Friday, October 28, 2011

A jolt to the penis cures impotency???

In case you had any doubts — and how could you after all those football-through-the-tire, middle-aged-men-channeling-Elvis, kitchens-turning-into-rainforests commercials — men value their erections.

When our penis hydraulics fail, we'll swallow our pride and the magic pills, and if they fail, we'll vacuum pump it, tie it up with rubber bands, use a needle and syringe to shoot drugs into it, and, if none of that works, we'll have the poor guy reamed out and stuffed with plastic tubes we can fill with salt water for woodies on demand.

Now some Israeli doctors have tried yet another technique: shocking the poor thing. Using something they call "low-intensity extracorporeal shock wave therapy," a team from the Rambam Healthcare Campus in Haifa actually succeeded in giving recalcitrant penises a boost.

A year ago, they announced that a study using both tissue in culture dishes and actual human erectile dysfunction patients appeared to indicate that applying shockwaves to the tissue sparked the growth of new blood vessels. That's important because erections are caused by blood rushing into the penile vasculature. Often, as men age, we accumulate vasculature damage. Sometimes as a result of diabetes or cardiovascular disease, the penile blood vessels degrade. E.D. pills like Viagra boost blood flow into the penis to compensate.

Last time, the team tested the idea on patients who responded to PD-5 inhibitors like Viagra. This time, they selected patients, many with complicating diseases like diabetes, who did not, or were no longer, responding to the pills.

In each treatment session, men were given 300 shocks over a period of three minutes, on five points along the shaft of the penis. There were two sessions per week for three weeks, then three weeks off, and then another three-week treatment period. The shocks were tiny, really, and the men didn't complain of any pain or discomfort.

The goal was to see if the therapy would make the pills any more effective.

Two months after the treatments concluded, erection scores — yes, erections get scores just like Olympic divers — improved in 75 percent of the 29 men in the study. Eight men, nearly 30 percent, had erections in the normal range when they used an E.D. pill. Blood flow improved in all the men. That's pretty impressive considering seven of the men were already using the injections and two of the men were considering a penile implant — a drastic last resort.

The study authors stress that this was not a placebo-controlled trial of the technique and they plan more tests. Still, it's pretty big news if this shock therapy really can spark new vessel growth. If so, shocking your boy may well become standard. If, that is, our abused penises don't rebel first.


Recent Study shows that: Aspirin Can Cut Bowel Cancer Risk By Half.

Aspirin cuts the chances of developing bowel cancer by more than half in people with a family history of the disease, British scientists said Friday.

"We've now got the cherry on the cake -- the randomized controlled trial that sets out to try to prove that [aspirin prevents cancer] and did so," said Sir John Burn, of Newcastle University, northeastern England, who led the study.

His team looked at 861 people with Lynch syndrome, an inherited predisposition to cancer. Even though aspirin can cause internal bleeding, Burn said that the case for such people to start taking it was "overwhelmingly strong."

"If you give them all aspirin, you prevent 10,000 cancers but cause 1,000 ulcers," he said. "That's a good deal."

A large study last year concluded that a daily dose of just 75 milligrams of aspirin could cut death rates for all cancers by a third. Burn's team gave patients 600 milligrams of aspirin a day, which they believed was likely to show a bigger effect in preventing cancer. He is now starting a trial to determine the ideal daily dose.

Burns said that he was already taking aspirin, which was likely to be most effective if taken from a patient's late 40s or 50s.

"Before anyone begins to take aspirin on a regular basis they should consult their doctor as aspirin is known to bring with it a risk of stomach complaints, including ulcers," he said. "However, if there is a strong family history of cancer then people may want to weigh up the cost benefits."

Half of the 861 people in the study took two aspirins (600mg) a day, for varying lengths of time. Ten years after they began taking the pills, there had been 19 cancers among people who had taken aspirin, and 34 among those taking a placebo. Among those who took the drug for at least two years, there were 10 cancers in the aspirin group and 23 in the placebo group.

The effect began to be seen five years after they started taking aspirin and persisted well after they stopped, researchers reported in The Lancet medical journal.

How exactly aspirin prevents cancer is unclear, but Burns believes that compounds found in the drug trigger genetically damaged cells to destroy themselves at a very early stage

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Plague genome: The Black Death of 1348 has been decoded

As word of a brutal pestilence raging across Europe reached London, its residents started digging. In 1348, Ralph Stratford, Bishop of London, dedicated acres of land that had been purchased to bury the legions of Black Death victims who would overwhelm existing churchyard cemeteries. Within two years, one-third to one-half of the city's 40,000–100,000 residents succumbed, and many thousands were buried in two newly dug cemeteries at East and West Smithfield. At the height of the scourge, 200 bodies were interred each day.

East Smithfield, originally called the Churchyard of the Holy Trinity, is one of a handful of burial sites known to have been used only during the Black Death. In the 1980s, excavation of this 'plague pit' turned up nearly a third of the 2,400 bodies estimated to be buried there, some piled five deep. Despite the urgency of the time, the bodies were placed purposefully, oriented east to west, some with charcoal, possibly to absorb the fluids released during putrefaction, and many with coins and trinkets of their former lives. Such foresight not only helped keep corpses from piling up in the streets, but also, it seems, afforded some Black Death victims a dignified Christian burial. Six-and-a-half centuries later, it would also give scientists the opportunity to dissect the disease that laid waste to Europe

This month, geneticists reported that they have reconstructed the genome of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes bubonic plague, recovered from remains at East Smithfield1.

The sequence — the first from an ancient bacterial pathogen — may help to explain how a disease could wreak so much havoc. It also marks a renaissance in genetic studies of ancient diseases, a field that has suffered a controversial history but that is now being revitalized. "There will be a race now for all the ancient pathogens," says Hendrik Poinar, a palaeogeneticist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, who co-led the sequencing efforts.

When Alexandre Yersin linked Y. pestis to bubonic plague in 1894, many scientists surmised that the pathogen was behind not only the Black Death, but also a spate of earlier mass die-offs. The sixth-century Justinian plague devastated Constantinople and killed millions in Europe and the Near East. Plagues reared their heads periodically for the next two centuries. Black Death itself reappeared several times, even into the nineteenth century.

Clues tying Y. pestis to these outbreaks came largely from historical accounts of their symptoms, such as Giovanni Boccaccio's description of the Black Death in The Decameron, written around 1350: "It first betrayed itself by the emergence of certain tumours in the groin or the armpits, some of which grew as large as a common apple, others as an egg."

