- Signs of the Times Archive for Fri, 23 Mar 2007 -

Sections on today's Signs Page:

SOTT Focus

No new articles.

Best of the Web

No new articles.

U.S. News
This Joke's on Us: The Gutless Mini-Politics of the Congressional Democrats

Dave Lindorff
2007-03-23 17:35:00

Despite polls showing that 6 in 10 Americans want the U.S. out of Iraq asap, the best that this crew can come up with is a call-not binding, or course-for the president to pull out the troops by next spring or even summer. That would be over a year from now, and more than five years (!) into this criminal and incredibly stupid war.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Democrats Applaud Iraq Pullout Bill - Angry Bush says "no chance"

Anne Flaherty
Associated Press
2007-03-23 16:39:00

A sharply divided House voted Friday to order President Bush to bring combat troops home from Iraq next year, a victory for Democrats in an epic war-powers struggle and Congress' boldest challenge yet to the administration's policy. Just over an hour later, an angry Bush accused Democrats of staging nothing more than political theater and said that if the spending bill is not approved and signed into law by April 15, troops and their families "will face significant disruptions."

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Prosecutor Says Bush Appointees Interfered With Tobacco Case

Carol D. Leonnig
Truthout/Washington Post
2007-03-22 16:44:00

The leader of the Justice Department team that prosecuted a landmark lawsuit against tobacco companies said yesterday that Bush administration political appointees repeatedly ordered her to take steps that weakened the government's racketeering case.

Sharon Y. Eubanks said Bush loyalists in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's office began micromanaging the team's strategy in the final weeks of the 2005 trial, to the detriment of the government's claim that the industry had conspired to lie to U.S. smokers.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

New Orleans Residents Arming Themselves

Associated Press Writer
2007-03-23 16:02:00

NEW ORLEANS - Sixty-four-year-old Vivian Westerman rode out Hurricane Katrina in her 19th-century house. So terrible was the experience that she wanted two things before the 2006 season arrived: a backup power source and a gun.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Drones could defend airports

Mimi Hall
USA Today
2007-03-23 14:15:00

The Homeland Security Department and the military this summer will test whether drones flying 65,000 feet above the nation's busiest airports could be used to protect planes from being shot down by terrorists with shoulder-fired missiles.

Dubbed "Project Chloe" after a character on Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's favorite TV show, 24, the anti-missile strategy is the latest to be explored by government leaders looking to thwart potential missile threats at commercial airports. Other methods are being considered, but Homeland Security officials say they may be too costly or impractical.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Survey ranks Nevada the most dangerous state... again

2007-03-23 13:36:00

Once again, Nevada has a ranking and reputation Metro isn't too proud of: The most dangerous state in the country. That's according to a new survey. It's the fourth year in a row we've come out on top but officers aren't willing to accept the bad rap so quickly.

Type your address into Metro's crime mapping website and what you may find could surprise you. Neighborhoods riddled with reports of burglaries, robberies, assaults within the past two months.

But according to a new report from the research company, Morgan Quinto Press, it's the same old story in Nevada. For the fourth year in a row, we've ranked as the most dangerous state in the country.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

UK & Euro-Asian News
Asia to test human bird flu vaccine this year

Tan Ee Lyn
2007-03-23 16:37:00

HONG KONG - An experimental H5N1 bird flu vaccine for humans will be tested in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan this year and will involve more than 1,000 people, a coordinator for the project said on Friday.

Developed by a European drugmaker, the vaccine uses an inactivated strain of the H5N1 virus isolated in Vietnam, where the disease has killed 42 people since late 2003.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Missing helicopter found, no reports about six people on board

RIA Novosti
2007-03-23 12:09:00

An Mi-8 helicopter that went missing two days ago has been discovered in the northwestern Urals, but there are no reports about the fate of six people on board, Gazpromavia carrier said Friday.

"The Mi-2 helicopter searching for the missing Mi-8 spotted it on mountainous terrain [in the Komi Republic]. No other details are available right now," a company spokesman said.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Man commits suicide live on the internet

David Byers
The Times
2007-03-23 11:51:00

A man has been found dead in his home after apparently killing himself live on an internet webcam.

