Yoda's World


Poll: Majority of Americans want to end Bush Tax cuts for the rich
Michele Bachmann
Complaints filed with IRS on Hannity and North charity
GOP Unemployed "insignificant"
GOP to President Obama, its our way or nothing at all
Tea Party death threats mimic Muslim Terrorists
Guns at New Mexico teabaggers tea party
Dick Cheney no longer a chickenhawk, now just a chicken
The GOP purity and purge test
Limbaugh the most influential conservative in America
It smells like socialism
Right wing media always giddy when America loses
Glenn Beck: The body on the side of the road
The House on "C" Street
The top 20 Truths about Ronald Reagan
EFCA-Employee Free Choice Act
An Invention that Could Change the Internet for Ever

Good Golly! Spider-Man Exposes Obama Impostor
Maria Tucker | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Spider-Man saves Barack Obama's inauguration in a limited-edition Marvel comic that drew snaking lines of fans to comic shops across the country Wednesday.

Joe Quesada, Marvel Comics' editor in chief, came up with the plot line after the geek-in-chief-elect confessed to being a big Spider-Man fan in an pop-culture survey in October.

Issue No. 583 in "The Amazing Spider-Man" series contains a "Bonus Back-up Feature": a five-page story in which Peter Parker, Spider-Man's alter ego, is confronted with two Barack Obamas determined to be sworn in at Tuesday's ceremonies.

Parker pulls it off by asking the contending Obamas what the president-elect's nickname was as a high school basketball player. Only the real Obama knows the answer: Barry O'Bomber.

As the dastardly character Chameleon is exposed, Spider-Man tells him: "The president-elect here just appointed me . . . secretary of shuttin' you up," punctuating the sentence with a straight left to the chin.

Although Fantom Comics, a shop at Washington's Union Station, didn't open until 10 a.m., the line for the $3.99 Obama-Spidey issue was 50 buyers long by 9:30, when the store manager came out.

Complete Story


Gene Simmons: 'Condoleeza Rice Is Sexy'

KISS rocker Gene Simmons has developed a crush on U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

The pair met in Sweden in May when they were staying in the same hotel. Kiss were performing in the capital Stockholm and Rice was meeting with politicians to discuss Iraq.

Simmons was stunned to discover the 53-year-old Republican is a fan of his band, and he reveals they bonded over a private meeting.

Rice said at the time, "I was thrilled. It was really fun to meet Kiss and Gene Simmons."

And Simmons, who claims to have seduced 5,000 women, adds, "She told me it was OK to call her Condi, and that she was a fan. I find her very sexy."


Police Helicopter Chases UFO

UK: A police helicopter chased a 'flying saucer-shaped' UFO from Cardiff to the North Devon coast after being forced to take evasive action to avoid being hit by the mystery craft. The pursuit was eventually abandoned due to lack of fuel.

"They are convinced it was a UFO. It sounds far-fetched, but they know what they saw. These guys are hardened professionals and know people will take the mickey, but they are certain they saw a UFO," said a newspaper source.

According to a South Wales Police spokesperson an unusual aircraft was sighted and the matter has been "reported to the relevant authorities for their investigation."


Monk's Guide To Better Sex

A celibate monk has set up a website telling Catholic couples how to have better sex.

Father Ksawery Knotz's lover's guide on www.szansaspotkania.net gives graphic lovemaking tips and has been dubbed the 'Catholic Kama Sutra'.

It compares having an orgasm to going to heaven and recommends that men 'take care that women experience pleasure' during sex, adding that this requires 'extra efforts on the part of the husband'.


Artificial Life Likely In 3 To 10 Years
AP Science Writer

Around the world, a handful of scientists are trying to create life from scratch and they're getting closer.

Experts expect an announcement within three to 10 years from someone in the now little-known field of "wet artificial life."

"It's going to be a big deal and everybody's going to know about it," said Mark Bedau, chief operating officer of ProtoLife of Venice, Italy, one of those in the race. "We're talking about a technology that could change our world in pretty fundamental ways — in fact, in ways that are impossible to predict."

