Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Study debunks full-moon injury beliefs - Yahoo! News

Study debunks full-moon injury beliefs - Yahoo! News: "Study debunks full-moon injury beliefs "
VIENNA, Austria - Ever whacked your thumb with a hammer, or wrenched your back after lifting a heavy box, and blamed the full moon? It's a popular notion, but there's no cosmic connection, Austrian government researchers said Tuesday.

Robert Seeberger, a physicist and astronomer at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, said a team of experts analyzed 500,000 industrial accidents in Austria between 2000 and 2004 and found no link to lunar activity.
"The full moon does not unfavorably affect the likelihood of an accident," Seeberger said.
The study, released Tuesday by the General Accident Insurance Office, said that on average there were 415 workplace accidents registered per day. Yet on days when the moon was full, the average actually dipped to 385, though the difference was not statistically significant.
The lunar influence theory dates at least to the first century A.D., when the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder wrote that his observations suggested "the moon produces drowsiness and stupor in those who sleep outside beneath her beams."
Seeberger, who advises the Austrian government on accident prevention, said he and fellow researcher Manfred Huber decided to take a closer look because the full moon theory kept surfacing "again and again."
They also checked for a possible interplay between the rate of accidents and the position of the moon relative to Earth, theorizing that gravity might have some effect in tripping people up at work.
But the moon orbits the planet in almost a perfect circle, and there was also no statistically significant relationship between the accident rate and the moon's closest proximity to Earth.
There were an average 400 accidents on days when the moon nudged closest, the study found, compared to an average 396 per day at other times.
Past studies have differed on whether the full moon affects humans by subtly influencing "biological tides."
A landmark study published in 1984 in the British Medical Journal examined the incidence of crimes reported to police from 1978-82 in three locations in India — one rural, one urban, one industrial — and found a spike in crime on full moon days compared to all other days.
But another study, done in Canada in 1998 by University of Saskatchewan researchers, looked at nearly 250,000 traffic accidents that caused property damage or nonfatal injuries over a nine-year period and found no relationship to the lunar phase.
Most scientists agree that at nearly 239,240 miles away, the moon is simply too distant — and human beings too small — for it to have any significant effect.
"There's no real reason why it should," said D. John Hillier, a professor of astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh who was not involved in the Austria study.
"It's often probably just cases of people remembering that there happened to be a full moon when something occurred," he said. "When nothing special happens, they tend not to notice what the moon is doing. So this selective memory just keeps the legend going."

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Monday, July 16, 2007

"Too sexy for my bus," woman told - Yahoo! News

"Too sexy for my bus," woman told - Yahoo! News: "Too sexy for my bus,' woman told "
BERLIN (Reuters) - A German bus driver threatened to throw a 20-year-old sales clerk off his bus in the southern town of Lindau because he said she was too sexy, a newspaper reported Monday.
"Suddenly he stopped the bus," the woman named Debora C. told Bild newspaper. "He opened the door and shouted at me 'Your cleavage is distracting me every time I look into my mirror and I can't concentrate on the traffic. If you don't sit somewhere else, I'm going to have to throw you off the bus.'"
The woman, pictured in Bild wearing her snug-fitting summer clothes with the plunging neckline, said she moved to another seat but was humiliated by the bus driver.
A spokesman for the bus company defended the driver.
"The bus driver is allowed to do that and he did the right thing," the spokesman said. "A bus driver cannot be distracted because it's a danger to the safety of all the passengers."

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2,400-year-old golden mask unearthed - Yahoo! News

2,400-year-old golden mask unearthed - Yahoo! News: " 2,400-year-old golden mask unearthed "
SOFIA, Bulgaria - A 2,400-year-old golden mask that once belonged to a Thracian king was unearthed in a timber-lined tomb in southeastern Bulgaria, archaeologists said Monday.

