Week commencing 22.08.05


Bird flu
Avian flu will inevitably spread to Britain through wild migrating birds, the president of the British Veterinary Association has warned. Dr Bob McCracken said water fowl, such as ducks and geese, would be most at risk, followed by free-range poultry.

At a meeting in Brussels to discuss the disease, he also called for more targeted testing of wild and free range birds on avian migrating routes. UK officials are urging poultry keepers to ensure high levels of bio-security.

This is like the train wreck about to happen, or the meteor hurtling towards Earth. We can see it coming and there is pretty much nothing that we can do about it. Unless we get the nation out for some ‘real pigeon’ shooting on the British coastline.


Trouser Mountain
European Union and Chinese negotiators are meeting in Beijing in an attempt to ease a backlog of millions of Chinese-made garments. Sweaters, trousers and bras have been piling up unsold in warehouses.

The clothes have been stopped at EU ports because they breach limits agreed in June designed to protect Europe from a flood of cheap Chinese imports. Europe’s biggest High Street names have warned that their shelves may start to empty if the goods are not released.

With around 50m sweaters and 17m pairs of trousers already detained, big name stores across the continent are increasingly anxious that these Chinese-made clothes are released in time to prepare for the Christmas rush. And now T-shirts and bras have also joined the list of products that have reached their EU quota limits.

Earlier in the day the BBC were reporting this story as a “trouser mountain”. It is good to see that people in the BBC have a good sense of humour. It adds a whole new meaning to the phrase “a hands on approach to tackling the growing, and soon to be enormous, trouser mountain”.


Postman’s crack
Postal workers have been told not to deliver to about 40 houses on a street in Stoke-on-Trent because the paving stones are uneven.  Royal Mail said the decision to stop delivering to Maryfield Walk was an “absolute last resort” which was taken after a worker was seriously injured.

A spokeswoman said a safety assessor was himself nearly hurt while visiting the street to compile a report. Residents will now have to collect mail from a depot about two miles away.

What happened to the motto “the post must get through” The road can not be that treacherous if the residents do not suffer injury. This is another example of the British “jobs worth” mentality. What is next “We can not deliver to that county because it has a high crime rate”?


Not as I do
Swaziland’s King Mswati III has ended a five-year sex ban he imposed on the kingdom’s teenage girls a year early. The girls have had to wear large woollen tassels as a sign of their chastity since 2001. These are to be burnt in a huge ceremony on Tuesday.

The sex ban was imposed to fight the spread of HIV/Aids. Swaziland has one of the world’s highest HIV infection rates, at about 40% of the population. The king fined himself a cow for breaking the ban by marrying again. He took a 17-year-old girl as his ninth wife just two months after imposing the sex-ban in September 2001, sparking unprecedented protests by Swazi women outside the royal palace.

I would be a little upset also if I was being ordered to refrain from this but then found out that the person that imposed the ban. And five years! He must have known that people would have taken matters into their own hands. How did he decide to stop the ban, was it a show of hands?


Brown Bread
A new form of accent is replacing the traditional Cockney in some parts of the East End, research has found. White youths are among those speaking in a dialect combining Bangladeshi and Cockney influences – reflecting population changes in the area.

Research for the BBC Voices project found white youngsters had adopted words from Bangladeshi friends such as “nang” (good) and “creps” (trainers). Similar accent changes were also found in areas of Cardiff and Liverpool.

This is just another example of how the English language evolves. I think that it is good that the language of the East End reflects the populous of the East End. We already had words like, ”a cup of cha” so what else is new.

Other news this week:

Delivery boy
An 11-year-old boy who helped his mother give birth to his baby sister is being presented with an award. Nathan Parker acted as midwife when his mother Donna, 30, went into labour at their home in Leeds and realised she would not make it to hospital.

Despite admitting he was “quite scared” Nathan kept a cool head to deliver baby Olivia with the help of ambulance staff on the phone. His 5lbs 10oz sister is now back at home after spending a week in hospital.

Never mind being scared that boy is going to be in therapy for a long while. I think that it is far to say that there are some parts of your parent’s body that you never want to see.

Multi-task this
Academics in the UK claim their research shows that men are more intelligent than women. A study to be published later this year in the British Journal of Psychology says that men are on average five points ahead on IQ tests.