That first cell of synthetic life — made from the basic chemicals in DNA — may not seem like much to non-scientists. For one thing, you'll have to look in a microscope to see it.

"Creating protocells has the potential to shed new light on our place in the universe," Bedau said. "This will remove one of the few fundamental mysteries about creation in the universe and our role."

And several scientists believe man-made life forms will one day offer the potential for solving a variety of problems, from fighting diseases to locking up greenhouse gases to eating toxic waste.

Bedau figures there are three major hurdles to creating synthetic life:

• A container, or membrane, for the cell to keep bad molecules out, allow good ones, and the ability to multiply.

• A genetic system that controls the functions of the cell, enabling it to reproduce and mutate in response to environmental changes.

• A metabolism that extracts raw materials from the environment as food and then changes it into energy.

One of the leaders in the field, Jack Szostak at Harvard Medical School, predicts that within the next six months, scientists will report evidence that the first step — creating a cell membrane — is "not a big problem." Scientists are using fatty acids in that effort.

Szostak is also optimistic about the next step — getting nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA, to form a working genetic system.

His idea is that once the container is made, if scientists add nucleotides in the right proportions, then Darwinian evolution could simply take over.

"We aren't smart enough to design things, we just let evolution do the hard work and then we figure out what happened," Szostak said.

In Gainesville, Fla., Steve Benner, a biological chemist at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution is attacking that problem by going outside of natural genetics. Normal DNA consists of four bases — adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine (known as A,C,G,T) — molecules that spell out the genetic code in pairs. Benner is trying to add eight new bases to the genetic alphabet.

Bedau said there are legitimate worries about creating life that could "run amok," but there are ways of addressing it, and it will be a very long time before that is a problem.

"When these things are created, they're going to be so weak, it'll be a huge achievement if you can keep them alive for an hour in the lab," he said. "But them getting out and taking over, never in our imagination could this happen."

Sen. Leahy Lands Role In Batman Movie

Holy Beltway, Batman! Sen. Patrick Leahy has a part in the next Batman movie.

"I don't wear tights," the Vermont Democrat said.

Leahy's scene was filmed this summer for "The Dark Knight" and involves Batman, played by Christian Bale, The Joker, played by Heath Ledger, and Alfred Pennyworth, played by Michael Caine.

The longtime Batman fan would reveal little about his role other than he is called the "distinguished gentleman."

"It's a pretty tense scene," said Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "It's going to be a very interesting one."

He's done voice-overs on Batman cartoons, written the preface for a Batman book and had small roles in the last two Batman features.

He said he will donate his earnings from the film to the Kellogg-Hubbard children's library in Montpelier, where the senator got his first library card.

"The Dark Knight" is scheduled to be released next summer.


Whisky sales on the rise in China
by Philippe Massonnet

Chinese youths are increasingly turning away from the nation's traditional potent spirits, known as baijiu, in favour of whisky as their alcohol of choice.

Look around the bars and discos in Shanghai, Beijing and other cities, and famous baijius like Maotai are nowhere to be found, but whisky is flowing in ever greater volume for young party goers.

Groups of friends can be seen sharing one or two bottles between them as they dance the night away rather just buying whisky by the glass.

"While cognac is sold mainly in the south of the country, whisky is being drunk everywhere," said Philippe Guettat, China operations head of French group Pernod Ricard.

Sales of whisky have increased by about 30 percent annually over the last five years, with Pernod Ricard's Chivas Regal currently the top selling brand.

Although foreign brands represent less than 10 percent of the spirit market in China, that level is remarkably high considering Chinese labels are still by far and away the most popular across all alcohol sectors.

While Pernod Ricard refuses to reveal its sales figures, a sharp rise in whisky consumption in general has made China a key market not only for the world's second major seller of wines and spirits, but also for its competitors.

