... Finally Friday... 4-25-2008

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Selected news and photographs from the internet for the week prior to 4-25-08.

Selected news and photographs from the internet for the week prior to 4-25-08.

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  • 2. World Population to Hit 6,666,666,666 in May April 17th, 2008 To many people, this means nothing. But of course 666 refers to the Beast in the Bible. Heaven knows what ten sixes means. I don’t know who first noticed this looming numerical curiosity, but it was mentioned today on the Drudge report. To see the projection, go to the U.S. Census Bureau’s World POPClock Projection page. projections among others: So sometime in between May 1 and June 1, the gaggle-of-sixes milestone will be passed. (I say gaggle rather than googol, which is a 1 followed by 100 zeros. I could also have used a gazillion or a jillion or a bazillion, all of which are just figures of speech meaning “a lot.” Clearly, the number of people on Earth is a lot more than umpteen.) The Census Bureau of course never knows exactly how many people are on the planet, or even in the United States for that matter. It’s all estimates. Just fun. The last big “six scare” was 06/06/06 (June 6, 2006). We survived that, so I imagine we’ll get through this one. (For the record, 07/07/07 came and went last year without any documented cases of extreme luck directly attributed to the date, and coming up later this year: 08/08/08.)
  • 3. Source: U.S. Strike on Iran Nearing Monday, April 21, 2008 9:37 PM Contrary to some claims that the Bush administration will allow diplomacy to handle Iran’s nuclear weapons program, a leading member of America’s Jewish community tells Newsmax that a military strike is not only on the table – but likely. “Israel is preparing for heavy casualties,” the source said, suggesting that although Israel will not take part in the strike, it is expecting to be the target of Iranian retribution. “Look at Dick Cheney’s recent trip through the Middle East as preparation for the U.S. attack,” the source said. Cheney’s hastily arranged 9-day visit to the region, which began on March 16, included stops in Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, Turkey, and the Palestinian territories. Tensions in the region have been rising. While Israel was conducting the largest homefront military exercises in its history last week, Israel’s National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer warned Tehran about expected attacks on the Jewish state. “An Iranian attack will prompt a severe reaction from Israel, which will destroy the Iranian nation,” he said. He predicted that in a future war, “hundreds of missiles will rain on Israel,” but added that Iran “is definitely aware of our strength.” In addition to long-range missiles Iran has been developing to strike Israel, Israel’s military strategists see the Iranians using terror groups they back like Hamas operating from Palestine and Hezbollah from Lebanon to launch attacks. Iran has supplied Hezbollah with an arsenal that now contains “tens of thousands of missiles,” according to the Washington Post. IIsrael’s recent war exercises, including preparations for chemical and biological weapons attacks, drew a sharp response from Syria which held its own military drills. The Syrian government accused Israel of preparing for a war which Damascus predicted would be begin anytime between May 1 and the end of June.  Newsmax
  • 4. Top News Satellite locates Iranian missile site Published: April 18, 2008 at 7:09 AM   TEHRAN , April 15 (UPI) -- Satellite photos revealed a secret site where Iran is suspected of developing long-range ballistic missiles capable of striking Europe, military analysts say. The photos pinpointed the facility from which the Iranians launched their Kavoshgar 1, which they called a research rocket, in February, saying the launch was part of their space program, The Times of London reported Wednesday. An examination of the satellite photos snapped four days after the launch revealed several features experts said indicate the site is the same location where Iran is focusing on developing a ballistic missile with a range of 4,000 miles. The previously unknown missile location and its link with Iran's long-range program was revealed by Jane's Intelligence Review after a former Iraq weapons inspector studied the imagery. The examination also indicated Iran may be following the same path as North Korea -- developing a program enabling Tehran to gain long-range missile technology expertise, the Times reported. Geoffrey Forden, a researcher the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the Kavoshgar launch did not demonstrate a significant advance in ballistic missile technology. "But it does reveal the likely future development of Iran's missile program," Forden said.
