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    Langley man loses testicle in attack by unknown woman

    Canwest News Service October 29, 2009

    Police in Langley are investigating after a woman kicked a man in the groin so hard he lost a testicle -- the latest in a series of three or four similar assaults.

    "I just want to know what her problem is," victim Anthony Clark, 22, said this week.

    Clark was walking in the Brookswood area of Langley in early September when he passed his assailant on the sidewalk.

    The young woman inexplicably kicked him in the groin hard enough to send one of his testicles into his abdomen.

    The force of the assault caused his testicle to rupture. It had to be removed and will be replaced by a prosthetic.

    © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

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    Man using 'fat' defense in NJ depicted as marksman

    By BETH DeFALCO, Associated Press Writer

    Thursday, October 29, 2009(10-29) 08:50 PDT Hackensack, N.J. (AP)

    New Jersey prosecutors are trying to portray a Florida man who claims he was too fat to have killed his former son-in-law as a skilled marksman.

    Edward Ates (aytz) claims he didn't have the energy to accurately shoot Paul Duncsak (DUNS'-kak) and make a quick getaway.

    Under cross-examination Thursday, Ates admitted he once used his revolver to shoot a snake during a road trip.

    The 62-year-old was 285 pounds when Duncsak was killed in 2006.

    Duncsak and Ates' daughter were involved in a bitter custody dispute after their divorce.

    A defense lawyer says the prosecution theory would mean that the killer would have had to run up a set stairs. He says Ates couldn't have done that and fired a gun accurately. He says exertion would cause his hands to shake.

    {See comments attached} http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...a075821D90.DTL
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    Thumbs up B.z. To the cg crew involved

    Boat baby honours coast guard

    By Judith Lavoie, Times Colonist November 4, 2009

    If Ari Edan Shaw Schiek ever asks why he was named after a Canadian Coast Guard vessel, his parents will have a heck of a story for him.

    A week ago, the 51/2-pound baby was born on the coast guard motor lifeboat Cape Edensaw while it was tied up at French Creek. Mother Nalia Barkman of Lasqueti Island had gone into labour more than a week before Ari was due. With no ferry for two days, she had no option but the coast guard for a rapid transfer to hospital in Parksville. But the baby came too quickly to make it to hospital.

    Barkman and partner Uwe Schiek had picked out their son's first name, but were waiting to meet him before choosing middle names. The unusual birthplace made up their minds.

    "I like that it honours the coast guard. I'm very thankful they did such a good job," Barkman said.

    Schiek said he researched the name Edensaw, named for a cape on the Queen Charlotte Islands, and discovered it was actually named for Charles Edan Shaw, a First Nations chief and artist in Skidegate.

    Edan means little fire in Gaelic and Ari means little lion in Hebrew, Schiek said. "We're going to have a lot to tell him when he asks about his name," he said.

    The coast guard crew, who picked up Barkman and Schiek on Lasqueti and then boiled water and fetched towels while he was being born, are happy the vessel is being recognized.

    "I think it's quite an honour to have them name their little guy after one of the boats," said Cam Murray, officer in charge of the French Creek coast guard station near Parksville.

    The crew is looking into inscribing the baby's name on the ship's bell -- a nautical tradition when a baby is born on board, he said.

    The parents brought Ari down to the coast guard station for photos.

    "It was great to see the baby. He's a nice little guy," Murray said.

    Barkman and Schiek had been planning to travel to Parksville before the baby was due, but everything happened too quickly for that.

    "It went very smoothly. It was a fast labour, which is a blessing," said Barkman, who was grateful their midwife, Zoe Cope, was able to meet them as soon as they docked at French Creek and supervised the birth.

    "She was certainly in the right place at the right time," she said.

    jlavoie@tc.canwest.com

    © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

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    Science explodes some cooking myths

    By Pam Freir, Times Colonist November 4, 2009

    Dr. This is French, and his surname is pronounced "teess," as in teaspoon. This (see what I mean?) can make things difficult for English speakers, so in today's column I'll use his first name, Hervé. He won't mind. He's a friendly fellow.

    Hervé is a high-ranking scientist in the French National Association for Agricultural Research. He is also a TV personality, and a writer of many books about food and cooking. Ask him what his subject is, and he'll tell you -- "the science of flavour."

    As a sideline to his main job as a food physicist, Hervé likes to examine traditional cooking instructions that have been handed down for centuries. If they work, why do they work? If they don't work, can we find a better way? Here are three of his investigations.

    James Beard is one of many cooks who tell us that small dumplings such as gnocchi and spaetzle are done when they rise to the surface of the pot. "Not necessarily," says Hervé.

    He used standard potato gnocchi for his experiments. Dumped into a pot of boiling water they floated briefly, then sank as they began to cook. For a while they danced around, then one by one returned to the surface.

    By rights, the gnocchi should have sunk lower as they cooked. Why did they rise? Hervé put them under a microscope, and found that each was covered in tiny bubbles. When he wiped off the bubbles and returned the gnocchi to the pot they sank immediately, then rose again as a fresh coating of bubbles formed.

