Posted: Wed Aug 20, 2008 3:35 am Post subject: AMAZING STORIES
Five hours in fridge revive 'dead' baby
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
A stillborn Israeli baby who was pronounced dead by doctors "came back to life" on Monday after spending hours in a hospital refrigerator.
The baby, weighing only 1.3 pounds at birth, spent at least five hours inside one of the hospital's refrigerated storage units before her parents, who had taken her to be buried, began noticing some movement.
"We unwrapped her and felt she was moving. We didn't believe it at first. Then she began holding my mother's hand, and then we saw her open her mouth," said 26-year-old Faiza Magdoub, the baby's mother.
The baby was pronounced dead after doctors at Western Galilee hospital were forced to abort her mother's pregnancy because of internal bleeding. Magdoub was 23 weeks pregnant.
"We don't know how to explain this," a hospital official said.
August 22, 2008
By ARIANNE COHEN
SANDY Allen: superhero. That is how I perceived the world’s tallest woman, 7 feet 7 1/4 inches, from my vantage point as the tallest little girl in Delmar, N.Y. Ms. Allen, who died last week at the age of 53, appeared invincible in her photograph in the Guinness Book of World Records. I imagined her wearing a red cape all the time, printed with the slogan, “The weather up here is fabulous.” She must have been madly popular.
But when I drove to Shelbyville, Ind., last year to interview her, I found her alone in a claustrophobic convalescence-home room, made smaller by her 8-foot-long bed. She lived down the road from her childhood home, on $54 a month in discretionary income.
She greeted me with a hug and a joke: “If you ever want the ceiling painted, put a hat on my head and tell me which way to walk.” It was a hypothetical joke. Her legs were too weak to hold her 400 pounds, and she had recently summoned the fire department to lift her into her bed after she had slid off it. She was fighting organ failure caused by her gigantism. Excess growth hormone had wreaked havoc on her body. “I’m the oldest giant that ever lived,” she told me with pride. “All the women who held this record before me died quite young.”
Had Ms. Allen been born 20 years earlier, she would have been a circus performer, which, while not ideal, would have provided a steady income. It was a well-trod path: Anna Swan, a Canadian who was perhaps 7 feet 4 inches tall, was displayed in a museum by P.T. Barnum and thrived on the freak-show circuit with her husband, Martin Bates, who was 7 feet 2 inches, in the 1870s. The Alton Giant, Robert Pershing Wadlow, the tallest man in history at 8 feet 11 inches, toured the country in the late 1930s as a superstar, with 40,000 people attending his funeral.
But the circuit dried up in the 1960s, when audiences began seeing giants not as magical creatures but as sufferers of a medical ailment. Zoo-style objectification — of hair-covered men, of midgets — was out of fashion. It was the era of civil rights: We’re all the same on the inside, and we’re going to treat people as equals.
Everyone except very tall people. Unlike the cultural rules for weight or ethnicity or looks or disability, the social mores for height still allow bystanders to stare and say whatever they’re thinking. Which for a very tall person, let alone a giant like Sandy Allen, means: “Wow, you’re really tall!” (possibly while whipping out a cellphone camera).
I am 6 feet 3 inches tall and attract a fair amount of goggling and commentary, much of it complimentary, some of it not. It does not begin to compare to what Ms. Allen experienced. Her friend Kim Blacklock describes walking through New York City with her two decades ago: “People weren’t kind. Just the screaming. It was like — that kind of shock where they can’t even stop their mouth to think that a human being is going to be the recipient of their reaction.”
Ms. Allen spent long stretches of time not going outside. But she tried not to give into bouts of depression, which are shared by other giants, who live in isolation and poverty. Shortly after Guinness mailed her a certificate in the 1970s, she bought a van with the words “World’s Tallest Woman” printed on it. She appeared in a Federico Fellini movie, playing a woman who arm-wrestled in bars.
“I try to be friendly with everyone I meet,” she told me last year. “Some make it tougher than others. But I think that I’m this way so that I can encourage people not to give up if they’ve got problems in life.” She visited classrooms, preaching the wonders of difference — and letting kids try on her shoes.
The decency was rarely returned to her. She trusted everyone, including tabloids, which printed fabricated stories of an affair between her and the world’s shortest man. The Internet was particularly unkind. The first time I searched for her, I found a Web site where someone compared the size of her genitalia to a small Japanese truck. Her appearance on Howard Stern’s radio show was a train wreck of vulgarity, and he backed her into admitting that she was a virgin.
She shouldn’t have had to live so alone and die so alone. She was just 18 inches taller than everyone else. In a world of Michael Phelpses and teeny gymnasts, she wasn’t so different. She had a button nose, smooth pale skin, clear blue eyes. If she hadn’t grown in all directions, “I probably would have gotten married, settled down and had umpteen million kids,” she told me.
I learned of her death from a friend who is 7 feet 2 inches tall. He wanted to talk about the loss of the sunny Ambassador of Height. We discussed what might have made her life better. If every time strangers spotted her, they focused on how they identified with her, perhaps her Indiana drawl, her Pacers hat, her jewelry (Allen loved jewelry, the only mainstream women’s apparel she could fit into), things would have been different.
No stares, no questions, no cellphone cameras. No hiding inside a nursing home, no abandonment. She would have loved that, I think. She would have been madly popular.
Arianne Cohen is the author of the forthcoming “The Tall Book: A Celebration of Life From on High.”
Scientists using DNA testing have confirmed the second-known instance of "virgin birth" in a shark -- a female Atlantic blacktip shark named Tidbit who produced a baby without a male shark.
The shark came to the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach not long after being born in the wild and lived there for eight years with no males of the same species, said Beth Firchau, the aquarium's curator of fishes.
