Zazzle Shop

Screen printing

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Perfectly Sculpted Melons

Image via: Ruudvisser


Fruits from the melon family are pretty cool. In hotter climes, it doesn’t come much better than chomping on a juicy watermelon, the succulent flesh melting in your mouth before you spit out the pips – preferably aiming at a metallic object for that extra satisfying, spittoon-style ping. That said, we came across an even more pleasing use for our favourite fruit: as the medium for exquisite sculpture.

Image: francesco 6903

The skill and patience that must go into carving stuff this intricate is pretty incredible. Yep, definitely not for the heavy-handed. Apparently it’s a Chinese art from, though some also say it comes from Japan. Check it out: a canteloupe rose.

Image: sarahkim

It’s like a case of art imitating life but playing with the natural order of things – or perhaps just showing how the natural cycle continues. Instead of flowers becoming fruit, fruit become flowers – and, my, what blossom!

image: thomaswanhoff

Of course, fruit have always been an artist’s friend, but usually they’re the subject of sketching and painting rather than the very substance from which pieces are created. Getting a little bored with roses now? Well here’s a dolphin.

Image: Gewel Maker

Watermelon art has certainly been making waves and whetting a few taste buds on the blogosphere, as these next few images show. Here’s one for the soppy types, though its a long wait till Valentine’s Day unfortunately.

Image via: Makezine

There are lots of examples of designs carved into the skin of melons as if they’re a blank canvas to work on. You’ll find everything from images of baseball players to depictions of Van Gogh out there. Some of it starts to seem a little tacky though.

Image via: Makezine

This particular art critic prefers it when the entire melon becomes the basis for a stand alone object. It’s rather like the way pumpkins are put under the knife come Halloween, except instead of being hollowed out, the fruit is carved into.

Image via: NYNerd

Saying “ahh”, and looking incredibly lifelike, this next number has become something of a classic. Who can argue?

Image via: boingboing

The only thing with all this creative work is that it’s fundamentally throw-away – or perhaps rot-away. Yup, if ever there was art that isn’t eternal, it’s this lot. At least you could have a nibble if you started feeling peckish. Heaven forbid.

42-piece dinner set made from cocaine

BARCELONA, Spain, March 20 (UPI) -- Authorities in Spain said they have seized a 42-piece dinner set made from 42 pounds of cocaine and arrested the intended recipient.

Police said a 35-year-old Spanish man, identified only as JVLL, was arrested and charged with an offense against public health after police seized the package in an international operation coordinated with Venezuela, where the package originated, The Times of London reported Friday.

Investigators said they believe the man was forced to become involved in the cocaine trade by drug traffickers in Venezuela.

Police said the cocaine had been destined for sale in Catalonia, Spain.

Robot octopus will go where no sub has gone before

Invest €10 million in a robotic octopus and you'll be able to search the seabed with the same dexterity as the real thing. At least that's the plan, say those who are attempting to build a robot with arms that work in the same way that octopuses tentacles do. Having no solid skeleton, it will be the world's first entirely soft robot.

read more | digg story

11 Pro Wrestlers Turned Actors

A look back at some of the great examples of wrestlers in the movies, from the WWE and elsewhere. Maybe you've seen them all before, but if not, these are all worth checking out.

read more | digg story

Man to become first in world to give birth to twins

A 'man' is set to become the first in the world to give birth to twins after becoming pregnant following the start of the sex change process.

Man to become first in world to give birth to twins
Ruben Noe Coronado (left) is the first Spanish transsexual to become pregnant and may become the world's first transsexual father of twins Photo: DIARI DE GIRONA

Ruben Noe Coronado, 25, from Spain, postponed the process of becoming a man so that he could keep his female reproductive organs and give birth.

'He' fell pregnant after undergoing fertility treatment when doctors told his girlfriend, the mother of two children from a previous relationship, she couldn't have any more children.

Mr Coronado, born a woman called Estefania or Stephanie and still considered female under Spanish law, is due to give birth at the end of September.

He is the first Spanish transsexual to fall pregnant and it is thought he will become the world's first transsexual father of twins if everything goes to plan.

He will bring the twins up with his partner Esperanza Ruiz, 43. They plan to marry before they become parents.

Once he becomes a parent he will resume his sex-change surgery and become a father rather than mother.

He plans to give birth at a hospital in Barcelona after moving to the area from Malaga two months ago with his girlfriend because of family problems.

Mr Coronado, an epileptic who was adopted as a child, said: "It's like being born with three hands.

"You take advantage of them while you have them and you get rid of one of them when they get in the way."

He said he would not sell his story "now or in the future", but admitted he was "thinking of selling the picture everyone's going to want of me looking pregnant.

"If I don't do it, someone else will and they'll make a fortune," he added.

He claimed he had gone public "so people start to see a transsexual pregnancy as normal.

Last June Thomas Beatie, a bearded American, made headlines round the world after giving birth to a daughter, Susan Juliette.

The 35-year-old, born as female Tracy Lagondino, is expecting a second child with his wife Nancy this summer.

