Saturday, August 9, 2008

Flu poses greater risk than terrorism | Weird Facts

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A flu pandemic poses greater threat to Britain than terrorism, government risk assessment to warn


National Risk Register illustration of the "high consequence risks" facing the UK

Hundreds of thousands of Britons living abroad would return to the UK if there were a worldwide flu pandemic, the government suggests today.

A Cabinet Office report, which identifies a global flu pandemic as the most serious threat facing Britain, says that officials are drawing up plans that would help them cope if some of the 12 million Britons living abroad were to return home to increase their chances of surviving in the event of a worldwide emergency.

The report, the "national risk register", lists all the most significant risks facing Britain over the next five years. The government has published the information in this form for the first time to help organisations and individuals take appropriate precautions.

Gordon Brown promised that the register would be published when he unveiled his national security strategy earlier this year.

The register does not rank the risks it mentions in order of seriousness. But a chart showing risks according to the relative likelihood of them happening and the relative impact they would have suggests that a flu pandemic scores highest when impact and likelihood are both taken into account.

However, the chart does not include the threat posed by terrorists using a nuclear device because there is no historical precedent for this kind of attack.

The report says that flu pandemics occurred three times in the 20th century and that experts agree that there is a "high probability" of another occurring.

The World Health Organisation estimates that between 2 million and 7.4 million people would die globally.

Within the UK, up to half of the population could become infected and between 50,000 and 750,000 people could die as a result, the report said.

"Normal life is likely to face wider social and economic disruption, significant threats to the continuity of essential services, lower production levels, shortages and distribution difficulties," it says.

"The emergence overseas of an influenza pandemic or other widespread infectious disease may result in a proportion of the British nationals who are not normally resident in the UK (approximately 12 million) choosing to return to the UK. Some returning British nationals would not have the means to support themselves and their return would have a short-term but significant impact upon areas in which they settle."

On terrorism, the report confirms that the national threat assessment currently stands at "severe", meaning that some form of attack is highly likely.

"Many of those networks and individuals who are judged to pose a terrorist threat share an ambition to cause large numbers of casualties without warning," the report says.

It says that the transport system seems to be the most likely target for a terrorist attack, with rail and underground stations "popular targets". But, for any individual, the likelihood of being attacked is "still very low".

[Via guardian.co.uk]

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Weird facts: Police reopen 7,000 cases after DNA error

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CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australian police will re-examine 7,000 crimes solved through DNA evidence after a mistake forced detectives to free a suspect wrongly accused of murder.

Police in the southern city of Melbourne withdrew charges against Russell John Gesah, accused in July of the 1984 murders of a 35-year-old mother and her nine-year-old daughter.

"It's obviously an embarrassment and we would rather not be in this position," Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Simon Overland was quoted as saying in Australian media on Thursday.

DNA is supposed to be the most accurate method of proving guilt through evidence samples taken at crime scenes, with the likelihood of matching genetic markers among people said to be around one in 7 billion or greater.

Police last month said a DNA sample taken from the murder scene, where Margaret Tapp was strangled and her daughter Seana raped and later killed, matched Gesah after comparison with 400,000 other DNA profiles on a national database.

Gesah was arrested and faced court, but a later check found the DNA evidence used against him was taken elsewhere and mistakenly tested with samples from the Tapp murder scene.

Overland said every crime solved by DNA in the state since the testing technology was introduced 20 years ago would now be reviewed to check no other bungles had occurred.

"We need to refine our processes and our practices, and that is now happening as a result of this case," he said.

Victorian Law Institute spokesman Michael Brett Young said Gesah had been wrongfully painted as a villain because of police mistakes, possibly damaging public faith in the legal system at a time when corruption scandals were already undermining authorities.

"Really he's been convicted in the court of public opinion due to the actions of the police and the media," Young said on Thursday.

Criminal lawyers said the mistake would almost guarantee future challenges to the accuracy of police DNA evidence.

(Reporting by Rob Taylor; Editing by David Fogarty)

[Via Reuters]

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

How to Arrange an Art Collection

You've plunked down your hard-earned cash on another acquisition for your home museum. Now take the time to organize and protect your new treasure so that its value will only appreciate.

Step1
Read 56 End Collection Chaos. Take an inventory of all items in the collection. Include the title of the piece, artist's name, date of issue, current condition, when and where you purchased it, purchase price and current value.

