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Location: Great Falls, Montana, United States

I have been married for almost seven wonderful years now and have made my parents and in-laws the proud grandparents of a chow mix named Hagrid and a three year old baby girl, Miss T as her goddess mothers would have her known.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Gay Swans?

All The Good Male Swans Are Either Taken Or Gay!

By Donovan Slack, Globe Staff | August 12, 2005
Boston's beloved pair of swans -- feted by city leaders, residents, and tourists alike as one of the Hub's most celebrated summer attractions -- are a same-sex couple. Yes, scientific tests have shown that the pair, named Romeo and Juliet, are really Juliet and Juliet.
The city's Parks and Recreation Department conducted the tests months ago, but didn't announce the results for fear of destroying the image of a Shakespearean love story unfolding each year in the Public Garden.
''Each year when the swans go in, the kids immediately come to us and say, 'Which one's Romeo, and which one's Juliet?' " parks spokeswoman Mary Hines said yesterday in response to a Globe inquiry. ''It's just like one of those fairy tales; why spoil it?"
This year and last, the swans have laid eggs in the spring and then stood guard at the nest as visitors and nearby residents made regular pilgrimages, hoping to see the eggs hatch. Neither batch did. Turns out, that's because they were never fertilized by a male swan.
The news ignited something of a debate among swan spectators in the Public Garden yesterday, with some insisting the city now should buy a true Romeo and others saying the city should embrace the two as a couple.
''If these two swans are happy together, they shouldn't have to have a guy," said Emma Stokien, a 15-year-old from New York. ''It's good to have the swans as a symbol of the acceptance in Massachusetts."
Some advocates involved in the heated debate on same-sex marriage took the opportunity to rejuvenate their argument, with a touch of levity.
''I think this proves that there's something in the environment in Massachusetts," Brian Camenker, director of the Article 8 Alliance, a Waltham-based organization fighting same-sex marriage, joked in a telephone interview. ''Maybe it's the water that's causing all this lunacy."
The city has kept swans at the Public Garden lagoon for 16 summers. City parks officials adopted the current Romeo and Juliet a few years ago, after others died. The breeder told the city that both were female, a good fit for the Public Garden because specialists say male swans tend to be aggressive.
But when the eggs showed up last spring and the swans began acting like future parents, park rangers thought the breeder had made a mistake. They began preparing for the first-ever hatching of swan babies, or cygnets, in the Public Garden.
Park rangers constructed a fence around the nest of nine or so eggs and began making regular checks, trying to monitor the progress of the eggs. In mid-July, though, the eggs began to disappear, one by one. The swans themselves had been seen kicking some of them into the nearby lagoon. Speculation abounded that maybe the swans had been inattentive. They tended to abandon the nest for hours on end. Maybe the public attention had disrupted their parenting, some said

Rangers managed to save one egg with hope of getting to the bottom of the mystery. After testing, they discovered the egg had never been fertilized. And when the swans returned to their winter home at the Franklin Park Zoo, parks officials decided to have their genders tested. Not an easy task, specialists said.
It's not just a matter of turning the birds upside down, said aviculturalist Frederick Beall, general curator of Zoo New England, who performed the tests. It requires inverting the bird's rear quarters and performing a detailed examination of reproductive organs. While there is a small margin of error, Beall said he has no doubt that both Romeo and Juliet are female. ''We are 100 percent certain," he said.
Swans will pair up with members of the same sex if there are no opposite-sex mates available, and one will act out the role of the opposite gender. They tend to stay with the same mates until death, typically between age 20 and 30.
''You could have two males, and they'll go through all the same behaviors, building a nest and sitting on it, but you won't have the eggs," Beall said.
Within an hour of the swans' return to the Public Garden in the spring, Romeo or Juliet -- rangers aren't sure which one -- laid a single egg, built a nest to house it, and began the pre-parental behavior. One would sit on the nest while the other shooed ducks away or went off to drink and feed. Sometimes they switched roles. After a week, though, the swans abandoned the nest, and the egg was found destroyed. Rangers removed the nest and fence, without grieving for the egg that would never hatch. (Swans typically lay only one clutch per year.)
As Romeo and Juliet, who are between 6 and 7 years old, stood on the rim of the lagoon yesterday, where swan boats glided by only yards from their nesting ground, spectators snapped pictures and commented on their beauty.
''They should have a Romeo," lamented Laura Elsheimer, a Hudson resident and owner of Sunshine Taxi Cab.
A visitor from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., suggested that the city should try to have one of next year's eggs fertilized so that Romeo and Juliet could become same-sex parents. ''I'm sure they'd probably be perfect parents," said L.D. Hollingsworth, smiling as he watched the swans grooming themselves.
Some same-sex marriage advocates hoped the swans' celebrity would not be diminished by the revelation of their same-sex status.
Marty Rouse, campaign director of MassEquality, said in a telephone interview: ''We should still cherish and love our swans, no matter whom they choose to swim with."

