目前日期文章:201206 (101)

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Setting aside fears for a new arms race with the United States or the conflict in Syria, President Dmitry Medvedev took to Twitter Wednesday to reassure Russia on another burning issue--the wellbeing of his cat.


Presidential pet Dorofey had not, contrary to press reports and frenzied Internet speculation, gone missing.


"It has become known from sources close to Dorofey that he didn’t disappear. Thank you for your concern, everyone," tweeted Medvedev.


Russian social media users have been having a field day speculating about the cat’s alleged escape, with at least two Twitter accounts created in Dorofey’s name to post updates of his whereabouts and his decision to join the nascent protest movement.


"I am tired of politics! I want family and kids!" one Dorofey impersonator @Dorofey_Kot tweeted.


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One of the best-kept secrets in television history has been revealed, with "The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening pointing to Springfield, Oregon, as the inspiration for the animated hometown of Homer and his dysfunctional family.


Groening told Smithsonian magazine that he was inspired by the television show "Father Knows Best," which took place in a place called Springfield. Springfield, Oregon, is 160 kilometers south of Groening’s hometown of Portland.


"When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name," Groening told the magazine. "I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, ’This will be cool; everyone will think it’s their Springfield.’ And they do," he said.


The show has made a running joke of hiding the true Springfield’s location. In one episode, daughter Lisa points to Springfield on a map, but the animated "camera view" is blocked by son Bart’s head.


People in the real Springfield --the one in Oregon -- took on the mantle of the show’s hometown after Groening visited during a tour before the 2007 film "The Simpsons Movie."

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A pet parakeet was returned to its owner Wednesday after the lost bird told police its home address near Tokyo.


The male bird had escaped early Sunday morning from its owner’s home in the city of Sagamihara, west of Tokyo, and remained at large before perching on the shoulder of a guest staying in a nearby hotel.


Handed over to local police, the bird did not speak until Tuesday evening, when it blurted out the names of the city and district where its owner’s house is located, said a spokesman for the north Sagamihara police station.


It then produced the home’s block and street number as a trio of astonished police officers listened to the now talkative bird.


The bird’s owner, a 64-year-old woman, once lost another parakeet after it flew away and was determined to prevent a repeat, the spokesman told AFP.

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◎ 魏國金

Rhinos could be wiped out from South Africa’s wildlife parks by 2050 if poaching continues at its current rate, a campaigner fighting to save the beasts has warned.


And corruption among officials is contributing to the ongoing slaughter, said veterinary nurse Karen Trendler.


In a career spanning almost two decades, 50-year-old Trendler has raised 200 baby rhino orphans at a wildlife sanctuary in Pretoria, earning the nickname "Mama Rhino."


She is planning to open a special treatment centre for them, warning that the situation has become critical.


Poachers nabbed 448 rhinos last year, and in the first three months of this year the toll stood at 109 -- in other words, a kill-rate of more than one a day. While the poachers target the adult rhinos for their horns, baby rhinos often die too, unable to survive alone.

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Women who eat plenty of blueberries and strawberries experience slower mental decline with age than women who consume fewer of the flavonoid-rich fruits, a US study said.


Based on a survey of more than 16,000 women who filled out regular questionnaires on their health habits from 1976 through 2001, the findings showed that those who ate the most berries delayed cognitive decline by up to 2.5 years.


Every two years from 1995 to 2001, researchers measured mental function in subjects over age 70, according to the study published in the Annals of Neurology. "We provide the first epidemiologic evidence that berries may slow progression of cognitive decline in elderly women," said Elizabeth Devore, a doctor with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.


Robert Graham, an internist at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital, said eating more berries is good idea for people of any age. (Reuters)



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A devoted father who spent a fortune showering his daughter with expensive luxury gifts and even bankrolled her dream to become a beauty queen is facing a possible jail sentence after the collapse of his business empire.