But some modern historians and scientists came to doubt that Y. pestis caused these ancient outbreaks. Bubonic plague epidemics known to have been caused by Y. pestis in the past century seemed too mild to have been caused by the same culprit as the Black Death: they killed fewer people and spread more slowly. Some 'plague revisionists' have argued that fleas, which spread Y. pestis to humans, would have struggled to survive the cold temperatures reported during the Black Death. And there was the speed with which it killed — Boccaccio reported that death often occurred within three days of the first symptoms appearing. Anthrax or a haemorrhagic-fever-causing virus similar to Ebola would be more likely than plague to cause such a rapid demise, say critics.

DNA evidence would seem to offer a definitive answer. In 2000, a team led by Didier Raoult, a microbiologist at the University of the Mediterranean in Marseilles, France, said it had proved the link between the bacterium and the disease. The researchers reported that they had successfully recovered Y. pestis DNA from the teeth of a child and two adults dug up from a fourteenth-century mass burial site in Montpellier. The team identified the bacterium using a sensitive technique called the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify a portion of a gene from Y. pestis called pla. "We believe that we can end the controversy," the team wrote2. "Medieval Black Death was plague."

But several critics raised concerns about contamination. The PCR might instead have amplified DNA from modern Y. pestis used previously in the lab, or possibly the sequences from a closely related soil-dwelling bacterium. "I could never, ever replicate it," says Thomas Gilbert, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. In 2004, Gilbert and his colleagues reported no trace of Y. pestis DNA in 108 teeth from 61 individuals found in plague pits in France, Denmark and England (including East Smithfield).

Raoult says that there was no contamination and that Gilbert's methods did not accurately replicate his. Still, those who were already sceptical of the suggestion that Y. pestis caused the Black Death latched on to Gilbert's study.

Other studies of microbial DNA extracted from ancient human remains — including those affected by tuberculosis, syphilis and malaria — were also being scrutinized. In several cases, researchers could not replicate results, or they found methodological shortcomings. Critics said that DNA from these samples was too degraded by heat, moisture and time to detect, and the field soon divided into believers and sceptics.

"There was a complete schism," says Ian Barnes, a palaeogeneticist at Royal Holloway University of London, who says he spent two-and-a-half years trying — unsuccessfully — to find DNA evidence of syphilis or tuberculosis in bones dating from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. "People largely ignored each other," he says.

Digging up answers

Although Poinar was dubious of claims about ancient microbial DNA, he was intrigued by the bones from East Smithfield. Nearly all of the remains are from Black Death victims, many of whom were cut down during the prime of their lives.

In a bright ground-floor laboratory of the Museum of London, a short walk from East Smithfield, osteoarchaeologist Jelena Bekvalac examines the nearly complete skeleton of one of the plague pit's former residents. Wearing a black silk scarf dotted with white skull-prints, Bekvalac handles a pelvic bone and determines that it belonged to a man who died in his late teens or early twenties. Apart from some plaque on his teeth and a gash in his skull that shows some signs of healing, the man's skeleton offers no outward evidence of Black Death.

His remains, and those from hundreds of others, represent a snapshot of life and death in London during the epidemic. Since the site's excavation, researchers have descended on the bones in search of information.

In the late 1990s, Poinar met Sharon DeWitte, then a graduate student at Pennsylvania State University in State College, who was working on a demographic analysis of the remains suggesting that Black Death preferentially killed those who were already frail. The two considered drilling into teeth and bones to find Y. pestis DNA, but Poinar wasn't satisfied with the available detection tools, which were still based on PCR. "We sort of sat on the samples for a few years waiting for all the stars to align," says DeWitte, now at the State University of New York at Albany.

That alignment came from next-generation DNA sequencers, machines that read short snippets of DNA. The technology was perfect for sequencing DNA that has been damaged by spending hundreds of years underground.

The sequencers allowed Svante Pääbo, a palaeogeneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and his team to sequence a draft of the Neanderthal genome6. But finding and sequencing ancient pathogens in a human skeleton is much harder — like finding "needles in the football field", Poinar says — because their genomes are 1,000 times shorter than that of the Neanderthal and closely resemble those of soil microbes that have infiltrated the bones.

Historical descriptions of the Black Death have helped link Yersinia pestis with the disease.

Another technology helped narrow the search. Pääbo and his team developed a technique, called targeted capture, in which they used lab-synthesized 'bait' DNA to snag ancient DNA strands from a bone sample, leaving soil-microbe and other sequences behind. "It's pretty much like fishing in a pond," says Johannes Krause, a palaeogeneticist at the University of Tübingen in Germany, who worked with Pääbo on the Neanderthal genome and co-led the Black Death project with Poinar.

In a proof-of-principle experiment published in August of this year, Krause and Poinar's team used sequences from a contemporary plague strain to fish out Y. pestis DNA from the teeth of victims buried at East Smithfield. From this, they sequenced a short loop of DNA, called the pPCP1 plasmid, that is partially responsible for bubonic plague's ability to infect humans.

Their results, along with a paper published last year that found Y. pestis sequences in different Black Death bone samples, have convinced most scientists that bubonic plague was involved in the Black Death.

In their most recent paper1, Poinar and Krause completed the ancient genome and showed that it sits at the root of an evolutionary tree that comprises contemporary strains of Y. pestis. This indicates that the Black Death strain spawned many of the forms of Y. pestis that infect humans today.

This strain, Krause adds, probably emerged not long before the Black Death started its rampage across western Asia and Europe in the fourteenth century. "That, for me, was the biggest surprise," he says. It suggests, the authors argue, that earlier plagues were caused by either a now-extinct strain of Y. pestis or by an entirely different pathogen.

Mark Achtman, a plague-evolution expert at University College Cork in Ireland, calls this interpretation "absolute nonsense". Krause and Poinar's team did not consider a number of modern plague strains found in central and east Asia, which are thought to have earlier origins than the East Smithfield strain, Achtman says. Genome sequences for these strains were not available to his team, says Krause, but he is eager to see how they are related.

Mysterious scourge

Just as puzzling, however, is that Y. pestis seems to have changed very little over the past 660 years. The genome of the Black Death strain differs from that of the modern Y. pestis 'reference' strain by about 100 nucleotides, but each of these genetic differences can be found in at least one contemporary strain. "We can't find anything that makes the Black Death special," Krause says.

The team is now looking for other genetic changes that could account for the Black Death's ferocity, such as rearrangements in the genome, which are difficult to determine from the short fragments of DNA available. To better understand how the plague worked, researchers could try to resurrect the Black Death pathogen by modifying the genomes of contemporary Y. pestis strains. Although this might sound alarming, research on Y. pestis is already carefully controlled, and even an accidental infection with such a strain could be easily treated with modern antibiotics.

