Sunday, February 01, 2015

My what big eyes you have

Conversation with a dog


YouTube link.

Swedish gentlemen demonstrate the bear dance

Together with soothing background music.

YouTube link.

Chinese farmer has built a mechanical horse

A farmer has built a mechanical horse to replace the traditional kind in order to plough his fields.

Su Daocheng, 60, from Shiyan, in central China's Hubei Province spent two months building the horse, which is 1.5m high, 2m long and weighs 250kg.

It has been created from a kart engine and chains.

YouTube link.

The horse is fed with petrol, which Su says is more economic as it does not cost fodder and human care.

Politician's son blames bank robbery on delirium

The son of Gord Mackintosh, Conservation Minister in Manitoba, Canada, has pleaded not guilty to robbing a bank, arguing he was delirious after weaning himself off a prescribed anti-depressant. Gordon Elijah Muller Mackintosh, 24, is asking a judge find him not criminally responsible for robbing the Assiniboine Credit Union in April 2012. Justice officials are not opposing the move. "I can't provide any explanation other than a disease of the mind," special prosecutor William Burge told Justice Rick Saull at a sentencing hearing on Friday.

"If there was some other logical explanation, I would be pleased to present it to the court." According to an agreed statement of facts submitted to court, Mackintosh entered the bank wearing a baseball cap, sunglasses, and a fake moustache. He approached a teller with a note demanding money and indicated he had a bomb in his briefcase. Mackintosh was given $100, approached another staff member for a phone number, then left the bank. Barbara Mackintosh, Gordon's mother, told court her son picked her up from work later that day and did not appear himself.

"Gordie wasn't really saying anything," she said. "He was pale ... almost ghost-like. His eyes were glazed." Barbara Mackintosh said she was reading a newspaper about a month later when she saw what she thought was her son's picture in a "most wanted" story. "I had the picture, I said 'Gordie, is that you?' He said 'It's not me, mom, it couldn't be.'" Barbara showed the picture to her husband and they confronted their son again. "He broke down, said 'It couldn't be me, I wouldn't do anything like that,'" Barbara said. The next day, Gordon turned himself in to police.

Gordon told the court he remembered putting on his disguise and going to the bank but had no recollection of robbing it. The court heard in the weeks prior to the bank robbery, Gordon - at his doctor's direction - had been weaning himself off Effexor, an anti-depressant. "This was delirium brought on by the reduction in Effexor," Gordon's lawyer Josh Weinstein said. "It is a documented side-effect." Gordon was reducing his drug dosage at the same time as he was preparing for university exams, possibly compounding the withdrawal symptoms, a psychiatrist wrote in a report submitted to court. Saull will render his decision on Feb. 24.

Student who became dominatrix after car crash changed her personality awarded $1.5 million

Before the car accident, her teacher described her as a very bright student, in the top two per cent of her media-arts high school class in Burnaby, Canada, who dreamt of being a filmmaker or actress. After the accident, Alissa Afonina, who has been awarded more than $1.5 million in damages due to a brain injury, was a very different girl and eventually ended up working as a dominatrix. She showed no impulse control, could not carry through on tasks, became isolated and began to have outbursts and make inappropriate sexual comments, her British Columbia Supreme Court trial heard. In his ruling on damages, Justice Joel Grove noted that the pre-accident Afonina was in some ways a typical girl, in some ways an atypical girl, someone who described herself as a “goth girl” with “artiste presentation.”

But all that changed in the wake of the August 2008 motor vehicle accident. Afonina, who was about to enter Grade 12, her mother and her brother were passengers in a vehicle being driven by her mother’s former boyfriend, Peter Jansson. Jansson’s Toyota ended up in the ditch. The judge concluded he was driving too fast in the wet road conditions and was therefore negligent. Lawyers for Afonina argued that her decision to begin working as a dominatrix at some point prior to her trial last year showed a lack of “correct thinking” and was proof she’d taken an unnecessary risk due to a loss of cognitive function from a moderate traumatic brain injury. The defendant’s lawyer argued that it was proof that the young woman could organize herself to maintain a modest level of employment income.