The 1.5-metre shark died after being removed from the tank for a veterinary examination, and a subsequent necropsy revealed that Tidbit was carrying a fully developed shark pup nearly ready to be born, Firchau said.
Demian Chapman, a shark scientist with the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University in New York state, performed DNA testing that showed the pup had no father. Virgin birth such as this is known as parthenogenesis.
A year ago, Chapman used genetic testing to confirm that a hammerhead shark at a zoo in Omaha gave birth to a pup in 2002, also after parthenogenesis.
"It tells us that the original case we documented last year was not some fluke of nature. This is something that might be more common than we think it is, and widespread among sharks," Chapman said in a telephone interview.
Parthenogenesis also has been documented in Komodo dragons, snakes, birds, fish and amphibians, Chapman said. It occurs when a baby is conceived without male sperm fertilizing the female's eggs. In the type of parthenogenesis seen in sharks, the mother's chromosomes split during egg development.
How the sharks do it is unclear. Chapman said they may use a hormone to trigger eggs to develop in this manner in the absence of males. Or perhaps if eggs remain unfertilized with no males around, a certain fraction develop into embryos.
"It's a finding that kind of rewrites the textbooks a little," Chapman said. "It just goes to show how the ocean keeps its secrets very well. And the sharks, in particular."
"Of course, sharks are being killed at such a rate that unless we do something to stop that, we're not even going to learn all their secrets before they're gone," Chapman added.
The findings appear in the Journal of Fish Biology.
British sailor Pete Goss will set sail across the world to Australia on Monday aboard a simple wooden boat he built himself, following a route taken by seven Cornishmen more than 150 years ago.
The ex-royal marine and his three crew will sail an 11.3-metre wooden lugger from Newlyn in Cornwall, southwestern England, to Melbourne, using nothing but the stars to guide them.
They hope to recreate the 17,700-kilometre journey undertaken by the crew of Mystery, who left Newlyn on Nov. 18, 1854, to make their fortune in Australia's gold rush.
Stopping only once for repairs and food in Cape Town, South Africa, the seven Cornishmen made it safely to Melbourne in 116 days, arriving on March 14, 1855. Goss believes he can accomplish the trip in the same time.
"This project has been a long time in the making and now we cannot wait to set sail. We just want to slip our lines and head for the freedom of the ocean," he said.
Weather permitting, they should leave Monday evening, according to his blog.
Goss is no stranger to maritime challenges, having taken part in the Vendee Globe single-handed around-the-world race in the winter of 1996, changing course mid-way to rescue stricken rival Raphael Dinelli in the Southern Ocean.
A woman who was struggling to conceive ended up giving birth to six healthy babies in a German hospital, the medical director of Berlin's Charite hospital said Monday.
Ulrich Frei said the woman gave birth to four boys and two girls -- each weighing about 2 pounds -- after 27 weeks of gestation on Thursday.
The woman underwent standard fertility treatments after a number of unsuccessful attempts to become pregnant, said Wolfgang Henrich, a doctor who assisted the delivery.
He said it was an unproblematic caesarean birth. The hospital declined to give further details about the woman.
According to Frei, the 300-year-old Charite, one of Germany's leading hospitals, has never had sextuplets born there before. The odds of having sextuplets is one in four billion, according to media reports.
In Germany, the survival rate of infants weighing less than 2.2 pounds at birth is nearly 90 per cent, according to Monika Berns, director of the hospital's neonatology department.
In August, an Iraqi woman had sextuplets but two of them died at birth due to the hospital's lack of proper medical equipment. The first sextuplets known to survive infancy were born to a South African couple in January 1974.
Bernt Aune's transplanted cornea has been in use for a record 123 years -- since before the Eiffel Tower was built.
"This is the oldest eye in Norway -- I don't know if it's the oldest in the world," Aune, an 80-year-old Norwegian and former ambulance driver, told Reuters by telephone on Thursday. "But my vision's not great any longer."
He had a cornea transplanted into his right eye in 1958 from the body of an elderly man who was born in June 1885. The operation was carried out at Namsos Hospital, in Norway.
"I wouldn't be surprised if this is the oldest living organ in the world," Hasan Hasanain, an eye doctor at the hospital, told the Norwegian daily Verdens Gang.
In the 1950s, doctors expected it to work for just five years, Hasanain said. Such cornea operations date back to the early 20th century and were among the first successful transplants.
"It wasn't unusual to use corneas from elderly people who had died," Aune said.
The oldest person who had documents to prove it was France's Jeanne Calment, who was 122 years old when she died in 1997, according to the Guinness Book of Records.
THE TIMES OF INDIA
Nigerian man with 86 wives finally slapped with fatwa
24 Oct 2008, 1932 hrs IST, ANI
LONDON: A Nigerian man with 86 wives has fallen foul of Nigeria's Islamic laws and is facing a 'fatwa' imposed by an Islamic body.
The 84-year-old Mohammed Bello Masaba has been facing legal charges and is currently behind the bars.
Jamaatu Nasril Islam, an Islamic body in Nigeria, has slapped a fatwa - or religious edict - calling for the death of Bello Masaba.
Bello Masaba, a Muslim, came into limelight after he claimed that he had special God-given powers and challenged accepted interpretation of the Islamic holy book, the Koran.
But the father of more than 150 children does not regret his actions, and says that he can still marry.
"If God permits me, I will marry more than 86 wives. A normal human being could not marry 86 wives - but I can only by the grace of God," The Christian Science Monitor quoted him as saying.
"I married 86 women and there is peace in the house - if there is peace, how can this be wrong?" he added.
"In years past, he kept quiet and nobody bothered him. But when he comes out and says publicly that anyone can challenge his interpretation of the Koran, then he is creating tension," said Yahaya Abubakar, Emir of Bida.
