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Thursday, 16 Oct, 2008

Current Events

Family Arrested for Embezzlement and Elder Abuse

Authorities in Northern California reported that a dead elderly woman was cremated by her daughter and grandson on a homemade barbecue, after which the malefactors continued assuming the woman's pension in the amount of more than $25,000. Kathleen Allmond and Tony Ray were arrested on suspicion of elder abuse, embezzlement and unauthorized disposing of a body.

Sheriff's Capt. Paul Hosler said that Ramona Allmond most likely had died a natural death; however criminal investigators wanted to determine its real cause.

As Allmond's daughter and grandson testified, the elderly woman had died in December. They kept the body on the floor in her bedroom, after which decided to cremate it in their backyard fire pit.

Criminal investigators said that Kathleen Allmond and Tony Ray kept assuming the woman's pension checks in total amount of more than $25,000. Sheriff's Detective Richard Knox supposed that they may have wanted to do Ramona's will to die at home and be cremated.

The police arrested both after Allmond's son became suspicious and started the search of her. Their arraignment was scheduled for Thursday. Until that moment they are both in jail. According to the sheriff's department they don't have lawyers yet.


Wednesday, 15 Oct, 2008

Environment

Human Trash Killed a Whale

A marine researcher reported that a 3-ton whale died in Malaysia after ingesting a plastic bag, a rope and a bottle cap.

Mohaman Lazim, a researcher who witnessed the event, said that the Bryde's whale had been cast ashore and died a day later in spite of all exertions to save it. Preliminary conclusions made after an autopsy showed that the cause of death was ingestion of a black plastic bag, a rope and a bottle cap, which blocked up its intestine.

It's known that whales come to the shore when they feel they die. As Mohamam Lazim said, it can also happen if a sick whale strayed from its pod and lost its way.

The 3-ton female was pulled back into the sea, but on the next day it appeared again on the beach. Villagers tried to recover it to life sprinkling it with sea water and wrapping it in wet blankets. Despite their efforts the whale died. The State's veterinarian department promised to examine the whale.

Bryde's whales belong to the baleen whale suborder and inhabit tropical waters. But are these waters safe enough?


Wednesday, 15 Oct, 2008

Environment

Chimps Lose Habitats- who is to blame?

A new research states that the number of West African chimpanzees decreased by 90 percent in the last 18 years.

Scientists investigating Côte d'Ivoire calculated that there remained just about 800-1,200 chimps out of 8,000-12,000 according to the data obtained in 1989-90. Before this exploration the country used to give sanctuary to a half of all West  African chimps.

The research carried out in 1989-90 also showed a considerable downfall comparing the results obtained in 1960s when there were about 100,000. West African Chimps in Côte d'Ivoire. On of the major reasons of this decline is the growth of human population since 1990. According to the study, human activity has led to more hunting and deforestation which started to threaten chimp's life safety. As it turned out, Marahoué National Park forfeited 93 percent of its tree cover in the last six years.

Most of the conservation areas have been occupied by people leaving no space for animals. The new report published in the journal Conservation Biology said that a similar decay may have happened in other countries which present West African chimpanzee habitats. It is considered that the largest remaining population of the subspecies inhabits Guinea. But this opinion is based on calculations made more than a decade ago.

The decline in West African chimps number deprives scientists of the opportunity to make an overall study of these subspecies. Jill Pruetz of Iowa State University said that scientists knew less about these species in comparison with their knowledge of the East African chimps. However, conservationists increase their efforts to protect western chimpanzees.

One of the places providing favorable conditions for these chimps is Taï National Park. The results of conservation work show that the number of apes remains stable there. Scientists consider that it's absolutely necessary to stop poaching; otherwise disappointing news may appear again.


Wednesday, 15 Oct, 2008

Offbeat

Parents starved their 14-year-old daughter

A 14-year-old girl was found in the state of extreme exhaustion in Seattle as her father and stepmother kept her without food and water. As authorities reported, her weight was just 48 pounds.

If Jon Pomeroy and his wife Rebecca Long are found guilty in criminal mistreatment they can be jailed for four years. After the charges were exhibited, they both were let out on bail.

The girl was found in the family house near Carnation in August. It became possible just after a neighbor called child welfare authorities. The veteran detective, who was at the place of investigation, said that it was the worst thing he had ever seen. The girl confessed that she was allowed to eat only a toast and to drink about 6 ounces of water per day. The stepmother kept an eye on her even when she brushed her teeth not to let her drink more water. As the woman said, the girl and her 12-year-old brother had been taught at home for four years.

Rebecca Long admitted that she withheld the girl water in order to teach her discipline. As a result, the girl suffered from malnutrition and dehydration and was taken to Children's Hospital in Seattle. Even her teeth were affected and six of them had to be extracted.