The mask, discovered over the weekend, was found in the tomb along with a solid gold ring engraved with a Greek inscription and the portrait of a bearded man.
"These finds confirm the assumption that they are part of the lavish burial of a Thracian king," said Margarita Tacheva, a professor who was on the dig near the village of Topolchane, 180 miles east of the capital, Sofia.
Georgi Kitov, the team leader, said that they also found a silver rhyton, silver and bronze vessels, pottery and funerary gifts.
"The artifacts belonged to a Thracian ruler from the end of the 4th century B.C. who was buried here," Kitov added.
According to Kitov, the Thracian civilization was at least equal in terms of development to the ancient Greek one.
The Thracians lived in what is now Bulgaria and parts of modern Greece, Romania, Macedonia, and Turkey between 4,000 B.C. and the 8th century A.D., when they were assimilated by the invading Slavs.
In 2004, another 2,400-year-old golden mask was unearthed from a Thracian tomb in the same area.
Dozens of Thracian mounds are spread throughout central Bulgaria, which archaeologists have dubbed "the Bulgarian valley of kings" in reference to the Valley of the Kings near Luxor, Egypt, home to the tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs.

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Sex education creates storm in AIDS-stricken India - Yahoo! News

Sex education creates storm in AIDS-stricken India - Yahoo! News: "Sex education creates storm in AIDS-stricken India "
MUMBAI (Reuters) - Moves to bring sex out of the closet in largely conservative India have kicked up a morality debate between educators who say sex education will reduce HIV rates, and critics who fear it will corrupt young minds.

It's an emotive issue pitting modernists against conservatives in a country with the world's highest number of HIV cases at about 5.7 million, a figure that experts say may balloon to over 20 million by 2010.
Biology teacher Thelma Seqeira infuriates conservatives in India every time she tells her students about masturbation, condoms and homosexuality.
Seqeira is doing exactly what India's federal government wants the country's 29 states and seven federally-administered regions to do -- fight the exponential spread of HIV/AIDS with information on safe sex.
"Sex education is the best way to prepare my students for adolescence and protect them from HIV/AIDS," said Seqeira, who teaches at a private school in Maharashtra state, western India.
But the governments of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh don't agree. They have banned sex education at public schools because they say the learning modules are too explicit, and some pictures are too graphic.
Private schools are able to continue the lessons, but many have watered them down to avoid controversy.
The southern states of Kerala and Karnataka -- considered among India's progressive states with high literacy rates -- are also considering bans.
The Indian government has been unable to stop these bans even as it seeks to curb the spread of HIV. In India, about 86 percent of HIV infections occur through sexual intercourse, one key reason being that migrant workers in cities visit prostitutes and infect their wives when they return home.
Ignorance about sex is widespread in the land of the Kama Sutra, where explicit sex acts are celebrated in ancient temple architecture.
But at home, mothers hesitate to talk to daughters about something as simple as menstruation, and even the basics of the human reproductive system are taught with much embarrassment in schools.
Experts are calling for a change in prudish attitudes to help counter the spread of HIV/AIDS. They say the winds of change must first blow through the country's schools.
"Sex education does not mean you are encouraging sex which is how it's interpreted," Renuka Chowdhury, India's minister for women and child development, told Reuters last month.
"Sex education is an insurance for your child. It will protect your child."
Among the course elements that have generated much heat are discussions on homosexuality and descriptions of sex acts, including masturbation.
Proponents of the ban say the sex education course -- modeled on those taught in many Western countries, will make students imbibe "decadent western morality."
They point to polls showing that an increasing number of young people -- mostly India's moneyed youngsters that live in cities -- have postponed marriage, but not sex.
An India Today poll revealed one in four Indian women between 18 and 30 in 11 cities had sex before marriage. One in three said she was open to having a sexual relationship even if she was not in love.
"AIDS is spreading because of cultural decadence and sexual anarchy," said Shajar Khan, a prominent student leader who opposes sex education at schools.
Analysts say conservative political parties, such as the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, India's main opposition group, are panning sex education courses at least partly to make political capital out of opposing the West.
But for parents bringing up children in rapidly modernizing India, sex education may be a matter of life and death.
"The argument that if you teach about sex the children are going to run out and have sex is very unfounded," said Roshni Behuria, a mother of two girls.
"Killing the education bit won't reduce the propensity towards sex. But it just might end up killing safe-sex ignorant young people."


