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Monday, September 28, 2009

Polanski arrested in connection with sex charge


(CNN) -- Filmmaker Roman Polanski has been arrested on an arrest warrant stemming from a decades-old sex charge, Swiss police said Sunday.

Roman Polanski attends a film premiere in Paris, France, in June 2009.

Roman Polanski attends a film premiere in Paris, France, in June 2009.

The Academy Award-winning director pleaded guilty in 1977 to a single count of having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, acknowledging he had sex with a 13-year-old girl, but fled the United States before he could be sentenced. U.S. authorities issued a warrant for his arrest in 1978.

He was taken into custody trying to enter Switzerland on Saturday, Zurich police said.

Polanski, 76, has lived in France for decades to avoid being arrested if he enters the U.S. He declined to collect his Academy Award for Best Director in person when he won it for "The Pianist" in 2003.

He was en route to the Zurich Film Festival, which is holding a tribute to him, when he was arrested by Swiss authorities, the festival said.

Polanski was nominated for best director Oscars for "Tess" and "Chinatown," and for best writing for "Rosemary's Baby," which he also directed.

"Roman Polanski, who is one of the greatest film directors of all time, would have been honored for his life's work in Zurich today," the film festival said in a statement.

"However yesterday, on Saturday, he was taken into custody while attempting to enter Switzerland due to a request by U.S. authorities in connection with an arrest warrant from 1978."

The Swiss Justice Ministry said Polanski was put "in provisional detention." But whether he can be extradited to the United States "can be established only after the extradition process judicially has been finalised," a ministry spokesman said in an e-mail.

"It is possible to appeal at the federal penal court of justice against an arrest warrant in view to extradition as well as against an extradition decision," the spokesman wrote. "Their decisions can be taken further to the federal court of justice."

Polanski was accused of plying a 13-year-old girl with champagne and a sliver of a quaalude tablet and performing various sex acts, including intercourse, with her during a photo shoot at actor Jack Nicholson's house. He was 43 at the time.

Nicholson was not at home, but his girlfriend at the time, actress Anjelica Huston, was.

According to a probation report contained in the filing, Huston described the victim as "sullen."

"She appeared to be one of those kind of little chicks between -- could be any age up to 25. She did not look like a 13-year-old scared little thing," Huston said.

She added that Polanski did not strike her as the type of man who would force himself on a young girl.

"I don't think he's a bad man," she said in the report. "I think he's an unhappy man."

Polanski pleaded guilty to a single count of having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

There have been repeated attempts to settle the case over the years, but the sticking point has always been Polanski's refusal to return to attend hearings.

Prosecutors have consistently argued that it would be a miscarriage of justice to allow a man to go free who "drugged and raped a 13-year-old child."

Polanski's lawyers tried earlier this year to have the charges thrown out, but a Los Angeles judge rejected the request.

In doing so, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza left the door open to reconsider his ruling if Polanski shows up in court.

Espinoza also appeared to acknowledge problems with the way Polanski's case was handled years ago.

According to court documents, Polanski, his lawyer and the prosecutor thought they'd worked out a deal that would spare Polanski from prison and let the young victim avoid a public trial.

But the original judge in the case, who is now dead, first sent the director to maximum-security prison for 42 days while he underwent psychological testing. Then, on the eve of his sentencing, the judge told attorneys he was inclined to send Polanski back to prison for another 48 days.

Polanski fled the United States for France, where he was born.

In the February hearing, Espinoza mentioned a documentary film that depicts backroom deals between prosecutors and a media-obsessed judge who was worried his public image would suffer if he didn't send Polanski to prison.

"It's hard to contest some of the behavior in the documentary was misconduct," said Espinoza.

But he declined to dismiss the case entirely.

Legal experts said such a ruling would have been extremely rare.

Polanski's victim is among those calling for the case to be tossed out.

Samantha Geimer filed court papers in January saying, "I am no longer a 13-year-old child. I have dealt with the difficulties of being a victim, have surmounted and surpassed them with one exception.

"Every time this case is brought to the attention of the Court, great focus is made of me, my family, my mother and others. That attention is not pleasant to experience and is not worth maintaining over some irrelevant legal nicety, the continuation of the case."

Geimer, now 45, married and a mother of three, sued Polanski and received an undisclosed settlement. She long ago came forward and made her identity public -- mainly, she said, because she was disturbed by how the criminal case had been handled.

Following Espinoza's ruling earlier this year, Geimer's lawyer, Larry Silver, said he was disappointed and that Espinoza "did not get to the merits and consider the clear proof of both judicial and prosecutorial corruption."

He argued in court that had "Mr. Polanski been treated fairly" his client would not still be suffering because of publicity almost 32 years after the crime.

Polanski was arrested two days after one of his wife's killers died.

The director's pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, and four others were butchered by members of the Manson "family" in August 1969. Polanski was filming in Europe at the time.

By her own admission, Susan Atkins held the eight-months-pregnant Tate down as she pleaded for mercy, stabbing the 26-year-old actress 16 times.

Atkins, 61, died Thursday. She had been suffering from terminal brain cancer.


CNN's Frederik Pleitgen and Ann O'Neill contributed to this report.

Training wheels are soon to be a thing of the past

Gyro wheel for kids bicycles


The 5 Smallest Countries in the World.

Posted by Alex

1. Vatican City

Size: 0.17 sq. mi. (0.44 km²)
Population: 783 (2005 census)
Location: Rome, Italy

The size of a golf course, the Vatican City [wiki | official website] is the smallest country in the world. It’s basically a walled enclave inside of Rome, Italy. It’s so small that the entire country does not have a single street address.