Abubakar also called Bello Masaba to the palace and gave him a choice: divorce 82 of his 86 wives or leave Bida forever.
"We requested he either divorce 82 of them, or leave our sharia lands as I couldn't guarantee his safety if he stayed," he said.
Some of Bello Masaba's wives are younger than some of his sons and daughters.
But they have all praises for their husband.
"We are very happy. He's a good man, an honest man, and caring," says Hajia Hafsat Bello, who is 49 years old and Bello Masaba's third wife and mother of four of his children.
The emir and the sharia courts have now left Bello Masaba's fate to the magistrate courts where he faces charges of insulting the religious creed for his inflammatory comments about Islam.
Letter arrives at destination a mere 36 years too late
Canada Post at loss to explain delay 'mystery'
Canwest News Service
Sunday, October 26, 2008
A business letter originally mailed in 1972 has finally been delivered to its Windsor destination, long after its intended recipients have moved on.
"I betcha this guy is dead and this company's not even around," said Mitch Latour, who co-owns Slices pizza on Windsor's Ouellette Avenue.
Latour said the letter came to his pizza parlour on Thursday with the usual junk mail, and he opened it without realizing it wasn't for him.
Addressed to the Windsor office of the "Canadian Acceptance Company," the letter is so old, a paper clip attaching a business card has stained the pages with rust.
The only postage on the envelope is an eight-cent stamp with a portrait of a youthful-looking Queen Elizabeth.
"Obviously, it sat some place for all these years," Latour said.
The letter's mailing address is typewritten and includes no postal code; it was put in the mail when the six-character postal code system was still in its infancy.
Tom Creech, a spokesman for Canada Post, couldn't explain why the letter took more than 36 years to reach its destination.
He suggested there are other places it could have been stuck than the mail system.
"There's no automatic assumption that it's been with Canada Post for that length of time," he said.
"We move millions of pieces of mail on a daily basis.
"It's as much as a mystery to myself as it may be to the customer."
The letter -- dated March 13, 1972 -- was meant to instruct the company's Windsor office to forward an account statement to one John Beswick of Don Mills, Ont.
According to the University of Western Ontario's library, the Canadian Acceptance Company was a personal loan company based in Toronto. It was a subsidiary of the Canadian Acceptance Corp.
The New York Times reported in 1982 that the Canadian Acceptance Corp. was acquired and absorbed by Royal Bank of Canada.
Creech said that if Latour wishes, he can return the letter to Canada Post, and they will forward the letter onto Royal Bank of Canada.
But Latour said he's not going to bother tracking down the people the letter concerns.
"I don't think any of them are around, to tell you the truth."
Latour added that he hopes his own bills also take 36 years to reach his address.
Conjoined twins defy odds to mark second birthday Separation dangerous for B.C. sisters fused at head
Canwest News Service
Monday, October 27, 2008
Canada's most famous twins who were born conjoined at the head beat the odds on the weekend and celebrated their second birthday in the Interior B.C. city of Vernon.
On Saturday friends and family of Felicia Simms, the mother of twins Tatiana and Krista, celebrated the girls' birthday with a party at a centre downtown Vernon.
Tatiana and Krista were born fused at the head two years ago in Vancouver. Born with their brains connected by a wall of tissue that draws from the same blood supply, the girls were not expected to live past the first 24 hours of their lives.
Since their births, the twins have continued to draw interest from around the world because they continue to defy the odds and because they present a medical rarity.
Conjoined twins occur approximately once in every 200,000 births. But twins fused at the head, like Tatiana and Krista, only come along once in about every 2.5 million births.
When the twins arrived at the party Saturday, they were smiling, kicking their feet and shrieking with excitement.
Despite a shaky start to their lives that was marked by a few health scares, Simms said the last two years have been "awesome."
"The only difference between them and other two-year-olds is they are not up and walking," she said.
"Other than that, they are like every other two-year-old I know -- they are getting into trouble and looking at different ways to get into trouble."
For now, Simms said the girls manage to get around by shuffling along on their backs in a kind of "crab walk" fashion. But she said it is only a matter of time before they are up and about as Krista is already able to push herself up on her hands and knees.
"You can see it in Tatiana's eyes that she wants to get up with her sister," she said, adding the girls are also starting to talk, especially when they get to say "no."
As far as personalities go, Simms says Krista is the "demanding one," while Tatiana is a little more "quiet and reserved."
"They have a really strong sense of each other. They work together through everything," says Simms. "Once in a while they will fight with each other, but what two-year-old doesn't?"
Talk of separating the girls following their birth has since faded to the background.
With no guarantee from doctors that such a separation wouldn't kill or handicap one or both, Simms and the rest of the family say they no longer bother to contemplate a future where the girls live separated from one another.
"We don't even think about it anymore," she said. "One would either die or they would be vegetables."
Vernon is located about 530 kilometres west of Calgary.
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Go online for more images from conjoined twins' birthday party.
Big Fat Mexican Wedding on TV
Herald News Services
Monday, October 27, 2008
Mexican Manuel Uribe, the world's fattest man in the 2007 Guinness Book of Records, on Sunday married his friend's widow in a televised ceremony the U.S. Discovery Channel dubbed My Big Fat Mexican Wedding.
Despite dropping 570 of his 1,300 pounds earlier this year, Uribe, 43, had to be carried by a crane on his bed, where he has been confined for years, to the makeshift altar at a venue 30 minutes from his home.
The ceremony was televised by Discovery and titled after the 2002 U.S. movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Uribe has been suffering from morbid obesity since 1992. He was gripped by suicidal thoughts until February of this year when he undertook a drastic diet. He and his wife, Claudia Solis, met four years ago at the deathbed of a friend of his who weighed 551 pounds.
Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, 13, is dead. Her name must never be forgotten in the annals of the most horrific human rights abuses committed in the name of sharia law.
Aisha was murdered Oct. 28 at the hands of 50 men who placed her in a hole in a stadium in the Somalian town of Kismayu, and pelted her with stones. This child's "crime" for which she received the death penalty was to have been raped by three men while walking to her grandmother's house in Mogadishu. When her family tried to report the rape to authorities, the girl found herself accused of adultery and in short order, sentenced to death by stoning.
Hundreds gathered to watch the stoning, carried out on orders of the Islamist al-Shabab militia, the rebel faction that has seized control of Kismayu in its battle against Somalia's government. That this child's murder was treated as a spectator sport by the locals adds to its horror
Amnesty International is calling for an international commission of inquiry to document such atrocities. In addition, Western governments must find ways to impose sanctions or otherwise exert pressure on regimes that continue to carry out such brutality in the name of sharia law. Change will come only when the consequences of not changing are detrimental to these regimes. Aisha deserved so much more than this.
A German couple's first taste of married bliss was spent on a freezing mountain top when their satellite navigation device stranded them in a dark forest. Believing the device would take them to their hotel, the couple from the western city of Hamm followed its directions up a lonely dirt track on the 843 metre Langenberg mountain in the Sauerland region, police said on Thursday.
In the pitch-black gloom, the couple reached a barrier near the summit, which the groom attempted to drive his Nissan Micra around, but instead got stuck in the mud.
"They'd probably have been OK on a mountain bike," said a police spokesman. "But there was no way over by car."
The couple, in their early 30s, called police for help and were found after a two-hour search.
Officers escorted the pair to their hotel in nearby Willingen, where the two arrived shortly before midnight, hours after their departure.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has received her first job offer since failing in her bid to become vice-president of the United States -- to appear in a porno movie.
Florida-based porn director Cezar Capone has offered to pay Palin $2 million to appear in an adult film production.
Capone promises in an open letter on his website that the film would be distributed internationally, shot in high definition and feature a "beautiful mother recognized by all of America as well as the rest of the world -- the most desirable woman over 40."
To prove he's serious about the offer, Capone says he's prepared to hold the money in escrow immediately.
To sweeten the deal, Palin's husband Todd has been offered a co-starring role in the production, for which Capone would be "prepared to kick in an extra $100,000," and a new Arctic Cat snowmobile.
Palin hasn't publicly responded to the offer, which was sent to her administration office in Juneau, Alaska, on Nov. 6.
Hustler Magazine recently released a spoof Palin porn video titled Nailin' Paylin.
California has often been tagged as the "nanny state" for passing laws some say interfere with citizens' lives. But now it has earned the label for a whole different reason, thanks to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The Republican governor announced this week he appointed a nanny -- his own children's nanny -- as a part-time state regulator on the Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Lindsay Ann Schnaidt, 32, a Democrat who has worked for the Schwarzenegger family for seven years, will be paid $100 a day when the board meets, several times a year.
"She expressed an interest in serving the people of California like many other Californians do," said Schwarzenegger's spokesman, Aaron McLear. "The governor wants those interested in serving to have that opportunity."
It isn't the first time he has pressed a personal connection into state service, though.
The governor named his former chiropractor, along with a bodybuilder buddy who was the best man at his wedding, to the state chiropractic board. He also appointed his brother-in-law to the state parks commission.
British mom on trial for abduction of her daughter
Herald News Services
Friday, November 14, 2008
A British woman accused of kidnapping her own daughter in order to claim a reward showed little emotion when the nine-year-old was found, a court heard Thursday.
Shannon Matthews' disappearance in February sparked a 24-day search costing $4.8 million US and involving 300 police officers.
Her mother Karen, 33, and Michael Donovan, 40, the uncle of Karen Matthews's partner, are on trial at Leeds Crown Court in northern England.
They deny kidnapping Shannon so they could then stage her reappearance and scoop the $74,000 US reward offered by a tabloid newspaper for her safe return. Prosecutors say Donovan locked Shannon in a flat where she was drugged with sleeping pills.
Detective Const. Mark Cruddace told jurors he was sent to the Matthews' home in Dewsbury, northern England, to break the news that Shannon had been found.
Prosecutor Julian Goose asked him if Karen Matthews had been concerned about the welfare of her daughter or asked where she had been found.
"No she didn't," he said, adding she also made a "glib comment" about liking his colleague's cellphone ring tone.
It was "completely remarkable" how Thomas Wilson emerged from the crash of a plane into a B.C. cliff Sunday with nothing but slight burns to his hands, face and right thigh, one of his doctors said Tuesday.
Wilson, a project manager with Edmonton-based Peter Kiewit Sons, is recovering in Vancouver General Hospital from second-degree burns. He suffered no internal organ damage or broken bones -- just bumps and bruises.
"It's inexplicable. In my experience I've never seen anything like it," said trauma surgeon Dr. John Reid.
Wilson, 36, is expected to make a full recovery within two weeks without any surgery. He could be released within days.
Seven people, including pilot Peter McLeod, died in the crash when the vintage twin-engined Grumman Goose slammed into a hill on South Thormanby Island, about 100 kilometres northwest of Vancouver, in thick fog Sunday morning, scattering debris across hundreds of metres. After the crash, the aircraft's fuel tanks exploded.
Wilson walked away from the wreckage, trudging more than two hours down a steep riverbed. The crew of a Canadian Coast Guard vessel found him on a beach below.
The Pacific Coastal flight was carrying Wilson and six other workers to a work camp in Toba Inlet -- a hydroelectric project for which Peter Kiewit Sons was the general contractor.
His brother Michael on Tuesday said Wilson was "in good spirits and doing fine."
"Thomas would like to thank Kiewit and the other agencies involved (in his rescue and care)."