Best Places to Live

Best Places to Live
by Kate Ashford, Asa Fitch, Stephen Gandel, Josh Hyatt, Sarah Max, Jennifer MerrittMonday, July 16, 2007
Some towns have everything any family could want
When you're young, the big city is a great place to be. There comes a point, though, when you're ready to trade night life for shade trees, sushi for pizza and roommates for children.
It's time to find the place where you'll spend the better part of your adult life -- raising your kids, climbing the career ladder and building your family's future. For most folks who have the option, that means a place that's smaller, safer and greener.
Best Places to Live 2007• Most Affordable TownsWhere We'll Live in the FutureGreat Then, Great Now: 20 Years of Best Places
More Real Estate StoriesReal Estate How-to GuidesReal Estate Calculators
But there's a big difference between a gated McMansion subdivision and a town where you can put down roots and participate in a community that has a broader list of concerns than the height of the hedges. The latter are the kinds of places MONEY looks for in naming America's Best Places to Live.
This year we focused on smaller places, between 7,500 and 50,000 in population, that offered the best combination of economic opportunity, good schools, safe streets, things to do and a real sense of community.
We made a few tweaks to our methodology adding a ranking for ethnic and racial diversity and -- with the cost of housing an issue for so many families - paying extra attention to home prices and property taxes. That meant a few expensive locales that have been on past lists slid in the rankings, while some more affordable places moved up. And the winner is...
1. Middleton, Wis.
100 Best American Towns
Population: 17,400Typical single-family home: $325,000Estimated property taxes: $6,200Pros: Small-town charm; booming economy; extensive parks and bike trailsCons: Do you like winter?
Troy and Sally Mayne liked Madison just fine, but they were looking for something more -- a tight-knit community where their two children could play with friends, go to school and bike to their heart's content. They found what they wanted seven miles away, in Middleton, this year's No. 1 spot. The Maynes bought a home in Middleton Hills, a nationally recognized "new urban" development with large swaths of open space and close proximity to the 520-acre Pheasant Branch conservancy.
Five years on, they feel they have the best of both worlds. They benefit from the economic and cultural advantages that come with Madison's status as home to the University of Wisconsin and as state capital. But the pace of life in Middleton is a little slower, the people friendlier. "In Madison you weren't tied in with the fabric of your community," says Troy, 43, a real estate attorney. "It's just the opposite here."
Many Middletonians, like the Maynes, commute to Madison, where Sally is a government lawyer. But Middleton proper has a strong pool of jobs too, mainly in the pharmaceutical, tech and medical industries. Dollmaker American Girl is one of the town's largest employers, and more outsiders commute to Middleton than residents leave for Madison.
After business hours Middleton has more going on than you might expect for a town of 17,000. The beer garden at the Capital Brewery is host to corporate mixers, and there are good restaurants downtown. But make no mistake: family life is what Middleton is about. In the summer you'll see parents and kids plying the bike trails of the conservancy, splashing in the town's waterslide-equipped pool or sailing on Lake Mendota.
On the downside, winter is tough, and there's not great ethnic diversity. But for Bronx natives Mary and Carmelo Saez, who settled here in 2005 after a long search for a safer community with better schools than they could find close to home, the positives easily outweigh the negatives. First, there's bang for the buck. "There are houses here that you can afford comfortably," says Mary, 35, who works in the district office of the elementary school her girls attend.
Second, there's a sense of tranquility they've longed for. "Out here it's more relaxed," says Carmelo, 37, who teaches adult education in Madison. "People are really comfortable around one another."
2. Hanover, N.H.
Best of the EastPopulation: 8,500Typical single-family home: $385,000Estimated property taxes: $6,000Pros: Rich cultural and community opportunities; diversityCons: Winter isn't for wimps.
Don't be fooled by Hanover's mountain setting or its quiet charms. This isn't your typical New England college town: It's more an international city than a pastoral hideaway. About 20% of residents are nonwhite, and more than two dozen nationalities are represented.
That's partly what led Aharon Boghosian, 50, who left in 1981, to return with his wife and two kids to take over the family business. "We have friendships with people from all over the world and all different cultures," says Boghosian, who runs Gilberte Interiors, the company his Armenian mother started in 1967. Daughter Rachel's classmates hail from as far away as Ghana and Japan.
The world-class teaching hospital Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (just a stone's throw away in Lebanon), a smattering of environmental engineering and mid-size technology firms and, of course, Dartmouth itself all attract the cosmopolitan crowd. Add a downtown dotted with locally owned shops and restaurants and a fully stocked grocery cooperative, throw in a myriad of year-round activities sponsored by the college or the town, and it's easy to see why people love it here.
Being outdoors is simply a way of life in Hanover, says Jan Sayles, who arrived here two years ago with her husband Rick and their two kids, seeking refuge from the New Jersey suburbs. Jan, 42, now often walks a wooded and winding path along the Connecticut River near her home. Rick, an accountant and financial analyst, has joined a growing number of new arrivals who telecommute. "There's a real sense of community spirit and unbelievable cultural opportunities here," says Jan.
Hanover has drawbacks, certainly: It's out of the way -- two hours from Boston and 90 minutes from Manchester, N.H. -- and while you can get a four-bedroom house for less than $400,000, homes close to town can be pricey. The pressures of gentrification have reached the point that the town is developing moderate-income housing. And if you can't stand winter, you won't like Hanover. But if you're the adventurous sort, the skiing and skating are great.
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More from Money on CNNMoney.com:• See snapshots of the 100 Best American Towns• See MONEY's Best Places to Live special