    So, it's bubbles that cause dumplings to rise. But are the dumplings cooked? To find out, Hervé made a batch of gnocchi of different sizes and cooked them together in the same pot. They all sank, then they all rose, under bubble power. On investigation, the small ones were close to cooked, the large ones were still raw inside.

    So the scientific conclusion is: Doneness depends on the size of your dumplings and how long they are cooked, not on their swimming capabilities. To be sure, cook a test batch, watch in hand, and make a note in the margin of your recipe.

    Here's another one. If you wish to garnish a salad with slices of hard-boiled egg, and are a perfectionist, you will want the yolk to be exactly in the centre of each slice. According to Hervé, cookbooks say that this can be achieved by cooking the eggs in water that has already been brought to a boil. But cooks tell Hervé that it doesn't always work. The scientific solution, says Hervé, is based on understanding conditions inside the egg. The white is mainly water, but the yolk contains fats, and is therefore lighter than water. He demonstrates this by breaking a whole egg into a tall narrow glass, then adding two or three whites on top. The yolk slowly rises through the whites until it just touches the surface.

    So, here is Hervé's simple, practical but rather boring way of centering the yolk. Pop the egg into boiling water and keep it rolling around for ten minutes, preventing the yolk from rising inside the shell. As the egg heats through, the white solidifies, fixing the yolk in the centre.

    Lastly, some help for people who need a hit of caffeine to greet the day. What is the quickest way to bring a mug of coffee down to drinking temperature?

    First, says Hervé, the hotter the liquid the faster it cools. Adding cold milk or water won't help; you'll have to wait just as long. But if you're running late there are two techniques available -- stirring with a spoon or blowing on the surface. He set his team to work, and the blowers beat the stirrers 2-1, every time.

    I have one thought to add. If you are sufficiently co-ordinated so early in the day, you'd do even better to blow and stir simultaneously.

    Just as long as the coffee stays in the mug.

    © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

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    Unhappy

    Drunk man fouls car seat, wipes himself with Bible

    Surrey Now November 3, 2009

    SURREY, B.C. — A man was arrested in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey after he defecated on the seat of a car, wiped himself off with a Bible and then sought refuge in a nearby police vehicle.

    The 33-year-old intoxicated man was at a Halloween party Saturday night when he stumbled out the door to use another guest's car as a toilet.

    The outraged partygoers began yelling at the man, who then climbed into a police vehicle, where he was bit by a service dog and then arrested.

    © Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

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    Red face

    Man with no pants unrelated to pants with no man: police

    Canwest News Service November 5, 2009

    Vancouver Island RCMP were called to investigate on Saturday after a man was found walking down a highway near Campbell River with no pants.

    The man "was coherent but could not remember where his pants and shoes were," said RCMP Cpl. Brian Brown.

    Officers then gave the man a ride home.

    "A little bit later, police got a call from the wife who said a man had called the house, saying he had her husband's wallet and that they would have to pay to get it back," he said.

    RCMP officers met with the would-be extortionist and recovered the wallet and money. No charges were laid, Brown said.

    In an unrelated case two days earlier, RCMP were called to a Campbell River trailer home after a woman said someone broke in while she was sleeping.

    The woman said the intruder used the bathroom, leaving it covered in fecal matter, and left a pair of pants behind in the living room.

    The owner of the pants has not been found.

    © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

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    Wisconsin Woman Calls 911 to Report Herself as Drunk Driver


    A Wisconsin woman called 911 to report herself as a drunk driver, MyFoxAustin reported.

    "Somebody's really drunk driving down Granton Road," Mary Strey said during an Oct. 24 call to 911, according to tapes.

    Trying to determine the location of the reported drunk driver, the dispatcher asked Strey: "Okay are you behind them, or..."

    "No, I am them," Strey said, according to MyFoxAustin.

    The dispatcher verified, "You am them?"

    "Yes, I am them," said Strey.

    "Okay, so you want to call and report that you're driving drunk?" confirmed the dispatcher.

    "Yes," said Strey.

    The dispatcher then told Strey to pull her car over, MyFoxAustin reported.

    According to a report, police said Strey had blood-shot eyes and smelled of alcohol.

    "I called in I'm drunk," Strey told the officer who responded to the call, MyFoxAustin reported.

    A local paper reported that Strey was charged with drunk driving and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.1 percent or more.

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    Question Now whoda thunk it?

    Canadian military no longer accepting infantry recruits

    By Matthew Fisher , Canwest News Service November 12, 2009 12:10 PM

    ReutersKANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — So many young Canadians want to become trigger pullers in Afghanistan that the army is not accepting any new infantry recruits at the moment, according to the army's top general.

    "I am 1,600 infantrymen over my establishment," Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie said Thursday, adding that the high numbers of recruits who want to "serve at the tip of the spear . . . completely refuted" any notion that there were problems getting people to serve in a wartime army.

