Sunday, March 01, 2009


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Eating fluff

Cat plays piano

Ugly Bat Boy the cat is ugly

A cat aptly named Ugly is attracting a lot of attention at a New Hampshire veterinarian, where clients say they can't take their eyes off his striking appearance.

The cat's full name is Ugly Bat Boy. He's bald in most places except for flowing fur on his chest, and he spends his days on a warm computer at Exeter Veterinary Hospital. Bat Boy has become something of a local star.

"People come in and take pictures of him on their cell phones," said veterinary employee Christie Hartnett. "He's just great. He's Dr. (Stephen) Bassett's little wonder cat."

The cat's striking appearance is normal, for him. He was part of a litter of four with a sister that looked just like him. That kitten died at only a few weeks old, but that was long enough for Bassett to become enamored with Bat Boy.

Workers said many people who come into the building can't really believe what they're seeing. But they said despite appearances, Bat Boy has a nice disposition and real inner beauty.

"The impression from clients that come in is he's not real because he just sits so still, and when he does move, he scares them, but they think he's mesmerizing," Hartnett said. The office staff was getting so many questions about the cat that they put up a couple of fliers saying he's about 8 years old and perfectly normal in every way - just ugly.

Man suspected of breaking puppy's legs arrested

An Oakland man has been charged with animal abuse for allegedly breaking the front legs of a Pomeranian puppy in front of its owner, the deaf 11-year-old daughter of his girlfriend, authorities said on Friday.

Kem Eap, 31, of Oakland has been charged by Alameda County prosecutors with two felony counts of animal abuse after a 4-month-old puppy named Chloe was found with its two front legs broken on Feb. 20.

An anonymous caller told Oakland police about the incident. Police and animal-control officers found Chloe cowering underneath a television set inside an apartment on the 2000 block of Fifth Avenue near Lake Merritt. Eap was arrested the same day.

The female puppy, which weighs 4 pounds, was unable to use its front legs because both had been broken above the elbows, authorities said. "It saddens me," said Oakland animal-control officer Nicole Frede. "I feel sorry for it because it's so innocent and sweet."

Eap is accused of breaking one of Chloe's legs on Feb. 18 and the other the next day. The puppy underwent surgery on Wednesday at the Berkeley Dog and Cat Hospital and is being cared for at the home of a hospital technician.

Eap, who is deaf, is being held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin in lieu of $20,000 bail. He is to appear in an Oakland courtroom on Monday. Once Chloe heals - a full recovery is expected - and makes progress through physical therapy, the puppy will be available for adoption, said Adam Parascandola, Oakland Animal Services director.

With news video.

Breastfeeding while driving gets woman a ticket

A Harrison Twp. woman faces child endangering charges after police said she admitted to breastfeeding her child and talking on a cell phone while driving, according to Kettering Police Officer Michael Burke. The incident happened about 7:45 a.m. on Thursday, Feb., 26, near the intersection of Far Hills Avenue and Dorothy Lane, Burke said.

A male motorist called the police department's non-emergency number to report that he had seen the woman breastfeeding and talking on a cell phone while driving, Burke said. The man reported that he also witnessed the woman driving a Honda minivan into the parking lot of a local school and saw some children get out of the van. The man then got the van's licence plate number and called police.

"I'm following right behind her right now on Far Hills Avenue," the caller said as he spoke to a Kettering dispatcher in a recording of his non-emergency call that was released by police. "I tried to say something to her. She literally has the little girl on the steering wheel and I said, 'I can't believe you have that kid in your lap and she said, 'You want to pop your titty out and breastfeed this kid?' That's what she said to me. I'm like, 'You can feed your kid when you stop.' It's like wet out here. It's full of traffic. It's ridiculous. She's got like three other kids in the car."

The police came to the area and tried to locate the van, but could not find it. So they used the license plate number to track down her contact information, Burke said. When a police officer spoke to her, she admitted she breastfed her child and also told police that she does not deprive her child when the child is hungry, Burke said.

The officer took the information and presented it to the city prosecutor's office. That's when Genine Compton, 39, of Elm Grove in Harrison Twp., was charged with a first-degree misdemeanor of child endangering and minor misdemeanor for unlawfully restraining her child, which Burke believes was under 2.

If convicted of the child endangering charge, Compton could face up to 180 days in jail and fined between $1,500 and $1,800, Burke said. If convicted of the unlawful restraint charge, Compton could be fined up to $150.

With audio of the 911 call. There's an video interview with an unrepentant Ms Compton on this page.

Woman with 2 wombs delivers twin daughters

A Michigan woman with two wombs has given birth to twin daughters - one from each uterus. Sarah Reinfelder's two healthy babies were delivered seven weeks premature on Thursday by Caesarean section at Marquette General Hospital in the Upper Peninsula.