According to the Edinburgh-based Scotch Whisky Association, China became a world top 10 whisky drinking nation in 2006, when total sales hit 58.2 million pounds (115 million dollars), an increase of 27 percent over 2005.

"People are drinking more and more, especially in night clubs," said Stefen Deng, a director at Maxxium, distributor of the American whisky Jim Beam, as well as Scotland's Highland Distillers and Macallan.

As with many other phenomena linked to the nouveau riche, wealthier Chinese youths are more attracted to brands, high class fashions and the need to be seen than they are to taste.

In most night clubs, a bottle of Chivas Regal sells for about 500 yuan (65 dollars).

"(But) it is no more a question of money. Whisky and cognac are linked to a certain atmosphere, an ambiance," Deng said.

Very few Chinese can taste the difference between a pure malt aged for 18 years and a cheap scotch, according to various industry insiders.

In Chinese bars and nightclubs, it is not uncommon to see young drinkers mixing their whisky with iced green tea, a cocktail that brings a local flavour to an imported drink.

But like many products that sell well in China, the new trend in drinking is also falling victim to counterfeiting with some fake whiskies capable of passing a taste test, although others are undrinkable.

The most common way to counterfeit is for a nightclub manager, smuggler, gang member or anyone else so-inclined to simply take an empty bottle of expensive whisky and refill it with an ordinary one.

Although counterfeiting has not greatly harmed the Chinese whisky market, industry watchers say that the future of the drink remains in doubt due to the fast-changing trends in modern China.

"The whisky market is dynamic, but it is not very solid," said Fu Leibin, editor of the Chinese magazine Food and Wine.

"People are always searching for something new and they have a tendency to always follow the latest trends. So sales will probably continue to rise, but growth may slow."


Frog Juice In High Demand In Peru
Associated Press Writer

Carmen Gonzalez plucks one of the 50 frogs from the aquarium at her bus stop restaurant, bangs it against tiles to kill it and then makes two incisions along its belly and peels off the skin as if husking corn.

She's preparing frog juice, a beverage revered by some Andean cultures for having the power to cure asthma, bronchitis, sluggishness and a low sex drive. A drink of so-called "Peruvian Viagra" sells for about 90 cents.

Gonzalez adds three ladles of hot, white bean broth, two generous spoonfuls of honey, raw aloe vera plant and several tablespoons of maca — an Andean root also believed to boost stamina and sex drive — into a household blender.

Then she drops the frog in.

Once strained, the result is a starchy, milkshake-like liquid that stings the throat.

At least 50 customers a day ask for steaming beer mugs of frog juice at Gonzalez's countertop-only restaurant in eastern Lima, and many treat the concoction as their morning — and afternoon — cup of coffee.

Rebeca Borja, a 53-year-old housewife and mother of five, originally from Lima's central highland city of Huancayo, where the beverage is common, said simply: "It gives you power."


Former Arizona Governor Symington Admits To Seeing UFO In ‘Phoenix Lights’ Mystery

Ten years after the “Phoenix Lights” UFO incident, former Arizona Gov. Fife Symington, III, now says he saw an unidentified object that night, even though he originally did not say so publicly.

“It was enormous and inexplicable,” he said in an exclusive interview from Phoenix. “Who knows where it came from? A lot of people saw it, and I saw it too.”

Sen. John McCain, a friend of Symington’s whom the former Republican governor describes as “open-minded,” acknowledged the Arizona lights at a 2000 press conference.

“That has never been fully explained. But I have to tell you that I do not have any evidence whatsoever of aliens or UFOs,” he said

French Government's UFO Files Online

France's space agency has released more than 100,000 UFO-related documents. The material, documenting sightings as far back as 1937, is now being uploaded in batches to the space agency's Web site. From the International Herald Tribune:

The space agency, known by its French initials CNES, said it is making them public to draw the scientific community's attention to unexplained cases and because their secrecy generated suspicions that officials were hiding something.

"There's always this impression of plots, of secrets, of wanting to hide things," (said Jacques Patenet, head of the space agency's Group for Study and Information on Nonidentified Aerospace Phenomena.) "The great danger would be to leave the field open to sects and charlatans."