Nev. couple blame Internet for neglect - Yahoo! News

Nev. couple blame Internet for neglect - Yahoo! News: "Nev. couple blame Internet for neglect "
RENO, Nev. - A couple who authorities say were so obsessed with the Internet and video games that they left their babies starving and suffering other health problems have pleaded guilty to child neglect.

The children of Michael and Iana Straw, a boy age 22 months and a girl age 11 months, were severely malnourished and near death last month when doctors saw them after social workers took them to a hospital, authorities said. Both children are doing well and gaining weight in foster care, prosecutor Kelli Ann Viloria told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Michael Straw, 25, and Iana Straw, 23, pleaded guilty Friday to two counts each of child neglect. Each faces a maximum 12-year prison sentence.
Viloria said the Reno couple were too distracted by online video games, mainly the fantasy role-playing "Dungeons & Dragons" series, to give their children proper care.
"They had food; they just chose not to give it to their kids because they were too busy playing video games," Viloria told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Police said hospital staff had to shave the head of the girl because her hair was matted with cat urine. The 10-pound girl also had a mouth infection, dry skin and severe dehydration.
Her brother had to be treated for starvation and a genital infection. His lack of muscle development caused him difficulty in walking, investigators said.
The Straws have been given public defenders. Jeremy Bosler, head of the county public defender's office, declined to comment to The Associated Press on Saturday.
Michael Straw is an unemployed cashier, and his wife worked for a temporary staffing agency doing warehouse work, according to court records. He received a $50,000 inheritance that he spent on computer equipment and a large plasma television, authorities said.
While child abuse because of drug addiction is common, abuse rooted in video game addiction is rare, Viloria said.
Last month, experts at an American Medical Association meeting backed away from a proposal to designate video game addiction as a mental disorder, saying it had to be studied further. Some said the issue is like alcoholism, while others said there was no concrete evidence it's a psychological disease.
Patrick Killen, spokesman for Nevada Child Abuse Prevention, said video game addiction's correlation to child abuse is "a new spin on an old problem."
"As we become more technologically advanced, there's more distractions," Killen said. "It's easy for someone to get addicted to something and neglect their children. Whether it's video games or meth, it's a serious issue, and (we) need to become more aware of it."


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Shunned from society, widows flock to city to die - CNN.com

Shunned from society, widows flock to city to die - CNN.com: "Shunned from society, widows flock to city to die"
VRINDAVAN, India (CNN) -- Ostracized by society, India's widows flock to the holy city of Vrindavan waiting to die. They are found on side streets, hunched over with walking canes, their heads shaved and their pain etched by hundreds of deep wrinkles in their faces.

A widow makes her way in Vrindavan, India, where an estimated 15,000 widows live on the streets.