  • 5. Barack Obama makes a one-fingered gesture while speaking of Hillary Clinton This is one of those political moments that really needs few words. We'll no doubt hear much more about this incident in coming days. Right now, we'll just leave this video for Ticket readers to view and judge for themselves. It's Sen. Barack Obama , according to the caption on YouTube posted just minutes ago, speaking to a friendly crowd in Raleigh, N.C., today. He's talking critically about his opponent, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, and the kind of distasteful gotcha politics that occur in Washington. And he says, "That's all right. Sen. Clinton looked in her element." Watch the video right then. The presidential candidate raises his right hand to seemingly scratch his cheek. He doesn't use his whole hand though. Just one finger. Briefly. A couple of strokes. He pauses. He smiles slyly as the crowd begins to mumble and then he tries, somewhat distracted, to continue his remarks, smiling as the buzz spreads through the crowd. He'll no doubt deny it later, but that mischievous smile seems to confirm plenty. And the crowd sure sees something.
  • 6. Military’s gun of choice under fire Lawmakers — and some soldiers — question Colt’s lucrative M4 contract updated 5:18 p.m. ET, Sun., April. 20, 2008 HARTFORD, Conn. - No weapon is more important to tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan than the carbine rifle. And for well over a decade, the military has relied on one company, Colt Defense of Hartford, Conn., to make the M4s they trust with their lives. Now, as Congress considers spending millions more on the guns, this exclusive arrangement is being criticized as a bad deal for American forces as well as taxpayers, according to interviews and research conducted by The Associated Press. The M4, which can fire at a rate of 700 to 950 bullets a minute, is a shorter and lighter version of the company's M16 rifle first used 40 years ago during the Vietnam War. It normally carries a 30-round magazine. At about $1,500 apiece, the M4 is overpriced, according to Coburn. It jams too often in sandy environments like Iraq, he adds, and requires far more maintenance than more durable carbines. "And if you tend to have the problem at the wrong time, you're putting your life on the line," says Coburn, who began examining the M4's performance last year after receiving complaints from soldiers. "The fact is, the American GI today doesn't have the best weapon. And they ought to." Military sticks to its guns U.S. military officials don't agree. They call the M4 an excellent carbine. When the time comes to replace the M4, they want a combat rifle that is leaps and bounds beyond what's currently available.
  • 7. Christie's employees hold a painting entitled 'Benefits Supervisor Sleeping' by German artist Lucian Freud at Christie's auction house in London, on April 11, 2008. The woman who posed naked for Freud revealed Saturday she was paid 20 pounds -- and the resulting painting is expected to become the most expensive work by a living artist.
  • 8. Trading Nude Photos Via Mobile Phone Now Part of Teen Dating, Experts Say Monday, April 14, 2008 COLUMBUS, Ohio —  Forget about passing notes in study hall; some teens are now using their cell phones to flirt and send nude pictures of themselves. The instant text, picture and video messages have become part of some teens' courtship behavior, police and school officials said. The messages often spread quickly and sometimes find their way to public Web sites. "I've seen everything from your basic striptease to sexual acts being performed," said Reynoldsburg police Detective Brian Marvin, a member of the FBI Cyber Crime Task Force of Central Ohio. "You name it, they will do it at their home under this perceived anonymity." Westerville Central High School senior Jerome Ray said he's received such unsolicited messages, including one from a classmate while he was sitting with his girlfriend. "A lot more girls are aggressive," said Ray, 18. "Some girls are crazy and they are putting themselves out there." Candice Kelsey, a teacher from California, said some teenage girls think they have to be provocative to get boys' attention. As a result, they will send photos they hope their parents never see. "This happens a lot," said Kelsey, author of Generation MySpace: Helping Your Teen Survive Online Adolescence. "It crosses every racial socio-economic group. Christian kids are doing it. Jewish kids are doing it." Male teens are also doing it.
  • 9. Court terminates 8-year-old girl's marriage A Yemeni court ordered the marriage of an eight-year-old girl terminated on Tuesday because she had not reached puberty. The court also ordered the child's family to pay about $250 in compensation to the 30-year-old ex-husband. The girl's lawyer and human rights activist Shatha Nasser said the minor had filed a suit in April asking for divorce and told the court that her husband had been physically abusing her and forcing her to have "sex with him after hitting her." One of the people attending the trial volunteered to pay the compensation, the lawyer said, but did not explain the reason why the court ordered the compensation. The ruling terminated the marriage instead of granting a divorce to prevent the husband from seeking to reinstate the marriage, according to the lawyer. Many minor girls in Arab countries that observe tribal traditions are married to older husbands but not before puberty. Such marriages are also driven by poverty in countries like Yemen, one of the poorest countries outside Africa.