The 21-year-old Sault Ste. Marie woman has a condition known as uterus didelphys, and doctors say such twin births are rare. The uteri are different sizes, with the larger twin born from the larger uterus.

Dr. Connie Hedmark and Dr. Breanna Pond first delivered Kaylin Joy, then Valerie Marie, the larger twin by 450g. Kaylin Joy weighed 1.78kg.

Neonatologist Julie Frei says she expects that the twins, who do not have fully developed lung function, likely will be hospitalized for three or four weeks.

Mystery placentas found in sewage system

Someone is disposing of placentas in a central Illinois sewage system and authorities want it to stop. Workers in Urbana on Thursday found a placenta in a filter that keeps large objects out of the sewage treatment plant — the third such find this year. So police have enlisted medical experts. "It was one of the weirdest calls I've ever received," said Julie Pryde, who heads the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District. Urbana Police Lt. Bryant Seraphin remembered: "She said, 'You found a WHAT in the WHERE?'"

The unprecedented finds have officials wondering if a midwife or veterinarian, stressed by economic woes, has been avoiding the expense of paying for a medical waste disposal service. Police aren't aiming for an arrest, Seraphin said, and nobody suspects foul play. The umbilical cords, still attached, were cut clean.

Placentas are potentially infectious, although health officials said the risk to the public is low. They just want the dumping to stop and hope publicity will achieve that. They are keen on solving the mystery. Storm sewers and toilets drain to the system, so those seem to be the likeliest routes, Pryde said,"but I don't think my personal toilet at home would be able to flush a placenta."

Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup said the placentas could be from home births, but he's not ruling out hospitals. "We don't believe they were specimens kept for research or testing," Northrup said. "They appear to be fairly fresh, so to speak."

A state police lab detected human DNA in the first placenta tested, Northrup said. But since the sewage system is full of human DNA, he's waiting for results of more tests his pathologists are conducting on the two others found. The placenta is an organ that joins mother and fetus and is expelled during birth. Officials don't believe there have been any deaths, the coroner said, and it's likely the babies are healthy.

State regulations allow parents to keep their baby's placenta, said state Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Maggie Carson. Some parents may want them for a post-birth ritual, she said. But it is never acceptable to put placenta into the sewer system," Carson said. "Never."

Well-endowed thief in late night condom raid

A student association in southern Sweden is on the lookout for a thief with a preference for extra large condoms after fifty commodious rubbers went missing.

The thief or thieves used a heavy implement to break into the offices of the Projekt Sex student association at Lund University.

But according to staff at the office, all that was taken was a small sum of money and fifty extra large condoms. None of the smaller sizes were touched. "They went through all the boxes but only emptied the one containing Protex extra large," Projekt Sex spokesman Joakim Grina said.

Grina was also keen to point out that the association, which has the stated aim of helping to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, is only too happy to give away condoms for free during the daytime.

Police 'shot monk' who set himself on fire

Chinese police yesterday shot a burning Tibetan monk before they put him out, the Free Tibet campaign said.

The monk had set himself on fire in a protest over Tibetan new year rituals in Aba county, Sichuan province, the group said. The area saw some of the worst unrest during Tibetan protests last March.

Free Tibet said witnesses saw Tabe, a monk in his 20s, walking from Kirti monastery into town yesterday afternoon. He was carrying a hand-drawn Tibetan flag with a picture of the Dalai Lama at its centre.

"He doused himself in petrol. The armed police could not get near him because he was burning," said Matt Whitticase, a campaign spokesman. "Witnesses heard three gunshots fired. The monk fell to the ground and the police managed to put the flames out. He was immediately put into a van and taken to an undisclosed location. His present condition is unknown."

The claims could not be confirmed independently, but Whitticase said the group had indirect accounts from three witnesses. Tibetans have been heavily punished for passing details of incidents to outsiders. Free Tibet said up to 800 monks had reportedly gone to Tabe's home village of Trinkin to say prayers, believing him to be dead.

The group said Tabe's protest followed an attempt by almost 1,000 monks at Kirte to use a prayer hall to observe the Monlam festival - part of Tibetan new year - despite being told not to do so. They were told to return to their rooms. The authorities have been angered by some Tibetans deciding to boycott new year celebrations other than religious rituals as a mark of protest against Chinese rule.

The secrets of belly button fluff revealed

In what must be the ultimate exercise in navel-gazing, an Austrian scientist has solved the mystery of belly button fluff. After three years of research, Georg Steinhauser, a chemist, has discovered a type of body hair that traps stray pieces of lint and draws them into the navel.

Dr Steinhauser made his discovery after studying 503 pieces of fluff from his own belly button. Chemical analysis revealed the pieces of fluff were not made up of only cotton from clothing. Wrapped up in the lint were also flecks of dead skin, fat, sweat and dust.

Dr Steinhauser's observations showed that 'small pieces of fluff first form in the hair and then end up in the navel at the end of the day'.