The Vatican City may be small, but it is very powerful. It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See, or the seat of the Catholic Church (basically its central government), which has over 1 billion people (about 1 in 6 people on the planet) as constituents.

The Vatican City was created in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty (which was signed by one of history’s most repressive dictators, Benito Mussolini) and is ruled by the Pope, basically a non-hereditary, elected monarch who rules with absolute authority (he’s the legislative, executive and judiciary all rolled into one) – indeed, the Pope is the only absolute monarch in Europe.

Another unique thing about the smallest country in the world is that it has no permanent citizens. Citizenship of the Vatican City is conferred upon those who work at the Vatican (as well as their spouses and children) and is revoked when they stop working there.

The Vatican City is guarded by the smallest and oldest regular army in the world, the Swiss Guard [wiki]. It was originally made up of Swiss mercenaries in 1506, now the army (also personal bodyguards of the Pope) number 100, all of which are Catholic unmarried male Swiss citizens. The Swiss Guard’s Renaissance-style uniform was commonly attributed as to have been designed by Michelangelo – this was actually incorrect: the large "skirt" pants were a common style during the Renaissance. Only their uniforms seem antiquated: most of the Swiss Guards carry pistols and submachine-guns.

The official languages of the Vatican City are Latin and Italian. In fact, its ATMs are the only ones in the world that offer services in Latin! And here you thought that Latin is a dead language…

For a country that has no street address, the Vatican City has a very efficient post office: an international mail dropped in the Vatican will get there faster than one dropped in Italy just a few hundred yard away – in fact, there is more mail sent annually per inhabitant from this country (7,200 mails per person) than anywhere else in the world.

The Vatican City has a country code top level domain of .va – currently there are only 9 publicly known .va domains [wiki]. It also has a radio broadcasting service, called Vatican Radio [wiki], which was set up by Guglielmo Marconi (the Father of Radio) himself!

The country’s economy is unique: it is the only non-commercial economy in the world. Instead, the Vatican City is supported financially by contributions of Catholics worldwide (called Peter’s Pence – hey, even the Pope accepts credit cards!), the sale of postage stamps and publications, and tourism.

Lastly, as an ecclesiastical paradise, the Vatican City has no taxes.

2. Monaco

Size: 0.8 sq. mi. (1.96 km²)
Population: 35,657 (2006 estimate)
Location: French Riviera on the Mediterranean

Monaco [wiki | official website] is the second smallest country on Earth (it’s roughly the size of New York’s Central Park), yet it’s the most densely populated (23,660 people per km²). Actually, Monaco used to be much smaller than it is now – about 100 acres were reclaimed from the sea and added to its land size. At the narrowest, Monaco is only 382 yards wide!

The Principality of Monaco, its formal name, means that the territory is ruled by a prince. For the last seven centuries, Monaco was ruled by princes of the Grimaldi family from Genoa. (The whole thing started one night in 1297 when François Grimaldi disguised himself as a monk and led a small army to conquer the fortress guarding the Rock of Monaco. The coat of arms of the Grimaldi bears the image of monks with swords!) Now, the Prince shares legislative authority with a National Council.

In 1861, Monaco relinquished half of its territory to France in exchange for cash and independence. When the reigning prince realized that most of Monaco’s natural resources were on the land that got bartered away, he decided to bet the whole economy on … what else, gambling (see, casinos aren’t only for American Indians, it’s a time-tested, universal solution!)

And so began Monte Carlo [wiki], a region of Monaco well known for its glamorous casinos (a setting for Ian Fleming’s first James Bond Novel Casino Royale [wiki]) and its Formula One Grand Prix.

In 1918, Monaco entered a treaty with France for military protection – the treaty, however, also stipulated that Monaco would lose its independence (and become French) should the reigning Grimaldi prince died without leaving a male heir! When Prince Rainier III took over, he was a bachelor and most Monegasques (that means people of Monaco) were gloomy about the country’s future. However, he ended up marrying Hollywood actress Grace Kelly [wiki] – the marriage not only produced a male heir, it also helped burnish Monaco’s image as a glamorous place to be for the wealthy. (Monaco can rest easy now, a new treaty with France stated that the Principality will remain independent even without a male heir).

For a long time, Monaco had no income taxes and was a tax haven for wealthy foreigners and international corporations. This caused a unique thing about Monaco’s population: most of its residents are not native – in fact, only about 1 in 5 people are native Monegasques. After a long dispute with France, Monaco started to impose income taxes on all of its residents who are not born there. Its natural citizens are forbidden from entering casinos, but to make up for it, they do not have to pay any income taxes.

3. Nauru

Size: 8 sq. mi (21 km²)
Population: 13,005 (2005 estimate)
Location: Western Pacific Ocean

Nauru [wiki] is the world’s smallest island nation, the smallest independent republic, and the only republic in the world without an official capital.

Nauru only has one significant source of income: phosphates from thousands of years’ worth of guano or bird droppings. This proved to be both a boon and a bane for Nauruans – for a long time, its residents enjoyed a relatively high level of income as the country exported its phosphate like there’s no tomorrow.

The government employed 95% of Nauruans, and lavished free medical care and schooling for its citizens. Most didn’t take advantage of this offer: only one-third of children went on to secondary school. The adults didn’t really work, either – office hours were flexible and the most popular pastime was drinking beer and driving the 20-minute circuit around the island. For a while, Nauru was a paradise – for a brief moment in 1970s, Nauruans were even amongst the richest people on the planet.