Adam West gets back in the Batmobile


Adam West barely recognizes Gotham City these days. “Batman is so dark now,” the 80-year-old actor said with a carefree chuckle. “The new films, they are grim, Gothic, full of explosions, mayhem. It’s the way of things, I suppose, the whole world seems darker.”

Well, the world was also heaving with angst back when West wore the cape for 26 months of prime-time silliness that began in January 1966. The native of Walla Walla, Wash., became an icon of camp with his masked-man deadpan and, for much of America, his version was the enduring definition of the caped crusader for decades.

That’s changed after the cemetery cabaret of Tim Burton’s Bat-movies and the ferocious revenge films of Christopher Nolan, whose “The Dark Knight” hit the billion-dollar mark at the box office a few weeks ago. Batman now seems closer kin to Dracula and Dirty Harry than he does Dick Tracy, but that don’t tell that West who is still dancing the Batusi and enjoying his busy role as an elder statesman of farce.

“I look at [it] this way: They’ve got the ‘Dark Knight,’ and I was the bright knight,” he said with the breathy, oddball diction that still keeps him in demand as a voice actor in animation. “Or maybe I was even ... the neon knight.”

Adam_west_in_batmanWest has an upcoming appearance on “30 Rock,” and there’s also his ongoing voice work on “Family Guy,” on which he plays Mayor Adam West; that namesake role, along with his portrayal of himself (albeit, a cat-obsessed version of himself) on the loopy Nickelodeon series “The Fairly Oddparents” has given him entire new generations of fans who have never seen the odd “Batman” series except maybe in snatches on YouTube. There’s also his voice roles in “Chicken Little,” “Meet the Robinsons” and animated Batman shows on which he played the mayor of Gotham, not its infamous mystery man.

“I’m like Madonna, I keep reinventing myself,” said West, who splits his time between Palm Springs and Sun Valley, Idaho. “I get called ‘Mayor West’ a lot in airports. I’ve been very fortunate to have a fan base that keeps growing and the work gets such a warm response and humor from people.”

This week, West is back in a familiar comedy vehicle -- literally. The new film “Super Capers,” yet another superhero parody (it follows “Hancock,” “My Super Ex-Girlfriend,” “Zoom,” “Sky High,” “Superhero Movie,” etc.), opened Friday and while its showing in just 80 theaters nationwide, it’s a memorable gig for West because it puts him back in the driver’s seat of his most famous ride.

“It’s a very bright comedy adventure. In it I’m a cab driver whose gotten a hold of the Batmobile and converted it to a taxi cab –- with air conditioning,” West said. “I meet up with a young guy who’s trying to be a super hero, played by an actor named Justin Whalin, who is quite good, and I’m able to drive him around on some of his misadventures.”

And how was it to sit in that grand old tail-finned time capsule? “It was great,” he said. “All those things that you do in a long career come back pretty easily once you get your hands on the wheel.”

Batman_and_robin_museum_of_radio_anThe film’s cast reads like a game of celebrity Mad Libs (Doug Jones from “Hellboy,” June Lockhart from “Lassie,” Tom Sizemore from the courthouse), but after years of comic book conventions and car shows West is more pleasant than proud. "It’s a family film which means you can take anyone from a 2-year-old to your great-granny to it and they probably would all enjoy it,” he said. “I’m happy to be part of that.”

Like William Shatner of “Star Trek,” West spent a considerable amount of his career feeling smothered by his short-lived but unforgettably eccentric TV role from the 1960s: “I remember the struggle that I had,” West said. “I mean, I did the Music Center in L.A., I did the Mark Taper Forum, I did regional theater, anything I could to keep working. I think it’s an actor’s obligation, if possible, to keep working, playing the instrument. But, yes, there were a lot of doors closed for a long time.”


As the years passed, West (again, like Shatner) eventually decided the better tactic was to celebrate and spoof the old reruns instead of fighting them. Still, there’s a tinge of jealousy in West’s voice when he talks about the actors today who can play Batman, Wolverine or Iron Man and simply move on the next non-hero role without the sort of treacherous typecasting that faced West, Clayton Moore, George Reeves and Christopher Reeve.

“I’ve never felt the envy ... well, I don’t know. Maybe I have a little,” West said. “I look at it and I think, ‘Well, it’s a lot simpler now to do other things. And why is that? Well, I think they’re in big movies on big screens and they’re in roles written for the actor to have moments outside of that superhero thing. I fought for that a little bit and they gave me a little more Bruce Wayne, but still he was a comedic Bruce Wayne. ... it was still theater of the absurd.”

Justin_whalin_and_adam_west_in_supeThe absurd is going quite well now for West. On an upcoming “Family Guy,” he and Rob Lowe will appear during a live-action scene edited into the ribald Seth MacFarlane animated series. ("It is," West said, "hysterical.") On “30 Rock,” West will deliver a daft introduction to star Alec Baldwin but he didn’t want to give away too much. In a way, he said, “30 Rock” actually reminds him of “Batman” with its rapid-fire gags, winking style and celebrity guest stars.