Paul Irwing and Professor Richard Lynn claim the difference grows when the highest IQ levels are considered. Their research was based on IQ tests given to 80,000 people and a further study of 20,000 Dr Irwing, a senior lecturer in organisational psychology at Manchester University, told the Today programme on BBC Radio Four the study showed that, up to the age of 14, there was no difference between the IQs of boys and girls.

“But beyond that age and into adulthood there is a difference of five points, which is small but it can have important implications,” he said. “This is against a background of women dramatically overtaking men in educational attainment and making very rapid advances in terms of occupational achievement.”

The academics used a test which is said to measure “general cognitive ability” – spatial and verbal ability. As intelligence scores among the study group rose, the academics say they found a widening gap between the sexes.

There were twice as many men with IQ scores of 125, for example, a level said to correspond with people getting first-class degrees. At scores of 155, associated with genius, there were 5.5 men for every woman students.

This story is in here for every man to refer to when they start getting hassle from a female for any reason, or the woman starts talking about how they get more done because they are able to multi-task. Now we can point to this article and think of something witty to say like “yes, but can you count, how many fingers am I holding up….”

Human Zoo
Eight people have been chosen to spend the August Bank Holiday weekend almost naked and on display at London Zoo. Visitors will see the humans, who will be treated like animals, kept amused with games, music and art.

But after each day in the open Bear Mountain enclosure the bunch – naked except for well-placed fig leaves – will be allowed home for the night. The Human Zoo hopes to demonstrate the basic nature of man and examine the impact they have on the animal Kingdom.

Imagine trying to look your best near naked for the whole weekend. You would have strong stomach muscles at the end of that weekend, trying to keep your belly in.

The appearance of a £70,000 polished stone sculpture outside a new London hospital has not gone down well in some circles. The money could have paid for three nurses said the Sun, while the Daily Mail questioned how the “gallstone” could “possibly improve health care”.

They are missing the point, say backers of the University College Hospital work, who argue that it will enhance its “welcoming and reassuring environment”.

At first glance it does appear to be a waste of money, especially for something that looks as if it did not require a lot of work and very little imagination. Maybe it is there to signify that the hospital is only a “stones throw away”, then they can drum up new business a people try to pick up to throw it.

Husband for hire
A Belgium woman is putting her husband up for hire on ebay. The woman says that she wants more time to herself but does not want him to be lonely.

She is going to get a big shock when she finds that her man starts sleeping with these women, and she realizes that she has been pimping him.

Fixing a train
A British train driver fixed a fuel leak with the cork of a wine bottle. The train travelling between Paddington and Exeter hit some concrete outside Bath

What was he doing with a wine cork? They say that he got it from the catering cart but you will want to be sure that he did not find it under his seat.

Nearly 600,000 students across England, Northern Ireland and Wales are getting their GCSE results, amid debate about standards in schools.  Last year 59.2% of the exam entries were awarded grade C or higher, with 5.6% getting the top A*.

Results are being issued to candidates before being released publicly, but standards have already been criticised. The Institute of Directors said its members were “crying out for improvement” even in basic skills.

I was watching the news which said that 98.2% passed with ‘A’ to ‘C’s, what other pass marks are there? Surely a ‘D’ or ‘E’ is not a pass mark in this day and age. It comes to something when you get marks for getting your name right.

Kitten heals
Sturdy shoes first came into widespread use between 40,000 and 26,000 years ago, according to a US scientist. Humans’ small toes became weaker during this time, says physical anthropologist Erik Trinkaus, who has studied scores of early human foot bones.

He attributes this anatomical change to the invention of rugged shoes, that reduced our need for strong, flexible toes to grip and balance. The research is presented in the Journal of Archaeological Science. The development of footwear appears to have affected the four so-called “lesser” toes – excepting the big toe

They could tell it was a woman’s foot because it had all deformed bones resembled that of a foot wearing high heal shoes. Either that or they discovered the first drag queen. If they carry on digging they will find a wooden box full of kitten healed shoes, with real kittens.

Wedding trap
US authorities have lured dozens of people suspected of being involved in an international smuggling ring into custody by inviting them to a wedding. The lavish nuptial celebrations were to take place on a vast yacht moored off the New Jersey coast in Atlantic City.