Nothing lasts forever and sure enough, Nauru’s phosphate reserves soon dried up and left 90% of the island as a barren, jagged mining wasteland. Wasteful investments (like buying hotels only to leave them to rot) and gross incompetence by the government (former presidents used to commandeer Air Nauru’s planes for holidays, leaving paying customers stranded on the tarmac!) didn’t help either.

As if that’s not bad enough, Nauru is also beset by obesity problem. Decades of leisurely lifestyle and high consumption of alcohol and fatty foods have left as many as 9 out of 10 people overweight! Nauru also has the world’s highest level of type 2 diabetes – over 40% of its population is affected.

So now, Nauruans are poverty-stricken and fat – but they are trying to turn things around. With no natural resource left, in the 1990s, Nauru decided to become a tax haven and offered passports to foreign nationals for a fee. This attracted the wrong kind of money (but a lot of it): the Russian mafia funneled over $70 billion to the tiny island nation. Things got so bad that most big banks refused to handle transactions involving Nauru because of money laundering problems.

This led Nauru to another extraordinary money-making scheme: it became a detention camp for people applying for asylum to Australia!

4. Tuvalu

Size: 9 sq. mi. (26 km²)
Population: 10,441 (2005 estimate)
Location: South Pacific

Tuvalu [wiki] is basically a chain of low-lying coral islands, with its highest elevation being 16 feet or 5 meters above seal level. With total land area of just 9 square miles, Tuvalu is not only a teeny tiny island in the Pacific Ocean, it may not even exist in the next 50 years if sea level continue to rise (a controversial claim, nonetheless there were evacuation plans to New Zealand and other Pacific Islands). Even if the sea level does not rise, other problems such as population growth and coastal erosion still make Tuvalu a very vulnerable country.

During World War II, thousands of American troops were stationed on the islands of Tuvalu and the island became an Allied base. Airfields were quickly constructed and after the war, abandoned. In fact, today rusting wrecks can be found on the islands, a constant reminder of its role in the War.

Today, Tuvalu also derives income from renting out its Internet country code top-level domain .tv, as it is the abbreviation of the word ‘television’. This scheme got off to a rocky start (the original company who tried to do it failed to raise the necessary funds), but finally proved to be the largest source of income for the country.

5. San Marino

Size: 24 sq. mi. (61 km²)
Population: 28,117 (2005 estimate)
Location: North-central Italy near the Adriatic coast.

With the formal name of The Most Serene Republic of San Marino [wiki], it’s not surprising that San Marino has got lots of charms. Founded in AD 301 by a Christian stonecutter named (what else) Marino (or Marinus, depending on who you ask), who along with a small group of Christians, was seeking escape from religious persecution, San Marino is the world’s oldest republic.

Its history belies its simple motto: "Liberty." Indeed, San Marino was such a good neighbor that it was hardly ever conquered by larger enemies (it was briefly conquered in the 1500s and the 1700s, for like a month each). Even when Napoleon gobbled most of Europe, he left San Marino alone, saying it was a model republic!

San Marino takes its government seriously: for such a tiny country, San Marino has a very complex government structure, based on a constitution written in 1600. The country is ruled by an elected Council of 60, who appoints 2 captain regents (from opposing political parties, no less) to administer governmental affairs for six-month term. Talk about preserving liberties through division of authority!

Before World War II, San Marino was amongst the poorest countries in Europe. Today, with more than 3 million tourists visiting every year (half of San Marino’s income is derived from tourism), the people of San Marino are amongst the world’s richest people.

Memphis Mayor Fist Bumps the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader to millions and is kind of a big deal. Meeting with him is akin to meeting the Pope, the Queen of England or possibly even Bono. It is somewhat surprising to learn, then, that when the mayor of Memphis met him, he offered him a fist bump.

(Fist bumping is the most awesome thing to happen to journalism since baggy pants. Each time a public figure participates in the ritual, it's reported as though it's been discovered for the first time ever and is threatening to break down the very walls of civilization.)

As you can see, the Dalai Lama is no stranger to the fist bump. However, that terrible "Hello, Dalai" joke should cost the mayor his next election.

Tags: dalai lama - DalaiLama - fist bump - FistBump

Beer Pensioners Protest Benefit Cut from 72 Free Beers/Month

Retired Molson employees protest in St. John's September 25.
Retired Molson employees protest in St. John's September 25.
(CBC)

Retired brewery workers gathered outside a Molson plant in St. John's for the second time this year to protest the company’s plans to cut back the amount of beer pensioners receive every month.

Right now, retired workers get six dozen beer per month from the company but Molson plans to reduce that to one dozen beer per month, as of Jan. 1, 2010.

The company says it will drop the allocation altogether in five years.

This is the second time retirees have protested the change. They also protested last June when Molson retirees across the country received a letter from their former employer outlining the planned changes.

The letter says the changes are necessary because of "competitive pressure and the current economy" which have forced the company to "monitor costs and look for innovative ways to control and reduce them."

At the time, the pensioners union representative spoke out against the new policy.

"There's been no consultation with the members, and they've taken beer from them, which is a taxable benefit," said Greg Pretty of the FFAW/CAW, which represents approximately 45 Molson retirees in St. John's.

"The people who brought this company to where it is today … are now being discriminated against based on their age," he said.

There are about 50 retired Molson workers in the province.

A Molson representative told CBC that supplying 2,400 retirees across the country with free beer was costing the company over $1 million a year.