Groves said there was a bit of truth in both arguments. “I believe that both the plaintiff and defendant can show that fact of Alissa’s work as a dominatrix supports the finding of some facts which support their ultimate view of the manifestations of the brain injuries as suffered by Alissa in the accident.” The judge noted that Afonina had not acted to minimize her risks by implementing an alarm system or safety measures in her work as a dominatrix, evidence of a diminished judgment on her part and a factor supporting a theory of frontal lobe damage. He said that it also showed some “residual” post-accident employment ability, being able to organize oneself to meet a deadline, to keep an appointment, to apparently collect money and use it to support herself. The judge concluded that the brain injury for Afonina led to her being unable to cope normally and generate enough money to make a living.

The young woman had no ability to work full-time and might only qualify for entry-level jobs a few hours a day, such as basic food services industry employment, said the judge. Without the injury, she’d have been capable of completing a college or university certificate of two years, he added. But the judge said he did not accept her argument that she has no capacity to work. Her damages award includes $825,000 for “future capacity loss,” $376,000 for cost of future care, $300,000 for pain and suffering and $23,000 for special damages. Afonina made a claim for an inability to form “interdependent” relationships due to her isolation and sexual and general impulsivity - arguing that she was “damaged goods” - but the judge said those damages would be “too remote” and denied that category of damages.

Terrified baby penguin given first swimming lesson

Zoo keepers had to teach a baby penguin who did not want to swim how to stay afloat. The penguin Chudi, hatched three-months-ago in a zoo in the central Russian city of Krasnoyarsk, had worried keepers because despite watching the rest of his family plunging into the water, he was clearly too scared to take the plunge himself.

So after sealing him off from the rest of the penguins, two keepers became swimming instructors to teach the penguin how to swim. And initially although clearly terrified about the water, when he was finally thrown in at the deep end he seemed to enjoy himself, and although his swimming style left something to be desired, he decided not to swim straight back to shore and splashed around before finally tiring and making for the safety of the nearby rocks.

The penguin chick which was hatched in an incubator at Royev Ruchey Zoo in the Siberian city is from the only species that lives in Africa and is therefore more suited to the hot southern hemisphere weather, meaning that he and his relatives have to spend the winter cooped up in a heated room. The hatching of the chick was hailed as a sensation as it was the first time an African penguin threatened with extinction had been born in a Russian zoo.

YouTube link.

A zoo spokesman said: "At first he couldn't do anything for himself, not even lift his head and his eyes were shut. We had to keep him in a special heated chamber so he could build up his strength and growth while feeding him on minced fish." African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) are monogamous birds that mate for life, and in the summer Chudi's parents Marfa and Lenya started building a nest in the outdoor enclosure, laying a single egg that because of the weather was put in an incubator.

Claims that beggars are being 'objectified' at art exhibition

Two Roma beggars are being paid to take part in an art installation that has them sitting and standing in silence at an art gallery in Malmö in Sweden. Luca Lacatus and Marcella Cheresi, who are a couple, appear dressed in thick clothes and are not allowed to talk to visitors of Malmö Konsthall, one of the city's biggest art exhibition centres. The couple were spotted begging on the streets of Malmö by the project's organisers who say they decided to turn them into an exhibit designed to encourage Swedes to reflect on growing inequality in their country, which is set to experience record immigration in 2015. But the project has whipped up a storm since it got underway earlier this week, with many critics accusing the gallery of "objectifying" poverty.

Ioana Cojocariu, an artist active in the group Solidarity with EU migrants said: "I had very high expectations, but when I entered the room, it felt like an ethnological exhibition, where black bodies had been replaced by poor bodies ... I think artists are well-intentioned but there have been errors." Erika Li Lundqvist a press officer for the project said: “This is a touchy subject that causes strong reactions so I'm not particularly surprised by the massive criticism." She added that she was "disappointed" that many of the critics had commented on the "provocative" exhibition without visiting it for themselves and insisted that the Roma migrants had been treated fairly, with the help of Romanian translators. "I am aware that there are ethical problems with interpreting and objectifying vulnerable people. That is exactly why we ... had an interpreter when casting Luca and Marcella for the art project," she said.

