Friday, June 13, 2008

Sudoku-playing jurors make judge stop drug trial | Weird Facts

Link of the day - typing games for free.

weird facts - SYDNEY, Australia -- A judge aborted a drug conspiracy trial Tuesday after some jurors were found to have been playing the puzzle game Sudoku while evidence was being given.

Sydney District Court Judge Peter Zahra ended the trial Tuesday for two men facing a possible life sentence for drug conspiracy charges. The trial had been running for 66 days and had cost taxpayers an estimated 1 million Australian dollars (US$950,000).

The judge was alerted after it was observed the jurors were writing vertically, rather than horizontally. It had been assumed they were taking notes.

"Yes, it helps me keep my mind busy paying more attention," the jury foreman told the judge Tuesday. "Some of the evidence is rather drawn out and I find it difficult to maintain my attention the whole time, and that doesn't distract me too much from proceedings."

Jurors in the trial are anonymous and no action can be taken against them for the puzzle playing.

The foreman admitted to the judge four to five jurors were playing puzzle games for up to half the time the trial had been going.

"Jurors are sort of the judges of the facts and it's very disappointing they weren't giving our clients a fair trial," said Robyn Hakelis, a lawyer for one of the defendants.

A new trial is expected to begin in a few weeks.

[Via - SeattlePI.Com]


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fart Gene Isolated. Now, That's A Breakthough! | Weird Facts

Link of the day - Free $500 Southwest Airlines Gift Card

weird facts - Kiwi geneticists have made a breakthrough in the plan to cut methane emissions from livestock.

"Our agricultural research organisation just last week was able to map the genome. . . that causes methane in ruminant animals and we believe we can vaccinate against (that)," Phil Goff told a conference in Paris.

Scientists in New Zealand are working on other ways to reduce emissions from agriculture, such as changing the way fertilisers are used on pasture land, he said.

Goff was talking about New Zealand's approach to emissions trading systems, one of the main instruments being introduced by developed countries to counter global warming.

New Zealand plans to include methane and nitrous oxide as well as carbon dioxide in its emissions trading scheme which is due to be launched in July.

[Via - Stuff]


Russian circus performers sue ex-U.S. managers, alleges theft of cat training tricks | Weird Facts

Link of the day - Who else wants to get a free copy of our internet "Business-In-A-Box" ?

NEW YORK weird facts - A Russian circus performer and his son are alleging in a lawsuit that their ex-managers stole methods for teaching felines to perform.

Yuri Kuklachev and his son, Dmitri, accuse father-and-son Mark and Yanis Gelfman of applying for a trademark for methods they stole to create a cat circus in New York City. The lawsuit was filed in a Brooklyn court, the Daily News reported Monday.

Kuklachev's attorney, Gary Tsirelman, says the Gelfmans are ``trying to steal'' his client's identity.

A spokesman for the Gelfmans, James Woods, says the lawsuit should be tossed. He says the Moscow Cats Theater, which features felines performing acrobatic tricks, was created by the Gelfmans.

[Via - Sun Sentinel]


How to Choose a Debt Management Program

A debt management plan may help, but do your research and consider all your options first.If your finances take a turn for the worse and you find yourself drowning in debt, a debt management program may help you keep your head above water.
Advices by: Debt Consolidation Loan


1. Do it yourself. The best kept secret in the debt management industry is that you can do most of the things debt management agencies do, and if you do it yourself, you can save yourself a lot of money in fees. Make a budget, cut unnecessary expenses, prioritize your debts, and call your creditors to ask if they'll waive your late fees, reduce your interest rates, and/or work with you on a payment schedule. You may even be able to get them to "re-age" your account, which means that they report your past-due account as current. There's no guarantee that they will, but there's also no guarantee they will if you go through a debt management agency, so you've got nothing to lose by trying. Many times creditors will be happy to work with you if you make a good-faith effort to pay them.
2. Find a good credit counselor. Almost all debt management programs are administered by consumer credit counseling agencies--so much so, in fact, that the terms "credit counseling" and "debt management" are often used interchangeably. They're not the same, though. You can and should get real credit counseling before you commit to a debt management program, and a credit counselor can and should help you make a budget and explore other options (such as self-help methods or consolidation loans) with you instead of just pushing you into a debt management program. Thoroughly researching the agency is the most important thing to do before deciding to enroll in their debt management program.
3. Look for a licensed, accredited, non-profit agency, and be sure to verify that they are currently licensed in your state (unless you're in a state that doesn't require licensing), have current accreditation and that they do indeed have non-profit status. Understand, however, that while these measures can help establish a firm's legitimacy, they are no guarantee, and you still need to research the agency.
4. Find out exactly how the program works. The terms "debt management," "debt consolidation," and "debt negotiation" are often used interchangeably, sometimes in an effort to confuse or deceive people and sometimes quite innocently. They do, however, refer to three different options, so regardless of what a program is called, find out what it is. For more information on the differences between these options, check out the article on how to consolidate loans.
5. Make sure the company requires complete information from current statements before giving you a quote. The debt counselor will need you to provide all your current credit card and loan statements before they can tell you how much your monthly payments will be or how long it will take to complete the program. Beware of anyone who gives you a quote without thoroughly researching the following first:
* your account statuses
* creditor names
* balance transfer, cash advance and large purchase activities
* minimum payment amounts
* interest rates
6. Avoid outrageous upfront fees. A small initial fee (up to $50 or, in rare cases, as much as $100 if you have a lot of debt or high income) is normal, but large upfront fees are out of line. If any agency asks for a fee (or donation) make sure that you know what it will cover, and get it in writing. Find out if you'll have to pay any additional fees to start the program. Don't get tricked into paying one "consultation fee," and then an "application fee" or "an enrollment fee." If you're truly unable to pay, look for an agency that is willing to waive the fee or spread it out (without charging additional fees for doing so).
7. Avoid high monthly fees. Most debt management plans charge a nominal monthly fee to cover the administrative expenses. Depending on the number of creditors you have, the monthly fee may vary, but it generally should be between $2-5 per creditor or, at most, not more than $50 per month. Make sure the agency doesn't charge any other maintenance fees (i.e. an annual fee) in addition to monthly fees.
8. Find out how payments will be disbursed to your creditors. Debt management companies are notorious for sending payments late and getting their clients into trouble with creditors. Make sure the agency will send your payments to creditors on time and within the correct billing cycle. Ask how soon they will disburse your payment after they receive it, and find out how you can track the payments made. They should send you a statement each month or have some way for you to look it up online.
9. Find out how your personal information will be protected. When you enter a debt management program, you have to share some of your most sensitive financial information with the counseling agency. You'd better make sure they won't sell it to others or disclose the information to anyone except the creditors you've agreed to include in the plan. Get a written privacy policy from them, and ask what safeguards they have in place to protect your information.
10. Accept a plan only if you can fulfill your requirements. If you can't make the monthly payment the program requires, don't enroll. Ask if they can get it any lower, contact your creditors yourself, and/or check with another debt management agency. Also, be aware that many debt management plans require you to avoid taking on any additional debt or at least any additional revolving credit debt (i.e. credit cards, store charge accounts). Understand the terms and conditions, and make sure you can follow through on them.
11. Get everything in writing. Before enrolling in a plan, make sure you get a contract. Get all verbal promises in writing, and read the contract very carefully to make sure the terms are the same as those you discussed. Watch very carefully for hidden fees. If a company won't send you a contract before you make your first monthly payment, don't pay them and go elsewhere for help.