7 Color-Changing Wonders of the Animal Kingdom

amazing-color-changing-animal-camouflage

Can you spot the animals in the images above? The lizard blends so perfectly it is hard to see even when pointed out. The ability to change color seems like an animal superpower at times – some of them can alter their appearance to blend with the colors, materials and textures of virtually any surroundings. For some this ‘costume change’ happens quickly, for others it is seasonal – for many it helps them avoid predators, for a few it enables them to sneak up on prey. Culled from around the animal kingdom, here are seven of most impressive color-changing species in the world.

1) Side-Swimming Bottom-Feeding Flounder

color-changing-camouflage-flounder

(Images via: Cornell, FlounderGigging, PracticalFishKeeping and Wikimedia)

The flounder at first appeas as rather ungainly-looking bottom-feeding flat fish, but has the amazing ability to adapt their appearance to their environment in search of prey along the ocean floor. To further aid their stealth, their second eye actually migrates to one side of their body (left or right depending on the species) as they get older. This enables them to cruise along parallel to the ground below them (essentially on their side) and still look up and forward. Further, these industrious creatures have even (surprisingly) been found at the bottom of deepest location on the Earth’s crust – the Mariana Trench – at depths of 35,000 feet.

2) Shape-and-Species Shifting Mimic Octopus

mimic-octopus-color-changing-camouflage

(Images via Eobasileus, WaterWorxBali and Spluch)

More than mere color-changers, Mimic Octopi are also shape-shifters that can adapt their movements and the arrangement of their parts to appear as up to 15 different oceanic species “including sea snakes, lionfish, flatfish, brittle stars, giant crabs, sea shells, stingrays, flounders, jellyfish, sea anemones, and mantis shrimp.” This remarkable octopus species determines threats and reacts by appearing as a predator to their own predators.

“For example, when the octopus was being attacked by damselfishes, it was observed that the octopus appeared as a banded sea snake, a damselfish predator. The octopus impersonates the snake by turning black and yellow, burying six of its arms, and waving its other two arms in opposite directions” as shown in the above video.

3) Classic Color-Changing Chameleon Lizards

color-changing-chameleon-lizards

(Images via HowStuffWorks, MongaBay and NatureProducts)

Chameleons are the classic color-changers: all species of chameleons can shift their appearance to different degrees, collectively able to turn pink, blue, red, orange, yellow, green, black and brown and combinations thereof. Unlike many color-changing creatures, chameleons are thought to mainly change in order to communicate with others of their species and to make themselves more attractive to mates – as opposed to using their ability for offense or defense.

4) Insect-Stalking Duo-Tone Spider

color-changing-camouflage-spider-hunting

(Images via Wikipedia, FloridaNaturePhotography and Picasaweb)

The Goldenrod Crab Spider only has two colors it can change into – white and yellow – but fortunately for it, this species hunts mainly on flowers of those colors: daisies and sunflowers most notably. Triggered by their visual input, the spiders secrete a pigment to switch between white and yellow over a period of days – thus adapting to the plants in their area. This color change both helps them sneak up on flower-sitting prey and to avoid aerial predators such as birds.

5) Madly-Laughing Quick-Changing Tree Frog

color-changing-camouflage-tree-frog

(Images via Flickr, OctopusHome, PCUG and ScribblyGumWiki)

The Peron’s Tree Frog – also known as the Laughing Tree Frog and Maniacal Cackle Frog – is notable for the high-pitched sound it generates but also for its amazing ability to change color in less than an hour. It shifts between gray, brown and white with typically yellow and black legs and emerald spots. They are not afraid of people and can be found in all kinds of environments around Australia, many close to civilization, where they thrive in part due to their color-changing camouflage.

6) Shell-Switching Faux-Ladybug Beetle

color-changing-camouflage-beetle-species

(Images via: RichardSeaman, BugGuide and ScienceNewsforKids)

You may have already seen a Golden Tortoise Beetle but not have realized it, since these remarkable creatures can change from a shiny gold color to a dull red with ladybug-like spots. They achieve this change by altering the reflectivity of their outer shell – essentially like tinting a window – via microscopic valves that alter the moisture level under the shell. While it is not known for sure, there must certainly be advantages to appearing as part of another commonly-found species.

7) Arctic Foxes and Other Seasonal Color Shifters

color-changing-foxes-arctic-animals

From foxes and caribou to weasels, birds and bunnies, a number of species shift the colors of their coats come wintertime to blend in with the surrounding environment – a few are predators but most are prey. The degree of their transformation depends heavily on their habitats and the particular species with some shifting only slightly between shades and others going from fully brown to entirely white. Click here for more on seasonal color-changing arctic animals.

The Heineken Combo: You Really Can Have It Your Way!

imgur.com ....and if you are in a rush order it from your cell phone for easy drive-thru orders at Burger King!


University lab demonstrates 3-D printing in glass

University lab demonstrates 3-D printing in glass

Enlarge

This is an object printed from powdered glass, using the Solheim Lab's new Vitraglyphic process. Credit: University of Washington

A team of engineers and artists working at the University of Washington's Solheim Rapid Manufacturing Laboratory has developed a way to create glass objects using a conventional 3-D printer. The technique allows a new material to be used in such devices.

The team's method, which it named the Vitraglyphic process, is a follow-up to the Solheim Lab's success last spring printing with ceramics.

"It became clear that if we could get a material into powder form at about 20 microns we could print just about anything," said Mark Ganter, a UW professor of mechanical engineering and co-director of the Solheim Lab. (Twenty microns is less than one thousandth of an inch.)