Police said that another web surfer dialled 999 after spotting Kevin Whitrick, 42, of Telford in Shropshire, self-harming in a chatroom.

Officers broke into Mr Whitrick's house at Orleton Lane, in the Wellington area of the town to find him slumped on the floor.

He was pronounced dead at the scene, at 11.15 on Wednesday night, despite attempts to revive him.

Detective Chief Inspector Jon Groves of West Mercia Police, who is leading the investigation into the death, said that the emergency call had been received by neighbouring West Midlands Police, indicating that the person who reported the incident lived in the Birmingham area or its surroundings.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Shock! Woman is convicted of evil catalogue of child cruelty

Evesham Journal
2007-03-23 11:48:00

A former Eckington woman is facing prison after a court was told of the horrific child cruelty meted out by Jehovah's witness, Eunice Spry.

Spry, 62, who now lives in Tewkesbury, was convicted on Tuesday of subjecting three children in her care to an evil catalogue of physical and mental abuse over 20 years.

She was alleged to have beaten the children with sticks and metal bars, made them drink bleach and eat their own vomit and faeces and starved them in a locked room for a month.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Russia Airborne Troops to double combat power - defense minister

RIA Novosti
2007-03-22 20:20:00

Russian paratroopers will double their combat capabilities following modernization of current weaponry, the defense minister said Thursday.

"Priority tasks for the development of the Russian Airborne Troops include the improvement of their combat potential, upgrading of the current arsenal to advanced weaponry, and the introduction of automated battlefield command-and-control systems," Anatoly Serdyukov said at a meeting with senior Airborne Troops staff.

Commander of Russia's Airborne Troops, Colonel General Alexander Kolmakov, said that paratroopers will receive in the near future the BTR-MD armored personnel carrier, the BMD-4 airborne infantry fighting vehicle, the 2C25 Sprut CD self-propelled anti-tank gun and other advanced weaponry.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Boy found hanged after being sent to tidy his room

Daily Mail
2007-03-22 20:10:00

A grieving mother has told how she discovered her 12-year-old son hanging after an argument about tidying his room.

Wendy Thomas found Aidan hanging from his bedpost by his school tie.

She tried desperately to save his life but he died in hospital the next morning.

Speaking for the first time about the horrific events last Thursday which robbed them of their son, Mrs Thomas and her husband Philip paid tribute to the boy.

Mrs Thomas, from Leeds, said: "Aidan was a little chatterbox - he was fun, exciting and a real jack the lad."

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Around the World
Pictures: Ariana A300 skids off Istanbul runway

Flight Global
2007-03-23 13:39:00

Emergency services at Istanbul Ataturk Airport are attending an incident in which an Ariana Afghan Airlines Airbus A300B4 apparently skidded off the runway while landing.

Istanbul's airport authority has not reported any injuries from the incident. The aircraft has come to a halt resting on its right wing.

The General Electric CF6-powered aircraft has been identified as a 25-year old example registered YA-BAD, owned by the Afghan flag-carrier.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Two Toronto students suspended for cyber-bullying

Katie Simpson
680 News
2007-03-23 12:22:00

What kids do on their home computers could end up getting them in trouble at school.

Two Toronto high school students have been suspended for cyber-bullying their teachers.

Staff at Birchmount Park Collegiate say they found derogatory comments about teachers and administrators on Facebook, an online social networking website.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Nurse nabbed for stealing newborn

Times of India
2007-03-22 20:14:00

A 38-year-old staff nurse has been arrested for stealing a newborn from Bara Hindu Rao hospital, on Tuesday.

The nurse reportedly told police that she was in despair for not having a child for 14 years. Hence she planned to pose herself as pregnant.

When she reached in her final leg of pregnancy, the accused allegedly stole a baby from the hospital claiming as her own. The accused Sunita Pawar have been arrested by the police on Wednesday.

On Tuesday evening Sanjay Kumar, a daily wage labourer reported to police that his two-day-old baby had been stolen from the hospital premises.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Big Brother
Commons to eye surveillance society

Mark Ballard
The Register
2007-03-23 12:34:00

Government plans for identity cards will be re-examined by MPs as part of a wide-ranging inquiry into the surveillance society due to be announced by the House of Commons Select Committee next Tuesday.