All subjects come back to “Batman” and with these West is in a legacy maintenance mode. He has a new DVD venture called “Adam West Naked,” which has him recounting anecdotes about all 120 episodes of “Batman.” As the title suggests, the behind-the-scenes tales are often sexed-up anecdotes about a 1960s tomcat who sometimes comes off like Austin Powers with a cape.

Batman_in_tv_magazine“It wasn’t easy, I had a lot to take care of,” the actor said. “With three Catwomans, that’s 27 lives total. That’s not easy. Who was my favorite? Well, I wouldn’t be honorable. ... I think I'd better not say. Julie Newmar was first, Lee Meriwether was Catwoman in the feature, Eartha Kitt as the black Catwoman. They were all splendid in their own way. We tried to put a lot of sexual tension in there between Catwoman and Batman and in costume, it was almost absurdly delightful. In one episode I said, ‘You give me strange stirrings in my utility belt, Catwoman.’ The guys loved that.”

The Neon Knight says he has no plans to slow down despite that fact that 55 years have passed since he made his television debut in “The Philco Television Playhouse” with aspirations for a career that did not involve tights.

“The reaction has been so positive and good for me that I love it now,” West said of his enduring pop-culture image. “How could I not? I would hate to be a bitter, aging actor. I’ve been so fortunate to have this opportunity to bring Batman alive on the screen. There’s a lot of talent, money and expertise with the new films. They’re beautifully crafted, but there’s something about our Batman that still strikes a chord. And as for me, I’m too young and pretty to retire, as somebody once said.”

-- Geoff Boucher

"Slumdog Millionaire" Kids Walk In Fashion Show (PHOTOS)

Two of the "Slumdog Millionaire" child actors walked the catwalk during Delhi's Fashion Week on Thursday. Rubina Ali and Mohammed Azharuddin Ismail, the two children who have garnered a lot of media attention as they both still live in the slums of Mumbai, walked in the Ashima-Leena show wearing traditional outfits.

read more | digg story

Kobe Bryant Will Be Rocking Chicago-Designed Shoes Saturday Night

By Ryan Corazza

The Bulls will be playing the Los Angeles Kobe Bryants tomorrow night, and they’ll probably win because the Bulls usually beat the class of the NBA and lose to the less-talented ilk. Or maybe they will lose. You’ll have to tune in and find out!

Also, while you tune in, make sure to check out Kobe Bryant’s shoes. They will be special shoes. Shoes that were designed by Chicago students. Do you want the details? Yes, you want the details.

From the Sun-Times:

He’ll be wearing a vision of Chicago students — special Nikes with snakeskin at the tip and heel in honor of Bryant’s nickname, “The Black Mamba.”

The students from Claremont Academy Elementary School and Parkside Elementary Community Academy designed the special Nike Zoom Kobe IV shoes in a project involving Nike and a program called After-School All-Stars. They used Nike’s interactive Web site, which lets you choose shoe material, design and other features.

When I was a kid in elementary school, the coolest thing we did was play Oregon Trail. It was cool, but significantly less cooler than this. That reminds me, I can get a much better version of that game on my iPhone now. To the app store!

Flammable Water Pours from Faucets in Colorado Home

A Colorado family is living in fear that their house could go up in flames at any moment. Amee Ellsworth of Fort Lupton can turn on a faucet in her kitchen or bathroom, light a match and watch as flames shoot out because natural gas from nearby wells have seeped into her groundwater supply.

Officials from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission say the gas is likely leaking from one of the nearby eight wells, but they are not sure which well yet, nor are they even sure which of the two companies—Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Noble Energy Inc.—operating in the area own it

>>Watch video of the flaming faucets

Natural gas development along Colorado’s eastern plains has picked up significantly in recent years and even though natural gas is often touted as a cleaner alternative to other fossil fuels (even by yours truly), it is not without its own set of dangers.

As GO colleague and New York Times blogger Nick Chambers said in an IM to me just moments ago, “T. Boone Pickens thinks that the US’ natural gas bounty is the work of God, but this devil sink says otherwise.”

I think Nick may have a point.

(via: KDVR-Denver)

The Most Expensive Bike In The World

aurumania gold crystal bike msp1 The Most Expensive Bike In The World

When this pedal of this bike hits metal — it strikes 24-karat gold. Scandinavian design team AURUMANIA (which means preoccupied with gold) debuted the Gold Bike last September, a luxury item touted as the world’s “most lavish and expensive bike.” Just 10 of the gold bikes were made and come outfitted with a hand-stitched, brown leather Brooks saddle. Oh, and each bike is “generously” bespeckled with more than 600 Swarovski crystals. The ticket for this ride only costs a little over $100,000. [via AURUMANIA]

Press Release from Aurumania

The most expensive gold bike in the world

As of 7 September, the world will never be quite the same again. That is when the Scandinavian design company AURUMANIA will be launching the world’s most lavish and expensive bike.
But it will only be a tiny, exclusive group of people who can become the proud owners of these gold bikes, which each bear a price tag of € 80,000. That’s because only 10 will ever be made, all numbered.