He said many cases were unexplained lights in the sky. "Only 20 to 30" could be classified as "Objet Volant Non Identifie" — UFOs that appeared to be physical objects, leaving "marks on the ground, radar images," he said...

Only 9 percent of France's strange phenomena have been fully explained, the agency said. Experts found likely reasons for another 33 percent, and 30 percent could not be identified for lack of information.


Vermont towns seek to impeach Bush

By Jason Szep

More than 30 Vermont towns passed resolutions on Tuesday seeking to impeach President Bush, while at least 16 towns in the tiny New England state called on Washington to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.

Known for picturesque autumn foliage, colonial inns, maple sugar and old-fashion dairy farms, Vermont is in the vanguard of a grass-roots protest movement to impeach Bush over his handling of the unpopular Iraq war.

"We're putting impeachment on the table," said James Leas, a Vermont lawyer who helped to draft the resolutions and is tracking the votes. "The people in all these towns are voting to get this process started and bring the troops home now."

The resolutions passed on Vermont's annual town meeting day -- a colonial era tradition where citizens debate issues of the day big and small -- are symbolic and cannot force Congress to impeach Bush, but they "may help instigate further discussions in the legislature," said state Rep. David Zuckerman.

"The president must be held accountable," said Zuckerman, a politician from Burlington, Vermont's largest city.

After casting votes on budgets and other routine items, citizens of 32 towns in Vermont backed a measure calling on the U.S. Congress to file articles of impeachment against Bush for misleading the nation on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and for engaging in illegal wiretapping, among other charges.

Five Vermont towns passed similar resolutions last year.

The idea of impeaching Bush resides firmly outside the political mainstream.

The new Democratic-controlled Congress has steered clear of the subject, and Wisconsin Sen. Russell Feingold's call last year to censure Bush -- a step short of an impeachment -- found scant support on Capitol Hill, even among fellow Democrats.

Vermont's congressional delegation has shown no serious interest in the idea.


Sixteen Vermont towns passed a separate "soldiers home now" resolution calling on the White House, the U.S. Congress and Vermont's elected officials to withdraw troops from Iraq.

"The best way to support them is to bring each and every one of them home now and take good care of them when they get home," the resolution said.

It was unclear how many towns had put the resolutions to a vote, and the results of all the town meetings in the state of about 609,000 people may not be known for days.

Residents of Burlington were voting on a separate question calling for a new investigation into the September 11 attacks.

Voters were asked to circle "yes" or "no" to the question: "Shall Vermont's Congressional Delegation be advised to demand a new, thorough, and truly independent forensic investigation that fully addresses the many questions surrounding the tragic events of September 11, 2001?"

Doug Dunbebin, who gathered signatures to get the issue on the ballot, said questions linger about September 11, when hijacked plane attacks killed nearly 3,000 people at New York's World Trade Center, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.

A group known as Scholars for 9/11 Truth believes the events of that day were part of a conspiracy engineered by the U.S. government and that it took more than two planes to bring down the Twin Towers in New York.

Vermont's new U.S. representative, Peter Welch (news, bio, voting record), a Democrat, said there was no need for a further investigation.

(Additional reporting by Julie Masis)


Missing words on new $1 coins mystify Mint

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In God We Trust. In machines? Not so much.

An unknown number of new U.S. $1 coins bearing the image of George Washington are missing the words "In God We Trust" and other lettering along the edges, the U.S. Mint said on Wednesday.

The Mint released more than 300 million gold-colored, George Washington $1 coins last month, but it recently discovered a problem. The coins, made by the Philadelphia Mint,

were supposed to have the inscriptions "In God We Trust," "E Pluribus Unum," the date and the mint mark around the edge.

It is unclear how the mistake occurred or how many of the coins are in circulation, according to the Mint statement. The Mint said it would make necessary technical adjustments in the manufacturing to eliminate the defect.