Three-dimensional printers are used as a cheap, fast way to build prototype parts. In a typical powder-based 3-D printing system, a thin layer of powder is spread over a platform and software directs an inkjet printer to deposit droplets of binder solution only where needed. The binder reacts with the powder to bind the particles together and create a 3-D object.

Glass powder doesn't readily absorb liquid, however, so the approach used with ceramic printing had to be radically altered.

"Using our normal process to print objects produced gelatin-like parts when we used glass powders," said mechanical engineering graduate student Grant Marchelli, who led the experimentation. "We had to reformulate our approach for both powder and binder."

By adjusting the ratio of powder to liquid the team found a way to build solid parts out of powdered glass purchased from Spectrum Glass in Woodinville, Wash. Their successful formulation held together and fused when heated to the required temperature.

Glass is a material that can be transparent or opaque, but is distinguished as an inorganic material (one which contains no carbon) that solidifies from a molten state without the molecules forming an ordered . Glass molecules remain in a disordered state, so glass is technically a super-cooled liquid rather than a true solid.

In an instance of new technology rediscovering and building on the past, Ganter points out that 3-D printed glass bears remarkable similarities to pate de verre, a technique for creating glassware. In pate de verre, glass powder is mixed with a binding material such as egg white or enamel, placed in a mold and fired. The technique dates from early Egyptian times. With 3-D printing the technique takes on a modern twist.

University lab demonstrates 3-D printing in glass
Enlarge

Grant Marchelli, a UW mechanical engineering graduate student, removes a new object from the Solheim Lab printer. Marchelli led development of the first method for 3-D printing in glass. Credit: University of Washington

As with its ceramics 3-D printing recipe, the Solheim lab is releasing its method of printing glass for general use.

"By publishing these recipes without proprietary claims, we hope to encourage further experimentation and innovation within artistic and design communities," said Duane Storti, a UW associate professor of and co-director of the Solheim Lab.

Artist Meghan Trainor, a graduate student in the UW's Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media working at the Solheim Lab, was the first to use the new method to produce objects other than test shapes.

"Creating kiln-fired glass objects from digital models gives my ideas an immediate material permanence, which is a key factor in my explorations of digital art forms," Trainor said. "Moving from idea to design to printed part in such a short period of time creates an engaging iterative process where the glass objects form part of a tactile feedback loop."

Ronald Rael, an assistant professor of architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, has been working with the Solheim Lab to set up his own 3-D printer. Rael is working on new kinds of ceramic bricks that can be used for evaporative cooling systems.

"3-D printing in glass has huge potential for changing the thinking about applications of glass in architecture," Rael said. "Before now, there was no good method of rapid prototyping in glass, so testing designs is an expensive, time-consuming process." Rael adds that 3-D printing allows one to insert different forms of glass to change the performance of the material at specific positions as required by the design.

The new method would also create a way to repurpose used glass for new functions, Ganter said. He sees recycled as a low-cost material that can help bring 3-D printing within the budget of a broader community of artists and designers.

Source: University of Washington (news : web)

History lesson: 10 things you might not know about the Olympics

On Friday, the International Olympic Committee will decide whether the host city for the 2016 Summer Olympics will be Chicago, Tokyo, Madrid or Rio de Janeiro. Here are 10 facts about the five-ring circus:

1. Olympic sites are chosen by secret ballot, so we're not sure how London beat Paris for the 2012 Summer Olympics. But some blame French President Jacques Chirac, who insulted Britain before the vote by saying, "After Finland, it's the country with the worst food." France's bid wasn't getting British support anyway, but Finland had two IOC members, and some speculate that they were swing votes in the 54-50 outcome.

2. Tug-o-war made its last appearance as an Olympic sport in 1920.

3. Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee, decreed in his will that his heart be sent to the site of ancient Olympia in Greece, where it is kept in a monument. The rest of him was buried in Lausanne, Switzerland.

4. Chicago was supposed to host the 1904 Olympics, but St. Louis stole it away. The Games were a fiasco. Only 14 of 32 participants finished the marathon, which was held in 90-degree heat with a single water well at the 12-mile mark. Cuban marathoner Felix Carvajal, who lost his money in a craps game in New Orleans, hitchhiked to St. Louis and ran the race in street shoes. He stopped to chat with spectators and to steal apples from an orchard but still finished fourth. American Fred Lorz dropped out after nine miles, rode in a car for 11, then rejoined the race and crossed the finish line first, quickly admitting his hoax. The prize went to American Thomas Hicks, whose supporters gave him strychnine (a stimulant in low doses) and brandy -- the first known use of performance-enhancing drugs in the Olympics.

5. French athletes bent the rules at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics: Despite Prohibition, they were allowed wine with their meals.

6. George Patton, who would later become a famous U.S. general, competed in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics pentathlon, an event combining pistol shooting, swimming, fencing, cross country and steeplechase. Patton performed poorly in his best event -- pistols -- but shined in fencing, defeating the French army champion. Old Blood and Guts finished fifth overall, the only non-Swede to make the top seven.

7. The greatest star of the 1936 Berlin Olympics was the 10th child born to an Alabama sharecropper family named Owens. But he was not born with the name Jesse. He was called James Cleveland Owens, and as a child moved to his namesake city -- Cleveland. A teacher asked his name, and he said "J.C." The teacher thought he said "Jesse," and the boy was too polite to disagree. ( Mayor Richard Daley often cites Owens in pushing Chicago's bid, and indeed Owens was a Chicagoan, but only late in life. A dozen years after the Olympics, Owens settled here, and he is buried in Oak Woods Cemetery on the South Side.)