Now the girl is in foster care, attends a private school and makes new friends. She managed to gain more than 20 pounds in her new family. The boy's state of heath caused no misgiving and he was also placed in foster care.

Jon Pomeroy told detectives that he made little account of the conflict between his new wife and his daughter. He considered his interference was not necessary. Besides that, he never turned to experts even though it was obvious that the girl's physical state was abnormal.

Such attitude seems more than strange as even the family's two dogs were treated with care and received enough food.


Saturday, 11 Oct, 2008

Environment

Tropics Getting Too Hot

American researchers declared that climate change threatens not only the polar region with its cold-loving animals, but the tropics as well. They become too hot for many species which will have to move higher seeking escape from the heat.

Robert Colwell of the University of Connecticut carried out a research presenting its results in the journal Science. He considers that if the climate continues to get warmer, the Costa Rican tropics will undergo considerable changes within the next century. As Colwell and his colleagues predict, the current climate at 100 meters will be observed at 700 meters.

Colwell and his work-mates gathered information about 2,000 species of plants, insects and fungi in Costa Rica. They came to a conclusion that half of the species would have to change their habitats and to move up in the mountains. If species suffer from the heat, they will feel better in their customary climate zone.

As a result of this process, populations inhabiting lowland regions will decrease in biodiversity because other species can't survive in this climate. But species living high in the mountains may have no space to move higher.

Colwell's forecast differs from the suppositions made by other researchers who state that global warming will not have a considerable impact on species inhabiting tropics. As his opponents say the climate was warmer 50 million years ago, but tropical forests still existed. However, Colwell insists upon further investigation before making a final conclusion.

Researchers from the University of California-Berkeley pursued another study comparing changes in small mammal populations at Yosemite National Park in California to the data received in 1918. They also found out that mammals like shrews, mice and ground squirrels moved to high-set regions. As it turned out, half of the species made such shifts. Changes in nature can not be avoided, but their speed should be kept under control.


Saturday, 11 Oct, 2008

Current Events

Gay Marriage Allowed in Connecticut

Connecticut Supreme Court ordered that gay marriages should be allowed. Thus Connecticut became the third state after Massachusetts and California where gay couples gained the right to get married.

This resolution was a legally significant action as it was the first time when a court expressed its disposition to same-sex marriages and gave them so many privileges. As to Californians, they're going to appeal against this ruling and re-establish the gay-marriage ban. However, Connecticut's government believes that people are unlikely to set the new-promulgated order at defiance.

The new ruling already has its opponents. Jodi Rell, a Republican, considers that this order doesn't reflect opinions of the majority. Nevertheless he is convinced that any attempts to amend the Constitution will not succeed.

Gay weddings should start in Connecticut in less than a month. The opportunity to get married will be used by a lot of out-of-staters, but their unions will be recognized just in few other states.

The new ruling was a great surprise for the plaintiffs. There were eight couples in Connecticut that had to lodge a complaint to get their wedding licenses. So now they are deliriously happy and are looking forward to getting married. The couples who sued blamed the state's marriage law as it infringed their rights depriving them of social and emotional benefits of marriage. Yet the majority of states are against gay marriages. Electors in 27 states have voted for additional amendments to support that ban.


Friday, 10 Oct, 2008

Current Events

Who won Nobel Peace Prize 2008?

Former Finnish president won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his attempts to maintain peace from Africa and Asia to Europe and the Middle East. Announcing the winner, the Nobel Committee pointed out Martti Ahtisaari's transcendent merits in resolving international conflicts as well as his important activity on several continents. His peacekeeping actions promoted friendship among different nations.

The Nobel Committee renewed its interest in traditional peace work after selecting Al Gore and Intergovernmental Panel on climate change last year. The committee consisting of five members said that Ahtisaari's efforts to keep peace all over the world proved to be quite effective and showed that mediation of various types played a prominent part in trouble-shooting. Ahtisaari contributed to the resolution of conflicts in Namibia, Aceh, Indonesia, Kosovo and Iraq.

The ex-president was on the panel of Nobel Peace Prize candidates since 2005 after his successful negotiations between the government of Indonesia and the leaders of the separatist guerrilla movement in Aceh. He also managed to defuse conflicts in Northern Ireland, Central Asia and on the Horn of Africa. Ahtisaari, being the first Finn to win the Nobel Peace Prize, considers his work in Namibia to be of major importance as the resolution of conflicts there lasted for a long time.

He became the U.N. diplomatic representative in Namibia in 1977 when guerrillas were struggling against South African apartheid rule. Later he became undersecretary-general and in 1988 was sent to Namibia together with 8,000 U.N. peacekeepers. Their successful operation brought independence to the country in 1990.