"The United States Mint understands the importance of the inscriptions 'In God We Trust' and 'E Pluribus Unum' as well as the mint mark and year on U.S. coinage. We take this matter seriously," the statement said.

"We also consider quality control a high priority. We are looking into the matter to determine a possible cause in the manufacturing process."

Robert Hoge, curator of North American coins and currency for the American Numismatic Society, said that collectors find coins with a mistake like this, known as a Mint error, desirable when a relatively small number are in circulation.

"Since it was an accident, there is no count of how many were created. That's always the question with a mint error and it's difficult to tell how many there might be," he said.

On the auction Web site eBay, one of the coins sold for


One of the most famous Mint errors in the United States occurred in 1922. That year, "through carelessness or overzealousness," Hoge said, a defective dye for the obverse, or head, side of the 1-cent piece failed to show the "D" mark indicating it was struck at the Denver Mint. One of those coins in mint condition would fetch upwards of $10,000, Hoge said.


Swiss Accidentally Invade Liechtenstein

ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) -- What began as a routine training exercise almost ended in an embarrassing diplomatic incident after a company of Swiss soldiers got lost at night and marched into neighboring Liechtenstein.

According to Swiss daily Blick, the 170 infantry soldiers wandered just over a mile across an unmarked border into the tiny principality early Thursday before realizing their mistake and turning back.

A spokesman for the Swiss army confirmed the story but said that there were unlikely to be any serious repercussions for the mistaken invasion.

''We've spoken to the authorities in Liechtenstein and it's not a problem,'' Daniel Reist told The Associated Press.

Officials in Liechtenstein also played down the incident.

Interior ministry spokesman Markus Amman said nobody in Liechtenstein had even noticed the soldiers, who were carrying assault rifles but no ammunition. ''It's not like they stormed over here with attack helicopters or something,'' he said.

Liechtenstein, which has about 34,000 inhabitants and is slightly smaller than Washington DC, doesn't have an army.

UFO science key to halting climate change: former Canadian defense minister

 A former Canadian defense minister is demanding governments worldwide disclose and use secret alien technologies obtained in alleged UFO crashes to stem climate change, a local paper said Wednesday.

"I would like to see what (alien) technology there might be that could eliminate the burning of fossil fuels within a generation ... that could be a way to save our planet," Paul Hellyer, 83, told the Ottawa Citizen.

Alien spacecrafts would have traveled vast distances to reach Earth, and so must be equipped with advanced propulsion systems or used exceptional fuels, he told the newspaper.

Such alien technologies could offer humanity alternatives to fossil fuels, he said, pointing to the enigmatic 1947 incident in Roswell, New Mexico -- which has become a shrine for UFO believers -- as an example of alien contact.

"We need to persuade governments to come clean on what they know. Some of us suspect they know quite a lot, and it might be enough to save our planet if applied quickly enough," he said.

Hellyer became defense minister in former prime minister Lester Pearson's cabinet in 1963, and oversaw the controversial integration and unification of Canada's army, air force and navy into the Canadian Forces.

He shocked Canadians in September 2005 by announcing he once saw a UFO.


Mummified body found in front of blaring TV

Story Highlights

• Police: Man, not seen since 2005, had been dead for  more than a year
• 70-year-old appeared to have died of natural causes
• Neighbors assumed man was in the hospital or a long-term care facility

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Police called to a Long Island man's house discovered the mummified remains of the resident, dead for more than a year, sitting in front of a blaring television set.

The 70-year-old Hampton Bays, New York, resident, identified as Vincenzo Ricardo, appeared to have died of natural causes. Police said on Saturday his body was discovered on Thursday when they went to the house to investigate a report of a burst water pipe.

"You could see his face. He still had hair on his head," Newsday quoted morgue assistant Jeff Bacchus as saying. The home's low humidity had preserved the body.

Officials could not explain why the electricity had not been turned off, considering Ricardo had not been heard from since December 2005.