    "I still want young Canadians to show up at recruiting offices, but it just so happens that right now if you want to join the infantry, we're completely full," Leslie said.

    The military also has many more volunteers for Afghanistan duty than there are places, the general — an artillery gunner by trade — said during an interview conducted after he had spent several days "outside the wire" in Kandahar with combat troops.

    Canada's three infantry regiments have about 6,000 infantrymen, so these units — which have traditionally suffered the most in battle, as has been the case in Afghanistan — are presently more than 25 per cent oversubscribed.

    To correct this unusual imbalance, the military is "slowing down recruiting for regular forces infantry for the next year or two," Leslie said, adding that the army is "encouraging folks from the infantry" to transfer to military jobs where there are still shortfalls, such as vehicle technicians and fire control system technicians.

    So many Canadians still want to be part of the country's first major combat mission since the Korean War that the number of recruits and their quality is like nothing Leslie has seen in his three decades in the armed forces.

    The military's success with recruiting follows a long television advertising campaign that has frequently highlighted the combat side of military operations. The ads, which have often run during hockey games and other sporting events watched by young men, have depicted troops taking part in missions on land and at sea in distant places that were made to look something like the Middle East or Southwest Asia.

    "I find myself in a unique position in comparison to most of my fellow army commanders across NATO," Leslie said. "I have more volunteers every tour than I have positions. To come to Afghanistan is a competitive process."

    The keenness of many soldiers to serve in Afghanistan may also be having an effect on attrition rates. For the infantry, the rate has fallen to 10 per cent from 12 per cent over the past 18 months, the general said. Across the entire army, attrition is down to eight per cent from 10 per cent, he said.

    An informal survey of troops who have been in Kandahar during the past few months found many of those serving in combat arms were already angling to return to the Afghan province one more time with the battle group or as army or police mentors before Canada's combat mission is supposed to end in the summer of 2011.

    The desire to get back to Afghanistan one more time is especially true of the last two infantry units scheduled to serve combat tours here — the Royal 22nd Regiment — the Van Doo — and the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

    © Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

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    Talking Thats a scotsman for ye

    Taken from the Victoria Daily Colonist Front Page, Second Section- Local News Sunday, Nov. 13, 1955

    Breaking Blues

    Snowbound Scottish Band Plays Itself Over Malahat They didn’t go “dashing
    through the snow on a one horse open sleigh,” but the brass band of The Canadian Scottish (Princess Mary’s) Regiment did play Jingle Bells deep in the snow on the Malahat Highway Friday. An RCN bus bearing the 16 musicians, bandmaster Sgt Keith Littler, Drum Major WO2 Ron Bland, Escort Officer John Pettit and the driver stalled 30 minutes after leaving Duncan at 1:10 p.m. following Remembrance Day Ceremonies.

    In fact, it stalled on three hills, and each time the 20 men had to push a dozen cars over the hills to make room for the bus, then push the bus to safety too. All this while wearing kilts and full dress uniforms, but no coats or
    gloves. Once, to break the monotony, they played some choruses of Jingle
    Bells.

    “The motorists thought we were crazy,” Capt Pettit said. “But it sort of kept us going.”

    The bus reached Victoria at 4:30 p.m., more than two hours late.

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    I would truly hate to see some of the English term papers being turned in now-a-days...

    'Unfriend' is New Oxford American word of the year

    Mon Nov 16, 5:10 PM


    WASHINGTON (AFP) - The New Oxford American Dictionary named "unfriend" -- as in deleting someone as a friend on a social network such as Facebook -- its word of the year on Monday

    Oxford University Press USA, in a blog post, said "unfriend," a verb, had bested netbook, sexting, paywall, birther and death panel for the honor.

    "Unfriend has real lex-appeal," said Christine Lindberg, senior lexicographer for Oxford?s US dictionary program.

    "It has both currency and potential longevity," she said. "In the online social networking context, its meaning is understood, so its adoption as a modern verb form makes this an interesting choice for word of the year."

    Previous words of the year include carbon neutral, locavore and hypermiling.

    Locavores are people who eat locally grown food while hypermilers modify their cars and driving techniques to maximize gas mileage.

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    Red face

    Yes, men will ask for directions -- it just takes time

    Reuters November 19, 2009 1:05 AM

    An elderly man who went out to fetch a morning newspaper ended up driving more than 600 kilometres after getting lost and taking a wrong turn onto a major Australian highway, police said yesterday.

    Eric Steward, 81, eventually stopped and asked for directions after driving for nine hours, from the New South Wales country town of Yass to Geelong in the state of Victoria.

    Steward, who did not know where he was, approached a policeman at a gas station and asked for help late yesterday.

    "This little old man came up to me saying he was lost. He handed me his mobile and asked if I could speak to his wife," said Victorian Police Const. Clayton Smith.