In 1994 Ahtisaari ran for the presidency leading Finland's Social Democratic Party and won the elections. Since 2000 he too part in different peace missions. In 2007 Ahtisaari's office organized secret meetings between Iraqi Sunni and Shiite groups to mediate peace. In 2005 Ahtisaari put an end to the conflict between Aceh rebels and Indonesian government in the course of peace negotiations in Finland which he mediated with Crisis Management Initiative.

After seven months of negotiations a peace agreement was signed in Helsinki. In his interview to NRK Norwegian TV, Ahtisaari said he "was very pleased and grateful" for the prize. Ahtisaari expressed his hope for attracting more financial support for his peace activity. As he said, financing would help his organizations to act properly.


Friday, 10 Oct, 2008

Current Events

Dalai Lama's Operation Passed Successfully

Surgeons managed to extract a gallstone from the Dalai Lama which made him suffer from abdominal pains.

Doctors established their diagnosis during a medical examination of the spiritual leader. Chhime R. Chhoekyapa commented on the surgery saying that it was a routine procedure. The Nobel prizewinner was hospitalized in New Delhi on Thursday after a medical checkup which was the second in many months. His assistants advised the 73-year-old to refrain from distant trips.

In August the Dalai Lama was taken to a Mumbai hospital to undergo an examination of abdominal cavity organs. The Tibetan leader was announced to be in good health. However his doctors said that he was in the state of exhaustion, so it'd be advisable to put off his trip to Europe.

 

The Dalai Lama lives in the north town of Dharmsala, where his government-in-exile is located after his escape from Tibet when Tibetans failed to withstand Chinese assault in 1959. Several months in a year he travels around the world teaching Buddhism and advocating the Tibetan culture and interests.

Rumors about the surgery agitated the whole Dharmsala as it considers the Dalai Lama a symbolic person for thousands of exiles. He is still honored although the exile community has divided between his supporters and young opponents demanding severe measures against Chinese intervention.

The exiles are extremely worried as the Dalai Lama represents the symbol of their hope and faith. If he goes, they'll surrender all hope of seeing better days in Tibet.

China launched a campaign to slander the Dalai Lama after the March uprising in Tibet. It incriminates him Beijing considering it an attempt to separate the Himalayan region from China.

 

The Dalai Lama repels such accusations as his only aim is to obtain greater autonomy for Tibet and to preserve its unique culture.


Friday, 10 Oct, 2008

Environment

Dinosaur King Size Secret

A new study offered a suggestion that dinosaurs called sauropods grew to enormous sizes and evolved successfully partly because they swallowed food whole without chewing it.

Sauropods can be considered the largest land animals that ever inhabited our planet as their weight reached up to 88 tons and their height was about 23 feet.

Researchers suppose that these animals grew huge in order to protect themselves from being eaten by big predators such as Tyrannosaurus rex. But the reason of their extraordinary evolution is still a mystery.

It is supposed that the herbivores which are also called plant-eaters didn’t have any teeth and gulped down their food whole. They grazed on vast territories consuming quickly great amounts of greenery. Martin Sander, a paleontologist at the University of Bonn in Germany, said that they needed long necks so they could reach food that grew high as well as a good alimentary tract to digest unchewed food. He explained that if they had to chew everything they ate their head would have a lot of teeth being too heavy for a long neck.

In order to survive sauropods needed not only to consume a lot of food, but also to advance quickly and acquire their full size before being eaten. Samples of sauropod bones prove the theory of their fast development. A 22-pound hatchling became a 220,000-pound just in 20-30 years.

Sander also said that sauropods produced a large number of offspring at a time which helped them to survive after a catastrophe. Modern mammals, such as elephants, procreate fewer offspring which increases their chances to become extinct. So why don’t gigantic elephants and crocodiles exist nowadays? Scientists consider that reptiles, such as crocodiles, continue egg-laying, but their cold blood hinders them in attaining huge sizes. As for mammals, they have warm blood, but still they can’t beome bigger as they chew their food and reproduce slowly.


Wednesday, 08 Oct, 2008

Environment

Parrot Trade under Ban in Mexico

Conservationists beat the alarm. They demand that illegal parrot trade in Mexico should be banned. There are 22 parrot species in Mexico, haft of which is in danger and almost all of them are under federal protection. However, every year almost 78,000 parrots are entrapped illegally. The worst thing is that these birds die before being delivered to their owners.

Environmentalists consider that the government fails to take all due measures against illegal trade and fowling of exotic birds. It’s absolutely necessary to amend Mexico’s wildlife law which will help to put an end to clandestine business. The new bill will come into force when it is promulgated in the official congressional diary which should happen by the end of October.