  • 10. Condoms roped in for bungee jump         April 20 2008 at 12:21PM A Durban man took a plunge with a difference when he bungee jumped 30m using an elastic rope made from condoms. Jump master Carl Dionisio made the unusual jump at the Wavehouse at Gateway to get what he described as "the virgin buzz" one got on the first bounce back. The condom bungee jump was the first of its kind in the world and Dionisio said part of the thrill was getting recognition from the jumping community. The 37-year-old made his first jump 15 years ago in Mossel Bay. He was quickly hooked on the extreme sport and turned it into his career. Dionisio, who was born in Lisbon, studied photography and at first took pictures of jumpers. He later started his own company designing bungee structures as well as being involved in marketing, shows and team-building exercises. Dionisio said he and his assistant, Michael "Sniper" Xaba, had been working on the idea of the condom rope for more than a year. They used 18 500 condoms to make it. "It was difficult as the condoms are slippery. When we tied knots they would just slip out," he said. He then cut the tips off the condoms and made loops. "It took us four months to make the rope," said Dionisio, one of a handful of master jumpers in the world. He said he was not concerned that the rope would be strong enough. "Latex is latex. But the cord was based on a mathematical formula and although I was 99 percent sure that it would work, my stomach was in a knot for a month before the jump," said Dionisio. Now Dionisio is going to take a year off. He and an old army friend have bought a small yacht and will soon be flying to Israel where it is berthed. "We have never sailed, but we've studied the theory and we will be joined by a 74-year-old skipper to show us the ropes."
  • 11. UI scientists seek marijuana smokers for pot study Associated Press - April 23, 2008 3:04 PM ET IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A group of University of Iowa scientists is looking for marijuana smokers to help gain insight into the drug's effects. And they plan to pay subjects as much as $600 to smoke their pot. The study examines how marijuana affects brain function and cognition, with particular attention to the duration of use and the age of first use. The measure is brain imaging studies and achievement tests, such as for math and verbal skills. Robert Block is an associate professor in the school's Department of Anesthesia and the lead investigator on the project. He says the group is looking for pot users and control subjects who consume alcohol and tobacco - but not marijuana - to participate in the study. Subjects receive $20 for an initial screening session. Those that participate fully pocket $600. Block said that, depending on the results, the study might ultimately be used to support political positions on marijuana. Those could include whether there should be harsher criminal penalties, whether it should be decriminalized, or whether it should be allowed for medicinal purposes.   13News
  • 12. Marathon's no sweat if you stop for a pint and a fag ……halfway, says Buster (aged 101)   AS BRITAIN'S oldest employee, 101-year-old Buster Martin aimed to smash another record yesterday as the world's oldest marathon runner, helped along the gruelling 26.2-mile course with a pint of beer and a cigarette. Bearded and spritely, the former army physical-training instructor got in shape for yesterday's London marathon in his time off from a plumbing firm. Before setting off, the father of 17, who is also a star with a pop group called The Zimmers, said: "I've said I'll attempt it. I haven't said I'll complete it. I'll do what I always do and have a pint and a fag. People ask what's my secret but I haven't got one. They say fags and booze are bad for you – but I'm still here, aren't I?" Expected to complete the race in 12 hours, he was well on target at the 13-mile mark, where he stopped for a beer, cigarette and some homemade sandwiches. Mr Martin returned to work aged 99, saying he was bored after two years of retirement, and was set to beat the record for the world's oldest marathon runner by eight years.   The Scotsman
  • 13. Report: China led world executions in 2007 LONDON, England (AP) -- China reduced the number of executions it carried out last year but still executed more people than any other country in the world, Amnesty International said Tuesday in its annual report on the death penalty worldwide.   Iran remains the country with the second-highest number of executions, with 377 killings that included a man stoned for adultery, the human rights group said. The number of American executions fell to its lowest level in about 15 years, putting it fifth in the world with 42, Amnesty officials said. Amnesty analysts said that early in 2007 China reformed the way capital cases are handled, leading to a substantial reduction in executions. They said at least 470 people were put to death, from 1,010 in 2006. But they cautioned that the actual number is undoubtedly higher, and warned that any drop may be temporary. The Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing did not respond to requests for comment on the findings in the Amnesty report. The ministry has said in the past that Amnesty is "biased and hostile toward China." More than 60 offenses in China are punishable by the death penalty, including drug trafficking and embezzlement, Bannister said. Amnesty reported that three countries -- Iran, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia -- put people under the age of 18 to death, the youngest a 13-year-old executed in Iran in April. Amnesty's report cited research by other groups claiming the number of people put to death in China was much higher, with some research indicating that as many as 6,000 people may have been executed in 2007. Death penalty figures are treated as a state secret in China. In all, at least 3,347 people were sentenced to death in 51 countries, and as many as 27,500 people are estimated to be on death row, Amnesty said.