A work of art

These 10 limited-edition bikes represent a cornucopia of delights for any feinschmecker. The designers have employed all the classic principles in their overall appearance, and every detail has been under careful consideration.

Each bike is hand-built, and then plated with 24-carat gold and generously adorned with more than 600 fine Swarovski crystals. The handlebar grips are made of hand-sewn, chocolate-brown leather, and a moulded Brooks leather saddle provides exactly the right nostalgic touch.

The AURUMANIA logo appear stylishly and enticingly on the crossbar, begging to be touched. The crowning glory is the limited-edition number discreetly embossed with gold leaf and set into a leather badge, placed prominently on the front of the bike. No one is left in any doubt that these bikes are unique – one of a kind for one of the very few.

To ensure potential buyers the greatest possible degree of discretion, these gold bikes are exclusively available via They are delivered to the buyer personally using a White Glove Service, in a specially designed packaging that exudes extreme luxury on a par with the golden bike inside.

The first bike in the series has already been sold to a customer in London – a man who wants it to decorate one of the walls in his home. AURUMANIA therefore also designed a special mount for this bike – also made of 24-carat gold, of course. The bike will then be on display, as a work of art in itself.


The brains behind this exclusive gold bike is the Scandinavian design company AURUMANIA. They work solely with the design of visibly extravagant luxury products made using gold, for an exclusive clientele who cannot get enough of this precious metal that really keeps its value. Hence the company name – AURUMANIA also means “pre-occupied with gold”, in the most positive sense imaginable.
This golden ultra-bike is the company’s very first product to hit the market. Before the year is out, it will be followed by several more exclusive, attention-grabbing products. These, too, will only be available via

Did Lenovo invent Apple's netbook?

Apple rumor predicts netbook. Lenovo 'leaks' old prototype. Coincidence?
Mike Elgan

March 21, 2009 (Computerworld) In Silicon Valley's clash of innovation and ego, it's hard to remember who invented what. Oftentimes a company invents something it's not ready to ship. Another company ships something it didn't invent. Both companies jockey for the credit.

The iPhone is a perfect example. Back in 2006, it became clear that several handset makers were ready to embrace a new idea for cell phones. Instead of devices with small screens and numeric or alphabetic keypads, these companies planned to ship cell phones that were all screen and no keypad. The buttons would be mere software pressed on-screen.

Apple Inc. was one of those companies, but its product would be beat to market by handsets from Asian manufacturers. So Apple did something unusual. CEO Steve Jobs fully unveiled the iPhone in January 2007, nearly six months before it would ship. The resulting hype suffocated awareness of the Asian handsets.

Now everybody associates all-screen, touch-screen cell phones with Apple and the iPhone. Most casual observers assume Apple invented that type of device, and that everyone else is copying the iPhone.

Here comes the ultimate netbook

In the run-up to Apple's big iPhone 3.0 announcement this week, rumors about an Apple netbook reached fever pitch. Would the company ship one? If so, would it be a clamshell or a tablet? Would it run Mac OS or the iPhone operating system?

Some rumor-mongers speculated about a midyear launch, but others suggested that Apple would employ the old "one more thing" shtick to surprise the industry with its new netbook during this week's iPhone 3.0 rollout. It didn't happen, but many thought it would.

During this frenzy of speculation, photos "leaked" of a truly breathtaking netbook from Lenovo Group Ltd., the Chinese company that acquired the ThinkPad division of IBM.

Initially, the Lenovo netbook, called the Pocket Yoga, was reported as a soon-to-be-shipping product. Then it emerged (on my blog, among other places) that the Pocket Yoga was nothing more than a two-year-old concept that Lenovo had no plans to build.

Lenovo Pocket Yoga
Lenovo's Pocket Yoga is a two-year-old concept device that could be set up as a netbook or a tablet.
Lenovo Pocket Yoga

Why leak this? Why now? Why after two years would detailed photos of a concept netbook be leaked just before many people thought Apple was about to launch its first netbook?

I think it's possible that Apple's netbook will be just like the Lenovo Pocket Yoga concept. I think Lenovo found out about it and wanted to assert itself as the inventor of a new form factor that otherwise would be credited to Apple.

The Lenovo Pocket Yoga

The Lenovo Pocket Yoga concept features three types of innovations. First, rather than optimize the form factor for the screen, as most netbooks do, it optimized for the keyboard. Most netbooks have keyboards that are too narrow and have wasted real-estate below the keyboard because the screen is conventional in its dimensions. Like the Sony Vaio P, which would ship nearly two years after Lenovo claims to have conceptualized its Pocket Yoga, the Yoga's keyboard was wide enough for comfortable and fast touch-typing, and the screen was equally wide, but short. The resulting device would fit width-wise into a pocket, although its length would cause it to stick out quite a bit.