Writing in the journal Medical Hypotheses, he said the scaly structure of the hair enhances the 'abrasion of minuscule fibres from the shirt' and directs the lint towards the belly button. "The hair's scales act like a kind of barbed hooks," he said. "Abdominal hair often seems to grow in concentric circles around the navel."

The researcher, from Vienna University of Technology also asked friends, family and workmates about their own belly button fluff. Dr Steinhauser established that shaving one's belly will result in a fluff-free navel - but only until the hairs grow back.

Other suggestions for keeping the navel fluff-free include wearing old clothes, as they tend to shed less lint than newer garments, which can lose up to one thousandth of their weight to the belly button over the course of a year. A body piercing can also be used, with belly button rings particularly effective at sweeping away fibres before they lodge.

Books given away for free at one of Britain's biggest warehouses

One of Britain's biggest book warehouses sparked a stampede after opening its doors to give away the remaining stock for free.

Hundreds of bargain-hunters descended on Bristol Bookbarn to sift through vast piles of unsold used novels.

The Bookbarn's owners say the lease of the building had expired, and that it was cheaper to give away remaining stock than try to resell it elsewhere.

Many arrived armed with crates, boxes and even prams to carry their horde away, some managing 150 books in a single visit.

Available genres range from horror, computing and cookbooks to sports, literary classics and religion - most of which were "musty" but otherwise in excellent condition.

By early afternoon, most shelves had been cleared but tens of thousands of books were left scattered around the floors of the warehouse in Bedminster, Bristol. The extraordinary giveaway attracted folk from across the UK, with some travelling as far as North Wales to grab a bargain.

Soho has 'more fake prostitutes than real ones'

There are more fake prostitutes and drug dealers than real ones on the streets of Soho in London's West End, a senior police officer has claimed. Det Chief Supt Andy Rowell said that the once notorious area has been cleaned-up by police and the main danger now comes from con-artists targeting gullible foreign tourists and out-of-town visitors.

There are up to twice as many fake drug dealers as real ones – passing off boot polish or liquorice as cannabis, wax wrapped in foil as crack cocaine and aspirin pills, with the markings rubbed off on the side of a matchbox, as tablets. A clutch of around 15 fake prostitutes work by taking a "deposit for a room" then disappearing, or luring a punter into an alleyway where a male accomplice will relieve them of their cash.

Mr Rowell, the detective in charge of the area, said: "A lot of visitors are thinking in the past, and these days Soho has been cleaned-up. Yet hundreds of visitors from out of London come to Soho after the theatres have emptied looking for illegal after-hours activities."

He added: "Their image of Soho is sadly out-of-date. We are continuing to step up our efforts at clamping down on these types of crime and we've largely succeeded. Soho is now a safe place to come and enjoy yourself – but please don't come looking for drugs and prostitutes. You will almost certainly get something you didn't expect."

Half of the women consters are from Soho clip-joints that have been closed down in recent years. While prostitutes still work inside some premises, the ones on the street are almost all fake operators. Different teams of criminals travel up to Soho from various parts of London like Lambeth, Southwark and Camden.

Between 15 and 20 fake drug dealers target the area, mostly at weekends between 1 and 4 am. The crimes are normally not reported by the embarrassed victims.

Black councillor calls Asian colleague a 'coconut'

A black councillor has apologised for calling an Asian colleague a "coconut" in a row over funding.

Shirley Brown, a Liberal Democrat councillor, used the term towards Conservative member Jay Jethwa at a Bristol City Council budget meeting. The incident was recorded live on a webcam at the meeting.

Mrs Brown made the comment in response to a proposal to end funding for the Legacy Commission which funds ethnic minority projects but has apologised.

Mrs Brown told Mrs Jethwa at the meeting: "In our culture we have a word for you, a word which many in the city would understand, and that's coconut. At the end of the day I look at you as that."

A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said a complaint was sent by the chief whip of the Conservative Party at Bristol City Council to the head of legal services, expressing concern at the remark made during the budget meeting.

A spokesperson for Mrs Brown said she sent a letter of apology to Mrs Jethwa and "apologized unreservedly" for the comment.

Nazi costume councillor suspended

A Liberal Democrat town councillor who dressed as a Nazi officer for a fancy dress party has been suspended by his local party.

Sean Aspey posed for photos at his 40th birthday party last year themed on the comedy 'Allo 'Allo set in Nazi-occupied France and posted them on Facebook. The issue has caused controversy at Porthcawl town council, Bridgend.

Mr Aspey, who is said to have called the criticism "political correctness," has been contacted for comment but could not be reached.

He has faced calls to resign for bringing the Conservative-controlled council into disrepute.

Local Lib Dem party chiefs suspended him temporarily while an internal inquiry into the affair is carried out.

All images of him appeared to have been removed from the website. But the photographs, showing a grinning Nazi-uniformed Mr Aspey wearing a monocle, had already appeared in a number of newspapers.