Harbinder Panesar and his daughter Anysha made headlines in 2009 when the Moulin Rouge-themed party he threw her featured on MTV reality show My Super Sweet 16 - even thought it was actually her 15th birthday.


The £20000 budget included a helicopter to ferry Anysha to the party, a performance by Tulisa from N-Dubz and a special video message from Hollywood star Nicole Kidman.


The 45-year-old told MTV at the time: ’If any parents are going to have a Super Sweet 16 party I would suggest that they have very long pockets and very long arms to reach in to those pockets.’


But now, less than three years later, Panesar has been declared bankrupt and a court has frozen his assets. He faces losing the family’s£500000 house in the Vale of Glamorgan and a spell behind bars after breaching a court order banning him from selling car insurance.

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Acupuncture and hypnosis have been promoted as drug-free ways to help smokers kick the habit, and there is some evidence that they work, according to a research review that looked at 14 international studies.


Researchers, whose findings appeared in the American Journal of Medicine, said that there are still plenty of questions, including exactly how effective alternative therapies might be and how they measure up against conventional methods to quit smoking.


But the alternatives should still stand as options for smokers determined to break the habit. In general, smokers who want to quit should first try the standard approaches, which include nicotine-replacement therapy, medications and behavioral counseling.


Researchers found that some studies showed that smokers subjected to acupuncture were more than three times as likely to be tobacco-free six months to a year later. Similarly, across four trials of hypnosis, smokers had a higher success rate with the therapy compared to people who had minimal help.


But there were some caveats, researchers said. The success rate was not consistent in all the tests conducted, although the broad trends pointed to the benefits of alternate treatment.(Reuters)

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A blind woman who did not realise the novel she was writing was blank after her pen ran out has been saved after a police force used forensic techniques to recover the words.


Forensics experts agreed to use a special scientific process to recover what Trish Vickers had written by examining the dents she had made in the pages.


Mrs Vickers, 59, was left devastated when she learned that her pen had run out and there was nothing on the first 26 pages of the book. She lost her sight seven years ago through diabetes and decided to write a novel to pass the time and keep her mind active.


She quickly penned the opening chapters. She waited for her son Simon to visit so he could read it back to her. But when he arrived he had to tell her that the pages were blank.


Incredibly, however, the manuscript was recovered after the family took it to their local police HQ and asked for help.

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The larger your brain size is, the more the number of friends you have:this is what is being said by a team of researchers from the University of Oxford.


Keeping up friendships takes brain power, research found, and people with real friends - as opposed to pals on social network sites - have to employ more cognitive skills to understand what someone is thinking.


Researchers have found a link between the number of friends people have and the size of their orbital prefrontal cortex. Tests were conducted on 40 people, with scientists taking anatomical MR images of their brains to measure the size of their prefrontal cortex, which is used for high-level thinking.


Participants were asked to make a list of people they had social - rather than professional - contact with over a seven day period. They also took a test to determine how competent they were at ’mentalising’, which is the capacity to understand what another person is thinking - a crucial aspect in how people handle the social world.


Results - published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B - showed a connection between people with a large friendship group and a larger prefrontal cortex.

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Police in this conservative Texas city are keeping close tabs on a young entrepreneur’s recently opened cleaning service that offers nude maids.


Lubbock police Sgt. Jonathan Stewart said the owner of Fantasy Maid Service of Lubbock doesn’t have a permit to operate a sexually oriented business and officers are watching for any violation, which would bring a $2,000 fine.


But owner Melissa Borrett insists she’s not operating such a business. Customers pay $100 an hour for one maid or $150 an hour for two maids, and no touching is allowed, she said.


"I run a maid service," the 26-year-old entrepreneur said. "We really just clean houses. These girls are not performers. They’re maids."


The West Texas native and mother said she started the business about a month ago because she was struggling as a waitress to make ends meet.

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One-in-10 second-hand hard drives still contain the original user’s personal information, suggests an investigation by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).