Britney's Views on Gay Marriage

Hmmmm… Some Secret Reason We Don’t Know About????
Britney: A Poster Child for Gay Marriage?
How is it that Britney Spears has become the poster child for gay marriage rights? The credit goes to the great state of Iowa. Specifically, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. In a speech on Valentine's Day, the Democrat said that Iowa should provide legal rights to committed gay couples and offered his support for same-sex civil unions.
Here's where Britney comes in: "I do think that we as a state ought to honor commitments, and we ought to reflect that in policies that we have," Vilsack said. "I personally don't think that it is fair...for Britney Spears, who was married for 51 hours to some guy in Las Vegas (for) that guy (to have) more rights than someone who's been committed to another person for 25 years." That marriage was annulled.
This wasn't the only attack on Britney by a government official this week. Remember when she got caught by the paparazzi driving with baby Sean in her lap instead of safely buckled in a rear-facing car seat? Now Norman Mineta, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has yelled at her for that infraction. "There's absolutely no excuse for this display--not instinct, not fear, not even reckless paparazzi," Mineta preached on Monday. Oh yeah, that was the same day he was promoting a $25 million initiative for new or tougher booster-seat laws. Coincidence? We don't think so. Funny comment from FedBlog: "I'd say this qualifies as the biggest celebrity smackdown by a federal official since Dan Quayle went ballistic on 'Murphy Brown.'" Well, at least Britney is a real person.

Beer Ad Degrades Women

Beer Ad So Degrading to Women It's Pulled (It's A Real Brew-haha!)
A Canadian brewery has learned the hard way not to mess with women. New Brunswick's Moosehead Breweries published an ad in the satirical magazine The Onion that created a real brew-haha (sorry, we couldn't resist) that resulted in the ad being yanked and the company issuing a formal mea culpa.
The Canadian Press reports that the ad read: "The average woman speaks 10,000 words in a day. Roughly 9,950 too many." Ouch. "It's offensive," Rosella Melanson, executive director of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women, told CP. "It's saying women should not be listened to."
Ironically, the ad has forced the brewery to listen to women. In addition to apologizing individually to offended customers in writing, the VP of public affairs, Joel Levesque, has told the ad agencies involved that they crossed the line. Any ads that might be considered "a bit edgy" must now be approved by the beer company's top suits.
One of the apology letters to a customer from New York read, "Moosehead Breweries will not tolerate this type of sexism and tasteless work again. I have been told that the creative team in question now fully understands what they did and that their lame attempt at humor was not amusing." Levesque, who is sure earning his paycheck this week, further told CP, "It's not something we're particularly proud of. The bottom line is we don't condone sexism--intended or not."

That Must Be Some Really Stinky Poo!!!!