Moreover, Poinar says, the Black Death was not just about the bacterium. Environmental and epidemiological factors must have aided in its vicious tear through Europe. Sick soldiers returning to Europe from Caffa, the Black Sea port that was the plague's gateway from Asia, unleashed the disease on a population that would have been weakened by malnourishment and years of cold, wet weather, he says.

Achtman says that it is possible that Black Death was not spread by rat-dwelling fleas, as Y. pestis is today, but by other animals, which could have enhanced transmission. Or another circulating pathogen could have contributed, as in the 'Spanish flu' pandemic that killed up to 100 million people worldwide in 1918–19, often with the help of bacterial pneumonia.

Whatever questions remain about the Black Death, scientists are now keen to apply the latest sequencing methods to other ancient epidemics. "I've completely gone from thinking, 'ancient pathogens are a load of crap,' to 'hold on, maybe some of this stuff works'," says Gilbert, whose team has started to sequence DNA from pathogens that plagued ancient crops. Researchers could identify ancient microbes and chart their spread and their evolutionary relationships with contemporary strains. For example, Europeans who travelled to the New World may have introduced new forms of tuberculosis to North America and brought syphilis back to Europe.

Ancient pathogens may help scientists understand current and future outbreaks, says Terry Brown, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Manchester, UK. He and Charlotte Roberts, of Durham University, UK, are charting the evolution of tuberculosis strains in Britain and Europe. "By looking over the past 1,000 years of disease in British cities, we can understand problems occurring in the Third World, where more and more people are crowding into cities," he says. Similarly, the sequencing and resurrection of the influenza strain responsible for the 1918 pandemic10 has helped researchers to interpret the sequences of contemporary flu strains.

For all its ferocity, the Black Death left few visible marks on London. Today, the plague pit at East Smithfield is in the heart of London's financial district, buried under modern office suites and the old Royal Mint building. The only visible remnants are the crumbled ruins of St Mary Graces, a Cistercian abbey built near the site in 1350.

London may have seen its last significant bubonic plague outbreak, but catastrophic epidemics are a rule of human history, not an exception. Centuries from now, what traces will the next great scourge leave? Future archaeologists chronicling its history may find memorials, graves and probably even the bodies of victims. But another story will also lurk in


Monday, October 24, 2011

Teenage Girl in first degree burnt. During Satanic Ritual.

The victim, Kirsty Theologia, suffered 75% burns to her body from the waist up and damage to her lungs and throat, according to her sister Samantha.

The 18-year-old apparently had one of her hands cut off which was held over a Bible so that the blood could soak it as she burnt, according to South African newspaper The Star.

A 16-year-old friend was reportedly also burnt as she tried to put out the flames, rolling Miss Theologia in the sand.

The teenagers had been among a group of five boys and three girls who were in a Johannesburg park when the incident happened.

The paper said Miss Theologia and her friend were driven to hospital by their pastor, and were then transferred to other hospitals.

It's horrible, it's scary and just horrific what happened to my sister.

Victim's sister Samantha Theologia ⁠

Police spokeswoman Captain Pinky Tsingane said the girls were tied up and there was speculation the attack was a satanic ritual.

Two men, aged 19 and 21, have handed themselves into a police station, said Ms Tsingane.

Officers have begun an attempted murder inquiry.

Samantha Theologia told the paper: "It's horrible, it's scary and just horrific what happened to my sister.

"My mum is in a state and can't talk. Friends are breaking down.

"Kirsty is in Grade 11 and is loved by so many people. This is a nightmare."


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Remains Couple found to have Held Hands For 1,500 Years

The skeletal remains of a Roman-era couple reveal the pair has been holding hands for 1,500 years.

Italian archaeologists say the man and woman were buried at the same time between the 5th and 6th century A.D. in central-northern Italy. Wearing a bronze ring, the woman is positioned so she appears to be gazing at her male partner.

"We believe that they were originally buried with their faces staring into each other. The position of the man's vertebrae suggests that his head rolled after death," Donato Labate, the director of the excavation at the archaeological superintendency of Emilia-Romagna, told Discovery News.

The tender discovery was made during ordinary construction work in Modena and was announced this week. Labate explained the dig revealed three layers of scientific interest.

The deeper layer, some 23 feet below the surface, contained the remains of Roman-era structures, including a calcara where mortar was produced. The ruins belonged to the suburbs of Modena, then called Mutina.

"A middle layer, at a depth of about 10 feet, featured 11 burials, while a third stratification on top of the necropolis, revealed seven empty tombs," Labate said.

Excavated by archaeologist Licia Diamanti, the skeleton couple belonged to the 11 tomb necropolis. According to Labate, the simple fossa (trench) tombs suggest that the people buried there were not particularly rich.

"They were possibly the inhabitants of a farm," Labate said.

The area was subjected to several floods from the nearby river Tiepido -- which may have caused the male skeleton's skull to roll away from the female skeleton after burial. The necropolis was covered by alluvial deposits, and on top of them, another seven tombs were built.

"These burials were empty. Most likely, they were covered by another flood just after their construction. We think it was a catastrophic flood which occurred in 589, as reported by the historian Paul the Deacon," Labate said.

The two skeletons, which are poorly preserved, will be now studied by Giorgio Gruppioni, an anthropologist at the University of Bologna. The research includes establishing the couple's age, their relationship and the possible cause of death.

"In antiquity, it is not surprising to learn of spouses or members of a family dying at the same time: whenever epidemics such as the Black Plague ravaged Europe, one member of the family would often die while the family was trying to bury another member," Kristina Killgrove, a biological anthropologist at the University of North Carolina, told Discovery News.

In 2007 another skeleton couple, buried between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago, was found at a neolithic site near Mantua, just 25 miles south of Verona, where Shakespeare set the romantic story of Romeo and Juliet.

Locked in a tender embrace, they also looked at one another in apparent defiance of time and decay.

"The two couples are separated in time by five millennia, and both evoke an uplifting tenderness. I have been involved in many digs, but I've never felt so moved," Labate said.

According to Killgrove, the positioning of the Modena skeletons, looking at one another and holding hands, indeed suggests they may have been a couple.

"Whoever buried these people likely felt that communicating their relationship was just as important in death as it was in life," Killgrove said.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Seven Weirdest Things and Obsessions About Moammar Gadhafi

1. The "Bullet proof" Tent: When Gadhafi was at home in Tripoli, he lived in a well fortified compound with a complex system of escape tunnels. But when he travelled abroad, this "Bedouin" brought a bit of the desert with him, camping out in the world's capitals. The tent was so heavy it needed to be flown on a separate plane, wherever the dictator travelled. To complete the Arabian Nights theme, Gadhafi often would tether a camel or two outside.