The Committee has not yet published its terms of reference for the inquiry, but it will question the government's use of databases, biometrics, physical means of surveillance such as CCTV cameras, and the government's DNA database, which, controveriailly, is expected to have grabbed the genetic signature of nearly two thirds of young black men in Britain by April, compared to just 22 per cent of young white men and six per cent of the general population.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

It's Way Too Long Baby!

Sky News
2007-03-23 11:41:00

Cute baby Eden Lurie might look as pretty as a picture, but her hair is too long for a passport photo.

Her mum thought the photographic assistant was joking when she was told the four-month-old's locks were too spiky.

And she was horrified with the end result when her baby was given a virtual reality haircut by computer to comply with regulations.

Kate, from Prestwich, told the Manchester Evening News: "When I was told Eden's hair was too long, I just couldn't believe it.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Axis of Evil
US, Israel behind London bombings says Syrian Minister (rightly so)

Yaakov Lappin
Ynet News
2007-03-23 17:06:00

Syrian Minister of Culture Riyadh Na'san Agha said the US and Israel were to blame for the July 2005 multiple bomb attacks on London during a TV broadcast last month.

The footage has been made available by MEMRI, the Middle East translation service.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Anger at US 'rendition' of refugees who fled Somalia

Steve Bloomfield i
The Independent
2007-03-22 23:34:00

At least 150 people arrested in Kenya after fleeing violence in Somalia have been secretly flown to Somalia and Ethiopia, where they are being held incommunicado in underground prisons, human rights groups say.

It is alleged they were questioned by US and British officials.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

The Decider is Delusional

John Nichols
The Nation
2007-03-22 23:14:00

No, that question is not an attack on his intelligence.

Nor is it a criticism of some bizarre new position he has taken with regard to the affairs of state--although, as it happens, he has.

Rather, it is a serious question about whether the president understands what is going on around him.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Panel to release Olmert's Lebanon war testimony

Jeffrey Heller
2007-03-22 18:58:00

JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's testimony to a Lebanon war inquiry will be made public within days, before the release of interim findings that could determine the unpopular leader's political future.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

White Hot Rage

Cindy Sheehan
Information Clearing House
2007-03-21 18:48:00

I have long suspected that Blackwater Security and L. Paul Bremer (what's his nickname? Scooter? Pookie?) were responsible for the insurgency in Iraq and subsequently the death of my son, Casey. I am reading Jeremy Scahill's new book: Blackwater and it is doing nothing to decrease my suspicions, only confirm them.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Middle East Madness
Bombings and Hangings: Oil-Rich Kirkuk at the Melting Point

Patrick Cockburn
2007-03-22 17:54:00

Seven bombs detonating in the space of 35 minutes sent up clouds of black smoke over the centre of Kirkuk earlier this week. The explosions in Arab and Turkoman districts killed 12 people and injured 39 but exactly who was behind them is unclear.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

UN to vote on new Iran resolution

Al Jazeerah
2007-03-23 17:14:00

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council, along with Germany, have submitted the final draft of a resolution to press Iran to suspend uranium enrichment and want the council to vote on Saturday.

The major powers made only minor amendments to the draft and rejected a South African proposal on a 90-day "time out".

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Iran accuses U.S. of obstructing visa issuance for Ahmadinejad

Xinhua/Peoples' Daily Online
2007-03-23 17:12:00

Iran on Friday accused the United States of delaying visa issuance for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to take part in a UN Security Council meeting in New York on Iran's nuclear program, the official IRNA news agency reported. "Despite Iran's complete application formality for the visa and the U.S. administration officials' promises to grant visa at the earliest possible time, the visa is not available for the time being. It should have been issued sometime ago," Deputy Foreign Minister for International and Legal Affairs Abbas Araghchi was quoted as saying.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

China's video games disease: Incentive sparks blood lust

Cai Wenjun and Guo Lei
Shanghai Daily
2007-03-23 16:52:00

Authorities yesterday censured an online games company that offered to unfreeze the accounts of players banned for cheating if they donated blood.