But instead of being taken onto the boat the guests, many of whom came bearing gifts, were arrested. The charges relate to an international ring smuggling fake dollars, weapons, drugs and cigarettes into the US.

I do not understand how this works. The wedding would have to have been for someone that all of the criminals thought was important for them all to turn up, and someone would know that this important person had been compromised.

Either that or the FBI spent a long time making one of their agents so important that they won the respect of the criminal community. This adds a whole new meaning to the phrase “wedding trap”. I wonder if there was a wedding list and whether they kept the presents.

Fizz, Bang, Pop Idol
Iraq’s hottest new singing talent has begun competing for the country’s inaugural Pop Idol crown. About 2,000 hopefuls have auditioned for a show that viewers and contestants alike see as an escape from their troubled lives.

For security reasons, the final will be held in the Lebanese capital Beirut, and there is no studio audience. Nevertheless the show’s creators have found themselves with a hit on their hands.

“We’ve lived through many wars,” said director Wadia Nader. “We’re trying to help ease the burden and troubles of our people.” But taking part is a nerve-wracking experience for Iraq’s would-be stars.

They have often braved bullets and bombs just to reach the studio, only to have their egos badly bruised when they are bluntly told to go home and practice more often.

I would change the name from anything that sounds like an explosion. Can you believe that, for security reasons they are holding it in Beirut! It is a measure of how violent Iraq is when they thing Beirut is safe.  What happens if the artist is rubbish, do they get public shot on tv?

Nature security
Lions may soon be unleashed in the bandit badlands of central India with police hoping the animals may improve the law and order situation. The government in Uttar Pradesh state wants to set up a 371-acre lion safari park with five cats in the bandit-ridden Chambal ravines.

Police hope they may keep the bandits away. There have been about 4,000 kidnappings and 180 murders in the area in the past five years.

Any bandit that is prepared to lay in wait for unsuspecting people while being stalked by Lions put in the wild to kill them, deserves anything and everything they get….good and bad. This is also a novel approach to policing, killing the criminals with wildlife, what is next Cobras, Tigers, and hunter spiders?

Recorded music
Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov has banned the playing of recorded music at all public events, on television and at weddings. In a decree, Mr Niyazov said there was a need to protect Turkmen culture from “negative influences”.

This is the latest move by the authoritarian president to minimise foreign influence in the isolated former Soviet state, analysts say. He has already banned opera and ballet, describing them as “unnecessary”.

In addition he has; forbade long hair or beards for young men, banned car radios, required video monitors in all public places, closed all hospitals, (except in the capital, Ashgabat), renamed some calendar months after the president and his mother

The Turkmen President is a joke at the moment, but at what point do his decrees start infringing people’s civil liberties.  When do these stories stop being quirky and start being real news, when they have something the rest of the world wants I suppose.

Booze train
Violent crime has risen nearly 12% on the UK’s railways – despite a fall in the number of other crimes, police say. Many of the 9,748 attacks on passengers and staff involved alcohol, said British Transport Police.

It said it had “serious concerns” about plans to extend licensing hours as it launched its annual report. The figures do not include the London bombings, but the force said it was facing the threat of further attacks and that it was training officers.

I do not follow their argument. Surely the increased licensing hours will mean that people will be in the pubs longer and therefore will not be catching the last train at 00.36. Also, all those people that decide to catch the last train will drink the same amount as they did before because the deadline is the train, not closing time.

Perhaps they will reduce attacks on their staff by making the trains run without delays

Kitten cloning
A conservation institute in the United States has produced wildcat kittens by cross-breeding cloned adults. The Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species says this is the first time that clones of a wild species have bred.

Eight kittens have been born in two litters over the last month, and all are apparently doing well. The researchers say this development holds enormous potential for preserving a range of endangered species.

Is this how it begins? Is this how we begin to accept cloning in the twenty-first century, by cloning cute kittens? Will this be the public face behind a practice that has far reaching moral, political and social implications to all our lives.

What other cute things can scientists find to clone in order to endear the populous to the idea?

Residents of Los Angeles have been hailing a new hero, a fugitive alligator basking in a city lake, which has outwitted captors for over a week. Dozens of local residents have been gathering daily at the lakeside in a city park, hoping for a glimpse of the elusive seven-foot reptile.