However, he said his brother is "grieving for the friends and co-workers he's lost."
"He's always been the kind of person that puts others first and his first comment to me was about his friends and co-workers. Emotionally he's up and down, but he's doing good," said Michael Wilson.
The brothers live in Fort Saskatchewan, outside Edmonton.
The B.C. Coroners Service has advised Kiewit that it will be expediting the recovery and return of the bodies to the families.
Kiewit earlier identified the passengers who died in the crash as Kyle Adams, Jerry Burns, Ajay Cariappa, Wally Klemens, Tom Orgar and Matt Sawchenko.
CREDIT: Joe Skipper, Reuters
Fourteen-year-old D'Zhana Simmons of South Carolina, who survived without a heart for nearly four months, cries after thanking her doctors, including Dr. Si Pham, right, at a news conference.
An American teenager survived for nearly four months without a heart, kept alive by a custom-built artificial blood-pumping device until she was able to have a heart transplant, doctors in Miami said Wednesday.
The doctors said they knew of another case in which an adult was kept alive in Germany for nine months without a heart but said they believed this was the first time a child survived in this manner for so long.
The patient, D'Zhana Simmons of South Carolina, said the experience of living for so long with a machine pumping her blood was "scary."
"You never knew when it would malfunction," she said, her voice barely above a whisper, at a news conference at the University of Miami's Jackson Memorial Medical Center.
"It was like I was a fake person, like I didn't really exist. I was just here," she said of living without a heart.
Simmons, 14, suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the patient's heart becomes weakened and enlarged and does not pump blood efficiently.
She had a heart transplant on July 2 at Miami's Holtz Children's Hospital but the new heart failed to function properly and was quickly removed.
Two heart pumps made by Thoratec Corp. of Pleasanton, Calif., were implanted to keep her blood flowing while she fought a host of ailments and recovered her strength. Doctors implanted another heart on Oct. 29.
"She essentially lived for 118 days without a heart, with her circulation supported only by the two blood pumps," said Dr. Marco Ricci, the hospital's director of pediatric cardiac surgery. During that time, Simmons was mobile but remained hospitalized.
RAJKOT: In perhaps the first-of-its-kind nikah solemnised before Lord Ram in the communally sensitive Gujarat, two Muslim couples tied the knot in a
Junagadh temple with a maulvi reciting Koranic verses in the backdrop of Ram dhun. Members of both communities joined the ceremony and dined together.
Abdul Sheikh (4, who works at Junagadh Civil Hospital approached Satyam Seva Mandal, a local NGO, seeking financial help for the weddings of his son Asif and daughter, Najma. "We were ready to help. But we told the family that the wedding ceremony has to take place in our building which houses a Ram mandir. They happily agreed," said Mansukh Vaja, a local activist.
"We saw this as an opportunity to set an example. I discussed the issue with my relatives and our maulavi saheb readily approved the idea," said Sheikh.
'God cradled' woman who survived 72 hours under snow
By Becky RynorDecember 24, 2008 3:02 AM
D onna Molnar's husband said Tuesday "God reached down and cradled" his wife -- helping her survive 72 hours underneath several metres of snow in sub-zero southern Ontario weather.
"Emotionally it's tough, I've got to tell you," David Molnar said Tuesday, struggling to speak through tears of relief.
"The pain and the despair that you can feel . . . it's brutal when you sit at home and think about what she could be experiencing or what thoughts were going through her mind when she laid on the cold ground like that. It's rough."
Donna Molnar, 55,was reported missing Friday night, when her husband called police to say she hadn't returned from Christmas shopping. Her abandoned vehicle was found Saturday on the crest of a hill in rural Hamilton.
Search crews braved howling, 80-kilometre-an-hour winds, snowflurries and frigid temperatures throughout the weekend, but didn't find her until Monday at 12:30 p. m. when a rescue dog made a beeline for a mound of snow about 200 metres from her vehicle.
Staff Sgt.Mark Cox said all that was visible was an eye, looking up from a small hole.
He believes Molnar probably survived because she fell and quickly became buried in snow, which would have had"an insulating effect," Cox said.
"It's a miracle. I don't think there's any doubt about that,"said Molnar, while speaking about his wife of 33 years.
"If anyone has a better explanation for how someone in street clothes can survive 72 hours in minus 10 and minus 15 temperatures with an incredible amount of blowing snow . . . and without all the high-tech gear, well I'm all ears. My theory is that I really believe that God reached down and cradled her and protected her until they could find her."
Upon arriving at the hospital, Molnar said his wife was heavily sedated and put on painkillers while doctors assessed her injuries.
"She was very cold. Her body temperature had dropped to about 30 degrees. She was hypothermic and obviously had some frostbite," he said, noting she was severely dehydrated.
UNICEF child ambassador and motivational speaker Bilaal Rajan has written a book for aspiring activists who want to follow his lead. 'Just a regular kid,' Bilaal Rajan, 12, has written a book, raised millions for global relief
December 30, 2008
URBAN AFFAIRS REPORTER
Bilaal Rajan hasn't yet opened his mouth to speak and already the crowd of 250 is on its feet in a standing ovation. That's the first clue this is no ordinary 12-year-old.
Fifteen minutes later, the real estate investors who are his audience on this Thursday evening are cheering again, wowed by an inspiring and insightful pep talk – delivered without notes.
"You can do anything you want to make a positive difference in the world," the dynamic young crusader tells them. "You just have to believe in yourself. If we work together as one, change is inevitable, it's unavoidable."
Afterwards, Tahani Aburaneh rushes over to shake his hand.
"I am speechless – the way he touched me," she marvels. "This kid is going to make a difference on this Earth."