It purchased devices from auction sites such as eBay and computer fairs. Of the 200 hard disks collected, 11% contained personal information. At least two of the drives had enough information to enable someone to steal the former owners’ identities, the watchdog said.


A separate survey by the ICO indicated that one in 10 people who had disposed of a mobile phone, computer or laptop had not wiped the device.


"We live in a world where personal and company information is a highly valuable commodity," said Information Commissioner Christopher Graham.


"It is important that people do everything they can to stop their details from falling into the wrong hands."

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Having a horned goat butt you in the behind would make anyone cross--even if the goat is named Jesus.


So it’s no surprise that Jesus’ owner, Norwegian farmer Tor Brede Launes, decided to make the goat pay for his sins after he chased a mother and child up a tree before turning his sights--and his horns--on a police officer.


The animal attack took place on a small island off the south coast of Norway when Jesus "got gruff" with a mother and her child who climbed up a tree while cops were called to the scene, according to Norwegian website The Local. But Jesus, a 176-pound billy goat, charged straight at one of the constables.


The incident obviously got the goat of Jesus’ owner, who decided that the animal was going to be meeting his maker on a fiery grill.


Amazingly, the goat must have suspected something because he soon went on the lam, forcing Launes to travel around the island crying out for Jesus.

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Lady Gaga will have to cancel her sold-out show in Indonesia amid concerns her sexy clothes and dance moves undermine Islamic values and will corrupt the youth.


National police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said Tuesday the permit for her June 3 "Born This Way Ball" concert had been denied. Jakarta police recommended the denial. Although Indonesia has a long history of religious tolerance, a small extremist fringe has become more vocal in recent years. A country of 240 million people, it has more Muslims than any other nation.


Hard-liners have loudly criticized Lady Gaga, saying the suggestive nature of her show threatened to undermine the country’s moral fiber. Some threatened to use physical force to prevent her from stepping off the plane.


Fans have been eagerly awaiting Lady Gaga, with every seat in Jakarta’s 52,000-seat Gelora Bung Karno stadium scooped up--half in the first two hours of sales.


"I’m very disappointed," said Mariska Renata, who had tickets to the Jakarta show.

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Chinese agencies are secretly collecting samples of the Dalai Lama’s blood, urine and hair and are stepping up efforts to harm him, the Tibetan government in exile said.


Citing "a variety of threats" to the spiritual leader’s life, the KASHAG or cabinet of the government in exile accused China of "making concrete plans to harm His Holiness by employing well-trained agents, particularly females".


"Chinese intelligence agencies have stepped up their efforts to collect intelligence on the status of His Holiness’s health, as well as collecting physical samples of his blood, urine and hair," it said in a statement.


"It is also learnt that they are exploring the possibility of harming him by using ultra-modern and highly sophisticated drugs and poisonous chemicals." Dongchung Ngodup, minister of security in the cabinet told AFP the government was informed about these threats by sources inside Tibet.


Earlier this month the Dalai Lama told Britain’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper that he had been informed of a plot to assassinate him, using Tibetan women posing as devotees seeking his blessing.

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Paris, the City of Lights, is also the city with the most expensive club sandwich in the world, according to a global survey released Wednesday by an online travel service.


Hotels.com said it price-checked club sandwiches at more than 750 hotels in 26 cities in Asia, Europe, North America and South America to help travelers size up the affordability of different national capitals.


The result? Paris topped the list with an average price of $33.10 for the iconic chicken, bacon, egg, lettuce and mayonnaise sandwich that’s a fixture on virtually every hotel restaurant and room-service menu.


Geneva placed second at $32.56, followed by Oslo at $30.50. New Delhi was cheapest at $9.57. "Paris may well be the gastronomic capital of the world, but travelers may be better off sticking to a croque-monsieur," Hotels.com spokeswoman Alison Couper said in a statement.(AFP)



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◎ 張沛元

Japanese dressage rider Hiroshi Hoketsu looks and dresses more like a soccer manager in his early fifties than the world’s oldest Olympian at 71-year-old. Meet the Benjamin Button of this year’s London Olympics.