Tiger Poo Repels Animals With No Experience of Tigers???
CANBERRA (Reuters) - A tiger's roar might be scary, but Australian researchers have found that the predator's poo is just as potent.
Researchers at the University of Queensland said Friday they had successfully tested a tiger poo repellant, warding off wild goats for at least three days.
"Goats wouldn't have seen a tiger from an evolutionary point of view for at least 15 generations but they recognize the smell of the predator," repellent creator Peter Murray said in a statement.
"If we can show this lasts weeks ... we've just tapped into probably a billion-dollar market. It's enormous," he said.
Murray said the repellant, made of fatty acids and sulphurous compounds extracted from tiger excrement, also worked on feral pigs, kangaroos and rabbits and might deter deer, horses and cattle too.
In an average year pest animals cause about A$420 million (US$311 million) worth of agricultural damage in Australia the government has said. Others put the cost in the billions, mostly from European imports such as rabbits, foxes and crop-choking weeds.

Floating Amusement Park- Up For Auction

And Who thought This Was A Good Idea???
BEIJING (Reuters) - A lucky bidder may come away from an auction in China with their very own Russian aircraft carrier -- albeit one converted into a floating theme park with a movie theater and restaurants.
Bidding is expected to start at a cool 128 million yuan ($16 million), Chinese media said Friday.
The Minsk, a decades-old, decommissioned relic of the Soviet era, was first bought by a Chinese company for scrap metal in 1998 but then sold to an entertainment firm, which poured millions of dollars into turning the ship into a tourist attraction.
The carrier opened to the public in the southern boomtown of Shenzhen in September 2000 as the main draw of the military-themed Minsk Aircraft Carrier World amusement park.
A Chinese travel agency describes the theme park as "a harmonious combination of carrier appreciation, military recreation, typical seaside lifestyle in south China and military atmosphere."
The ship's attractions included torpedoes and a Russian dance troupe that performed folk dances, the agency says.
But the company that operated the park, Minsk World Industries Co. Ltd., sank deep into the red and was declared bankrupt by a Shenzhen court in March last year, the Beijing News reported.
The court commissioned a southern China-based auction firm to handle the March 22 sale of the ship, which the auction company confirmed Thursday, it said.
Despite the company's collapse, the theme park had stayed in business and drew 33,000 visitors during the recent Lunar New Year holiday, the Shanghai Daily reported.

Pictures at Funerals Takes a Bizarre Twist!

What in the World Are These People Thinking????

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's obsession with camera-equipped mobile phones has taken a bizarre twist, with mourners at funerals now using the devices to capture a final picture of the deceased.
"I get the sense that people no longer respect the dead. It's disturbing," a funeral director told the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper.
At one ceremony several people gathered round the coffin and took out their phones to photograph the corpse as preparations were made to begin a cremation, she was quoted as saying.
"I'm sure the deceased would never want their faces photographed," she said.
But others called it a form of a memento in the modern age.
"Some can't grasp 'reality' unless they take a photo and share it with others ... It comes from a desire to keep a strong bond with the deceased," social commentator Toru Takeda told the paper.

Mystery Solved!

Mystery Surrounding Singer Solved!!!  Imagine That!

ROME (Reuters) - Italian prosecutors exhumed the body of a popular singer Wednesday and said they had laid to rest suspicions that he had been murdered.
Luigi Tenco, one of Italy's most famous modern singers, was found dead in his hotel room with a single gunshot wound to the head on January 27, 1967, hours after learning that his song had been eliminated from a national music competition.
A hand-written note found near Tenco said he had decided to kill himself as a protest against the jury and members of the public who had voted against him.
Yet doubts over his death have lingered for almost 40 years as no autopsy was carried out at the time and, although a pistol was found next to Tenco, the bullet that killed him was not.
But Mariano Gagliano, the Sanremo magistrate who ordered the exhumation, told reporters Wednesday that an examination of the body proved that Tenco had died of a gunshot wound.
"The Tenco case is definitively closed. Checks have confirmed that it was suicide," Gagliano was quoted as saying by the Italian media.
He did not give any further details, nor explain why he was so certain that the gunshot wound had been self-inflicted. State television said it would take four months to draw up a full report.
The doubts surrounding Tenco's death was a typical Italian controversy in a land where nothing is taken at face value and where mysteries shroud countless tragedies and crimes.
Tenco was only 29 when he died but had already made his name as a headstrong protest singer whose songs were often censored by state broadcaster RAI.
In 2003, an investigation by three journalists highlighted the inconsistencies in the case and called for prosecutors to reopen their probe and consider the possibility of murder.