The Moliyo Online Media & Entertainment portal persuaded dozens of its players to give blood on Sunday at a blood collection vehicle at Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall in what it said was a move to discourage the use of cheat programs in its games.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

More Propaganda!Britain Protests Iran Seizure of Sailors

Associated Press
2007-03-23 15:49:00

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Iranian naval vessels on Friday seized 15 British sailors and marines who had boarded a merchant ship in Iraqi waters of the Persian Gulf, British and U.S. officials said. Britain immediately protested the detentions, which come at a time of high tension between the West and Iran.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Propaganda Alert! UK sailors allegedly captured at gunpoint

BBC News
2007-03-23 10:55:00

Fifteen British Navy personnel have been captured at gunpoint by Iranian forces, the Ministry of Defence says.

The men were seized at 1030 local time when they boarded a boat in the Gulf, off the coast of Iraq, which they suspected was smuggling cars.

The Royal Navy said the men, who were on a routine patrol in Iraqi waters, were understood to be unharmed.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

The Loan Gunmen
Calif. Lawmakers Probe Secret Contracts

Associated Press Writer
2007-03-22 23:58:00

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Lawmakers demanded Thursday that the California Department of Justice provide details about tens of millions of dollars in contracts it erroneously labeled as confidential, shielding them from public view.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

The Living Planet
Cyclone kills 69 in Madagascar, thousands homeless

Alain Iloniaina
2007-03-23 16:40:00

ANTANANARIVO - A cyclone that swept across Madagascar last week killed at least 69 people and made tens of thousands homeless in the north of the Indian Ocean island, officials said on Friday.

Mudslides have buried whole villages, rivers have burst their banks and roads have been cut off since Cyclone Indlala struck on March 15.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Are GM Crops Killing Bees?

Gunther Latsch
Der Spiegel
2007-03-22 15:57:00

A mysterious decimation of bee populations has German beekeepers worried, while a similar phenomenon in the United States is gradually assuming catastrophic proportions. The consequences for agriculture and the economy could be enormous.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Damage Control: New evidence puts 'Snowball Earth' theory out in the cold

2007-03-23 13:48:00

The theory that Earth once underwent a prolonged time of extreme global freezing has been dealt a blow by new evidence that periods of warmth occurred during this so-called 'Snowball Earth' era.

Analyses of glacial sedimentary rocks in Oman, published online today in Geology, have produced clear evidence of hot-cold cycles in the Cryogenian period, roughly 850-544 million years ago. The UK-Swiss team claims that this evidence undermines hypotheses of an ice age so severe that Earth's oceans completely froze over.

Using a technique known as the chemical index of alteration, the team examined the chemical and mineral composition of sedimentary rocks to search for evidence of any climatic changes. A high index of alteration would indicate high rates of chemical weathering of contemporary land surfaces, which causes rocks to quickly decompose and is enhanced by humid or warm conditions. Conversely, a low chemical index of alteration would indicate low rates of chemical weathering during cool, dry conditions.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

No doubt for THAT they do have funds: "Crazy" Global Warming Solutions Getting Attention

Maria Surma Manka
Green Options / AP
2007-03-23 12:29:00

Global warming solutions that would earn a laugh from many of us are getting some serious attention by scientists.

With the impacts of global warming being felt around the globe, an insurance policy of sorts may be needed in case the effects are faster and more dramatic that what can be fought with more traditional methods like efficiency, renewable power, etc. Here's a sample of the more interesting scenarios that are being considered and studied:

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Eco group warns of freshwater crisis

Hilary Osborne
Guardian Unlimited
2007-03-23 00:09:00

Some of the world's largest and best-known rivers are at risk of drying up as a result of climate change, pollution and bad planning, a report warned today.

The study by the environment group, WWF, focuses on the ten rivers most danger of drying up or dying, and warns that, without action, the world faces "a freshwater emergency".

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Storm-force winds exert less pull on ocean than expected: study

Physorg / AFP
2007-03-22 20:35:00

A snapshot of ocean conditions taken during Hurricane Ivan in 2004 has yielded new clues about the dynamics of storm surges that could help meteorologists make more accurate predictions, a study released Thursday said.