And that's how it is everywhere they go, says Bilaal's father Aman, who's brought him from their home in Richmond Hill to the speaking engagement at a hotel near Pearson airport. "It's so great to watch as a parent. He gets up there and he just explodes."
With two websites (makingchangenow.com and bilaalrajan.com), his own charity foundation and a personal assistant to manage his appearances, the otherwise "regular boy," as his mother Shamim describes him, is a philanthropic phenomenon.
He's helped raise $5 million for children's causes around the world. He's an author, motivational speaker, children's rights activist, world traveller and official child ambassador for UNICEF Canada. Last summer he was named one of the country's Top 20 under 20.
Squeezing in classes at St. Andrew's College in Aurora – he missed 10 weeks of school last year – he manages a 91 per cent average in his Grade 8 subjects. In 30 years of teaching, says middle school director Mike Hanson, "I have never taught a student who was so driven and determined to improve the world he lives in."
Not surprisingly, the term "overachiever" figures in the title of his new book, Making Change: Tips from an Underage Overachiever (Orca Book Publishers). Its objective is to inspire children to take action and create a more peaceful, caring world, says Bilaal.
"Some people say I've done extraordinary things. But there's nothing that makes me any different than other kids. They too can make a difference."
His 150-page guide tells how with fundraising ideas, pointers on public speaking and advice for getting large corporations on board.
Bilaal was bitten by the fundraising bug at age 4. As his father was reading a newspaper article to him about a devastating earthquake in Gujarat, India, Bilaal "took in the meaning of the story," Aman recalls. "He was thinking about the people."
Eating a clementine, he said he wanted to raise money by selling the fruit. Going door-to-door with his parents, he raised $350.
He went on to help African youngsters affected by HIV/AIDS by selling decorative plates he made himself, and kids of hurricane-ravaged Haiti by selling cookies. As an 8-year-old, he also persuaded major corporations to make generous donations of medicine, food and other aid to the Haitian cause.
Four years ago, Bilaal raised thousands for tsunami relief efforts in Southeast Asia, then issued a challenge through UNICEF Canada for every child to raise $100. His goal of $1 million ballooned to almost $4 million when Ottawa matched the kids' contributions.
Bilaal's desire to help others "has always been there," says Aman. "He not only takes it to the next level, he climbs mountains." People ask if he and Shamim push Bilaal, he says.
"Never. Never do we push."
Bilaal credits his kindergarten teacher for inspiring him.
"I used to be in one corner, reading my own little book and not talking much. She taught me how to express myself with confidence."
Counting Mahatma Gandhi and the Aga Khan among his heroes, Bilaal has his sights set on a dual career as a neurosurgeon and astronaut – the first to land on Mars.
When he's not changing the world, he's playing sports, reading or playing with his Scottish terrier, Bobby. He doesn't play video games. To his friends, he's both a regular kid and an inspiration.
Nicholas Whitelaw, 12, says Bilaal's example motivated him to put in 550 volunteer hours at his church.
"He really does make a difference and it makes me want to do what he's doing."
With files from Robyn Doolittle.
Read more about Bilaal in the current issue of Desi Life magazine at desilife.ca.
An Egyptian man said Wednesday he was offering his 20-year-old daughter in marriage to Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at U. S. President George W. Bush in Baghdad on Sunday.
The daughter, Amal Saad Gumaa, said she agreed with the idea. "This is something that would honour me. I would like to live in Iraq, especially if I were attached to this hero," she told Reuters by telephone.
Her father, Saad Gumaa, said he had called Dergham, Zaidi's brother, to tell him of the ofer. "I find nothing more valuable than my daughter to offer to him, and I am prepared to provide her with everything needed for marriage," he added.
Zaidi's gesture has struck a chord across the Arab world, where President Bush is widely despised for invading Iraq in 2003 and for his support for Israel.
Amal is a student in the media faculty at Minya University in central Egypt.
Zaidi's response to the proposal was not immediately clear.
Newfoundland mom mistakes labour pain for kidney stones
By Denise Pike, Carbonear CompassJanuary 8, 2009
Juanita Stead was rushed to hospital on New Year's Eve for what she thought was a kidney stone, but left with a bouncing baby boy.
Stead, now a mother of two, says she had no idea she was pregnant until an X-ray technician delivered the news.
"This is some kidney stone, isn't it,"the Newfoundland woman said while cuddling her newborn, Nicholas. "We're all still in shock. We just can't believe it."
Stead, of Port de Grave, in Newfound-land's Conception Bay, says her period continued during the pregnancy, she has no morning sickness and she didn't put on extra weight.
But while at a New Year's Eve party with her husband, Terry, she started having back pain. With the pain escalating, she went to the hospital, where an X-ray showed something besides a kidney stone.
"The technician looked at me and said, 'My dear, you're pregnant with a fullterm baby.' And I said, 'No sir, you got the wrong woman and you're looking at the wrong screen. There is no way I'm pregnant.' "
The disbelieving mom-to-be was taken to the case room, and soon after Nicholas made his entrance into the world.
When her shocked husband called the baby's grandparents with the good news, they didn't believe him at first.
"When I told Juanita's mom she didn't have a kidney stone, but a baby instead, she told me to go to bed," he laughed. "My mother told me to give up telling lies."
It's not the first time the couple have been caught off-guard by a baby.
Stead's other child, Cameron, was born July 30, 2006 at home. While she knew she was expecting a baby, Cameron arrived two months early.
"I felt like I had to go to the bathroom and out he popped, right into the toilet," she said.
"Terry actually scooped him out of the toilet and put him in my lap until the ambulance came."
Frenchman Lluis Colet broke the world record for the longest speech after rambling non-stop for 124 hours about Spanish painter Salvador Dali, Catalan culture and other topics.