Second, a tricky lid hinge enabled the Pocket Yoga to convert into a tablet device. Lenovo envisioned pen-based input, making the Pocket Yoga similar in concept to many convertible tablet laptops on the market, just smaller.

Third, the Pocket Yoga had a weird strap that doubled as a wireless mouse.

The Apple netbook

It's almost certain that Lenovo never shipped the Pocket Yoga because such a device would be too small to run Windows Vista, or because it would be too expensive to manufacture -- or both. Other similarly tiny Vista-based devices have failed in the market, in part, because of bad performance and high price.

But such a device running the iPhone 3.0 operating system, rather than a full-fledged desktop operating system, would offer acceptable performance and price. And it would be an extremely desirable gadget.

Imagine the Pocket Yoga, but thinner. No USB ports, but supporting Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The keys would be little rounded squares like the keys on MacBooks. The screen would flip around, and you'd use it exactly like an iPhone or iPod Touch -- no pen, but multitouch and all the rest. The device wouldn't run desktop Mac apps, but instead would run iPhone apps from the iTunes App Store. It would connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi or it could be tethered to an iPhone for mobile broadband.

The netbook I'm describing would make perfect sense for Apple. It would thrill the devoted Apple fanboys and iPhone enthusiasts, sure. But it would also open up entirely new markets -- including the one made up of people who can't be on AT&T (and therefore can't use an unlocked iPhone). Compared to any PC on the market, the iPhone is spectacularly easy to use. So an iPhone-like netbook would be ideal for children, seniors, traveling executives, Hollywood types, cheapskates, students -- OK, just about everybody. It would steal netbook business away from Microsoft, HP, Dell and others. It would drive App Store sales and iPhone App development. It would be the ideal platform for Apple's new HD movies and other Apple content.

Companies like Apple and Lenovo know what their competitors are doing before the rest of us do. They share suppliers and manufacturers. They hire their competitors' former employees, and those employees have friends and contacts across company lines.

I think there's a good chance that Lenovo knows exactly what Apple plans to ship, and therefore asserted its innovation in the netbook arena. Will there be patent lawsuits? Charges of intellectual property theft? Or is Lenovo just establishing its ideas in advance of actually shipping some variant of the Pocket Yoga that will compete with Apple's netbook?

Time will tell. But I think Lenovo's Pocket Yoga leaks could be giving us a preview of a big Apple announcement this summer.

I hope so. Because I already want one.

Lingerie Football League Tryouts

Click here for the other 50 pics!! | digg story

Seth Rogen ‘Playboy’ Cover:

by CSS

A slimmed-down Seth Rogen joins brunette model Hope Dworaczyk on the cover of the April issue of Playboy. As only the ninth man to ever grace the cover of the iconic skin mag, the Superbad star hopes to become a trendsetter for other “rotund Jews.”

“Woody Allen created a look for small, nebbishy Jews, and I’m doing the same for chubby Jewish guys. I created a new look for rotund Jews. I have seen more guys lately who kind of look like me. It’s an easily attainable look.”

But Seth isn’t the same lovable ball of chub he once was. The comedian credits his upcoming comedy, Observe and Report, with prompting his recent dramatic weight loss.

“We shot the movie in Albuquerque, which is at a very high altitude. I’m somebody who can barely breathe in Los Angeles, which is at sea level. There were some big action scenes. Every day it felt as if I were climbing Everest.”

So what would Seth do with his life if he weren’t an actor? “Working in a video store or a comic-book store is the only thing I could possibly enjoy as much. I’d be one of those guys you look at and say, ‘What the fuck is wrong with him?… Why doesn’t he get out and do something with his life?’” he laughs. “I would definitely be that guy. Maybe I’d do a combo: a video-game-and-comic-book store. Yeah, that would be cool. That’s definitely what I should do if I crap out in movies. You know, that sounds so good it’s almost worth quitting for.”

Seth jokes in the April issue of Playboy, on newsstands April 10.

Related Story Here.

$2M worth of cocaine found in banana boxes

By Sebastian Doering

(CNN) -- A German supermarket employee got a surprise this week when she opened two boxes of bananas to find them filled with more than 60 pounds of cocaine worth $2 million, police said.

Government-released photos show bananas and packages of what is identified as cocaine.

Government-released photos show bananas and packages of what is identified as cocaine.

"This is obviously a matter of a logistical mistake," a spokesman for the Bavarian State Bureau of Investigation, based in Munich, told CNN Friday.

A 26-year-old employee with the discount chain Lidl in the sleepy town of Illertissen was randomly checking the boxes on Wednesday morning, police said. The fresh bananas had just been taken off a food truck, an hour after the store was open, they said.

The employee was suspicious of the boxes because they felt lighter than normal, police said. As she unpacked the bananas to take them into the store's produce section, police said, she found 26 small yellow parcels hidden underneath the fruit.

She immediately called police. The investigators established that the substance is cocaine and confiscated the goods, police said.

The cocaine totaled 28 kilos, or 61.7 pounds, police said.

The German shipper who delivered the bananas also made stops at other stores in southern Germany, but police said no other box with cocaine had been found at those stores yet.

