain of fast food.  The British Heart Foundation (BHF) launched a poster campaign Monday depicting common ingredients in hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken nuggets in an effort to get children thinking about what they are eating. Though the images are partially covered by a censored stamp, leaving some of the details to one's imagination, the ingredients can be seen in their entirety at the charity's website (
The Food4Thought campaign, targeted at the 11- and 12-year-old age group, comes after a BHF survey found that 36 percent of eight- to 14-year-olds did not know that potatoes were the main ingredient in French fries. Almost one in 10 thought fries -- or "chips" as they're known to Britons -- were made of oil, and other guesses included eggs, flour and apples. A similarly surprising 37 percent of children did not know that cheese was made mostly of milk.
"It sends a shiver down my spine to discover that so many children don't even know what chips are made of," said BHF director general Peter Hollins. "This campaign is about talking to children in their language and sparking their curiosity so that they think about what they eat and start demanding healthier options."