Step2
Look into software to help you organize, catalog and manage collections. One example, Art and Antiques Organizer Deluxe (primasoft.com), is geared toward private and corporate collectors, small galleries, artists and dealers.

Step3
Protect artwork from heat sources such as chimneys and vents as well as direct sunlight when choosing display locations. Also beware of humidity and dampness or any area with fluctuating temperatures, such as a doorway or outside wall.

Step4
Find proper Art Storage for pieces that are not currently on display or that you'll be rotating in and out of display areas. Avoid basements, attics and garages, which have moisture and temperature issues. An interior closet on the main floor is a good choice. Otherwise, contact special service regarding professional storage.

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weird facts: Homeowners use sign to declare neighborhood 'No Ho Zone'



weird facts
FLINT, Michigan -- Fed up with prostitution, one Flint couple posted a sign declaring their neighborhood a "No Ho Zone."

Sherrie Lynn and Russ Palmer posted the mantra on a sign outside their home at corner of Court and Hazelton streets after watching drug dealers and prostitutes doing business on the street and finding hypodermic needles and condoms left in their yard.

"We don't want it here," said Sherrie Lynn Palmer, 48. "There's a lot of really good people around here. I don't want to sit here and let the crime fester."

She said she's been walking her dogs down the road, when vehicles would beep at her, mistaking her for a prostitute.

"It all starts with the prostitutes. It brings everything else," she said.

Sherrie Lynn Palmer, a budding artist, made the sign featuring drawings of eyes watching the street and a dog chasing a prostitute. Russ Palmer, 57, got the idea for the sign after seeing a report on the ozone level.

She now is working on newsign to replace the current one.

The couple has lived in the house for four years. When they first moved in, they opened an antique shop, but the business on the street deterred their customers and they closed the business after having some health problems.

Sherrie Lynn Palmer said the criminals and prostitutes don't live in the area anymore, but they still choose to do their business there and at times throughout the day, she said.

"It would be a relief if it was only at night," she said.

However, there are hopes of cleaning up the streets and the neighborhood.

Since the sign went up in May, there has been less activity on the streets, the Palmers said.

"The area's coming up to what we want. We're just waiting it out," she said. "I think it's a sign of hope."

[Via - MLive.Com]

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How to Get Started In eCommerce To Build An Online Store

The basics for opening an ecommerce website to make money online.

Step1
The first step to starting your own ecommerce site will be the product. There are many factors in determining the products you will offer. You must decide what you are interested in, and will remain interested in for the long term. Also, pricing is a major consideration. If you pay too much for items, you'll never see a profit. Shipping times are also key, especially if you are not using a drop shipping company as your supplier.

Step2
The next step will be choosing and registering a domain name. Use a name that is short and easy to remember, this will help customers find you and return easily. There are many options for registering your name, such as godaddy, that is very inexpensive.

Step3
You site must look professional and be Very Easy to use. Even with the best products at the lowest prices, if your site looks sloppy or is hard to use, you will lose a lot of potential business. So it's time to go and check out the experts: Storesonline Ecommerce Solution. They will most likely solve any your problems so there will be no need to risk it all by relying only on yourself.

Step4
With the site, you will need an shopping cart option, whether you use paypal, google checkout, or another company is a decision that will be made after research and looking for features that are needed for your particular situation.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Hanks hires armed guard to watch builder | weird facts


weird facts
Tom Hanks' feud with an Idaho builder is continuing to cause tension between the two parties, after the Hollywood actor hired an armed guard to keep an eye on the contractor.

The 'Castaway' star and his wife Rita Wilson recently lost an attempt to sue Gary Storey, the owner of Storey Construction, for $2.5m (€1.6m) over claims the builder messed up renovations on their $10m (€6.3m) home in Sun Valley, Idaho in 2002.

The case was thrown out of court because the couple had already taken the accused to arbitration in 2003, and lost.

Hanks and Wilson plan to appeal the decision, and Storey has been granted permission to return to the site to collect evidence in his defence.

Hanks has employed a gun-carrying guard to follow Storey around at all times when he is on their property - but the move has infuriated the builder after a potentially fatal accident occurred recently.

The stars claim the minder is necessary after Storey once attempted to raid the home at dawn - accusations the constructor has refuted.