    Steward, who was reunited with his family yesterday, said he took the wrong turn and just kept on going. "I just went out on the road to have a drive, a nice peaceful drive," he told reporters, adding he did not need a satellite navigation device as he'd only been lost once.

    © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

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    Calgary couple get exemption from pointless homework
    By DOUG MCINTYRE, SUN MEDIA

    Last Updated: 19th November 2009, 2:43am

    CALGARY -- Tom and Shelli Milley might be Calgary's coolest parents.

    At least it's a safe bet their kids' peers think so after the couple hammered out a no-homework contract with their children's school board.

    Make no mistake, as lawyers Tom and Shelli fully appreciate a good education -- what they can't abide are inordinate workloads.

    "How fair is it to ask our kids to put in a full day's work at school and then come home at night and do another shift?" said Tom whose kids Spencer, 11, and Brittany, 10, attend St. Brigid elementary-junior high school.

    The opt-out clause created by the Milleys has its roots in frustration with what Tom termed "busy work" -- assignments given for the sake of assigning them.

    His eldest child Jay, now 18 and in university, once received poor grades on a French assignment that required using crayons to identify colours written in French -- because the boy, a quadriplegic, instead wrote the corresponding English terms, said his dad.

    Shelli began researching the pros and cons of homework two years ago, with much literature finding no link between home assignments and grades.

    She formed a committee at St. Brigid to examine the issue, though her husband said reaction at the school level was decidedly mixed.

    "One size fits all, that's just not the way it works -- people learn differently," said Tom.

    Such sentiments found a more sympathetic ear with the Calgary Catholic School District board, which recently formalized the deal with the Milleys -- dubbed a differentiated homework plan -- so their kids are graded solely on classroom work.

    Even prior to the agreement, the CCSD last spring struck a committee to examine homework, said spokeswoman Tania Younker.

    "There are other instances throughout our schools where individual plans are determined for students," she said, adding it's expected a new homework policy will be implemented next fall.

    Tom emphasized the approach allows his children to concentrate on improving weaker areas of study.

    "It's not that our kids don't do homework ... my son must have studied for an hour and a half last night with my wife because he has an upcoming science test," said Tom.

    "Instead of doing busy work, we were able to concentrate and make sure he knows those materials."

    DOUG.MCINTYRE@SUNMEDIA.CA

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    Thumbs up Dang! Sign this kid up

    Miss. toddler, 2, helps mom give birth to brother

    Thursday, November 19, 2009 (11-19) 18:05 PST Olive Branch, Miss. (AP)

    A 2-year-old in north Mississippi has done something few toddlers can: He helped his mother give birth to his brother. Bobbye Favazza told The Commercial Appeal she went into labor this past Friday and gave birth on the family's living room couch in Olive Branch. She said her toddler, Jeremiha Taylor, got her a towel and caught the baby before firefighters arrived to cut the umbilical cord.

    Favazza gave birth to a 7-pound, 4-ounce baby boy, Kamron Taylor.

    She had been scheduled for a cesarian section on Dec. 6.

    City emergency services supervisor, Greg Mynatt, said the 911 call about Favazza was probably the third this year about a woman in labor, but usually the mother makes it to the hospital before delivery.

    Information from: The Commercial Appeal, www.commercialappeal.com

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    One last note on the Warspite battleship saga

    By Jim Hume, Special to Times Colonist November 22, 2009

    Cleaning out a notebook, catching up on e-mail and ending, for now, the saga of the 1941 visit of the battleship HMS Warspite and stories on the panic on the West Coast after Pearl Harbour:

    The Warspite tale was brought to light back in September when Jack Wellburn wrote about his childhood thrill of seeing the giant of the sea in Nanoose Bay. Almost overnight, it expanded into a memory-lane exercise for dozens of readers who had personal memories of Warspite.

    There was even a note from retired engineer Geoff Fox of Central Saanich who once worked in the jet engine division of Rolls-Royce, the company that supplied Derwent V pumps to help re-float the Warspite in 1947 when it went aground on the coast of Cornwall while on her way to the wrecker's yard.

    From reader and former Lt.-Gov. Iona Campagnolo, there was a note and photograph taken on her just-concluded tour of First World War and Second World War memorials, battlefields and Canadian war cemeteries in Belgium and France. Near Juno, she had visited a German long gun emplacement that had been "dispatched with one shell from the 15 guns of Warspite" on D-Day. (For her fans, she remains in good health, sends her best wishes and is enjoying life out of the fast lane.)

    Not all the mail was friendly. One reader accused me of ignoring the injustice done to Canadians of Japanese descent in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbour, and of inaccuracy in describing the sinking of a U.S. freighter off Neah Bay. He claimed the freighter was Canadian and that it wasn't sunk, just badly damaged and towed to safety.

    The freighter I referred to was the SS Coast Trader. It was torpedoed and sunk on June 7, 1942, 56 kilometres southwest of Cape Flattery, which is next door to Neah Bay on the map. It was American with a crew of 37 plus 19 "armed guard" -- the American term for gun crews on armed merchantmen. One crew member perished from exposure, the crew of HMCS Edmundston and the fishing boat Virginia 1 pulled the rest from the sea.