2. All-Female Virgin Bodyguard Retinue: They apparently weren't around when Gadhafi needed them most on Thursday, but the eccentric dictator was historically protected by 40 well trained bodyguards – all of them women. The bodyguards, called "Amazons," were all reportedly virgins who took a vow of chastity upon joining the dictator's retinue. The women, trained at an all-female military academy, were handpicked by Gadhafi. They wore elaborate uniforms, as well as makeup and high-heeled combat boots.

3. His "Voluptuous" Ukrainian Nurse: For a decade, Galyna Kolotnytska, a Ukrainian nurse often described in the press as "voluptuous," was regularly seen at the dictator's side. Kolotnytska was described in a leaked diplomatic cable as one of Gadhafi's closest aides and was rumored to have a romantic relationship with him. Several other Ukrainian women served as nurses and they all referred to him as "Papa" or "Daddy."

4. Crush on Condoleezza Rice: In 2007, Gadhafi called former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice his "darling black African woman" and on a 2008 visit she made to Tripoli, the dictator gave her $200,000 worth of gifts, including a ring and a lute. But it wasn't until rebels stormed his Tripoli compound that the depths of the dictator's infatuation were exposed. There among Gadhafi's belongings was a carefully composed photo album made up of dozens of images of no one but Rice.

5. Fear of Flying and Elevators: Part of the reason Gadhafi loved travelling with that tent of his was because he was worried about lodging in a hotel where he'd have to ride an elevator. According to leaked diplomatic cables, the Libyan didn't like heights much either, and would only climb to a height of 35 steps. He therefore wasn't much of a fan of flying, refusing to travel by air for more than eight hours at a time. When he would travel to New York of the U.N.'s annual general assembly, he would spend a night in Portugal on the way to the U.S.

6. Bunga Bunga: In 2010, one of Gadhafi's most eccentric pastimes was exposed by Italian prosecutors investigating Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. A 17-year-old prostitute named Karima el-Mahroug, better known as Ruby Heartstealer, revealed that she had been invited to an orgy, called a "bunga bunga." "Silvio told me that he'd copied that formula from Muammar Gadhafi," she told prosecutors according to La Repubblica. "It's a ritual of [Gadhafi's] African harem."

7. An Eclectic Wardrobe: In those photos of world leaders standing shoulder to shoulder on the sidelines of this or that international forum, Gadhafi was always the easiest to pick out. His wardrobe was an eclectic mix of ornate military uniforms, Miami Vice style leisure suits, and Bedouin robes. Gadhafi, who pushed for a pan-African federation of nations, often decorated his outfits with images of the African continent. He'd sport safari shirts printed with an Africa pattern, or wear garish pins or necklaces of the continent.


2 years old Yueyue struck by hit-and-run trucks dies

In an alleyway in Foshan City in southern China's Guangdong Province, 18 passers-by failed to help a two-year-old girl who was twice struck by hit-and-run drivers. A woman who was scavenging trash eventually came to the child's aid, and the little girl who was rushed to intensive care unit has finally died

Late in the afternoon on Oct. 13 Yueyue was playing in an alley near the hardware store run by her parents. What happened to her was captured by a closed circuit TV camera.

As she walks down the alley a white minivan knocks her down, with the right front wheel going over her small body. The van stops just before the rear wheel runs over her, rocks backward slightly as the driver takes his foot off the brake, and then surges forward, with the right rear wheel running over the little girl and coming back down to the pavement with a hard thump.
Then, approximately ten seconds after the first truck had run over her, a pickup truck drove over Yueyue without even slowing down, with both the right front and rear wheels rolling over her.

Four scooters, three cars, and three pedestrians, including a lady with a little girl about five to six years old, then passed by. Passersby could be seen taking one look at the small, bloody, motionless body and then leaving without stopping or calling the police.

Seven minutes after Yueyue had first been struck, a woman who appeared to be scavenging trash arrived at the scene. She threw her big sack to the ground, tried helping the girl to sit upright, and then pulled her out of the center of the alley, while crying for help.

Over 18 people passed by without a move in their consciences to help the helpless little Yueyue.

This shows how morally decay the Chinese people have turned.

"The first driver simply said that it would cost a little over 10,000 yuan [US$1,568] if he killed someone," Wang said. "When the driver was interviewed, he admitted to knowing that a child was hit by his van. But he kept driving.

On this note, one would but, wonder the kind of God these people worship. For every soul is equipped with a conscience according to belief.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

NASA's Telescope Detects Icy Bodies Raining down in an Alien Solar System

 NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has detected signs of icy bodies raining down in an alien solar system. The downpour resembles our own solar system several billion years ago during a period known as the "Late Heavy Bombardment," which may have brought water and other life-forming ingredients to Earth.

During this epoch, comets and other frosty objects that were flung from the outer solar system pummelled the inner planets. The barrage scarred our moon and produced large amounts of dust.

Now Spitzer has spotted a band of dust around a nearby bright star in the northern sky called Eta Corvi that strongly matches the contents of an obliterated giant comet. This dust is located close enough to Eta Corvi that Earth-like worlds could exist, suggesting a collision took place between a planet and one or more comets. The Eta Corvi system is approximately one billion years old, which researchers think is about the right age for such a hailstorm.

"We believe we have direct evidence for an ongoing Late Heavy Bombardment in the nearby star system Eta Corvi, occurring about the same time as in our solar system," said Carey Lisse, senior research scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., and lead author of a paper detailing the findings. The findings will be published in the Astrophysical Journal. Lisse presented the results at the Signposts of Planets meeting at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., today, Oct. 19.

Astronomers used Spitzer's infrared detectors to analyze the light coming from the dust around Eta Corvi. Certain chemical fingerprints were observed, including water ice, organics and rock, which indicate a giant comet source.

The light signature emitted by the dust around Eta Corvi also resembles the Almahata Sitta meteorite, which fell to Earth in fragments across Sudan in 2008. The similarities between the meteorite and the object obliterated in Eta Corvi imply a common birthplace in their respective solar systems.

A second, more massive ring of colder dust located at the far edge of the Eta Corvi system seems like the proper environment for a reservoir of cometary bodies. This bright ring, discovered in 2005, looms at about 150 times the distance from Eta Corvi as the Earth is from the sun. Our solar system has a similar region, known as the Kuiper Belt, where icy and rocky leftovers from planet formation linger. The new Spitzer data suggest that the Almahata Sitta meteorite may have originated in our own Kuiper Belt.