According to the gallery, the Roma couple featured in the installation are paid the same hourly rate as everyone else working on the project and are set to take home around 5000 kronor (£400, $600). Earlier this week the pair said that they had moved to Sweden after their home burned down in Romania, with social services taking care of their children because the family had nowhere else to live. Luca Lacatus said that he and his partner planned to use their earnings to help build a new property back in their home country. "The money will buy enough bricks to build two rooms," he said. Asked about whether or not he felt that they had been objectified, he said: "We've already got used to being looked at. It is better to be here than out on the street. Here it is warm and dry anyway." The couple are now expecting another child and say they hope to return to Romania before it is born.

"I am afraid that they will take the child away from us if it is born in Sweden and we do not have anywhere to stay," Marcella Cheresi said. Thousands of beggars have arrived in Sweden over the past two years, with ninety percent of them travelling from Romania, according to figures released by Stockholm's Social Administration in April 2014. Most of them are members of the Roma community - one of the EU's largest minority groups - and arrive as EU tourists under the right to Freedom of Movement. Many live in tents or caravans and make a living by asking Swedes for money outside shops and underground stations. Romania has been criticized in recent months for encouraging Roma people to beg in Scandinavia, by failing to do enough to help Roma people living in poverty in their home nation. The exhibition at Malmö Konsthall is set to continue until February 5th.

Goats treated in ambulance following barn fire

When residents of Klokkarstua in Norway noticed a barn on fire they knew that there were animals inside the building.

Initially it was feared that there were many goats, chickens and rabbits inside the barn. Eventually it became clear there were just seven goats and some chickens inside.

When fire crews arrived at the site just before midnight on Friday, they immediately initiated an evacuation of the animals, in addition to firefighting. After a short while, all seven goats, plus the chickens, were rescued from the flames.

Three of the goats were then treated in an ambulance on site and after being administered some oxygen were soon back to their normal, nimble selves. The barn was burned to the ground.

Includes very short video clip of the goats inside the ambulance.

Takeaway worker who hit customer over head with a pizza shovel let off with an admonishment

A takeaway worker who hit a customer over the head with a pizza shovel during a row has been admonished. Dalgit Din escaped punishment after a sheriff said she had been "sorely tested" by the foul-mouthed customer. Forfar Sheriff Court heard the 64-year-old "snapped" when Deborah Williamson refused to leave the Spice of Life shop in Arbroath on December 27 2013.

Din grabbed the implement, which is normally used to take pizzas in and out of the oven at the takeaway, while dealing with another customer as Ms Williamson ranted at her. Video footage of the incident captured by her boyfriend then shows Din attacking Miss Williamson. She lifted the metal shovel with both hands and hit the customer over the head with it. A video of the incident was shown to the court. The sheriff heard Din lost the plot when Ms Williamson refused to leave the shop after being told she was banned.

Din, of Arbroath Road, Dundee, pleaded guilty to a charge of assault to injury committed in the shop at Mayfield Terrace, Arbroath. Ian Flynn, defending, said Miss Williamson had previously been a "nuisance" in the shop and had been asked not to return. He said: "Following the blow, it took the police more than 15 minutes to get there and the aggravation continued. He (the partner) was charged with smashing the door down before the police attended.

Contains NSFW language.

YouTube link.

"She's not actually the complainer because neither she nor the boyfriend wanted anything to do with helping the police." Mr Flynn added: "She is not, at 64, I would suggest, likely to reoffend. There has been a distinct provocation from a much younger, much bigger woman." Sheriff Gregor Murray admonished Din and said: "I accept you were subject to considerable provocation but you were the one who snapped. I don't condone what you did but I accept, to a large extent, that you were sorely tested before this took place."

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Woolly jumper

At the sound of the spoon

A tapped spoon elicits a Pavlovian-type response from the mouth of this dog eagerly awaiting his dinner.