The Happy Hooker

The “Happy Hooker” Refuses to Fade!

By Carolyn Abate
SAUSALITO, California (Reuters) - As several naked couples watched a live demonstration of sexual technique, Xaviera Hollander, the former prostitute and author of "The Happy Hooker," stayed dressed but freely shared details of her past lovers, men and women alike.
Hollander, 62, was in the San Francisco area to attend the screening of a new documentary about her, to speak at a sex workshop and to reflect on her colorful past that made her a matriarch of the sexual revolution.
"I want to be remembered as a living legend. I don't want to disappear like Mae West or Greta Garbo," she said in an interview.
During a three-and-a-half hour seminar led by an outgoing couple, Hollander -- who insisted she was not an exhibitionist -- let the others do the heavy breathing. As the woman leading the workshop assisted by a male partner moaned with pleasure, another woman in the audience was so moved by the show that she too went into ecstasy.
Hollander watched the event sponsored by the Center for Sex and Culture passively from a few feet away. But as her memoir of more than 30 years ago tells, she has seen it all before.
Born Vera De Fries in Indonesia to Dutch parents, Hollander and her life are the stuff of movies, and four years ago, she approached director Robert Dunlap to document her story.
The filmmaker, who is married to Hollander's cousin, jumped at the chance. He spent the next few years following her around Europe, interviewing friends and past lovers and searching through thousands of family photos.
The movie "Xaviera Hollander: The Happy Hooker" begins somberly with a little-known fact: For the first three years of Hollander's life she and her parents lived in a Japanese concentration camp during World War Two in Indonesia.
From there the film continues through her humble beginnings as a secretary, her first foray into prostitution and her rise to fame after the release of "The Happy Hooker." Throughout, Hollander provides detailed accounts of some of her more memorable sexual encounters.
The film, which has not yet found a distributor, also tackles rough spots, including her family's backlash when they discovered her profession. Hollander's mother was outraged; an aunt burned the book.

Her father -- with whom she was very close-- had died years earlier. She says had he lived, she probably would not have become a prostitute. "I wouldn't have wanted to disappoint him," she said.
That is quite a statement for a woman whose fame and fortune is rooted in her sexual exploits. She has written nearly a dozen books on the subject and speaks frequently at seminars and conventions for sex therapists and sex workers. For 30 years she has penned a column in Penthouse magazine title "Call Me Madam."
"I had so much fun," she said about her career. "I was pretty much a one-woman show."
Does she get tired of being referred to as the Happy Hooker? "It will always be the moniker on my back. I don't mind -- as long as they remember me," she said.
Since its release, "The Happy Hooker" has sold 15 million copies. Asked why the book has endured all these years, Hollander attributes it to honesty.
"It was a true book, not a phony book, based on reality," she said, dressed in a cream-colored house coat with bright stitching and flip-flop sandals. "It showed that sex can be fun."
Quick to laugh and pepper her conversation with salty language, her green eyes and pale lips show no signs of botox or plastic surgery. The once svelte body has given way to a heavier-set figure.
For Dunlap, his film is less about Hollander's sexual past than about a woman who overcame enormous obstacles.
"It's the story of an ultimate survivor," he said. "This is a film about a real person. She lived it, she loved it and she will die having done what she really wanted to do."
At her home base in Amsterdam, Hollander also runs a bed and breakfast. Two heart attacks nearly three years ago forced her to give up her other job producing cabaret theater. She was even celibate for two years, she said.
But health issues aside Hollander is not one to sit around. Her next project is another book, a collection of the best of her Penthouse column.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Forgive me Father

Forgive me Father, for I have Guns, and lots of them!

MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - A priest in Germany got more than he bargained for during confession when a man not only declared his sins, but also handed over a machine gun and a hand grenade, police in Bavaria said Tuesday.
"He also gave the priest a cardboard box with a clown's face and the words 'Red Nose Day March 26, 2004' on it containing 34 cartridges of 7.65 mm caliber," police said in a statement.
The priest from the southern town of Pfarrkirchen turned in the weapons to police but told them church rules governing confession prevented him from revealing the man's identity.
"It's unclear as to whether the church has forgiven the sinner, but specialists in Bavaria's regional crime agency who are bound to earthly laws are now investigating the matter in accordance with gun control laws," police said.

Boredom At Its Finest

How bored do you have to be to attempt this????
BERLIN (Reuters) - A German youth who tied himself to a foldaway bed because he was bored was rescued by police after becoming trapped in its mechanism, officials said on Tuesday.
Neighbors alerted the police in the western German town of Schwelm after hearing the 16-year-old's cries for help late on Monday night.
When police entered the apartment, they found the bed had folded itself away and the red-faced youth was tied upside down to it with a tow-rope and wire and unable to free himself.
"He said he did it because he was bored," said Dietmar Trust, a spokesman for the local police. "He was visibly embarrassed but it was also a pretty amusing situation."

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Children aren't little adults??? What a concept!

I like this point of view, I think I will start subscribing to their magazine.

By Ellen Wulfhorst
NEW YORK (Reuters) - There aren't too many jobs where missing teeth are a plus.
For child models, gap-toothed grins and bony knees can make a career, or at least a start of one. Looking for their start in the world of modeling were dozens of children at Child magazine's fashion show, staged Monday during New York's semi-annual gala Fashion Week.
Ranging in age from 4 to 12, the models wore miniature outfits by such top design names as Bill Blass and Kenneth Cole, all of which will be auctioned off for charity.
Many of the tiny models smiled, some tentatively, as they walked down a catwalk normally reserved for experienced professionals. A few blew kisses, although several looked frightened and one small boy walked the runway with a tear running down his face.
The 50 models were selected from 250 candidates by editors at Child in casting calls in recent days. A few celebrities' children -- those of rapper 50 Cent and of music producer Russell Simmons and wife Kimora Lee Simmons -- were thrown into the mix, along with actress Lindsay Lohan's younger sister Aliana and brother Dakota.
"It's basically about personality, being comfortable in clothes and not being forced to be here," said Gay Morris Empson, a Child editor helping select models at one audition. "It's really about being comfortable with themselves."
Sex, for once, doesn't sell. Not making the cut was any girl who struck a grown-up model pose, swinging her hips and jutting her pelvis.
"Above all, it's kids not looking sexy," said Empson. "No JonBenets."
The still-unsolved murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey in 1996 triggered shudders as the public saw photos of the tiny blond girl in heavy makeup and coiffed hair competing in children's beauty pageants.
Plenty of criticism of child modeling remains among developmental experts and academics.
"It's disturbing that we're presenting children as tiny adults. They're like little puppets or dolls," said Suzanne Ferriss, co-editor of the book "On Fashion."
"It's for the adults. It's not for the children," she said. "There's something disturbing about co-opting them and making them a spectacle for our own amusement."
New Yorker Isla Ng, 11, was chosen by juicemaker Welch's to be its company spokeschild when she was 6 years old. Looking back, she says now, she didn't realize at the time that she would be appearing in television commercials shown around the world.
"That's probably why I was good at it," she said. "I was just drinking juice."
At 11, Cameron Carr of Harlem, who appeared in the Child show, has a huge portfolio of print advertising work. "What he gets from the experience is great. It does nothing but complement what he is," said his mother, Christina Clements-Carr.
But working with child models has its quirks, Empson said.
Little boys often don't like to work near little girls, she has found, and children won't wear just anything.
"You can't just say, 'Squeeze into this size shoe,'" she said. "If it's the wrong size, they won't wear it."
For most children, of course, becoming a successful model is unrealistic. Ng was chosen from some 1,300 candidates by Welch's.
But at 5, Diani Ferguson, who has commercial print ads and the Child runway show in her portfolio, does not plan to be a model when she grows up.
"I want to be God when I grow up," she explained at her audition. "He helps us."