    Two weeks later, on June 20, the Edmundston and another Canadian Corvette, HMCS Quesnel, were back off Cape Flattery to assist the Canadian SS Fort Camosun back to Neah Bay after it had been shelled and torpedoed by one of the Japanese submarines active in the area. Earlier in June, the Japanese had invaded and occupied the Aleutian Islands Attu and Kiska and the West Coast trembled from Mexico to Alaska. Earlier in the year, Canadian and American authorities had ordered the removal from coastal areas of all citizens of Japanese descent. The June submarine activity was used to justify that action -- and as an excuse for the inexcusable, arbitrary sale of personal property from homes to furniture to fish boats.

    How scared were the authorities? Scared enough to flank Prince Rupert with heavy artillery and order construction of two railway gun trains to run alongside the Skeena River.

    The trains were to be built in Winnipeg, would be manned by Winnipeg Grenadiers and bristled with Bren guns, 75 mm and Bofor guns. One reached operational status. Its job was to patrol the 95 miles between Rupert and Terrace to prevent any Japanese attempts to sail upriver to land troops.

    Once the Japanese were driven from the Aleutians, the gun train rusted on a siding at Terrace until handed to Canadian National Railway for dismantling. Roger V. Lucy has a history in his modest book The Armoured Train in Canadian Service.

    And finally, the aviation museum at Victoria International Airport offers the best picture of Pat Bay when it hosted crews from West Camp, the RCAF Training Unit for fighter and bomber squadrons; East Camp, RAF Training for air crew from England, Australia and New Zealand; and the Seaplane base, part coastal patrol, part Western Command against Japanese submarine threats.

    Just across the road from the museum is Mary's -- the 1940s Mary's Coffee Bar, a favourite hangout for aircrew. It's full of wartime memorabilia. If you go, be hungry. The food is good and still served in young aircrew proportions.

    © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

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    Thumbs up Silly dog

    Sled dog set to retire 'doesn’t know she’s blind'

    By Jennifer Pawluk, Winnipeg Free Press November 25, 2009 3:02 AM

    WINNIPEG — The end of the trail is near for Isobel the blind sled dog. The nine-year-old Siberian husky-malamute cross will retire in January, five years after she lost her sight.

    In January 2005, veterinarians told Isobel’s owners Gerald and Jenofar Azure that a virus had destroyed her eyes. The dog, they said, would never work again.

    But Isobel had other ideas.

    “Isobel went absolutely wild. She wanted to run,” said Jenofar, who lives with her dogs in the northern Manitoba community of Churchill.

    The blind dog learned to use sound and smell as beacons, her owner said.

    “She absolutely loves it,” said Jenofar. “She runs better now than she did with her eyesight.”

    Before her illness, Isobel ran in the middle of the pack or at point position, behind the lead dog Thunder. But now she and Thunder take turns running in the lead, Jenofar said.

    “In the North, everyone is expected to carry their own weight,” said Gerald. “Isobel does that and more.”

    The end of this season marks a sad one for the Azures, as Isobel is set to retire in January.

    The pup will be adopted by a family in Alberta, where her ophthalmology specialist lives.

    “Gerald and I derive a lot of strength from our sled dogs, but from Isobel in particular,” said Jenofar.

    “She doesn’t know she’s blind anymore.”

    © Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

    PHOTOCREDIT:

    Isobel the blind sled dog. The nine-year-old Siberian husky-malamute cross will retire in January, five years after she lost her sight.Photograph by: Handout, Winnipeg Free Press
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    Quote Originally Posted by MalahatTwo7 View Post

    Isobel the blind sled dog. The nine-year-old Siberian husky-malamute cross will retire in January, five years after she lost her sight.Photograph by: Handout, Winnipeg Free Press
    Now THAT is dogged determination! *ducks and runs for cover* Seriously, our pets show us continuously that they're not just "dumb animals" and I, for one, am grateful to have a wonderful animal companion. {and Nikita is awesome too }

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    Exclamation

    Young man flies into road rage after 69-year-old woman flips him the bird

    Comox Valley Echo November 25, 2009 10:03 AM

    COMOX — A 22-year-old man has been ordered into anger management counseling after a 69-year-old woman flipped him the bird.

    According to court testimony, Paul Michael Pelletier and another man were seen getting out of a vehicle at Cliffe Avenue and 17th Street on July 21. They then proceeded to yell obscenities at the woman in the car behind them.

    "She fingered me five times," Pelletier told the court. "You can't hit a woman so what's the next best thing? Hit her car, right?"

    Pelletier kicked the side-view mirror off the driver's side of the car. He was charged and convicted of mischief under $5,000.

    According to Crown prosecutor Richard Ellsay, the men had honked at the woman and she then fingered them twice.