YouTube link.

Woman didn't think stolen truck was 'that stolen'

A Florida woman facing charges for theft of a pickup truck allegedly told deputies that she knew it was stolen, but didn’t think it was “that stolen.”

Officers noticed the truck, which matched the description of a stolen vehicle in Crestview, parked in Destin on Jan. 11, according to the arrest report.

Deputies confirmed that the registration was that of the stolen vehicle and spoke to 58-year-old Debra Jean Mason, of Sandestin, who was the only occupant of the truck. She said the truck belonged to man she knew as “Cole,” but became “evasive” and wouldn’t look at officers when asked if she knew the vehicle was stolen,.

She eventually said that Cole had “stolen the vehicle from his mother,” but had let Mason borrow it. When officers pointed out that she knew the vehicle had been stolen, she replied, “I didn’t think it was that stolen.” She is charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle. Her next scheduled court date is Feb. 17.

Trucker pulling his own tooth caused accident that led to large traffic jam

Distracted driving was responsible for a miles-long traffic jam on I-20/59 East near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Sunday night and Monday morning. The driver was trying to pull his own tooth, according to an ALEA State Trooper report.

The accident, which happened just before 10:30pm, was caused when a self-employed tractor trailer driver took his hands off the wheel to pull a loose tooth from his mouth. "The driver stated he lost control when he was pulling a tooth with his hands," the report reads.

"He had the tooth in his shirt pocket as proof." The truck left the roadway, travelled down the slope leading into a ditch then jack-knifed into nearby trees, according to the report.

No one was seriously hurt, but the effort to recover the truck caused road crews to set up a detour and completely divert eastbound traffic off the interstate for several hours. The 57-year-old driver's name was redacted from the State Trooper's report.

Mother seeks answers after son injured when tongue got stuck to frozen window on school bus

A mother from Petawawa in Ontario, Canada, is seeking answers after her son was dropped off at school following his usual morning bus ride with injuries he received when he got his tongue stuck on the window and his cries for help went unheeded. Four-year-old Lucas McDonald has a red welt on his right cheek and marks on his lips after he got his tongue and mouth stuck to the frozen window on the bus.

It’s unclear for how much of the half-hour bus ride Lucas was stuck. However, his mother says he sits directly behind the driver and was crying and pleading for help. “He was crying and said he was asking for help and nobody would help him,” Alisha McDonald said. “I’m like, ‘How could you not have heard him crying and asking for help? How can you not see him?’” Lucas eventually managed to free himself from the window.

“There was blood on the window on the bus,” Lucas said. Staff at Valour Elementary School in Petawawa called McDonald when Lucas arrived at school. She took her son to hospital to find out whether he suffered frostbite and if his skin will be permanently damaged. Meanwhile, McDonald says that her son’s ordeal has her wondering how children are being treated on those long bus rides to school.

The Renfrew County District School Board issued a brief statement, noting that staff acted appropriately when Lucas arrived at school. “The RCDSB is deeply committed to the safety and wellbeing of its students,” the statement read. That’s not good enough for Lucas’s parents, but they will still pursue an answer to the question of how he could get frostbite inside a warm, working bus on the way to school.

With news video.

Clumsy thieves broke into casino and stole an empty ATM

Two culprits broke into a casino in Calgary, Canada, on Wednesday morning and made off with an empty ATM. “There’s no money in the machine,” said Staff Sgt. Travis Baker. “If they haven’t gotten into it yet, I’m sure they’re fairly disappointed right now.”

Security at Casino Calgary notified police at around 6am to report what was initially believed to be an armed robbery, resulting in a heavy police presence in the area. Police later determined two offenders in dark clothing had smashed the glass doors of the casino with a crowbar to gain entry to the building, then headed straight for the ATM.

Security footage shows the hapless thieves loading the ATM onto a dolly and making their way outside, the machine at one point toppling on top of one of the crooks as they exit the building. Police say the two got into a waiting vehicle believed to be a silver coloured minivan. Unbeknownst to the duo, the machine was in the process of being moved to a different part of the casino and was out of order and contained no cash, Baker said.