Weather forecasters typically rely on data about surface winds and turbulence to try and figure out just how much a storm has churned up the ocean and what the resulting storm surge will look like -- the kind of surge that walloped New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Health & Wellness
Mass. Girl's Overdose Raises Questions

Associated Press Writer
2007-03-23 17:05:00

HULL, Mass. - In the final months of Rebecca Riley's life, a school nurse said the little girl was so weak she was like a "floppy doll." The preschool principal had to help Rebecca off the bus because the 4-year-old was shaking so badly. And a pharmacist complained that Rebecca's mother kept coming up with excuses for why her daughter needed more and more medication. None of their concerns was enough to save Rebecca.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Rat poison found in tainted pet food

Mark Johnson
Associated Press
2007-03-23 12:29:00

ALBANY, N.Y. --Rat poison has been found in pet food blamed for the deaths of at least 16 cats and dogs, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Agriculture and Markets said Friday.
Article Tools

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Teenage girls more at risk from 'cyber-bullying'

UK National News
2007-03-23 12:25:00

Teenage girls are becoming more at risk of 'cyber-bullying', a new study has claimed.

Those who were bullied in this way - by text message or e-mail - are also more likely to have fewer friends and are more likely to feel lonely at school, the report by Nathalie Noret of York St John University and Professor Ian Rivers of Queen Margaret's University Edinburgh.

The report, which was presented at the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference at the University of York on Wednesday, was based on results from a survey of nearly 15,000 secondary school pupils over a period of five years.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

An Outrage Lie and Propaganda! Alcohol, tobacco worse than drugs

Maria Cheng
Associated Press
2007-03-23 11:31:00

New "landmark" research finds that alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than some illegal drugs like marijuana or Ecstasy and should be classified as such in legal systems, according to a new British study.

In research published Friday in The Lancet magazine, Professor David Nutt of Britain's Bristol University and colleagues proposed a new framework for the classification of harmful substances, based on the actual risks posed to society. Their ranking listed alcohol and tobacco among the top 10 most dangerous substances.

Nutt and colleagues used three factors to determine the harm associated with any drug: the physical harm to the user, the drug's potential for addiction, and the impact on society of drug use. The researchers asked two groups of experts - psychiatrists specializing in addiction and legal or police officials with scientific or medical expertise - to assign scores to 20 different drugs, including heroin, cocaine, Ecstasy, amphetamines, and LSD.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Anything but a good night's sleep on Ambien

9News Colorado
2007-03-22 23:48:00

A school board president accused of attacking his estranged wife claims he was on Ambien and doesn't remember the incident.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

How the Heart Can Rule the Head

Greg Miller
2007-03-22 20:38:00

Many philosophers have argued that people make decisions about what's right and wrong based on moral principles and rational thought. But other philosophers--and more recently, some psychologists and neuroscientists--have argued that there's more to the story. When faced with a moral dilemma, these scholars say, we rely on emotional reactions as well as our powers of reasoning. In a study of brain damage, published today, neuroscientists report evidence that emotions indeed exert a powerful influence on moral judgments.

In the new study, Antonio Damasio of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and colleagues examined moral reasoning in six people who had damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPC), a brain region that regulates emotions. The researchers presented the patients with moral dilemmas that forced them to decide whether it was acceptable to sacrifice one person's life to save several others. For example, participants had to decide whether to flip a switch that diverts a runaway trolley from a track leading to five workers to a track leading to just one worker. The researchers also gauged the decisions of 12 people without brain damage and 12 patients with damage to brain regions unconnected to emotion.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Science & Technology
Scientists Question Our Understanding Of The Universe

Space Daily
2007-03-23 12:03:00

Cosmologists from around the world will meet at Imperial College London next week to challenge the theories behind the 'standard model' used to understand the universe. Speakers at the four-day conference, jointly organised by Imperial and the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation, will cover a wide range of unanswered questions on how the universe was formed and what has been happening to it after formation.

The 'Standard Cosmological Model' is the prevailing scientific theory used to explain how the universe began with the Big Bang, how it has evolved since, and how the known atoms and molecules of everyday life, along with the postulated unknowns of the universe - dark matter and dark energy - interact with each other. Speakers at Imperial's Outstanding Questions for the Standard Cosmological Model conference will present an overview of evidence for and against this model, and will look at how to probe questions that it leaves unaddressed.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

NYC exhumation could determine if Houdini was poisoned

Associated Press
2007-03-23 11:37:00

For all of his death-defying stunts, Harry Houdini could not escape the Grim Reaper: the unparalleled performer, age 52, died on Halloween 1926, taking with him many of his trade secrets. The rumors that he was murdered, however, soon took on a life of their own.