    "It's clearly what one might classify as a road rage incident," said Ellsay. "I don't think giving him the finger was the best course of action, but it certainly didn't justify his actions."

    When asked by Judge Peter Doherty whether or not he noticed that the woman was nearly 70 years old when he attacked her car, Pelletier said "that's why I didn't hit her."

    Pelletier and the other man left the scene. A witness, however, got the vehicle's licence plate number. Pelletier was pulled over by police later that day.

    According to court testimony, Pelletier told police that he had wanted to teach the lady a lesson before she learned "the hard way."

    In court, Pelletier said the woman had caught him on a bad day.

    He said there are "psychos in this town" who would have done a lot worse.

    "If somebody is going to finger you, what do they expect?" asked Pelletier.

    Doherty, clearly unimpressed with Pelletier's angry outbursts in court, suspended sentence and placed him on 12 months probation. Conditions of his probation include that he not contact the complainant and complete a course in anger management.

    © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

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    Pittsburgh OKs $50K 'Middle Finger' Settlement. Man Cited For Giving Cop Middle Finger

    Posted: 1:01 pm PST November 25, 2009
    Updated: 1:08 pm PST November 25, 2009

    PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh City Council has tentatively approved paying $50,000 to settle a free speech lawsuit filed by a man cited for giving a city police officer the middle finger.

    Thirty-five-year-old David Hackbart, of Butler, made the gesture at a driver in April 2006, then did it again when someone yelled at him -- realizing only later the second person was a police officer.

    The American Civil Liberties Union sued saying Hackbart's gesture was constitutionally protected speech. A federal judge postponed a September trial indefinitely at the request of attorneys on both sides.

    Council gave initial approval to the settlement Tuesday, but must vote again next week to finally approve the payment.

    No court documents settling the case have been filed.

    Information from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, http://pghtrib.com

    Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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    Default Do You Wish For A White Christmas?

    Why Do We Dream Of A White Christmas? 'Christmas Carol,' Horse-Pulled Sleighs Likely Contributors

    NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS, Associated Press Writer

    Posted: 10:02 am PST November 25, 2009
    Updated: 11:02 am PST November 25, 2009

    SPOKANE, Wash. -- Bing Crosby didn't have to dream of a white Christmas -- he could bank on it.

    The crooner was from Spokane, a city that is among the most likely to have a white Christmas each year. According to weather experts, Spokane has a white Christmas about 70 percent of the time.

    In the United States, only a few high-latitude cities beat those odds: Duluth, Minn. (97 percent) Anchorage, Alaska, (90 percent), Marquette, Mich., (90 percent) and Concord, N.H. (87 percent).

    Crosby's song tapped into a primal need for many living in the northern latitudes, where the notion of a white Christmas takes on mythic proportions. But why is snow important to a holiday celebrating the birth of a man in the arid climate of the Middle East?

    "I think that it's simply because of the picture-perfect image of snow on Christmas that is constantly put into our heads through Christmas advertising and images of Santa Claus at the North Pole," said Karin Bumbaco, assistant state climatologist for Washington.

    "I think Americans prefer a white Christmas just because it's drilled into our heads," said Bumbaco, whose cynical view is perhaps the result of working in Seattle, which has a white Christmas just 8 percent of the time.

    The federal Western Regional Climate Center in Reno, Nev., gets flooded with calls this time of year, with people asking if their town will get a white Christmas, said Jim Ashby, a climatologist at the center. "They do care," Ashby said

    Snow on Dec. 25 is so desirable that there are Web sites devoted to the odds of your city having snow that day. And in the United Kingdom, it is possible to bet on whether there will be a white Christmas in places like London or Glasgow.

    The National Climatic Data Center studies the chances of a white Christmas in various U.S. cities. For the period 1988-2005, the agency found that the probability of having an inch of snow on the ground on Dec. 25 ranged from 100 percent in Fairbanks, Alaska, to 1 percent in Phoenix.

    The snow-happy can head to the Rockies, the Cascades and the Sierra Nevada mountains in the West, the Upper Midwest, and northern New England, according to the National Weather Service. But they probably won't need to shovel in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and Charlotte, where there's a 1 percent chance of snow on Christmas Day.

    There are lots of theories about why a white Christmas is considered desirable.

    One credits Charles Dickens, author of "A Christmas Carol," which was hugely influential in establishing various Christmas rituals. Dickens was born in 1812, and as a child experienced a run of very cold, snowy winters during Europe's "Little Ice Age." His romanticized memory of those winters went into the book.

    In the past, snow meant horse-pulled sleighs, which made it easier for people to get together for the holiday. And nostalgic illustrations, like Norman Rockwell's snowy Christmas scenes, also played a role.

    The term "white Christmas" was immortalized in the song of the same name written in 1940 by Irving Berlin for the movie "Holiday Inn." Crosby's version of the melancholy tune was a phenomenon, and is widely considered the best selling single of all time.