The Kuiper Belt was home to a vastly greater number of these frozen bodies, collectively dubbed Kuiper Belt objects. About 4 billion years ago, some 600 million years after our solar system formed, scientists think the Kuiper Belt was disturbed by a migration of the gas-giant planets Jupiter and Saturn. This jarring shift in the solar system's gravitational balance scattered the icy bodies in the Kuiper Belt, flinging the vast majority into interstellar space and producing cold dust in the belt. Some Kuiper Belt objects, however, were set on paths that crossed the orbits of the inner planets.

The resulting bombardment of comets lasted until 3.8 billion years ago. After comets impacted the side of the moon that faces Earth, magma seeped out of the lunar crust, eventually cooling into dark "seas," or maria. When viewed against the lighter surrounding areas of the lunar surface, those seas form the distinctive "Man in the Moon" visage. Comets also struck Earth or incinerated in the atmosphere, and are thought to have deposited water and carbon on our planet. This period of impacts might have helped life form by delivering its crucial ingredients.

"We think the Eta Corvi system should be studied in detail to learn more about the rain of impacting comets and other objects that may have started life on our own planet," Lisse said


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

2012 Guber Election and the Chances of PDP in Edo State

WHENEVER a government looks invincible, and the opposition is in a mess, journalists, analysts and political scientists start to speculate on what would seem to be movement towards a one-party state.

In the past, that had often been precise moment when government would start to falter and the fortunes of the opposition would begin to pick up. Such is the unpredictability of politics and the dangers of hubris.

Predictions about the emergence of a one-party state were made after the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, won two terms and had a majority in the State House of Assembly (1999 - 2007); and, again, when it won an unprecedented third term in 2007.

Even the first term of 1999 to 2003 before it sought re-election for a second term, the same question had been asked as to whether the PDP was seeking to create a one-party state in Edo.

The idea of a one-party state appears to be contrary to the conventional norm of main parties alternating in power, thanks to the swings of electoral pendulum. During the first, second and third republics, that had been more of an exception than the rule.

During this period, the opposition looked weak, fractious and divided. Commentators wondered then whether the political landscape was being permanently changed.

After the PDP lost at the Election Tribunal to its prodigal members who morphed into Action Congress of Nigeria in 2008, there was much soul-searching about whether the party would lose touch with the electorate.

Similarly, after the party's other setbacks in the subsequent by-elections and the 2011 federal elections, the authoritative report on Edo election study (by this writer) was entitled:"The PDP's Last Chance", with the concluding chapter being:"Can the PDP Ever Win Again?"

After discussing the obstacles that stood between the Edo PDP and winning future elections, the piece concluded that on the face of it, there seemed to be little reason for optimism.

But, realistically, the party took everybody by surprise when it went back to its drawing board on soul-searching spree. The leadership realised that it would not be enough to dismiss Adams Oshiomhole's paid agents in their midst, but to reconcile with the party faithful who were being misled to decamp after wooing them with carrot.

Among thousands that heeded this call were Herbetta Okonofua, who was contesting her senatorial election loss with the PDP at the Election Petition Tribunal. She withdrew her petition and came back to the fold; so also was Brown Ebewele, the "juju man" and one-time commissioner in the state. Apart from the return of these persons, political gurus in Oshiomhole's government trooped into the PDP in droves.

Passionate and veterans of politics like Senator Roland Owie who is a one-time Chief Whip in the Senate on the platform of the PDP and Matthew Urhoghide who is a former governorship running mate and senatorial candidate navigated their ways from the ACN into the party (PDP).

In the fading melee, the party held an all-inclusive party congress in the wards, local governments and state level without acrimonies. There were no dissenting voices; all the erstwhile factions came together. These congresses helped to bring on board personalities and young turks with energy to carry the party to the next level.

The restructuring in the party has also served as an impetus to confront the challenges of the future. This visionary leadership coupled with imaginary husbandry of the party's human and natural resources had gathered enough momentum that no one was left in doubt as to which direction it would lead the party.

In retrospect, it would appear that close watchers of the electoral misfortune of the PDP were shortsighted. Their fault, however, lies less in the analysis of why the PDP, in the state, has lost electoral support over this period; this would appear to be more correct than the implied conclusion of their titles that "PDP might not come on board again".

In fact, the party has learnt the lesson of these defeats. No one writing in 2009 when Governor Oshiomhole cast aspersions and opprobrium on statesmen and leaders of the PDP could have foreseen how short-lived Oshiomhole's leadership would turn out to be (in less than three years), or how divided and unpopular Oshiomhole's government would become, or how radical Chief Tony Anenih would prove to be in transforming the PDP in the state.

Even if the forecasts of PDP coming to power for keeps in 2012 turn out to be true or wrong, the four-year rule of Oshiomhole has strained many constitutional conventions. For instance, the ability of the civil service and traditional institutions to shift support from Oshiomhole's government and remain non-partisan in part, rested on the assumption that they might soon be seen serving another party in government in 2012.

That of course, reinforced the view as popularised by the going telecast clip series of "Edo Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" and the reclaiming of Edo's lost future by a burgeoning entrant into the rambunctious political arena with its fray for the governorship, General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd) whom political pundits predict would most likely fly the PDP flag in the 2012 governorship elections if all odds end up favouring him within the party.

However, the absence of constitutional provisions with checks, such as a law to try serving or former governors for any misappropriation of public funds, rests on the assumption that a strong opposition and potential alternative government will hold past and present administrations to account for their misdemeanors. This explains why the Oshiomhole government will ever remain jittery as the new PDP comes on stage.

Talks of the PDP coming to power again in Edo State usually dwell more on the current state of politics in the state than reliably predicting what will happen in the future. In practice, the political paradigm is proving to have in-built corrective mechanism - whether it is the shifting opinions of the electorate or the general slow learning processes of the opposition or challenges offered by the judges or the media and/or the creation of other powerful political institutions.

Weighing this development against the ordeal Edo electorate had passed through with Oshiomhole, PDP would have no excuse not to return to government in 2012. The people have been alienated from government. Virtually all the segments of the economy have gone sour and in comatose.

The education system that used to be the pride of the people had collapsed with high school fees and dilapidated infrastructure in schools; the legitimate rights of workers, civil servants and teachers have been grotesquely abridged as the government has used over taxation to make nonsense of the minimum wage.

Since Oshiomhole came to power, the protection of lives and property has turned convulsive with assassination, kidnappings and robberies becoming the norm and order of the day. As confessed by the Assistant Inspector General of Police Zone 5, "An average of five cases of kidnappings and other related cases are reported everyday in Edo State today."