Hindu widows are shunned from society when their husbands die, not for religious reasons, but because of tradition -- and because they're seen as a financial drain on their families.
They cannot remarry. They must not wear jewelry. They are forced to shave their heads and typically wear white. Even their shadows are considered bad luck.
Hindus have long believed that death in Vrindavan will free them from the cycle of life and death. For widows, they hope death will save them from being condemned to such a life again. Watch how some widows are rebelling »
"Does it feel good?" says 70-year-old Rada Rani Biswas. "Now I have to loiter just for a bite to eat."
Biswas speaks with a strong voice, but her spirit is broken. When her husband of 50 years died, she was instantly ostracized by all those she thought loved her, including her son.
"My son tells me: 'You have grown old. Now who is going to feed you? Go away,' " she says, her eyes filling with tears. "What do I do? My pain had no limit."
As she speaks, she squats in front of one of Vrindavan's temples, her life reduced to begging for scraps of food.
There are an estimated 40 million widows in India, many of them shunned and stripped of the life they lived when they were married.
It's believed that 15,000 widows live on the streets of Vrindavan, a city of about 55,000 in northern India.
"Widows don't have many social rights within the family," says Ranjana Kumari with the Center for Social Research, a group that works to empower women.
The situation is much more extreme within India's rural community. "There, it is much more tradition-bound; in urban areas, there are more chances and possibilities to live a normal life."
But the majority of India's 1.1 billion population is rural. "The government recognizes the problem," Kumari says. "It can do a lot, but it's not doing enough."
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One woman, a widow herself, is working for change. Dr. Mohini Giri has formed an organization called the Guild of Service, which helps destitute women and children.
Giri's mother was widowed when Giri was 9 years old, and she saw what a struggle it was. Then, Giri lost her husband when she was 50, enduring the social humiliation that comes with being a widow. At times, she was asked not to attend weddings because her presence was considered bad luck.
"Generally all widows are ostracized," she says. "An educated woman may have money and independence, but even that is snatched away when she becomes a widow. We live in a patriarchal society. Men say that culturally as a widow you cannot do anything: You cannot grow your hair, you should not look beautiful."
She adds, "It's the mind-set of society we need to change -- not the women."
Seven years ago, Giri's organization set up a refuge called Amar Bari, or "My Home," in Vrindavan. It has become a refuge for about 120 of India's widows. Giri's organization is set to open a second home, one that will house another 500 widows.
But as she says, "Mine is but a drop in the bucket."
At Amar Bari, most widows reject traditional white outfits and grow out their hair. Along the open air corridors that link the house's courtyard are green wooden doors, leading to dark tiny rooms, home for each widow. See the widows of Vrindavan »
Bent over by osteoporosis, 85-year-old Promita Das meticulously and slowly sweeps the floor just outside her door and then carefully cleans her dishes.
"I came here when I couldn't work anymore. I used to clean houses," she says. "Nobody looked after me, nobody loved me. I survived on my own."
She married at 12 and was widowed at 15. Seventy years later, she finds herself at Amar Bari. "I used to live in front of a temple, but then I came here," she says.
She carries with her not only the pain of a life without love, but also the loss of her only child. She gave birth at 14; her baby lived a year.
Another widow, Ranu Mukherjee, wearing a bright red-patterned sari, shows off her room at the home and wants to sing for her guests. The lyrics of her song are about a lost traveler.
"When did you come here after losing your way?" she sings. "When I remember the days gone by I feel sad."


Monday, July 02, 2007

Mystery room discovered at China's terra cotta tomb - CNN.com

Mystery room discovered at China's terra cotta tomb - CNN.com

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BEIJING, China (AP) -- Chinese researchers say they have found a strange pyramid-shaped chamber while surveying the massive underground tomb of China's first emperor and theorize it was built as a passageway for his soul.

Thousands of terra cotta warriors were discovered more than 20 years ago near the ancient capital of Xi'an.

Remote sensing equipment has revealed what appears to be a 100-foot-high room above Emperor Qin Shihuang's tomb near the ancient capital of Xi'an in Shaanxi province, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday.
The room has not been excavated. Diagrams of the chamber are based on data gathered over five years, starting in 2002, using radar and other remote sensing technologies, the news agency said.
Archaeologist Liu Qingzhu of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences was quoted as saying the room is unlike any ever found in a Chinese tomb.
"Qin himself was very unusual, so it's not unexpected that his tomb should also be unique," Liu told the news agency.
Archaeologists theorize that because the room was built on top of Qin's mausoleum and seems to have ladder-like steps leading up, it was intended as a passageway for his spirit, Xinhua said.
Qin, who ruled from 221-210 B.C., is credited with starting construction of the Great Wall and commissioning an army of terra cotta soldiers to guard his tomb.
Thousands of the terra cotta warriors were discovered more than 20 years ago by peasants from a local commune who were sinking wells

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