8. Another great Olympian with Chicago ties was Johnny Weissmuller, the winner of five gold medals in swimming who later starred as Tarzan in the movies. Weissmuller swam brilliantly in the 1924 and '28 Olympics -- and also in the waters off Chicago's North Avenue Beach on a stormy day in July 1927. Weissmuller was training on the lakefront with his brother Peter when a sudden storm swamped the pleasure boat Favorite. The disaster killed 27 of the 71 people aboard -- mostly women and children -- but the Weissmuller brothers rescued 11 people.

9. No boxing was held at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics because the sport was illegal in Sweden.

10 . A study of the 2004 Athens Olympics found that athletes who wore red while competing in "combat sports" such as wrestling scored higher than opponents wearing blue.



SOURCES: "Historical Dictionary of the Modern Olympic Movement," edited by John E. Findling and Kimberly D. Pelle; "The Complete Book of the Olympics" by David Wallechinsky; "General Patton: A Soldier's Life" by Stanley Hirshson; "Johnny Weissmuller: Twice the Hero" by David Fury; " Jesse Owens: An American Life" by William J. Baker; The Wall Street Journal; Tribune news services

La Jolla Is The Most Expensive Real Estate Market



Coldwell Banker has released their 2009 Coldwell Banker® Home Price Comparison Index (HPCI) and found that La Jolla, Calif., is the most expensive market. In fact there is an over $2 million gap between what they deem the most expensive and most affordable U.S. housing markets. The comparison of similar 2,200-square foot homes in 310 U.S. housing markets found that the average home price in La Jolla is $2.125 million while at the other end of the spectrum, Grayling, Mich., was the most affordable market in America, where a similarly sized home costs $112,675. California fared badly, 13 other California markets are on the most expensive list while Grayling was one of 20 Midwest communities on the most affordable list (others include Akron, Canton, Detroit and Wichita).

Looking at four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath homes in the United States, thirty percent of the markets show this type of home to be below $200,000, while half of the markets surveyed showed an average price for this type of home to be less than $300,000 meaning there are deals out there. The cumulative average sales price of the four-bedroom homes surveyed in the 310 U.S. markets (including one in Puerto Rico) covered in the Coldwell Banker HPCI is $363,460.

The mention of La Jolla gave me a chance to check in on one of my favorite estates which happens to be in the seaside town. The Razor was once listed at $39 million, it was $32 million when I covered it in April and is now down to $28 million.

Gallery: The Razor

Australian town bans bottled water


Posted on : 2009-09-26 | Author : dpa
News Category : Environment



Sydney - Bundanoon on Saturday became the first town in Australia, and possibly the world, to ban the sale of bottled water. The 2,500 residents voted in July to stop shops from stocking single-use bottles and switch to retailing bottles that are refillable for free at taps around the town. "As politicians grapple with the issue of climate change, we should never forget that each and every one of us can make a real difference at the very local level," shopowner Huw Kingston told local paper the Southern Highland News. "As was demonstrated by the intense media interest from all around the world, it's extremely heartening that our small town has become an international role model for grassroots action."The tourist town of Bundanoon, 120 kilometres south of Sydney, showed it was fun to be green by putting on a parade and a party for the switchover. It also demonstrated that environmentalism and entrepreneurship can coexist. Collectors were picking up souvenir switchover bottles at 29 Australian dollars (24 US dollars) apiece. The standard refillable bottles retail for the same price as the superseded reusable ones. Jon Dee, head of environmental lobby group Do Something, reckons Bundanoon is the first place in the world to impose a ban. "Huge amounts of resources are used to extract, bottle and transport that bottled water, and much of the packaging ends up as litter or landfill," he said. "Bottled water is a menace and a marketing con that's been visited on Australians by the bottled water industry and what we are trying to do is expose that con for what it is."Environmental group Eco Worldly estimates that the energy required to produce bottled water is 2,000 times that to produce tap water. Kingston assured visitors that they would not be run out of town if they arrived with bottled water. "Nobody is going to get lynched for carrying a bottle of prepackaged water down the main street of Bundanoon," he said. Kingston hatched the Bundy-on-Tap idea after soft drinks company Norlex Holdings applied to pump water out of a local aquifer to supply the bottled water market. The initiative was put to the townsfolk and there were 355 votes in favour of banning the sale of bottled water and only one against.


http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/287312,australian-town-bans-bottled-water.html
© 2009 earthtimes.org. All Rights Reserved.

Reno casino hits geothermal jackpot underground

The Associated Press

RENO, Nev.—A Reno casino has hit the jackpot: An underground geothermal water source just north of one of its new 17-story hotel tower that will generate enough heat and hot water for all 2.1 million square feet of the resort's space.

The Peppermill Resort Spa casino recently gambled on an $8 million project to drill a deep hole on their property in search of the hot water, which hovers around 170 degrees.

"The Peppermill, they really did hit a nice temperature of water," said Lowell Price, oil, gas and geothermal manager for Nevada's Division of Minerals, which oversees the permitting process of geothermal wells on private property.

"It is really not hot enough for the big players ... for the generation of electricity, but what they are trying to do, they have a real nice find there, very nice," Price told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The new green-energy system is schedule to go online in January. It will be used to heat all restaurants, casino floors, the expansive spa, plus every shower and sink in 1,600-plus hotel rooms year-round.

The move will save $1 million a year in energy costs, resort officials said, adding project expenses should be recovered through those savings in eight years.

"Through the course of the drilling, we were all concerned about if there was going to be enough water down there and if it was hot," said Alan Bailey, geologist and drilling engineer with Geothermal Resource Group, Inc. "Only in the final stages was it real clear that they had an excellent well here."