The 62-year-old Catalan and local government worker spoke for five straight days and four nights to set the record in the southern French town of Perpignan.
Three notaries were on hand to recognize the feat which allows Colet to enter it in the Guinness Book of Records.
The previous record was held by an Indian man who delivered a 120-hour speech.
Colet began speaking at Perpignan's railway station Monday by reciting the works of famous authors or using some of his own writing. He also spoke profusely about Dali, a painter he admires, and Catalan culture.
Large crowds turned out in support of Colet, who received a rapturous applause at the end of his speech.
"This is a big day for me and I dedicate this record to all those who defend Catalan language and culture," he said, his voice faint after five days of nonstop talking.
Colet had set the record once before in 2004 when he spoke for 48 straight hours.
Octuplets pass 'first test': breathing on their own
Herald News ServicesJanuary 28, 2009
One day after a California woman gave birth to octuplets, doctors said Tuesday that all eight babies were doing well and breathing on their own.
The woman, who astonished a 46-member medical team at a suburban Los Angeles hospital by delivering eight babies when ultrasound images had shown seven, was also said to be doing well.
The six boys and two girls, born nine weeks prematurely, are only the second set of octuplets known to have survived birth in the United States.
"The first test is the breathing test and . . . they are breathing on their own," said Dr. Mandhir Gupta. "They still need some support with oxygen, but only through the nose so most of the work of breathing is done by themselves."
A second test for the newborns is feeding. The staff at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Bellflower planned to begin that process with four of the babies later Tuesday.
The mother, whose name has been withheld by the hospital at her request, intended to breast feed all of her babies. But she has not yet been able to hold them because they were still in incubators in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit.
"We had an unprecedented, very exciting day in our operating room and labour delivery where our team of 46 physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists as well as surgical techs delivered eight babies, all live born," Dr. Karen Maples said. "It was a truly, truly amazing delivery."
California woman makes history with healthy octuplets
AFPJanuary 27, 2009
LOS ANGELES - In only the second time in U.S. medical history, a woman in California has given birth to eight babies, who remain in intensive care but are in a stable condition.
Dozens of medical workers in four delivery rooms helped welcome the healthy octuplets — six boys and two girls — in only five minutes at a medical center Monday in Bellflower, 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Los Angeles.
"Today we had an unprecedented, very exciting day when we, our team of 46 physicians, nurses as well as respiratory therapists delivered eight babies, all alive born and very vigorous," said Karen Maples, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the hospital managed by the Kaiser Permanente group.
Maples said the babies were born premature by nine and a half weeks, between 10:33 am and 10:38 am. They weighed between 1.5 pounds (680 grams) and 3.4 pounds (1.54 kg).
The doctors and mother, who requested anonymity for her children, had expected seven babies.
"After we got to baby G, which is what we expected, we were surprised by the arrival of baby H!" said Maples at a press conference.
"It’s quite easy to miss a baby when you have seven. Performing an Ultrasound is very difficult," admitted another doctor Harold Henry.
The babies were resuscitated at birth and are "all doing good," according to Mandhir Gupta, head of neonatology at the center.
"All of them are in stable condition. Two of them have breathing tubes and are on a ventilator. A third one also needs some oxygen. The others are breathing (on their own) and doing well," he said.
"They face many obstacles, weight is a concern, (the smaller one) has a long way to go."
Although not commenting on the identity of the mother, Gupta said she is "doing very, very well, she’s really excited that she got all of these babies, and that they’re doing good so far."
"She’s going to breastfeed them," he added. "She’s a strong woman."
In a press release, Kaiser Permanente recalled that weeks of preparation had been devoted to a safe delivery — of septuplets.
"The rehearsals all paid off as the babies were delivered flawlessly, just as they had practiced. But, after the seventh baby was delivered — there was a surprise," said the company.
"Doctor Alejandro Vasquez said, ’Wait a minute, I think I feel a hand’."
"What a shocker this was," recalled Maples.
Each of the babies "cried spontaneously after birth," said the health care provider.
Said to be only the second time octuplets have been born in the United States and lived through the day, the babies are now in the first 72-hour period that is critical for their health.
Local California television station KCAL9 said the first occurrence of octuplets in U.S. history was in Texas a decade ago, but one of the infants died a week after being born.
This artist's rendition of the world's biggest snake, from the British science magazine Nature, would have been "terrifying" and "amazing," says paleontologist Jason Head. Titanoboa could have swallowed giant turtles and crocodiles, he says.
Photograph by: Jason Bourque, Agence France-Presse, Getty Images,
Canwest News Service Reality has proven more incredible than Hollywood fantasy with the discovery of a supersized snake that slithered around the tropics 60 million years ago.
Measuring 13 metres from its tongue to the tip of its very long tail, "Titanoboa" is the largest snake ever uncovered.
It swam around warm, steamy swamps swallowing giant turtles and crocodiles, says paleontologist Jason Head, at the University of Toronto in Mississauga, lead author of a report on the boa constrictor-like reptile in the journal Nature to be published today.
"It was longer than a city bus, and weighed more than a car," Head said.
It's body, weighing about 1,135 kilograms, was so thick he said the snake would have had trouble getting from the hallway into his office.
"It would have to squeeze a little bit to get into the door," Head said.
Head and his co-authors in the U. S. and Panama say the snake was more fantastic than Hollywood creations -- and much bigger than the snake that tried to eat actor Jennifer Lopez in the movie Anaconda.
"Terrifying,"Head said of the snake he describes as the "most amazing" he has ever studied.
The bones from several of the creatures were unearthed in the open-pit Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia, and provide a rare glimpse of the past tropical climate.
"We were able to actually take the giant snakes and turn them into thermometers," said Head, explaining how they have reconstructed the climate Titanoboa lived in based on the size of its bones.