The freight had come from Antwerp, Belgium, but originated from Colombia, police said.

"The drug courier obviously screwed up. He simply was not quick enough," the Bavarian State Bureau of Investigation spokesman said. He dubbed the finding a "discovery by accident."

Police said they did not know why the shipment of illegal drugs was delivered to the particular store in Illertissen, halfway between Munich and Stuttgart. The town is right next to a major highway, a North-South route between Scandinavia in the north and Italy in the south.

The freight might have been delivered to the wrong address, the spokesman said.

Police were not releasing any further details because of their ongoing inquiries. They said they did not know if a drug cartel or a drug courier was using Illertissen as a hub.

Romania Eyes Legalizing Consensual Incest, Wouldn't Be First Country in Europe

BUCHAREST, Romania — Surprising as it may seem, incest is not always a crime in Europe.

Three European Union nations — France, Spain and Portugal — do not prosecute consenting adults for incest, and Romania is considering following suit.

The shocking case of Austrian Josef Fritzl, found guilty this week of holding his daughter captive for 24 years and fathering her seven children, has focused new attention on incest — which is a crime in itself in Austria even if the acts are consensual. But in the Fritzl case it was in connection with rape, homicide and other charges that led to a sentence of life in a secure psychiatric ward.

Laws exempting parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters from prosecution for incestuous acts if they are not forced upon adult family members are decades old in France, Spain and Portugal.

In Romania, decriminalizing incest among consenting adults is being considered as part of a wide range of reforms to the country's criminal code. No date has been set yet for a parliament vote on the bill, and opposition to the proposal is fervent even among some lawmakers in the ruling coalition.

Currently all forms of incest in Romania are punishable by up to seven years in prison. But Romania's Justice Ministry suggests the new legislation would move the country — which joined the European Union two years ago — closer legally to some other EU members.

"Not everything that is immoral has to be illegal," said Justice Ministry legal expert Valerian Cioclei. "We cannot help these people by turning them into criminals and punishing them."

Incest is defined as sexual intercourse between people too closely related to marry legally. In the United States, all 50 states and the District of Columbia prohibit even consensual incest, although a few states impose no criminal penalties for it, according to the Harvard Law Review.

Newspaper articles in Romania have criticized the planned legal change over consensual incest. The ministry, however, countered with a statement claiming that incest cannot be stopped with "criminal sanctions, but with medical and social measures, because incest is based on pathological factors."

Not all Romanians accept the Justice's Ministry's argument.

Anuta Popa, a 22-year-old woman in the western city of Cluj, said she doubted that incest ever happened by consent in her country, saying it was more likely that the man was drunk and violently attacked his sister or mother.

"Incest should not be legalized. If they want to have sex, better to say a prayer and remember that God sees them," she declared. "I would castrate them."

Iosif Damian, a 56-year-old cleaner, said he was unsure if consulting adults should be jailed for incest but added "I think it is shameful all the same."

"Or (if) they are ill and prison is not a solution, they need medical help," he said.

But one 27-year old chauffeur did not see any problem with the legal change.

"If brothers and sisters want to have fun, why should they be imprisoned? It is nobody's business what I do in my bedroom," Ionut Breazu of Cluj told the Associated Press.

Challenges in countries where incest is a crime surface occasionally.

In Germany, the country's highest court last year rejected an appeal by a man who was sent to prison after fathering four children with his sister in a consensual relationship.

Opponents say that children born out of incest face an increased risk of genetic problems, especially inherited disorders of "recessive" conditions, or those caused by a double dose of a gene that carries a mutation — one from each parent. There are about 3,500 recessive conditions, most of them very rare.

"Everyone carries several of these recessive gene mutations, but since most of them are extremely rare, the chance of two unrelated people carrying a mutation in the same gene is low," said Jess Buxton, spokesman for the British Society of Human Genetics.

But he said sexual relationships between relatives more closely related than cousins carry increased risks to offspring because the adults share a greater proportion of their genetic material. Full siblings share 50 percent of their genetic material, as do parents and their children.

"The closer the biological relationship between two people, the higher the risk of passing on a recessive condition to their children," Buxton said.

And then there are the moral dilemmas over incest.

"It generates a confusion of roles," says Romanian psychologist Aurora Liceanu. "Imagine how can one explain to a child that his father is also his grandfather?"

Opposition also comes from the Romanian Orthodox Church, which counts some 85 percent of population among its worshippers and says incest "affects the moral and psychological health of human beings ... the sacred family institution, and public morality."

A Vatican spokesman declined to directly comment on the issue but pointed to Catholic Church doctrine, which bans incest among immediate relatives and says it "corrupts family relationships."

And sentiment appears strong against any form of incest even in the countries where it is legal among consenting adults. An IPSOS poll in France taken in January showed that 59 percent of the 931 respondents thought all forms of incest should be considered a criminal offense. No margin of error was published.

Yet around Europe, there is some acceptance of consensual incest among adults.

Irish homemaker Margaret Henry, 42, said society shouldn't be so concerned about it.