Neighbors said when they had not seen Ricardo, who was diabetic and had been blind for years, they assumed he was in the hospital or a long-term care facility.


New York plans official city condom
Associated Press Writer

Available soon from City Hall: an official New York condom in a jazzy wrapper, perhaps one printed with a colorful subway map or some other city theme.

New York City hands out 1.5 million free condoms a month in ordinary wrappers, and health officials figure people would be more likely to actually use them if the packaging were more distinctive.

"Brands work, and people use branded items more than they use non-branded items, whether it's a cola or a medicine, even," Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said.

The health department, which uses the condom program to fight AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, said it still considering package designs. Among the possibilities: a subway theme, with the various lines shown in different colors.

The 18 million free condoms each year go to hundreds of organizations, which distribute them at health clinics and advocacy groups, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, nail salons and prisons. By comparison, the Los Angeles County health department gives out just over a million condoms per year.

New York buys the condoms for 4 cents each, or $720,000 annually, health officials said.

City officials, who conduct an annual health survey, say a memorable package could also help them gauge how often people actually use the city's condom.

"If they describe our wrapper, then we'll know that they would have used our condom," Frieden said.

More than 100,000 New Yorkers have HIV or AIDS, and AIDS is the third-leading cause of death among New Yorkers under 65.

FAA blames UFO report on weird weather
Story Highlights
•United Airlines workers reported saucer-shaped craft over Chicago, Illinois
•Workers, including pilots: Object hovered over airport, shot up through clouds
•FAA not investigating report, which it says was made November 7
•"Our theory on this is that it was a weather phenomenon," FAA says

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- -- Federal officials say it was probably just some weird weather phenomenon, but a group of United Airlines employees swear they saw a mysterious, saucer-shaped craft hovering over O'Hare Airport in November.
The workers, some of them pilots, said the object didn't have lights and hovered over an airport terminal before shooting up through the clouds, according to a report in Monday's Chicago Tribune.
The Federal Aviation Administration acknowledged that a United supervisor had called the control tower at O'Hare, asking if anyone had spotted a spinning disc-shaped object.
But the controllers didn't see anything, and a preliminary check of radar found nothing out of the ordinary, FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said.
"Our theory on this is that it was a weather phenomenon," Cory said. "That night was a perfect atmospheric condition in terms of low (cloud) ceiling and a lot of airport lights. When the lights shine up into the clouds, sometimes you can see funny things."
The FAA is not investigating, Cory said.
United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said company officials don't recall discussing any such incident from November 7.
At least one O'Hare controller, union official Craig Burzych, was amused by it all.
"To fly 7 million light years to O'Hare and then have to turn around and go home because your gate was occupied is simply unacceptable," he said.

Oldest whisky up for sale

A bottle of whiskey dating back to the 1850s has been put up for auction in London and is expected to fetch up to 20,000 USD.

The bottle has been owned by one family in Ireland for generations, and this is believed to be the first time in history it has been offered at auction.

The label reads 'Glenavon Special Liqueur Whisky Bottled by the Distillers', yet Glenavon ceased operating in 1858 meaning the whiskey is at least 148 years old - with a maximum possible age of 155 years.

Although the label spells the spirit 'whisky' it has become a tradition to spell the Irish version of the drink with an 'e-y'.


Blood tests debunk Brazilian's cat-puppy claim
Brazil's cat-puppy mystery has been solved.

Blood tests refute a Brazilian woman's claim that her cat had given birth to three puppies, geneticist Adil Pacheco said on Tuesday.

Cassia Aparecida de Souza, 18, from a poor neighbourhood of Passo Fundo in southern Brazil, said last Friday that her cat Mimi had given birth to the three puppies as well as three kittens, which did not survive.

"People who aren't experts often imagine things," said Pacheco, director of the Institute of Biological Sciences of the University of Passo Fundo. "All the facts contradict her."

Pacheco, who was asked by a local newspaper to conduct a chromosome test to check the spectacular claim which gained wide media attention, said mammals sometimes nursed the young from another species.