Peppermill executives are cheering now, but they were concerned during the drilling process. The drilling hit 4,421 feet before the aquifer was reached.

Peppermill officials were almost certain they'd hit water, since the property already has some smaller, albeit more tepid geothermal wells.

"If the water was not hot enough with the new well, that was the big risk in drilling," said Bill Hughes, the Peppermill's director of marketing.

The Peppermill's discovery comes at a time when the city of Reno and the state of Nevada are trying to raise awareness about the area's geothermal potential, as well as stepping up efforts to encourage geothermal companies to locate here.

"Last year, we had a banner year and we had 130 permits, which was the highest ever," Price said. "We are already up to 162 permits this year, so it is really taking off."

The majority of the permits are for wells that have water hot enough to use to generate electricity.

The Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, the Peppermill's rival in south Reno, is considering using the geothermal well under its property, CEO John Farahi said. The Atlantis has yet to apply for a permit for test drilling, Price said.

The Peppermill's system gives the resort an advantage over every other hotel property in the U.S., said Jim Combs of Geo Hills Associates LLC of Reno.

"The green energy heating addition to the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system at the Peppermill will now make it the only hotel in the United States whose heating source is totally provided from geothermal energy produced on their own immediate property," said Combs.

The Peppermill's geothermal endeavor will be showcased at the Geothermal Resources Council Annual Meeting and Geothermal Energy Expo, to be held at the Peppermill Oct. 4-7. The convention is expected to attract about 2,000 participants.

———

Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com

New Super Mario Bros. Wii: Official Box Art Revealed

the game will be available on 11/15/09

A classic Mario adventure that everyone can enjoy – at the same time.

Developers at Nintendo have dreamed of creating a simultaneous multiplayer Super Mario Bros.™ game for decades. The Wii console finally makes that dream come true for everyone. Now players can navigate the side-scrolling worlds alone as before or invite up to three others to join them at the same time on the same level at any point in the game for competitive and cooperative multiplayer fun. With the multiplayer mode, the newest installment of the most popular video game franchise is designed to bring yet another type of family entertainment into living rooms and engage groups of friends in fast-paced Super Mario Bros. fun

  • New Super Mario Bros. Wii offers a combination of cooperation and competition. Players can pick each other up to save them from danger or toss them into it.

  • Mario, Luigi™ and two Toads are all playable characters, while many others from the Mushroom Kingdom make appearances throughout the game. Players can even ride different Yoshi™ characters and use their tongues to swallow enemies, items and even balls of fire.

  • In some areas, players use the motion abilities of the Wii Remote™ controller. The first player to reach a seesaw might make it tilt to help his or her character reach a higher platform – or might make it tilt incorrectly just to mess with other players.

  • New items include the propeller suit, which will shoot players high into the sky with just a shake of the Wii Remote, and Mario’s new ability to transform into Penguin Mario.

  • At the end of each stage during the coin battle multiplayer mode, players are ranked based on the number of coins they have collected.

Sugar Makes Dr Pepper Special From Dublin, Texas

Tiny Dr Pepper bottler in Dublin, Texas, still using pure sugar, as it has for 118 years

By MICHAEL GRACZYK

The Associated Press

DUBLIN, Texas

For Dr Pepper drinkers, this is mecca.

Tens of thousands of people trek to tiny Dublin in north-central Texas each year to buy cases of the popular soft drink from a bottling company that uses real sugar in its flagship product. No high fructose corn syrup in sight.

It's been that way since 1891, when Dublin Bottling Works became the world's first bottler of soda pop and the first to distribute the fruit- and berry-flavored carbonated drink that had debuted six years earlier at Wade Morrison's Old Corner Drug Store in downtown Waco, about 80 miles to the east.

In this photo taken Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009, a Dublin Dr Pepper bottle showing the Imperial Sugar label is shown at the Dublin Dr Pepper bottling company in Dublin, Texas. (AP Photo/Donna McWilliam)
(AP)

Dublin Dr Pepper is not the only soft drink that uses sugar. PepsiCo Inc. introduced limited-edition versions of Pepsi and Mountain Dew this year that did, and in some markets Coca-Cola Co. offers a kosher version of Coke using sugar that is available in the weeks preceding Passover. There's also a simmering U.S. demand for Mexican-made Coca-Cola, which uses real sugar.

But Dublin Dr Pepper's signature product has become a favorite of bootleggers who resell it elsewhere and folks from around the world who buy it in person or online.

What separates it from the more widely available version is the taste, according to bottling company owner Bill Kloster and people who love it.

"It tastes different, it doesn't have the aftertaste," Ralph Cherry, a retired teacher from Waco, said recently as he sipped a drink at Old Doc's Soda Shop, the 1950s-style Dublin Dr Pepper store where visitors can tour the plant, get a bite to eat and take home up to 20 cases of 24 cans or bottles per person.

Resourceful drink lovers have found ways to circumvent the 20-case limit, imposed some years back by Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc., the brand's Plano-based corporate owners, to protect other bottlers.

"A lot of them bring friends," said Lori Dodd, the company's creative services director.

Dodd, who cites "the passion and devotion and loyalty" Dublin Dr Pepper elicits, handles requests like providing the drink for weddings and dinners and even funerals. One woman asked for, and received, four Dublin Dr Pepper bottles to hold her cremated remains — one for each of her children.

Dr Pepper — invented by Morrison's pharmacist, Charles Alderton, and named for the father of a girl Morrison was smitten with — gained national fame at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis.