"(Why are they) arresting people for what they do in their own homes, as long as they're adults and they're not hurting each other?" she asked.

That sentiment was shared by Hermann Koening, a 23-year-old graphic designer from Duesseldorf, Germany.

"Incest is a sin," Koening said while waiting at a Dublin bus stop. "But maybe it's wrong to make it a crime."

Jenna Bush's Secret Service Ticketed

Reported by: Kelly Groft
Reported by: Delia Goncalves

“They should deal with everything we deal with day in and day out.”
Baltimore, MD - Jenna Bush has called one stylish South Baltimore street, just outside Federal Hill, home for about a year. It seems in the course of that year, her Secret Service has been ignoring parking tickets. Friday, it finally caught up to them.

Adrienne Barnes from the Baltimore City Department of Transportation said, “We can confirm that two undescribed vehicles were ticketed one vehicle was towed."

There was no sympathy from her neighbors.

“I think it’s great,” said James Gorman, “They should deal with everything we deal with day in and day out.” Maria Gonzalez added, “It's nice to know no matter what the license plate says no matter what kind of car they're going to take care of it."

Department of Transportation officials said an agent paid to get the car released and will pay all fines incurred. The City typically tows after 3 outstanding parking tickets. “All 3 tickets have to be more than 30 days old,” explained Barnes.

We stopped by Miss Bush's home Friday evening and saw one Secret Service vehicle parked across the street with a visitors pass displayed. We were careful not to identify the car, but noticed it was parked illegally - in a tow away zone.

Everyone agreed parking is a nightmare in Federal Hill. “There are people who I'd like to say stalk the vehicles,” laughed one resident. “I went to get some Chinese food walked in walked out and I had a ticket so it's hard to support local businesses,” said resident Kit Stone.

Their only satisfaction is that everyone gets their equal share – no matter what their last name.

The City has beefed up parking patrols in the Federal Hill area, they said, at the request of residents. Each resident is given two visitor passes and can petition for more in necessary.

Mayor's Office Responds to Towing

Related Links
Jenna Bush and her husband Henry Hager moved to Federal Hill shortly after they got married. Now, it appears, a Secret Service van parked in their neighborhood, was ticketed, several times.

We were alerted first by

Once we talked to the parking authority we were told the van had several unpaid tickets. The parking authority won't say how many tickets went unpaid, but do say it's all paid up now.

We've provided a link to so you can see what the Mayor's office had to say about this incident.

Woodstock's Michael Lang Seeking Sponsors For 2009 Festival In New York City

Gary Graff, Austin, TX
Michael Lang said plans for a 40th anniversary Woodstock concert are "all speculative ideas" for now, but he hopes to bring them to reality this summer.

The Woodstock co-founder told that his vision is "a free event...a very green project," possibly in New York City. "We want to have as small a carbon imprint as we can and use as many green techniques as we can," said Lang, who was in Austin as part of a South By Southwest panel discussion about Woodstock. The holdup? "It's got to be sponsor-driven," he explained.

"It's free, but it costs a lot of money. That's kind of what we're in the middle of right now. Depending on how successful we are in raising that sponsorship (money) will determine when and how we do this event – or if we do this event, frankly."

He added that reports of a concurrent Woodstock festival in Berlin, possibly at Tempelhof airport, were "premature" but "still is kind of a thought."

Lang said that musically a 2009 Woodstock would go "back to its roots...There would be a lot of legacy bands – the Who, Santana, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joe Cocker maybe. And it would be people like Steve Earle and Ben Harper. There's certainly room for the (Red Hot) Chili Peppers and Dave Matthews...That would be the shape of the music."

The Chili Peppers, of course, closed the ill-fated 30th anniversary concert in 1999, which was marred by complaints about the facilities, food and water prices and ended with a fiery riot. But Lang said he was confident that the Woodstock brand was not permanently damaged.

"I think it always hearkens back to the '69 event, somehow," he said. "When people think [of Woodstock] they don't think '99 or '94. They think [of] the '69 event. I think [1999] has its ramifications, but I don't think it did any real damage in that sense."

With or without concerts, Woodstock's 40th will be celebrated with an array of projects this year. Lang has written a book in collaboration with Holly George-Warren that will be published in August. He's also working on a VH1 documentary with Barbara Koppel.

On June 9, meanwhile, Warner Home Video will release a four-hour director's cut of the "Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music" film featuring 18 new performances – including some from five groups (Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Grateful Dead, Johnny Winter, Mountain and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band) that did not appear in the original film. Rhino Recods will roll out new albums of Woodstock performances.

Director Ang Lee has made "Taking Woodstock," a feature film about the real estate agent who helped the 1969 festival move to Bethel, N.Y., after losing permission to hold it in nearby Walkill.

Administration’s New Policy on Medical Marijuana Is The Right One

President Barack Obama campaigned on a platform of ‘change.’ Two months into his Presidency, it is clear that this ‘change’ pertains to the way Washington governs U.S. marijuana policy.