Is it in Commerce and Industry? Justifying why he endorsed the close down of the well-known Edo Line Transport Company, the other day, Oshiomhole said the government could not maintain two transport companies: Edo Municipal Transport Company and Edo Line at the same time. So Edo Line had to die.

Edo Line that was founded sometimes in 1967 when Oshiomhole was still a tailor apprentice in Kaduna. Okpella Cement Company, Ewu Flour Mill and the Bendel Breweries have all been consigned to the dustbin of history. Agriculture that used to be the mainstay, of the people's economy is now a thing of the past.

Even the roads in Benin metropolis which the government had prided to be the thrust of Oshiomhole's administration is riddled with scandals, controversies and corruption so much so that the governor had revoked the contracts.

Examples are the Airport and Siluko roads while other roads in the state have been reduced to death traps. Perhaps the highest casualty in the malodorous saga is the health sector as the state hospitals have become slaughter homes and despicable mortuaries.

All over the world, democratic governments gain legitimacy to the extent that they reflect the will of the people. To demonstrate that they have support for their policies and decisions they must seek the consent of the governed through periodic elections


Monday, October 17, 2011

Saturn's Moon Once Had Its Own Moon

Sub-satellite of the Saturnian moon would explain two of the most puzzling features of Iapetus.

Could a planet have a moon that itself had a smaller moon?

A former subsatellite would help explain some of the mysteries of Iapetus, one of Saturn's moons. For starters, Iapetus is not a sphere—it's a bit squished. And its flattened shape implies that Iapetus once spun very quickly, completing a rotation in 16 hours. It now takes 79 days. So what put on the brakes?

Maybe it was a onetime moonlet of Iapetus, explained Kevin Walsh of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, at a recent planetary science meeting in France. The subsatellite would have spiraled slowly away from Iapetus until Saturn grabbed it.

But not before its outward drift sapped rotational energy from Iapetus and slowed it down.

The moonlet could account for another feature of Iapetus, too. The moon has a tall ridge running along its equator, like a walnut's seam.

If the short-lived moonlet emerged from a debris disk, as Earth's moon did, the moonlet could have forced leftover debris onto Iapetus to form the walnut ridge.


Friday, October 14, 2011

733,000 years Old Landslide's Remains Discovered in Canary Islands

The remains of a monstrous ancient landslide have been discovered in the Canary Islands.

Research team member Pablo Dávila-Harris looks at part of the huge landslide deposit discovered on Tenerife, showing the chaotic and shattered rubble from the collapsed volcano. (The central dark debris-block is about 15 meters in diameter and must weigh many tons).

The remnants are one of the world's best-preserved examples of a huge landslide that followed a mammoth volcanic eruption, allowing a team of researchers to pinpoint the date that the landslide occurred.

During what is known as a volcanic flank collapse, the southeast slopes of the island of Tenerife collapsed into the sea around 733,000 years ago during the eruption. A growing dome of hot lava pushed the side of the volcano outwards and triggered the landslide. The volcanic flank collapse traveled 10.5 miles (17 kilometers) to the shoreline and then farther into the ocean.

These landslides are poorly understood, largely because they happen about once every 25 years and the remains are spread out over the ocean floor, according to Dave Petley, author of the American Geophysical Union's Landslide Blog.

"Fieldwork at 4 km [2.5 mile] water depth remains difficult, even if you are really good at holding your breath," Petley, who was not a member of the study team,wrote.

The onshore remains of the Tenerife landslide were discovered amid the canyons and ravines of the island's desert landscape by volcanologists at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom. The remains onshore were 164 feet (50 meters) thick over an area of 35 square miles (90 square km).

"It is one of the world's best-preserved accessible examples of such an awesome phenomenon, because the debris from such landslides mostly spreads far across the deep ocean floor, inaccessible for close study," said study team member Mike Branney of the University of Leicester.

The Tenerife rubble includes blocks of rapidly chilled lava, added as the volcano erupted. Radioactive minerals within them enabled the researchers' colleague, Michael Storey at Roskilde University in Denmark, to provide such a precise date for this natural catastrophe. [Related: The World's 5 Most Active Volcanoes]

In the aftermath of the eruption and landslide, lakes formed as rivers were dammed by debris, and the change to the shape of the island altered the course of explosive volcanic eruptions there for hundreds of thousands of years afterwards, Branney said in a statement.

The researchers said that such phenomena are common but infrequent, and understanding them is vital so that researchers can better predict where and when landslides may occur. Their effects go far beyond a single ocean island. Tsunamis generated from such events may devastate coastlines thousands of miles away.

"Understanding the Earth's more violent events will help us be prepared, should repeat performances threaten," the geologists said.

Depressed Maths teacher sets herself on fire

An apparently depressed maths teacher in southern France has survived after setting herself on fire at a school.

Students and teachers rushed to the aid of the 44-year-old teacher after she doused herself in petrol during morning break and set herself alight in the playground of the secondary school.

The incident reportedly followed a combative meeting with students at the school in Beziers.

The education minister said he was shocked by this "desperate act".

Luc Chatel visited the hospital at which the teacher is being treated for third-degree burns.

Speaking on RTL radio, he described her as a "teacher who is in a situation of great fragility", and said an investigation was under way.

Parents and pupils told AFP news agency that they had a difficult relationship with the teacher - saying she had been hostile at a recent parents' evening and did not get on with several students in her maths class.

A meeting to clear the air with some of her students on Wednesday had become rowdy, they said.

She came to the Jean Moulin school on Thursday morning with a jerry can, gave a class at 09:00 (07:00 GMT) and then, when the morning break came, walked to the centre of the playground, poured petrol on herself and set herself alight.

"I saw her body on fire, walking forward with her hands on her head," said one student witness, Karim.

"Several people tried to put her out. She said 'No, leave me alone. I don't need help. God told me to do this.'"

Teachers threw blankets over her, Karim said, and the teacher was airlifted to Montpelier nearby.

The school - which houses 3,000 students and 280 teachers - sent all of its pupils home after the incident, and a psychological support unit was set up to cope with the aftermath


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Oldest "Art Studio" Found in South Africa

A coating of bright red powder on the insides of a pair of 100,000-year-old abalone shells is evidence of the oldest known art workshop, a new study says.

The abalone shell, after it was removed for analysis. Photograph courtesy Science/AAAS

The powder was found inside two shells in Blombos Cave near Still Bay, South Africa (map). The substance is the dried remains of a primitive form of paint made by combining colorful clay called ochre, crushed seal bones, charcoal, quartzite chips, and a liquid, such as water.