Officials have decided to suspend their search, hoping their prey will relax and become easier to snare. They say they are still confident of capturing the animal.

The alligator will not be much of a hero one it takes the first farmers livestock or the first mothers child. Or maybe they do not think L:A is dangerous enough. Maybe LA is so dangerous, that an Alligator is seen as a pet, or a mascot.

Viewing the world
Western and Eastern people look at the world in different ways, University of Michigan scientists have claimed. Researchers compared the way 26 Chinese and 25 US students viewed photographs of animals or inanimate objects set against complex backgrounds.

Westerners’ eyes tended to focus on the main subject while the eyes of their Eastern counterparts kept flicking to background details, they said. The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Its findings appear consistent with previous research which has suggested Eastern people think in a more holistic way than Westerners, instinctively paying greater heed to context

Maybe the Westerners fix on the animal because they do not often see wildlife, while to Easterners fix on the background because they have never seen the inside of the US senate.

Chinese menu
The firm which bought MG Rover has brought in chefs from China to run the canteen at its Longbridge factory.  Nanjing Automotive opted for foreign talent after reportedly expressing dissatisfaction with the quality of home grown food such as sandwiches.

Typical British fare would still be available, the BBC was told. Nanjing bought the collapsed carmaker for £53m earlier this year and plans to resume production of MG sports cars and other models at Longbridge.

The carmaker collapsed from high cholesterol, and not enough protein.

Wind power
A paralysed sailor has set off on her attempt to cross the Channel using her breath to control the boat. Hilary Lister, from Kent, is attempting to become the first quadriplegic person to sail from England to France.

The mechanism she uses is similar to one on her wheelchair and has two straws connected to switches to control the sails and to steer the vessel.

Now that is what you call wind power. Only a woman would have enough breath to power a boat from here to France

Synthesiser pioneer Dr Robert Moog has died at his North Carolina home aged 71, four months after being diagnosed with brain cancer. Born in the New York district of Queens, his instruments were used by The Beatles and The Doors among others.

Dr Moog built his first electronic instrument – a theremin – aged 14 and made the MiniMoog, “the first compact, easy-to-use synthesiser”, in 1970. He won the Polar prize, Sweden’s “music Nobel prize”, in 2001.

Now we know whom to blame for the music of the eighties like Howard Jones, Soft Cell, The Pet Shop Boys, and Kraftwork.

ID theft
Thousands of computer users have been caught out by a huge ID theft ring. Security firm Sunbelt Software said it stumbled across a US-based server storing megabytes of data stolen from compromised computers while researching spyware infections.

The server held passwords for online accounts from 50 banks, Ebay and Paypal logins, hundreds of credit card numbers and reams of personal data. The FBI has reportedly now started investigating the ring of ID thieves.

The bug that has stolen all the data is thought to be a variant of a family of trojans known as Dumaru or Nibu that exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser. The trojan, a malicious piece of code, automatically downloaded itself on computers when people visited sites harbouring the programme.

Just when you thought it was safe to go on line. I guess that we must all resolve ourselves to the fact that credit card fraud will happen to us all a some point. I recon we should all have a special account which does not hold any money and is only used for online purchases. That way people can not steal money that is not there.

Two senior Brazilian officials have arrived in Britain to question the commission investigating the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes

Amongst the things that they will be investigating will be London transport claims that the police removed the CCTV tapes from Stockwell tube station after Mr Menezes’ death. The police have been claiming that there is no footage available on the tube incident saying that London transport did not have tape in the camera.

It looks like the police have initially attempted to cover up this shooting, it must be their reflect reaction, but the truth is slowly coming out.

Virtual theft
Police in Japan have arrested a Chinese student over the use of a network of software “bots” to steal items in an online role playing game (RPG). Players were attacked in the game, Lineage II, and their items were then sold for cash on auction sites.

The attacks were carried out using automated bots, which are difficult for human game players to defeat. The student, who was abroad on an exchange program, was arrested in the Kagawa prefecture of southern Japan. In Japan, as in England, there are no specific laws to govern trade in virtual possessions.

It is only a game!! If people are cheating, do not play with them any more. Anyone found selling virtual stolen goods is looked out of all gaming servers. Now this is what happens when you take gaming too seriously.

Every spectator is a participant.


~ by jeditopcat on 8 November, 2008.

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