Dutch group scraps attempt to smoke biggest joint
A plan to roll and smoke the world's largest joint was cancelled at short notice in Amsterdam when the organisers realised they could be breaking the law.

"We have now read the small print and realise there could be problems," Thijs Verheij, one of the organisers, was quoted as saying by ANP news agency after consulting Dutch drugs laws.

The group had wanted to roll a 1.5-metre long pure-weed joint, stuffed with 500 grams of marijuana and containing no tobacco, and smoke it in a bar.

It had initially thought the attempt would be legal if 100 people each brought along the five grams of the drug tolerated by Dutch authorities for personal use.

"Unfortunately it looks like this will not be possible," Verheij said. The attempt had been planned for Wednesday.

A police spokesman said: "We would definitely have investigated this. If you make a single joint with half a kilo of cannabis in it, it would cross the line."

Verheij said the group had hoped to beat a record set with a joint containing 100 grams of marijuana.



Supernova Rarity  
Two supernovas appear side-by-side in a cosmic rarity caught by the space-based Swift observatory.

The supernova pair sits in a galaxy known as NCG 1316 and apparently occurred within five months of one another. Most galaxy are home to maybe three supernovas per century but NGC 1316 has hosted some four stellar explosions in the 26 years astronomers have recorded its history, making it the most prolific supernova produce known to date.

At the right of this image is the supernova SN 2006dd, which exploded on June 19 of this year and remains visible. Immediately to the left is the supernova SN 2006mr. It erupted on Nov. 5.

The bright spot at the center is NGC 1316’s core. The object at the far left is a star in the foreground.

NGC 1316 is a massive elliptical galaxy that sits some 80 million light-years from Earth and has recently merged with a spiral galaxy. Such mergers can spur supernova activity by forcing the creation of new, massive stars that die quickly and explode. But the four events detected in NGC 1316 do not appear to be of this type, Swift researchers said.

The Swift observatory launched on Nov. 20, 2004 on a mission to track gamma ray bursts, the most powerful explosions in the universe. 

-- SPACE.com Staff

Credit:  NASA/Swift/Stefan Immler.


Milwaukee has been ranked by Forbes.com as "America's Drunkest City" on a list of 35 major metropolitan areas ranked for their drinking habits.

Forbes said Tuesday it used numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to rank cities in five areas: state laws, number of drinkers, number of heavy drinkers, number of binge drinkers and alcoholism.

Minneapolis-St. Paul was ranked second overall; followed by Columbus, Ohio; Boston; Austin, Texas; Chicago; Cleveland; Pittsburgh and then Philadelphia and Providence, R.I., in a tie for ninth.

Rick DeMeyer, 28, said Wednesday as he was celebrating his birthday at G-Daddy's BBC he could understand Milwaukee's ranking.

"I have had people stay with me from London and Chicago, and they can't get over how much we drink," he said. "I guess we do."

But officials at Visit Milwaukee, the area's convention and visitors bureau, contend that the city has come a long way in ridding itself of its beer-guzzling image.

Milwaukeeans have plenty of other ways to entertain themselves without drinking alcohol, said Dave Fantle, a spokesman for the group. He noted a new convention center and baseball park had been built and the Milwaukee Art Museum expanded in recent years.

"We've gone from Brew City to new city," he said.


Cows have regional accents, a group of farmers claims, and phonetics experts say the idea is not as far-fetched as it sounds.

Lloyd Green, from southwest England, was one of a group of farmers who first noticed the phenomenon.

"I spend a lot of time with my Friesians and they definitely 'moo' with a Somerset drawl," he said, referring to the breed of dairy cow he owns.

"I've spoken to the other farmers in the West Country group and they have noticed a similar development in their own herds.

"I think it works the same as with dogs - the closer a farmer's bond is with his animals, the easier it is for them to pick up his accent."

Dom Lane, spokesman for a group called the West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers to which Green belongs, said it contacted John Wells, Professor of Phonetics at University College London, who said that a similar phenomenon had been found in birds.