    In the Christian world, most parts of Canada stand an excellent chance of experiencing a white Christmas. Northern Europe often gets snow, although the further west a country is in Europe, the lower the probability that it will have a white Christmas.

    White Christmases are rare in the Southern hemisphere, where our winter is their summer.

    Nolan Doesken, a state climatologist in Colorado, also takes a somewhat jaded view of the white Christmas fetish.

    "We climatologists, along with the media looking for stories in what may otherwise be a slow news season, have worked together to continue to propagate this tradition," Doesken said. "It would be interesting to see if we quit writing about it, and quit singing about it, if anything would change."

    On the Web:

    National Climatic Weather Center: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/...christmas.html

    Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press.

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    Dog With Name Tag 'Works' Drive-Through Gas Station Owner Says He Initially Brought Dog For Shift Company

    Posted: 12:14 pm PST November 25, 2009
    Updated: 12:34 pm PST November 25, 2009

    CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Customers at one Gulf coast gas station might be surprised at who responds to the counter when they pull up to the drive-through window: The store owner's dog.

    Dozens of times each day, Cody the chocolate Labradaor retriever will pop up on two paws behind the counter at a BP gas station and convenience store in Clearwater. He even has a BP logo shirt and a name tag. Customers grin and kids squeal with joy in response.

    Store owner Karim Mansour said he started bringing Cody to work five months ago for company on the early morning shift. The dog quickly became a celebrity among store regulars.

    Mansour said Cody helps customers by calming those who come in sad or angry.

    Information from: St. Petersburg Times, http://tampabay.com

    Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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    Thumbs up

    Dealers lose their wheels Cops seizing 'dial-a-doper' vehicles

    By SHAWN LOGAN, SUN MEDIA

    Last Updated: 27th November 2009, 2:29am

    New legislation aimed at hitting gangsters and drug dealers where it hurts most -- their wallets -- has had a major impact on crime, says Alberta's justice boss.

    Justice Minister Alison Redford said $11.4 million in homes, cars and cash linked to crime has been seized under the Victims Restitution and Compensation Payment Act that came into force last fall.

    She said vehicles are becoming the primary tool of "dial-a-dopers" who have taken illicit commerce mobile and the year-old law now allows police to take these vehicles, many loaded with concealed compartments for guns and drugs, off the road.

    "The only thing that these mobile dealers require to run their drug business is a car and a cellphone," Redford said.

    "And if we can seize the car of a drug dealer, that's one less drug dealer doing business."

    In the last year, 61 vehicles have been seized under the legislation, including 43 from Edmonton.

    In a recent set of stings targeting dial-a-dopers, Edmonton cops laid hundreds of charges and impounded 13 vehicles, actions, said police Chief Mike Boyd, that are putting a serious dent in illegal drug operations.

    "With these powerful tools to get the job done, I think the evidence is pretty clear, it's working -- and we're just getting started," he said.

    "This is going to help us disrupt and dismantle and stop these criminals from operating."

    Redford said justice department lawyers have had a 97% success rate in receiving judicial consent for seizure and forfeiture proceedings.

    She noted there is currently one case in Alberta under appeal but she noted similar legislation in Ontario was recently upheld after facing a constitutional challenge.

    And with some $250,000 from forfeitures already given to victims of crimes and support groups, Redford warned criminals that any property used to commit a crime can be taken away.

    "If you decide to use your home to produce drugs you run the risk of losing your home. If you choose to use your vehicle to sell drugs or to transport drugs, you very well might lose your vehicle," she said.

    "This law was developed to disrupt the daily business of gangs and to try and prevent the victimization of our community, and it's working."

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    Default IceBerg Ahead, Sir!

    Giant iceberg spotted south of Australia

    Agence France-Presse December 9, 2009 3:18 AM

    SYDNEY - A monster iceberg nearly twice the size of Hong Kong island has been spotted drifting towards Australia in what scientists Wednesday called a once-in-a-century event.

    Australian glaciologist Neal Young pinpointed the slab, which is some 19 kilometres long and about 1,700 kilometres south of the country, using satellite imagery.

    He said he was not aware of such a large iceberg being found in the area since the days when 19th century clipper ships plied the trade route between Britain and Australia.

    "I don't recall any mention of one for a long, long time," Young, of the Australian Antarctic Division and Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-operative Research Centre, told AFP.

    "I'm guessing you would probably have to go back to the times of the clipper ships."

    Young said the iceberg measured about 140 square kilometres (54 square miles). Hong Kong island's surface area is about 80 square kilometres.

    The glaciologist said the iceberg carved off the Antarctic about 10 years ago and had been slowly floating round the icy continent before taking the unusual route north.

    He said the "very, very big" iceberg was originally about 400 square kilometres but then split into two smaller pieces.

    "This one has survived in the open ocean for about a year," he said. "In that time it's slowly been coming up to the north and north east in the general direction of Western Australia."

    The finding comes after two large icebergs were spotted further east, off Australia's Macquarie Island, followed by more than 100 smaller ice chunks heading towards New Zealand.