  • 14. 13-year-old charged with felony ENDANGERED A STUDENT ALLERGIC TO PEANUTS HERALD-LEADER.COM A Morton Middle School eighth-grader faces felony charges after putting crumbled peanut butter cookies in the lunch box of another student with a severe allergy to peanuts. The allergic student, another eighth-grader, did not eat the cookies and did not suffer a reaction. However, even trace amounts of peanut oil can cause severe reactions and even death. Symptoms can include hives, welts and swelling that can restrict airways. Earlier this month, it was reported that a 13-year-old boy died in Australia at a school camp due to an allergic reaction to peanuts. Letters went home Friday to parents of Morton students notifying them of the incident, according to a press release. The incident occurred Thursday out on the school's running track, where students had gone to eat lunch and enjoy the warm weather, Fayette Schools spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said. As the students neared the end of their lunch time, a student was seen putting the crumbled cookies in the allergic student's lunch box, she said. It was well known that the other student suffered from severe peanut allergies, Deffendall said. There was no known history of problems between the two teens, she added. Both students are 13. After an investigation, the student was arrested, was charged with felony wanton endangerment and has been removed from the school, Deffendall said.
  • 15. Bolivia's 'Death Road' claims life of US mountain biker Associated Press 12:51 PM EDT, April 21, 2008   LA PAZ, Bolivia - A U.S. tourist has been killed after losing control of his mountain bike and plunging off a cliff while biking down Bolivia's treacherous "Highway of Death," rescue officials said Monday. Firefighter Ramiro Torres told The Associated Press that Kenneth Mitchell died Saturday afternoon after falling about 230 feet (70 meters). Officials at the U.S. Embassy in La Paz confirmed the 56-year-old Mitchell's death but declined to release his hometown. Mitchell was riding with one of several tourist agencies that offer guided trips down the mountain road, which is known for its breathtaking views, hairpin turns and steep drops.
  • 16. Hired By The McCain Campaign      April 21, 2008 12:48 PM   Jonathan Martin over at Politico says he's gotten word from a "colleague" that McCain has hired beauty queen Ashley Zais , to be in charge of his interns. Martin wants everyone to make sure that Ashley Zais should not be confused with Miss Teen South Carolina , who is now a YouTube star for completely messing up an answer during the Miss Teen USA contest last August. Click here to see more photos of Ashley Zais .
  • 17. Clearcut Forest Screened from the Road Photo: George Steinmetz George Steinmetz is one of my favorite new finds on the Net. He specializes in taking aerial photographs while piloting a motorized paraglider. Check out the photograph above, of a clear-cut forest in the Olympic Peninsula, Washington. If you were driving, you’d probably not notice the clearing at all! And that, my friend, is the pictorial definition of a façade.
  • 18. Sat Apr 19, 7:33 AM ET The Rhine Falls near Neuhausen, Switzerland, is illuminated by blue lights, overnight Saturday April 19, 2008. Swiss artist Charles Keller illuminated the Rhine falls with colored lights, after it was only lit by two white flood lights in the past. The new illumination is a measure to improve the public image of Europe's biggest water fall.
  • 19. Vladimir Putin, Alina Kabaeva: Russian President Denies He Will Marry Ex-Gymnast Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday denied a tabloid report that he had divorced his wife and intended to marry a champion gymnast less than half his age. "There is not a single word of truth" to the report carried by a Moscow tabloid, Putin said at a news conference in Sardinia with incoming Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi. Now all Moscow is ablaze with rumors that Vladimir Putin, 56, and the flexible 24-year-old Alina Kabaeva have decided to tie the knot. The whispers of romance are particularly scurrilous because Mr Putin has not officially announced any separation from his 50-year-old wife, Ludmilla. But the former KGB spy, known for keeping his private life as far out of the spotlight as his former career, is reported to have split from her two months ago. Would the president of a superpower really risk it all on a young 24 year old young lady……let’s take a look:
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