Yesterday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder reaffirmed that he will not authorize federal justice resources to target or prosecute medical cannabis users or providers that are compliant with state law. Holder’s statements clarify remarks he made last month when he said that the Justice Department would uphold President Obama’s campaign pledge not to use the power of the federal government to circumvent state medical marijuana laws.

The Attorney General’s position stands in marked contrast to that of prior administrations. During George W. Bush’s eight years in office, federal law enforcement charged numerous state-sanctioned medical cannabis providers with federal law violations – many of whom are now serving sentences of five to ten years in prison. More commonly, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agents performed so-called “smash grabs” on state-authorized dispensaries, a tactic whereby federal agents would seize cash and but never press criminal charges. This latter policy was similar to the approach endorsed by the Clinton administration, which ordered the U.S. Justice Department to seek to civil injunctions against dozens of cannabis cooperatives in an effort to seize their assets and permanently close their doors.

But not everyone is pleased with the administration’s new ‘hands-off’ approach. Iowa Senator and longtime marijuana law reform opponent Charles Grassley immediately criticized Holder’s announcement, stating, “The first rule of medicine, first do no harm, is being violated by the attorney general by his decision.”

Grassley’s ideological opposition, though predictable, is offensive to those who support both science and the right of self-determination.

Contrary to the GOP Senator’s assertion, cannabis possesses an impeccable safety record. Marijuana’s active components, known as cannabinoids, are virtually non-toxic to cells and major organs, and are incapable of causing a lethal overdose. In 2008 investigators at McGill University in Montreal reviewed over 30 years of data on marijuana and “did not find a higher incidence rate of serious adverse events associated with medical cannabis use” compared to those who never used the drug. Even aspirin can’t make such a claim.

Further, Grassley’s arrogant allegations are an affront to the 72 million Americans who reside in the thirteen states where the use of medical cannabis is legal. They are equally objectionable to the 80 percent of voters nationwide who support the physician-supervised use of therapeutic cannabis.

Funny, last time I checked Chuck Grassley represented the state of Iowa and only the state of Iowa, which is not one of the states that have legalized the possession and use of medical cannabis under state law. Perhaps in the future Senator Grassley should stick to commenting specifically on those policies that directly impact the voters who he is elected to represent. When it comes to the laws that govern the lives and health of everyone else, the good Senator ought to simply mind his own business.


Permalink | Comment on this story (64 posted)

By National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Deputy Director Paul Armentano

Pink elephant is caught on camera

By Rebecca Morelle
Science reporter, BBC News

Pink baby elephant in Botswana (Mike Holding)
The little pink calf was spotted in amongst an 80-strong elephant herd

A pink baby elephant has been caught on camera in Botswana.

A wildlife cameraman took pictures of the calf when he spotted it among a herd of about 80 elephants in the Okavango Delta.

Experts believe it is probably an albino, which is an extremely rare phenomenon in African elephants.

They are unsure of its chances of long-term survival - the blazing African sunlight may cause blindness and skin problems for the calf.

Mike Holding, who spotted the baby while filming for a BBC wildlife programme, said: "We only saw it for a couple of minutes as the herd crossed the river.

Baby pink elephant in Botswana
The baby elephant seems to be sheltering under its mother to protect itself from the sun

"This was a really exciting moment for everyone in camp. We knew it was a rare sighting - no-one could believe their eyes."

Documented evidence

Albino elephants are not usually white, but instead they have more of a reddish-brown or pink hue.

While albinism is thought to be fairly common in Asian elephants, it is much less common in the larger African species.

Baby pink elephant in Botswana (Mike Holding)
Surviving this very rare phenomenon is very difficult in the harsh African bush
Dr Mike Chase, Elephants Without Borders

Ecologist Dr Mike Chase, who runs conservation charity Elephants Without Borders, said: "I have only come across three references to albino calves, which have occurred in Kruger National Park in South Africa.

"This is probably the first documented sighting of an albino elephant in northern Botswana.

"We have been studying elephants in the region for nearly 10 years now, and this is the first documented evidence of an albino calf that I have come across."

He said that the condition might make it difficult for the calf to survive into adulthood.

"What happens to these young albino calves remains a mystery," said Dr Chase.

"Surviving this very rare phenomenon is very difficult in the harsh African bush. The glaring sun may cause blindness and skin problems."

However, he told BBC News that there might be a ray of hope for the pink calf as it already seemed to be learning to adapt to its condition.

I have learned that elephants are highly adaptable, intelligent and masters of survival
Dr Mike Chase, Elephants Without Borders

Dr Chase explained: "Because this elephant calf was sighted in the Okavango Delta, he may have a greater chance of survival. He can seek refuge under the large trees and cake himself in a thick mud, which will protect him from the Sun.

"Already the two-to-three-month-old calf seems to be walking in the shade of its mother.

"This behaviour suggests it is aware of its susceptibility to the harsh African sun, and adapted a unique behaviour to improve its chances of survival."

He added: "I have learned that elephants are highly adaptable, intelligent and masters of survival."