YouTube link.

Baker added that this is one of 13 ATM smash-and-grab thefts since August, where offenders use a vehicle or weapon to crash through the doors or windows of a business. In each case, very little to no money has been stolen - the machines are often emptied several times daily and at the end of the business day, which is why it’s puzzling that so many people continue to attempt these thefts. “It’s a very ineffective way to make a living,” he said

Hero workman saved electrocuted colleague's life by hitting him with a plank of wood

A workman is lucky to be alive after he survived a massive electric shock on a construction site in Basingstoke, Hampshire. Mark Bradley suffered severe burns to his face when a lamppost he was helping to erect hit an overhead cable at a Network Rail site on Monday.

The 50-year-old was taken to Southampton General Hospital, and is due to be transferred to a specialist burns unit in Swansea. His brother Michael Bradley said Ade Savage, a work colleague, saved Mark’s life by hitting him with a wooden plank in a desperate attempt to get him to release his grip on the electrified lamppost.

Michael said: “The man is a hero. Without a doubt, he saved my brother’s life. My brother was holding on to the lamppost so Ade attempted to pull him away, but that gave Ade an electric shock. He then tried to punch him, but that also gave him a shock, and so he started hitting him with a plank of wood, which worked.”

Michael added: “We are devastated. What health and safety was in place that day, because that should never have been allowed to happen? How can a metal lamppost be allowed anywhere near a live cable?” Michael said Ade later checked himself into Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Portsmouth, where he was also treated for burns. Father-of-one Mark, from Gosport, is a contract worker for Network Rail, which is building a £10million regional control and training centre.

The mystery of the Craster wellies

Something strange is afoot in a north Northumberland seaside village in what is being dubbed the mystery of the Craster wellies. 85-year-old resident of Craster, Doris Clarke, alerted the Northumberland Gazette to the story.

Doris says: “Two weeks ago, a pair of men’s yellow wellies were left in the middle of the road beside the bus stop on Heugh Road. My friend Sybil took them off the road and placed them on the footpath where they stayed for a week. Then, a couple of rod fishermen parked close by.

“One of the men went up to the wellies, took off one of his shoes and tried on the offending footwear. He placed them under the car and he and his friend went off to fish from the shore. However, when they returned and went off home, they left the yellow wellies, one placed inside the other and propped up against a road sign.

“Both feet were pointing north. The next morning, the wellies were still there up against the road sign, but with both feet pointing south and therein lies the mystery: Who tried on the wellies when it was dark?” The wellies are size 10.

With video of Doris recounting the strange tale of the Craster wellies.

Wheelie-bin blown over by the wind

In a sign of just how windy it has been recently, a bin has fallen over onto its side on a street in Plymouth, Devon.

The toppled wheelie-bin was spotted in Tavistock Place, off North Hill, by local resident Dave Arthur.

Man astonished by fried egg resembling a chicken

Simon Steer, from Culmstock in Devon couldn’t believe it when he cracked open an egg into a frying pan and it formed the perfect shape of a chicken. With the yolk orchestrating the hen’s head and feathered chest, the white of the egg formed the rest of the bird’s body - including a tail, a delicate leg and a claw.

Calling over partner Rosie and daughter Devin, the trio were astonished at the freakish depiction of a hen in the pan. The family keep hens and often have eggs for breakfast. “We breed hens,” Simon said. “So breakfast is usually eggs and bacon with a cup of tea.”

He said the morning started like any other, with him making something to eat before driving to work. “I was just making breakfast, I went to break my egg into the pan and lo and behold the chicken formation happened,” he said, “I said, come have a look at this, by which point everyone rushed over and we were in fits of laughter, it was very amusing.”

While Simon doesn’t believe in chicken miracles or messages from beyond hen headstones, he said it was a crazy occurrence. “It was just bizarre and one of those odd things that happens,” he said. “When people see a picture of Christ in a loaf of bread that seems odd and now there is a hen appearing in a pan, I don’t think it’s biblical though,” he added.