Llama love?

Can’t figure out what to get your Valentine?  Or how about a novel new date?

LONDON (Reuters) - Stuck for romantic inspiration with Valentine's Day just a week away?
Then consider llamas.
A charity with the slogan "get calmer with a llama" is offering romantic country strolls for the lovelorn, leading a llama together around the picturesque Lake District in northwestern England.
"Chatting over a llama is certainly a novel way to meet people in a relaxed environment, and participants can enjoy a romantic picnic afterwards -- carried by the ever obliging llamas in their backpacks," said owner Mary Walker.
Walker, whose Lakeland Llamas charity helps the disabled, is keen to assure lonely hearts that contrary to their bad press, the South American relatives of the camel do not habitually spit at or bite people but are in fact friendly and docile.
Anyone interested can click on

"Joint" Venture

Who would have EVER thought Amsterdam would have no smoking signs up?
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Amsterdam's new street signs banning cannabis smoking in parts of the city have sparked global interest.
The sign shows a red circle around a fat cannabis joint in a cloud of smoke sparked by white marijuana leaves. It has been installed at one square and surrounding streets in Amsterdam where young cannabis smokers are a nuisance (
Soon after the installation on February 1, the first signs were stolen after which the Amsterdam council of De Baarsjes decided it would start selling what it believes is the world's first anti-cannabis road sign.
Over 400 consumers have approached the council to buy one of the "no joints" signs for 90 euros ($108), excluding shipping, a spokesman said.
"About 75 percent of the requests come from the United States," he said, adding interest is also coming from Singapore, Australia, Scandinavian countries and Germany.
The profits will be donated to a charitable cause that has yet to be chosen.
It is legal to own and use small quantities of soft drugs in the Netherlands whose relaxed position on the issue has brought it into conflict with other European countries like France which claims the Dutch undermine the global fight against drugs.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Threatening Homework

Threatening Homework… Becoming a real threat?

By Richard C. Lewis
PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island (Reuters) - The U.S. Secret Service on Thursday said it was investigating a Rhode Island student who wrote a rambling essay advocating violence against U.S. President George W. Bush and major U.S. corporations.
A homework assignment asked 7th-grade students at John F. Deering Middle School in West Warwick, Rhode Island, to describe their perfect day. The boy under investigation wrote it would involve unspecified violence against Bush, Coca-Cola Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executives, and TV talkshow host Oprah Winfrey, school officials said.
The boy turned in the single-page assignment on Tuesday, and his teacher alerted school officials.
The essay has not been released, and the student has not been identified. Seventh-grade students are typically aged 11 to 13.
Daniel Burns, Jr., chairman of the West Warwick School Committee, called the student's essay a "stupid act" and said he had never seen a situation like this in the more than 20 years that he's been involved in the school system.
While it did not include any specific plan for an attack, "anyone that writes what's on his mind, where he wants to do away with or kill people, it's something you've got to pay attention to," Burns told Reuters.
Threatening the president is a felony, said Thomas M. Powers, Secret Service resident agent in charge in Providence, the state capital. He said the agency's investigation is ongoing but declined further comment.
The student faces no charges from local police, Detective Sgt. Richard Ascoli, spokesman for West Warwick police, said. The department has handed over the case to the Secret Service and is no longer involved, he added.
The American Civil Liberties Union in Rhode Island criticized law enforcement's involvement in the case.
"The student was engaged in a rhetorical, if angry, exercise of speech," the organization said in a statement.
"Although it may have been appropriate for the teacher to share the essay with the school social work staff, the decisions to also involve the police and the Secret Service marked a significant and inappropriate intrusion on the young student's First Amendment rights.”