"You find distinct chirping accents in the same species around the country. This could also be true of cows," Wells said on the group's Web site (www.farmhousecheesemakers.com).

According to Lane, accents among cows probably develop in a similar way as among humans, and resulted from spending time with farmers with differing accents.

"Apparently the biggest influence on accents is peer groups - on children in the playground, for example," he said. "Herds are quite tight-knit communities and don't tend to leave the area."

He added that more scientific research was needed to prove what was just an anecdotal theory at this stage.


Arizona seniors had no idea what the flourishing plant they nurtured in their driveway was until a passing deputy told them it was marijuana.

A Yavapai County sheriff's department said a deputy spotted the blooming 5-foot-tall marijuana plant growing in the driveway of a retirement community near Prescott, midweek.

"The residents just thought it was a pretty weed and so they decided to nurture it," department spokeswoman Susan Quayle told Reuters by telephone.

The officer yanked out the plant, which Quayle said was either "self-seeded or could have been dropped by a grandchild visiting the community."

"No citations were issued. The officer just educated them," she said.

Bishops warn priests against witchcraft

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Southern Africa's Catholic bishops have warned priests to stop moonlighting as witchdoctors, fortune tellers and traditional healers, and to rely on Christ for miracles.

The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, which represents bishops in South Africa, Swaziland and Botswana, said on its Web sites some priests were adopting the traditional African practice of calling on ancestors for healing.

The bishops ordered priests to "desist from practices involving spirits", and to steer clear from witchcraft, fortune-telling and selling spiritual powers or magic medicines.

"The belief that ancestors are endowed with supernatural powers borders on idolatry. It is God, and God alone, who is all-powerful while the ancestors are created by him," said the pastoral letter to priests issued earlier this month.

Many in Southern Africa turn to sangomas -- or traditional healers -- to cure illness, ward off evil spirits and even improve their sex lives. Sangomas, who play a key role in rural communities but are also revered by many in towns and cities, call on ancestral spirits to heal and give advice.

Some Christian sects, like the South Africa-based Zion Christian Church, fuse traditional African beliefs about the power of the ancestors with orthodox Christianity.

The Southern African bishops said Catholic priests should instead heal in the name of Jesus Christ, and should tend to the soul, not just the body.


Chicken lays mystery Allah egg
Reuters July 13, 2006

A chicken in a Kazakh village has laid an egg with the word "Allah" inscribed on its shell, state media reported Thursday.

"Our mosque confirmed that it says 'Allah' in Arabic," Bites Amantayeva, a farmer from the village of Stepnoi in eastern Kazakhstan, told state news agency Kazinform.

"We'll keep this egg and we don't think it'll go bad."

The news agency said the egg was laid just after a powerful hail storm hit the village.

Kazakhstan is a large, thinly populated Central Asian state where Sunni Islam is a dominant religion.


80-Year-Old Pa. Man Acknowledges Dealing Drugs in Return for Sex With Prostitutes
The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH - An 80-year-old man who pleaded guilty to drug charges sold crack cocaine from his house and gave some of the drugs to prostitutes in exchange for sex, his lawyer said.

Felix Cocco, of Pittsburgh, pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Police said Cocco had been dealing drugs for nearly a year when he was arrested in November. Officers seized crack cocaine, a digital scale and packaging materials, police said. Authorities said they caught Cocco dealing again in February.

"I was trying to stay alive, your honor pay my bills," Cocco told the Allegheny County judge.

Cocco's lawyer, Martha Bailor, told the court that Cocco wanted to remain sexually active after his wife died three years ago and turned to prostitutes.

"He decided it's cheaper to pay for sex with crack than cash," she said.

Prosecutors said they would not seek mandatory sentences if the defense agreed to a six-to-18-month jail term.

The judge ordered an evaluation of Cocco's health after Bailor expressed concern about his vulnerability in jail. Cocco remains under house arrest while he awaits sentencing scheduled for Oct. 2.




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