The growth of cold-blooded animals like snakes is determined by temperature -- cold limits their size, which is why snakes are small in Canada, while warmth allows them to grow bigger in places like Brazil.
The scientists said the snake's enormous size points to a mean annual temperature at the equatorial South America 60 million years of nearly 30 C to 34 C, up to six degrees warmer than it is today.
Climatologist Matthew Huber, at Purdue University, said the work has "major implications" as it indicates that the tropics are not buffered from global warming as some scientists have believed.
It suggests the tropics, now home to millions of people, may warm more than some have expected because of the greenhouse gases now being released into the atmosphere.
"It is a big step to go from our analysis to today's man-made global warming, but it certainly makes you scratch your chin," said Head, who is to travel toColombia to look for more snake bones in the coal mine.
"I'd like to find the head of one of those guys," he said.
So far the researchers have unearthed ribs and vertebrae, some bigger than Head's hand.
The "slippery slope"argument is often used by opponents to non-traditional marriages. Their point being that any legal admission of a union outside"adult male/adult female"opens up the possibility that wedded bliss might soon be granted to a man and his dog.
This line of argument has been easy enough to ignore.
Until now, that is.
In late January, in India's eastern Jharkhand, villagers "married" off a young girl to a stray dog.
We can hear the anti-gay-marriage lobby now: "See, we told you . . . let the gays wed and next thing you know your sister's walking down the aisle with Rover."
The truth of the matter is this: The locals at Munda Dhanda village performed the ceremony to overcome any spiritual curse that might fall on the family.
To the best of our knowledge, gay marriage is still not permitted in Munda Dhanda.
Therefore, the "slippery slope" to "man marries dog" appears not to be gay unions, but rather, religion.
Cha Sa-soon, 68, wants to buy truck, go into business
ReutersFebruary 22, 2009 8:01 AMBe the first to post a comment
A South Korean woman who has failed the driver's exam 775 times is not about give up on her hope of buying a truck one day to go into her own business, whether other drivers want her on the road or not.
Cha Sa-soon, 68, has been trying since 2005 to pass the written portion of the test to get a licence, but she has so far failed to get the 60 per cent required to clear it.
"I've looked up some guidebooks to get a driver's licence, and they were saying it takes at most five years to get this," Cha said in North Jeolla province, where farmers on tractors or cows can be just as common on country roads as motor vehicles.
"It's already been four years, so I might pass the test next time. That's what I hope for."
Driving schools in South Korea offer courses to enable applicants to walk away with a licence in a week. Cha has not been fortunate enough to set foot in such a class, which tends to congregate more in busy metropolitan areas, but she remains unfazed, even after having spent more than 10 million won($6,800) on test applications.
"I believe you can achieve your goal if you persistently pursue it," she says. "So don't give up your dream, like me. Be strong and do your best."
Welcome to your new vending machine...
Jeremy Page, Delhi
Does your Pepsi lack pep? Is your Coke not the real thing? India's Hindu nationalist movement apparently has the answer: a new soft drink made from cow urine.
The bovine brew is in the final stages of development by the Cow Protection Department of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), India's biggest and oldest Hindu nationalist group, according to the man who makes it.
Om Prakash, the head of the department, said the drink – called "gau jal", or "cow water" – in Sanskrit was undergoing laboratory tests and would be launched "very soon, maybe by the end of this year".
"Don't worry, it won't smell like urine and will be tasty too," he told The Times from his headquarters in Hardwar, one of four holy cities on the River Ganges. "Its USP will be that it's going to be very healthy. It won't be like carbonated drinks and would be devoid of any toxins."
The drink is the latest attempt by the RSS – which was founded in 1925 and now claims eight million members – to cleanse India of foreign influence and promote its ideology of Hindutva, or Hindu-ness.
Hindus revere cows and slaughtering them is illegal in most of India. Cow dung is traditionally used as a fuel and disinfectant in villages, while cow urine and dung are often consumed in rituals to "purify" those on the bottom rungs of the Hindu caste system.
In 2001, the RSS and its offshoots – which include the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party – began promoting cow urine as a cure for ailments ranging from liver disease to obesity and even cancer.
The movement has often been accused of using more violent methods, such as killing 67 Christians in the eastern state of Orissa last year, and assaulting women in a pub in Mangalore last month. It also has a history of targeting foreign business in India, as in 1994, when it organised a nationwide boycott of multinational consumer goods, including Pepsi and Coca Cola.
The cola brands are popular in India, now one of their biggest markets, but have struggled in recent years to shake off allegations, which they deny, that they contain dangerous levels of pesticide.
Mr Prakash said his drink, by contrast, was made mainly of cow urine, mixed with a few medicinal and ayurvedic herbs. He said it would be "cheap", but declined to give further details about its price or ingredients until it was officially launched.
He insisted, however, that it would be able to compete with the American cola brands, even with their enormous advertising budgets. "We're going to give them good competition as our drink is good for mankind," he said. "We may also think of exporting it."
Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:44 am Post subject: Cow Water
It would be a fun product to have around - if it weren't for the fact that it's being made by Hindutva nutjobs and I don't want them to get a penny of my money.
Too bad, you could really have some fun with your unknowing friends.
Gomez, also called nirang, is also holy to the Zoroastrians. In point of fact urine is sterile unless you have an infection, so it has been a safe way to get something to drink in places where the water is not fit for human consumption. Arabs use(d) camel and horse urine for the same reasons: stagnant water didn't bother their beasts, but it would kill them, so you use your steed as a filter.
In point of fact, this is how the effects of estrogen were discovered in ancient times. Men who drank the urine of pregnant mares became feminised in appearance... this is the origin of one of the most common modern estrogens, which is called Premarin - PREgnant MARe's uRINe.[/b]
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