Burns, who was briefed by the West Warwick school superintendent on the essay but had not read it, described it as bitter. "Obviously, this individual needs some kind of help," he said.
He questioned whether the boy had help composing it.
"Someone in the 7th grade just doesn't gather this information by themselves," he said. "I was concerned where that came from."
The student is undergoing counseling, Burns said.

For Sale: One Soul

Whale soul up for auction on ebay?!?!?!!!
LONDON (Reuters) - It used to be a practice confined to pacts with the devil, but now an anonymous vendor in America is offering to sell the soul of the London whale.
The Northern Bottlenosed Whale died two weeks ago after swimming up the River Thames into central London.
"I was accompanying the poor whale in his last journey, and he handed his soul to me. He asked me to sell it, so I could invest the money raised in other bottlenosed whales," said the seller from Minneapolis, giving the whale the wrong gender.
It is not the first item of whale-related memorabilia to go up for sale on Internet auction site eBay.
The watering can used to keep the female whale wet as rescuers vainly tried to ship her back out to sea on January 21 was sold Wednesday for 2,050 pounds ($3,642), and someone is even trying to sell water from the river on the grounds the whale swam through it.
The soul seller describes the proud possession as "100 percent soul" and promises to ship it anywhere in the world.
"This soul will only increase in value in the future," wrote the vendor.
Illustrated with a picture purporting to be of a whale's brain, the only bid registered to date is for just $1.
No one from e-bay was immediately available to comment.

Cannabis Pharmacies

I’m here for my prescription and 6,000 cookies, please.
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch city of Groningen looks set to open the Netherlands' first pharmacy totally dedicated to providing high quality cannabis for pain relief at affordable prices, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
Although cannabis is readily available in Dutch coffee shops, the foundation for Medicinal Cannabis Netherlands, a support group for patients, intends launching a pharmacy in the northern Dutch city so people can have access to high-grade cannabis for medical use, the daily NRC Handelsblad said.
Groningen city council member Fleur Woudstra, who supports the cannabis pharmacy, told the paper that while pot may be cheaper in coffee shops -- usually around 10 euros ($12) for the equivalent of 3 or 4 joints -- quality often suffers.
The Office of Medicinal Cannabis, a Dutch government agency, and the community of Groningen as well as the local police back the idea and a site has been chosen. It was not immediately clear just when the pharmacy would open for business.
Two more cannabis pharmacies are planned in the towns of Hoogezand and Assen, the paper said.

Bed Bug Epidemic?

Don’t let the bed bugs bite….