Eighty-one years later, Houdini's great-nephew wants to exhume the escape artist's body to determine if he was poisoned by enemies for debunking their bogus claims of contact with the dead. A team of top-level forensic investigators would conduct new tests once Houdini's body was disinterred, the legendary star's relative told The Associated Press.

"It needs to be looked at," said George Hardeen, whose grandfather was Houdini's brother, Theodore. "His death shocked the entire nation, if not the world. Now, maybe it's time to take a second look."

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Quantum existence testing gives extreme solutions to increase network speed

Lisa Zyga
2007-03-22 20:41:00

Using a novel quantum computing algorithm, scientists have simplified the process for finding extreme values in a database compared with classical and earlier quantum computing methods. With its reduced time and minimal error probability, this quantum process could significantly increase the speed of computing in global and mobile networks.

Sándor Imre, an engineer at the Budapest University of Technology, calls this new computing process "quantum existence testing," which is a special case of quantum counting. The quantum existence testing algorithm searches unsorted databases to find extreme values, attesting to the intriguing powers of the quantum mechanical effects of parallel processing.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Our Haunted Planet

No new articles.

Don't Panic! Lighten Up!
Save the planet: Stop cow burps!

Kate Connolly
The Guardian
2007-03-23 11:58:00

Cut down on flying, sell the car and recycle your bottles. But if you really want to tackle global warming, you should stop your cow from burping.

According to scientific estimates, the methane gas produced by cows is responsible for 4% of greenhouse gas emissions. And now, German scientists have invented a pill to cut bovine burping.

The fist-sized plant-based pill, known as a bolus, combined with a special diet and strict feeding times, is meant to reduce the methane produced by cows.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

God-fearing villagers snub "satanic" bar codes

2007-03-22 23:43:00

MOSCOW - A hundred residents of a Russian village have refused to switch to new passports because they believe the documents' bar codes contain satanic symbols, state television reported on Wednesday.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Millionaire gives mansions to homeless

2007-03-22 23:30:00

HONOLULU - Dorie-Ann Kahale and her five daughters moved from a homeless shelter to a mansion Thursday, courtesy of a Japanese real estate mogul who is handing over eight of his multimillion-dollar homes to low-income Native Hawaiian families.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

For the (dead) Chinese man who has everything: cars and Viagra

Richard Spencer
2007-03-22 20:00:00

At Wang Sufang's shop on the outskirts of Beijing, you can buy a red Mercedes, a two-storey modern villa and a small horse, all for less than £40.

The only catch is that to enjoy them, you have to be dead.

The luxuries that Miss Wang sells are paper versions, traditionally burnt by Chinese as offerings to the dead in the hope that their presence will ease the travails of the afterlife.

In the old days, all that the dead could hope for was paper "heaven money", or perhaps a bit of food. But with economic growth, variety and quality are matching the ambitions of China's new rich.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Money to burn! £4m ticket left in ashtray.

Jo Willey
Daily Express
2007-03-22 19:55:00

They were smiling yesterday at their £4.2million National Lottery luck, but their winning ticket nearly went up in smoke after these four road workers left it in their van's ashtray overnight.

The four - who scooped the roll-over just five weeks after being told they'd have to be made redundant - stopped on the way home to buy five Lucky Dip entries.

Trevor Kimber, 47, stuffed the ticket for safekeeping overnight in the ashtray of their Ford Transit.

Next morning he and workmates David Brock, 46, Tony Fitt, 56, and David Edwards, 63, realised they were winners.
Syndicate leader Mr Brock, who bought the winner in Downham Market, Norfolk, said: "One of us normally looks after the ticket. Trevor put it in the ashtray. I know it does not sound a very safe place.

Comment on this SOTT Focus

Remember, we need your help to collect information on what is going on in your part of the world!
Send your article suggestions to: sott(at)signs-of-the-times.org

Click here to return to the Signs of the Times Archive

Click here for today's Signs Page