A national celebrity, Hoketsu greets you with a firm handshake, his sharp wit and fierce determination striking you immediately.


"I don’t know how you’re supposed to feel at 71," Hoketsu told Reuters in an interview on Thursday, sitting bolt upright in a jacket and yellow tie.


"I’m the same physique as I was at university," added the German-based rider, who first competed for Japan as a 23-year-old show jumper at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.


Whippet-thin at 1.68 metres tall and 62 kilos, Hoketsu steers clear of German food as much as possible.

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The U.S. Army is dedicating millions of research dollars into discovering building helmets to allow soldiers to telepathically communicate with one another on the battlefield.


The technology, which seems like something out of a science fiction novel, would use electrodes to pick up code words that soldiers were thinking. Those codewords would then be transmitted back to a computer where the soldier’s position and message--telling, for instance, that it is safe to progress towards a target--which would be transmitted to their peers in the field.


The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency(DARPA)was established in 1958 and was dedicated to expanding the Department of Defense’ technology usage, some of which included state-of-the-art, and top secret, research into the mind.


Based largely out of University of California-Irvine, in conjunction with labs in Philadelphia and Maryland, scientists are trying to improve so-called ’synthetic telepathy’ so that it could be used in a battlefield.


So far, 45 percent of the commands that are transmitted from one volunteer to another--like ’call in helicopter’ or ’enemy ahead’--are correct. That statistic is expected to improve.

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Ukraine failed to anticipate the angry Western reaction to its treatment of jailed ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and the dispute risks ruining its hosting of the Euro 2012 football, observers said.


The Euro 2012 tournament co-hosted with Poland was set to be a glorious showcase for the ex-Soviet country:but President Viktor Yanukovych appears to have scored a massive own goal by allowing it to be overshadowed by the Tymoshenko case.


Austria has announced it will boycott all matches hosted by Ukraine, a move that reportedly could be matched by Germany. All European Union commissioners will also be absent, while at least seven EU heads of state are shunning a summit to be hosted by Yanukovych in Yalta this month.


Tymoshenko, who was jailed for seven years on charges of abuse of power in October, upped the stakes in her standoff with the authorities last month by going on hunger strike and claiming she had been beaten by prison guards.


With an efficient PR machine fronted by the opposition leader’s telegenic, London School of Economics-educated daughter Yevgeniya, the Western reaction led by Germany has been tough. And it clearly caught the Yanukovych government off guard.

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A Colorado man who was admitted to the hospital for a kidney stone received surprising news when the nurse came back with test results revealing he was actually a woman.


Denver photographer Steve Crecelius said he’s felt a little different all his life."When I was about 6 years old, I started having these feminine feelings, but that was in the ’60s. Wearing my mom’s makeup, I thought I looked pretty."


So when he went to the emergency room five years ago, he wasn’t too shocked when the nurse told him she found traits of both genders in his ultrasound results. He was intersex, meaning he had both male genitalia and internal female sex organs.


Steve, who now goes by "Stevie," said his wife and their six children accepted his new identity right away.


Every one of them said, "We don’t care one way or the other. We love you for who you are and you’re still my dad."

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More than 13,000 people have been killed in Syria since an anti-regime revolt broke out in March 2011, Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP on Sunday.


"In total, 13,004 people were killed," Abdel Rahman said, adding that 9,183 of them were civilians.


Another 3,072 were regime troops and 749 were army defectors, he added, noting that civilians who had taken up arms during the increasingly militarised revolt were being counted under the category of "civilians."


The violence has been relentless despite an April 12 ceasefire brokered by UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan.


"Since the ceasefire came into effect, 1,881 people have been killed," said Abdel Rahman, referring to clashes between rebels and regime troops, repression by government forces and bomb attacks.

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