When franchises were awarded in the mid-1920s, Dublin was Dr Pepper franchise No. 1. It still operates under a 1925 licensing agreement that includes a hand-drawn map restricting its distribution to a 44-mile area around the town of 3,900.

While that makes Dublin one of the smallest Dr Pepper bottlers, it's among the top 10 percent in per capita sales.

In this photo taken Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009, Bill Kloster, owner of the Dublin Dr Pepper bottling company in Dublin, Texas, poses for a photograph at the bottling plant in Dublin. (AP Photo/Donna McWilliam)
(AP)

"You can't help but derive some pleasure having the kind of not just regional recognition or not even state recognition and not even necessarily national," Kloster said. "We kind of have an international presence."

Visitors routinely wait outside for the plant to open to the public at 10 a.m. About 68,000 took the tour last year, seeing the 1936 bottling machine that dispenses an ounce of syrup with every five ounces of 33- to 36-degree water, the 100-pound sacks of sugar and memorabilia from both the Dublin operation and Dr Pepper's history. (The period after 'Dr' got dropped years ago in an ad campaign and didn't return.)

Dodd estimates double or triple the number of tour takers stop by just to buy the soda.

Dublin Dr Pepper sold about half a million units last year, with the most popular being 8-ounce bottles and 12-ounce cans. Within its distribution area, it also sells larger bottles and boxes of syrup for use in fountains.

"It's the taste," said Sarah Fox, who recently detoured from Dallas-Fort Worth, about an hour and a half to the northeast, on her way back home to Lubbock to pick up three cases.

The distinctive taste is attributed to granulated sugar supplied by Imperial Sugar Co., based in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land. Dublin Dr Pepper uses an estimated 425,000 pounds of pure cane sugar each year.

Most soft drink makers switched to high-fructose corn syrup in the 1970s when sugar prices rose.

Kloster's father, also Bill, was running the Dublin plant then with owner Grace Prim Lyon, whose father, Sam Houston Prim, established the Dublin operation in 1891. Dr Pepper sent its bottlers samples of the soft drink with the cheaper ingredient. Lyon and Kloster didn't like it.

"My dad, he was a stubborn old German," son Bill said. "He knew what he liked. And when they came up and said they were going to change to corn syrup, he said: `Nope.' I don't think at the time he did that he had any perception in terms of a marketing ploy. But that's certainly a draw."

While a handful of bottlers now produce a pure sugar version, only the Dublin drink carries both the Imperial Sugar logo and the word "Dublin" incorporated into the normal Dr Pepper logo.

The effect is a brand within a brand — something Kloster said "drives corporate crazy."

Dr Pepper Snapple Group, though, acknowledged Dublin as "one of our most recognized bottlers."

"They've done a good job of tapping into consumer nostalgia," spokesman Greg Artkop said. "They're a good partner and we believe anything that fuels the passion of Dr Pepper fans is great for the brand."

In Dublin, Kloster, 67, is considering building a new bottling plant directly behind the old one. He's the town's biggest private employer, with 35 people.

And all those warnings about sugar being bad for you?

"I think when the evidence is all in, they're going to go back and figure out the high fructose corn syrup was much worse for you than sugar ever was," Kloster said.

———

On the Net:

Dublin Dr Pepper: http://www.dublindrpepper.com/

Dr Pepper: http://www.drpepper.com/

user-pic

The crowd sat down. Adjusted their lap bars. The staff gave out the warnings. The passengers threw up their arms and cheered as the train left the station.

The roller coaster ride known as "Paranormal Activity" screened in 16 cities last night, with the Music Box Theater scoring Chicago's only midnight showing. An estimated crowd of 1,500 snaked around the block, those who RSVP'd in advance were allowed in.

Haven't heard of "Paranormal Activity" yet? It's a "Blair Witch"-style, found footage horror fest, about a young couple dealing with a possible demon in their home. The spirit seems to be following Katie (Katie Featherston, the next Heather Donahue) since she was eight years old, keeping her awake at night with its whispering in her ears.

Her boyfriend Micah (Micah Sloat) will have none of this. He's your stereotypical dude-bro who wants to get this demon on film. He buys a video camera, and the two begin documenting their lives in your typical haunted suburban home. The film is the supposed "found footage" that police were kind enough to share with Paramount Pictures. Of course none of this is real, but it was crafted well enough to suck last night's crowd in, scaring the you-know-what out of them despite the ridiculous amount of hype.

paranormal 2.jpg
As a card-carrying member of the Chicago Film Critics Association, I cannot give you my full review of "Paranormal Activity" until the Chicago release date (none is set yet). I can say that it's a film that ratchets up the tension throughout, slowly building to one enormous scare that had ninety-percent of the Music Box crowd in screams. The conclusion was easily the most tense moment I have ever spent in a movie theater. And as I write this, I'm getting chills all over again. It's just that effective.

Afterwards, hundreds of viewers stuck around outside the theater, some physically shaking. One young woman broke out in tears when I asked her how she was feeling. The crowd was mixed into two camps - hardcore horror fans debating the success of director Oren Peli and his $15,000 budget film, and people looking to each other for therapy, reminding each other that none of this stuff happens in real life. Or does it?

I shot some video of their reactions, I'll have it posted soon. One gentleman told me that "Paranormal Activity" is a film that demands to be seen in a theater among 1,500 strangers. After last night's packed free screenings across the country, Paramount will no doubt be bringing this one to a theater near you. They're asking fans to "demand" it play in their town, no matter how small. You can do so here. In the meantime, watch the trailer...



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