"A round [stone] covered the opening of one of the shells, and underneath it was absolutely bright red," said study leader Christopher Henshilwood, an archaeologist at the University of Bergen in Norway and the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.

In addition to the shells, the team also found grindstones, hammerstones, the remains of a small fire pit, and animal bones that were used to transfer small amounts of the paint.

Blombos Cave has been inhabited off and on by humans for at least 140,000 years, but the ochre-paint studio seems to have been active about 100,000 years ago. Prior to the new discovery, the earliest known ochre-making workshop was 60,000 years old, Henshilwood said.

The discovery is also proof that early humans were capable of long-term planning and had at least a rudimentary knowledge of chemistry, according to the study authors.

"They seemed to know that seal bone is really rich in oil and fat, which is a critical component in making a paint-like substance," Henshilwood said.

"They also knew to add charcoal to the mixture to bind and stabilize it, and a little bit of fluid, which could have been water or seawater or urine."

While relatively few ingredients were used in the ancient paint, each item had to be individually prepared before everything could be combined inside the shells. For example, the ochre pieces had to be crushed and ground into a powder, the bones had to be heated to release their oils and then crushed, and wood had to be burned to create charcoal.

"The mixture was very gently stirred, and you can see the traces of the stirring [done by fingers] on the bottom surface of the abalone shell," Henshilwood said.

It's not clear what the ochre paint was later used for, but Henshilwood said it's easy to imagine early humans using the substance to decorate their bodies or cave walls.

Early Artists Played With Color

The final product would have been a bright-red paint—due to to the iron oxide in the particular ochre used—was and would have been not too thick or too watery.

There is even evidence that the early artists purposely adjusted the color of their pigments.

"In one [of the shells], there was a tiny piece of a yellow mineral called goethite, which may have been added to change the color slightly," Henshilwood said.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Study Linked Mouth Bacteria to Pancreatic Cancer

Certain types of mouth bacteria have been linked to the development of pancreatic cancer in a new study.

It is hoped a swab could help detect pancreatic cancer

Researchers say they cannot be sure whether the bacteria cause the deadly cancer or are a consequence of the disease.

The scientists from the University of California in Los Angeles are now investigating whether a simple mouth swab could be used to screen for pancreatic cancer.

Most cases are currently picked up at an advanced stage. Around 80% of people die within a year of diagnosis.

The study showed the cancer patients were more likely than healthy people to carry a bacteria called granulicatella adiacens in their saliva.

But they were less likely to have two other species, neisseria elongata and streptococcus mitis.

Pancreatic Cancer

:: Pancreatic cancer is the UK's 11th most common cancer.

:: 7,600 people are diagnosed with the disease each year.

80% of patients are over the age of 60.

The causes are not fully known but smoking and diabetes are thought to be linked.

The study, reported in the journal Gut, involved just 20 people. But British scientists say the findings are significant.

Dr Adam P Roberts, a microbiologist at the Eastman Dental Institute in London, said there is growing evidence that bacteria in the mouth can have effects elsewhere in the body.

He said: "The possibility of being able to spit in a tube and screen this for certain bacteria and be able to predict cancers, and other systemic disease, is a really attractive proposition and would result in their early detection which is better for patients and would inevitably save lives."

The mouth is naturally home to more than 700 bacteria species.

Previous research has shown people with gum disease are more likely to have some forms of heart disease.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kidney and Liver Theft On the increase in China

A recent report by a major Chinese newspaper told the story of a young man who became the victim of organ theft by his new employer, a medical device company. The man's nightmarish experience highlights the widespread, illicit organ trade in China. The lucrative business chain includes many organ brokers, major hospitals, and the Chinese government. Not only prisoners are at risk, but anyone who is young and healthy can become a victim.

Twenty-five-year old Xiaohai told his story to the Yangtse Evening Post on Sept. 18. He said his new employer sent him on a business trip. But instead of doing business, he was taken to a hospital, and had one of his kidneys taken out without his consent.

After graduating from medical college, Xiaohai lived in Xiamen, China's southern Province, where he worked at a temporary job for a medical device company.

In June 2010 he was offered a high-paying position by another medical device company in Nanjing.

On the second day after starting his new job, Xiaohai was sent to get a physical exam. He didn't think too much about it as he thought it was quite normal for new employees to have a health check.

"It's just that there were more aspects examined, and it was more comprehensive than a routine physical exam," he said

Late October 2010, Xiaohai was sent on a business trip to Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, by his boss Wang Jin.

After arriving in Xuzhou at about 9 p.m., Xiaohai was driven directly to the Huohua community health service center, also known as the Huohua Hospital, in the Jiuli district of Xuzhou, and was escorted into a room adjacent to an operating room.
There he was given a glass of water, which contained anesthetics, and lost consciousness after drinking it. Later, in a semiconscious state, he overheard someone saying that a chief surgeon from Shanghai was performing the surgery. Then he was given an injection in the shoulder and became unconscious again.

"I woke up to find many tubes attached to my body. I had no feeling in my body, but I knew the doctor was stitching up a surgery wound on me," Xiaohai said.

He overheard someone telling the surgeon to take something back to Shanghai, and saw two people in plain clothes taking away a stainless steel box.

"My kidney may have been in there," Xiaohai said.

Xiaohai learned later that his boss applied for a bank card in Xiaohai's name, and had some money deposited to the account as compensation for the surgery, despite the fact Xiaohai had been completely uninformed of the surgery and had given no consent.

When he questioned hospital staff, he was told his relatives had signed an agreement.

His boss told him that someone had paid 350,000 yuan (US$54,880) to cover all expenses. The hospital had received 200,000 yuan (US$31,360), his boss had received 110,000 (US$17,248), and just 30,000 (US$4,704) had gone to the donor--himself.

Xiaohai also learned that seven or eight other employees at his company had undergone kidney removal surgery under similar circumstances, without their knowledge or consent.

Falun Gong⁠ members perform a mock forced organ removal performance in a shopping district of Hong Kong in January 2010. Members of the spiritual group have been targeted for their organs, which were harvested from them involuntarily.

Too Many to Count

Trade in kidneys is a booming and extremely lucrative business in China, with some prominent Chinese hospitals maintaining long-term business relationships with kidney brokers, according to a recent report by Sound of Hope Radio (SOH).

An online search in Chinese for kidney transplants in China yields hundreds of thousands of hits.

One online ad from Zhengzhou City, Henan Province, said that their kidney brokers have been working with major hospitals for a long time. They actively solicit kidney donors, and cover donors' travel expenses.