The defenders of exotic birds consider U.S. to be the major factor stimulating illegal sale of rare species such as the yellow-naped parrot, which inhabits just the Mexican state of Chiapas.

In general these birds are delivered to Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez situated on the border with U.S.. Yet the greatest number of parrots remain in Mexico. They are distributed among numerous markets all over the country.

The parrot trade in Mexico can be performed only within the legal term, i.e. through a federally established conservation area. According to government resolution it is allowed to capture between 3,000 and 4,000 parrots every year. Unfortunately, there is no effective mechanism that would identify legally and illegally entrapped birds. It’s especially difficult at informal markets where the only marker of a legally captured parrot is a band around its leg. Government officials manage to expropriate only 2 percent of illegally transported parrots.

Alongside this professional bird trappers also defend their rights. Many of them capture exotic birds legally in order to make their living. They think that legal bird trade should be permitted as people are glad to have an exotic bird at home.


Wednesday, 08 Oct, 2008

Environment

Bald Eagles Suggest a New Diet

A new research has found that bald eagles in Alaska started eating other birds instead of fish. Such a surprising diet was caused by the alterations in food chains. As scientists observed, these changes affected not only eagles, but also sea otters, urchins and kelp forests. The extinction of sea otters from the Aleutian Islands provided favorable conditions for fast reproduction of sea urchins which served as nutrition for otters.

As a consequence, the expansion of urchin population caused the consumption of underwater kelp forests. The forests gradually disappeared, making nearshore zone uninhabitable for kelp-consuming fish that was basically eaten by bald eagles.

According to the journal Ecology, the bald eagles went on a new diet eating mostly seabirds. Robert Anthony and his colleagues, who carried out the research, began gathering information about bald eagles inhabiting the Aleutian Islands in the early 1990s. At that time the number of sea otters was rather high. However, in the early 2000s their number decreased dramatically leaving just 10% of the population.  

Studying food remains in the birds’ nests the researchers observed that bald eagles prefered seabirds to fish, although some eagles still ate fish. These changes can be considered positive for bald eagles. Nevertheless, the researchers still don’t know what caused the decline of sea otters. One of the existing theories suggests that otter hunted by killer whales should be considered the main reason of their collapse.

It’s known that killer whales mainly hunt fish, but some of them hunt such mammals as sperm whales, humpbacks and fin whales. However, in the 20th century these food sources almost disappeared, forcing killer whales to hunt smaller species such as otters. 

This research shows how interrelated ecosystem links are and how easy it is to offset the balance.


Tuesday, 07 Oct, 2008

Health & Fitness

How to love a hateful job?

The Happiness Institute proved that loving your job is absolutely necessary and one can easily learn it.

Timothy Sharp, one of the leading psychologists at the Australia-based institute, helps people not only to enjoy their working process but also to create better conditions for employees. With his help people learn to work out a positive attitude at workplace, which turns a boring obligation into a pleasant activity. Sharp also teaches organizations to keep valuable workers by creating a business-friendly atmosphere where employees feel comfortable and manage to fulfill their potential.

Sharp is often called "Dr. Happy" as he considers happiness the most necessary condition at work. People should be glad to be a part of the team, which gives them additional work incentive. Such organizations as The Happiness Institute are in great demand in Australia where companies have problems with retaining experienced employees because of low unemployment.

The disequilibrium in financial markets forced more companies to request assistance of "happiness advisors" as they need to maintain security and optimistic mood in their employees. Sharp recommends people who hate their jobs to find something positive about it and try to enjoy it. In order to feel happy at work one should learn to solve problems rather than complain about them. If your job remains unbearable, probably it is time to consider other proposals.


Monday, 06 Oct, 2008

Current Events

Parachute-jumpers Conquer Everest

Finally the first parachute jump over Mount Everest has been made. After so many years of preparation participants fulfilled their dream and organizers admired an amazing spectacle.

The Everest region attracted about 32 skydivers from all over the world to jump flying 142 meters higher than the Everest peak. Wendy Smith, Holly Budge and Neil Jones were those who made the first jump that had never been tried before. Their parachutes were larger than the ordinary ones which gave them the possibility to float over the mountain and land on a prepared zone. They all had to use oxygen masks as they passed through the highest drop zone of the world.

Krishna Aryal, an official of the Explore Himalaya, said that their freefall lasted for about half a minute before their canopies opened. No doubt the participants will remember that jump as a unique experience. Wendy Smith said that he had never seen so many mountains before. The feeling of being on top of the world cannot be compared to anything.

Still the conquest of Everest continues and organizers are looking forward to more breath-taking jumps.


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