Storey's lawyer says: "The other day, the guy (guard) tripped and fell with his gun on him. It could have gone off and had fatal consequences. It is inconceivable that Tom Hanks, who claims to be the voice of the little people, could tolerate this."

[Via Breaking News.ie]

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

McDonald's Tests Changes | weird facts

weird facts - McDonald's Corp. is testing modifications to its popular $1 double cheeseburger, and higher prices for the sandwich, as it prepares to change its Dollar Menu by next year.

In an interview, Don Thompson, president of McDonald's U.S. business, said the company has tested ways to make the burger less expensive to make. Some restaurants are selling it with one slice of cheese instead of two, and billing it as a "double hamburger with cheese." Others are offering a double hamburger without cheese. Some are selling the traditional double cheeseburger at prices ranging from $1.09 to $1.19.

The company is also considering expanding what it considers the middle tier of its menu, items ranging from about $1.30 to $2. "We know customers are facing tough times in this economy," Mr. Thompson said.

Launched in 2003, the Dollar Menu has been a key driver of sales at McDonald's 14,000 U.S. restaurants and has helped it ride out dips in consumer spending. But recently, franchisees have complained that the menu has brought too much unprofitable traffic into their restaurants.

The biggest question for the eight-item menu is what to do with the double cheeseburger, considered its anchor. High dairy prices have pushed up the cost of cheese, and McDonald's predicts more pressure because its beef costs will be higher this year. Mr. Thompson said if McDonald's moves the double cheeseburger off that menu, there would still be some type of $1 burger.

Internal sales documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show that, as of late June, sales of the chain's lattes, cappuccinos and other espresso drinks were off their peak in several main markets where they're being sold. Mr. Thompson said "the numbers really don't tell the story."

Lower-priced beverages, including $1.89 iced coffee and a $1 fountain-drink and sweet-tea promotion, have pulled some sales away from the espresso drinks, which range from about $2 to $3. That was something the company hadn't anticipated, he said.

McDonald's overall beverage expansion, adding espresso drinks, smoothies, cold tea, bottled drinks and ice-blended coffee beverages at U.S. locations, is on track to exceed the company's goal of adding $125,000 a year in sales per restaurant, even though it doesn't yet have national advertising behind it, Mr. Thompson said. He sees McDonald's target of the drinks adding $1 billion a year to the company's sales as "definitely achievable." The rollout will be complete at the end of 2009.

[Via - StartupJournal.Com]

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Police ban pets used to 'pick up women' | weird facts

weird facts
SAUDI Arabia's religious police have banned selling cats and dogs or exercising them in public in the Saudi capital, because of men using them as a means of making passes at women.

Othman al-Othman, head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Riyadh, known as the Muttawa, told the Saudi edition of al-Hayat the commission had started enforcing an old religious edict.

He said the commission was implementing a decision taken a month ago by the acting governor of the capital, Prince Sattam bin Abdul Aziz, adding it followed an old edict issued by the supreme council of Saudi scholars.

The reason behind reinforcing the edict now was a rising fashion among some men using pets in public "to make passes on women and disturb families'', he said.

Mr Othman said the commission had instructed its offices in the capital to tell pet shops "to stop selling cats and dogs''.

The 5000-strong religious police oversees the adherence to Wahabism - a strict version of Sunni Islam, which also forces women to cover from head to toe when in public, and bans them from driving.

[Via - News.Com.Au]

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$5 million doorman fired from his day job | weird facts

weird facts
NEW YORK - A New York City doorman who kept his day job at an exclusive Park Avenue apartment building after winning a $5 million lottery has been shown the door.

Kate Ferranti, a spokesman for the union representing apartment building workers, said Richie Randazzo notified the union's grievance center on Tuesday that he had been fired.

The building management company, Brown Harris Stevens, did not immediately return a call for comment.

Randozzo's father said Wednesday that the letter did not specify the reason for Randozza's discharge. He declined to give his name and said his son was not home.

Randazzo made $40,000 a year as a doorman. He began taking in another $65,000 every three months after hitting the jackpot on May 2. According to published reports, his attendance record was spotty after he won the lottery.

The Brooklyn resident said when he won that he had no immediate plans to change his life, but allowed that he might indulge in a motorboat and a luxury auto.

Ferranti said the discharge will be investigated by Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union as a routine matter.

[Via Sun Sentinel]

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