A SOH reporter called one of the kidney brokers, who said that he is willing to pay 400,000 yuan (US$62,588) for a kidney, and that applicants should be "between the ages of 18 to 35."

The man also said he has been in this business for three to four years, and handled so many cases that he has "lost count" how many times he had facilitated the process.

He said he worked with the absolutely best hospitals, adding, "Don't worry, it's a simple surgery that doesn't pose any danger. We work with hospitals. As long as you pass the physical exam, they will perform the surgery for you."

The broker would not reveal which hospital a kidney donor should go to for a physical exam and only said, "I'll tell you when we meet."

When asked if there was any contractual agreement, the broker said there was none.

"It's illegal anyway, so why would we need a contractual agreement?" he asked.

Cases of kidneys being stolen and sold have been frequently reported by Chinese newspapers. Chinese citizens who are granted few or no rights or protection in China, such as Falun Gong practitioners, labor camp prisoners, the homeless, and victims of trafficking, are frequent targets of the black market organ trade.

Since the persecution of Falun Gong⁠ in 1999, the number of organ transplants in China has dramatically increased according to statistics and reports.

He Xiaoshun, the vice president of the First Affiliated Hospital at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, told Southern Weekly in March 2010, "The year 2000 marked the turning point in organ transplants in China."

In 2000, liver transplants in China was 10 times higher than in 1999, and tripled in 2005.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Erectile Dysfunction and Heart Disease, What You Need to Know.

Erectile dysfunction can be a sign of elevated risk for cardiovascular disease. The good news: if you seek diagnosis and treatment and make some lifestyle changes, you may be able to solve both problems at once.

A man's heart is connected to his penis in more than a figurative way—and not surprisingly, since from a physiological point of view, an erection is certainly an affair of the heart. Both erectile dysfunction and impaired heart function can be caused by reduced blood flow, which can happen when blood vessels become less flexible because of smoking or high blood pressure, for instance, or reduced production of nitric oxide. This substance causes vessels in the penis (and elsewhere) to dilate, allowing for increased blood flow and thus an erection. Some drugs for erectile dysfunction boost nitric oxide.

Erectile dysfunction shares many risk factors with cardiovascular disease, notably increasing age, smoking, diabetes, depression, obesity, physical inactivity and high blood pressure. Thus, erectile dysfunction is often a reliable predictor of heart disease and stroke.

Remember, however, that many other factors can also cause erectile dysfunction besides incipient or actual circulatory problems—notably nerve disorders, excessive alcohol consumption, low testosterone and certain medications, particularly sedatives and some antidepressants.

The heart of the matter: If you have erectile dysfunction, consult your doctor. There are drugs to treat it, but they should not take the place of a careful diagnosis. Moreover, they are not appropriate for all men and may have serious side effects. You may want to talk to a psychotherapist if erectile dysfunction has caused problems in your life (or the other way around). You should rule out diabetes and high blood pressure, and begin treating these conditions if you have them. Whatever improves the health of your heart and blood vessels is likely to improve your erections, too.

Some actions you can take on your own:

• If you smoke, quit. Smoking increases the risk of erectile dysfunction.

• Check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels regularly, and do what's necessary to keep them at healthy levels.

• Exercise for 30 to 60 minutes most days—walking, cycling, swimming or a sport you like. 

• Avoid excessive alcohol consumption—no more than two drinks a day.

• If you think medication may be causing erectile dysfunction, ask your doctor if you can switch to another drug.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Amazing!!! A Pig With Alien Features Born in Guatemala

In the remote Guatemalan village of Santa Cruz El Chol near La Cienaga, a black piglet has been born with an odd-shaped head that bears seemingly human characteristics.

The pig is one of a litter of 11 belonging to the Cordova family. Local residents are mostly disturbed by the strange-looking animal, which cannot feed itself and is currently being reared with milk via a syringe.

"I was shocked—it was a really terrifying experience," said farmer Laureano Escobar Arias, according to Metro Online. "It looked like some kind of alien creature."

Some locals believe it is a message from God to sinners. The pig does look very bizarre and seems to be suffering as it convulses in the video and can barely move.

Other people believe aliens are responsible for the monster's appearance because bright lights were allegedly seen hovering in the sky on the night of the pig's birth.

Local health officials have suggested that the piglet's deformities are due to an error of nature.

"We don't know for certain but it could have been caused by a genetic problem or by environmental pollution," one official said, according to Metro Online.

Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

Giant Whale found in a field in UK?

A dead baleen whale was found in a Yorkshire field this week, about 800 meters away from the shoreline, off the Humber Estuary in England.

Experts are fairly confident the animal is a rare female sei whale, Balaenoptera borealis, according to The Telegraph. The whale is 33 feet (10 meters) long.

It is believed to have got stuck in shallow waters nearby. Andy Gibson from the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust told The Telegraph that there have only been three strandings of this species in UK waters during the last two decades.

"It is sad," he added. "It was in shallow water of about 1.2m (4ft) to 1.6m (5.25ft), making contact with the bottom."

"When it gets in that situation it rolls onto its side and it can cover its blow hole."

However, it remains a mystery as to how the whale ended up so far away from the sea.

Kirsten Smith, North Seas Living Seas manager at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said the area is a salt marsh, which is still connected to the sea, according to the Express.

"With the high tide the whale probably got carried up on to the salt marsh, got pushed further in shore and then got stuck when the tide went out," she added.

However, the whale, weighing several tons, was found lying in the middle of vegetation, making it hard to imagine how such shallow water could have transported it there.

For someone to move the whale there, a vehicle would be required, which would have left tracks, and any motivations for moving the mammal are unclear, except to harvest the meat or as some sort of prank perhaps
showing the dead whale lying in grass about half a mile away from the sea.

Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

Lack of Legal Representative Stalls Trial of Boko Haram suspects

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Friday directed that legal counsel should be provided for six members of the militant Islamic sect, Boko Haram, who were arraigned on a five-count of terrorism.

The suspects were charged to court by the State Security Service for allegedly masterminding the bombing of the All Christian Fellowship Mission and the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Suleja, Niger State, as well as in other areas between April and May, 2011.

Their trial could not proceed on account of their lack of legal representation, as well as the absence of an interpreter following the inability of the accused persons to understand English language.

A 'no guilty' plea was however entered on behalf of the accused persons by the presiding judge, Bilkisu Aliyu who directed that a lawyer be provided for them by the Ministry of Justice.

The suspects, Shuaibu Abubakar, Salisu Ahmed, Umar Babagana, Mohammed Ali, Musa Adamu and Umar Ibrahim, were kept in the SSS custody and the case adjourned till October 20 and 21, 2011.


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