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia is suffering a bed-bug epidemic with the tourism industry losing an estimated A$100 million (US$75 million) a year because of the blood-sucking insects, according to a new entomology study.
Some pest controllers have reported more than a 1,000 percent rise in bed-bug outbreaks, said the Institute for Clinical Pathology & Medical Research at Sydney's Westmead Hospital.
The Australian outbreaks are part of a global epidemic, with the number of bed bugs worldwide doubling each year, Institute medical entomologist Stephen Doggett said Friday.
"Britain, Europe and a lot of America have reported a resurgence in bed bugs," said Doggett.
Hotel and pest control operators in the United States reported a 20 percent rise in bed bugs in 2004 and bed bug infestations in the United States have caused lawsuits, with a number of companies sued by guests after being bitten.
Doggett said the worldwide rise in the insects was a result of changing pest control measures and a rise in travelers visiting exotic locations.
Pest control in the past usually involved insect sprays, which also killed bed bugs, but new environmentally friendly practices such as insect baits, had no effect on bed bugs.
"Bed bugs haven't been a serious public health problem in Australia for about 50 years prior to their current resurgence," Doggett said.
"Motels use to be sprayed for cockroaches, but now they use cockroach baits and bed bugs are blood suckers so the baits have little impact," he said.
Some people suffer blood poisoning as a result of bites.
Bed bugs prefer dark locations close to where people sleep so they can feed on human blood at night. They usually nest in mattresses, particularly in the seams, under floorboards and carpets, inside bed frames and slats and behind skirting boards.
The chairman of Backpacking Queensland, Dean Cooper, said accommodation operators in the tropical northern state were losing money by closing rooms to treat bed-bug outbreaks.
"It can sometimes be a minimum two or three days that you'll have a room out of action -- a couple of hundred dollars just for that particular room, and then you have possible reinfestation problems down the track," Copper told Australian radio.
Queensland's Tourism Industry Council will hold a bed-bug summit next Tuesday to discuss combating the biting problem.

Lip Synching

Is it live if it’s a recording?
LONDON (Reuters) - After an infamous tiff between Elton John and Madonna over lip-synching, Britain's Musicians' Union has called on performers to come clean -- audiences should be told if they are miming rather than singing.
The union is urging promoters, producers and artists to back its campaign for lip-synching to be clearly labeled during TV shows, in pop arenas and on stage.
"Stand up and be honest about it. We won't knock you for using recordings," said union spokesman Keith Ames, wearied by the sight of bands with miming singers backed by guitarists going through the motions to a recorded track.
"If we are going to sell British music around the world, we cannot go out without a genuine product. You cannot sell artificiality to the Europeans and the Americans. They will see through it immediately."
The union suggested that a lip-synching logo could be flashed up on television or on posters and tickets for shows.
"This campaign is to reward performers who have the talent to perform live and give it a human edge," Ames said. "In a funny sort of way, people like the odd bum note. It gives them a sense of the moment."
He stressed that the union was in no way opposed to the use of technology, especially in smaller theatres where the producers could not afford to pay for a full orchestra.
"This is about consumers knowing what they are buying into," he said.
The issue hit the headlines when British pop veteran Elton John took a swipe at Madonna, saying she cheated her fans by miming on stage.
Collecting a song-writing award in 2004, he suddenly launched into a tirade against Madonna when he discovered she had been nominated for Best Live Act.
"Anyone who lip-synchs in public on stage when you pay 75 pounds to see them should be shot," John said. Madonna swiftly denied lip-synching and pointedly said she did not spend her time trashing other artists.
The union campaign was launched on BBC Television's "The Culture Show" with a poll showing that 71 percent of those questioned backed its stance.
The campaign has also won backing from singer Beverley Knight who told the program: "What I can't bear more than anything are those who are more than capable of delivering a show live with musicians and the whole thing and who don't."
Malcolm McClaren, former manager of the Sex Pistols, agreed, complaining "There isn't enough authenticity in the pop industry. It is karaoke culture."
But Faye Tozer, a singer with the now disbanded pop group Steps, defended lip-synching that helped them cope with a punishing schedule. "We did it to get our product out," she said.

Missing Tracks?

Either Really Desperate or Really Brilliant

BERLIN (Reuters) - Thieves have dismantled and carted away some 5 kms (3 miles) of disused rail track close to the German town of Weimar, railway operator Deutsche Bahn said on Friday.
The railway operator said the thieves would probably sell the tracks as scrap metal with the damage amounting to at least 200,000 euros ($241,500).
Deutsche Bahn said it had noticed the missing track after the mayor of a town alongside the train line phoned in to check if the dismantling was planned.
"This was a major criminal operation, because you cannot simply take the tracks and carry them away," said a spokesman for the rail operator.