    Young described the icebergs as uncommon, but said they could become more frequent if sea temperatures rise through global warming.

    © Copyright (c) AFP

    PHOTOCREDIT:

    Photo taken on November 6, 2009 by the Australian Antarctic Division shows a giant iceberg, estimated to be about 50 metres high and 500 metres long as it drifts past the Australian sub-Antarctic territory of Macquarie Island. Australian Antarctic Division glaciologist Neal Young said the iceberg is likely to be part of one of the big ones that calved from the Ross Ice Shelf nearly a decade ago.Photograph by: TESSA BICKFORD, AFP/Getty Images

    {Too bad there is nothing to give reference of scale for size on this thing.}
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    Unhappy Oooopppppss

    Pa. police arrest Amish man in buggy for DUI

    Tuesday, December 8, 2009 (12-08) 18:18 PST Lancaster, Pa. (AP)

    Police in central Pennsylvania arrested an Amish man on drunk driving charges over the weekend after he was found asleep in his moving buggy. Police said a 22-year-old man was slumped over and asleep in a slow-moving buggy on Sunday night.

    An off-duty officer from nearby reported seeing the horse pulling the buggy at a walking pace as it straddled the center line.

    Police said a breathalyzer test snowed the man's blood-alcohol content was 0.18, more than twice the 0.08 legal limit for drivers.

    Information from: Intelligencer Journal, www.lancasteronline.com/pages/paper/sundaynews/

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    Default

    Kick in the Teeth: Dentist Overwhelmed by Sex Calls Florida dentist fields 500 calls per day from raunchy 1-900 number

    By BRIAN HAMACHER Updated 3:36 PM EST, Tue, Dec 1, 2009

    NBC Miami.com Between the routine cleanings, root canals and other dentist procedures, Dr. Robert Thousand and his staff don't have a whole lot of time for phone sex.

    But that's not stopping a raunchy 1-900 sex line from calling the St. Augustine dentist's phone a whopping 500 times a day.

    "There it goes again," employee Joyce Outlaw, immersed in annoying ring tones, told WTLV. "So far, we've had 433 calls since 9:30 this morning."

    The calls have been pouring in, on the office phones and the doctor's cell, in the past couple weeks, without stop. Thousand said the calls are hurting his practice, since real customers can't get through to the office. Not to mention the bill.

    "I think you get charged every time your cell phone rings. I get four to five hundred of these a day so I've contacted AT&T," Thousand said. "Who knows what my phone bill will be, thousands, I'm sure."

    The calls are a recording, with a simple choice of options from the menu.

    "If you are gay, press 1. If you are a lesbian, press 2," a sultry voice reads. You can imagine where it goes from there.

    "It's the same recording every time," said a frustrated Dr. Thousand. "It's a homemade recording that someone has downloaded on a computer and is dialing it through a computer on the automatic dial."

    Since he's been using the same office and phone number for 10 years, Dr. Thousand said he can't just change his number.

    In the meantime, police and AT&T are investigating the calls, trying to track down the source.

    Thousand said the sex calls are doing nothing for his libido or his once-thriving business.

    "It's pretty much cyberterrorism, you know, somebody terrorizes you, does this to your business," Thousand said. "It's shutting me down."

    First Published: Dec 1, 2009 1:33 PM EST

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    Question

    NC woman lay dead in bed for months despite visits
    By KEVIN MAURER and ALYSIA PATTERSON, Associated Press Writers

    Wednesday, December 16, 2009 (12-16) 10:53 PST Wilmington, N.C. (AP)

    The body of an elderly woman remained in her bed for up to eight months even though caretakers paid daily visits to the house and kept it tidy, authorities said Wednesday.

    Sheriff's deputies were investigating the suspicious death of Blanche Matilda Roth after the corpse was found in her suburban home in Wilmington, on the Atlantic coast, on Tuesday following a call to 911.

    New Hanover County Deputy Charles Smith said Roth likely died in May, before her 88th birthday in September. Her body was found after the 911 caller, whose identity was being withheld by authorities, reported that an elderly woman in the home was unconscious and not breathing.

    Smith said caretakers had been going in and out of the house on a quiet cul-de-sac on a daily basis. He would not specify if the caretakers were family members but said they were not nurses. At least four other people also lived in the house, a neighbor said. ?????

    Failure to report a death is a felony in North Carolina.

    Smith said the residence was very well kept. He said police hadn't received any calls requesting welfare checks on Roth.

    Officials are awaiting the results of an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

    "They were quiet and stayed to themselves all the time," neighbor Ray Taylor, 72, said of the home's residents.

    Martin Pedersen, another neighbor, said he had no idea Roth had died.

    Pedersen, 55, said four other family members, a married couple and two sons, lived in the house and that a younger son went to school every day.

    Pedersen said the family was nice and the news surprised him. He used to see the elderly woman walking to the mailbox with another family member holding her arm. "They'd be laughing and everything else."

    He couldn't recall when he last saw her.

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