- Signs of the Times Archive for Tue, 17 Apr 2007 -

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Images of British Treatment of Iraqi Civilian Prisoners Released

Mark Oliver and agencies
UK Guardian
2007-04-16 18:13:00

Postmortem photograph of Baha Mousa taken in September 2003 and prepared by the Special Investigation Branch Royal Military Police.

Images showing the badly injured body of Baha Mousa, an Iraqi civilian who died in UK military custody in Iraq, were released for the first time today.

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U.S. News
New Threats rattle 3 US universities, 2 schools

Associated Press
2007-04-17 14:35:00

AUSTIN, Texas - Campus threats forced lock-downs and evacuations at universities in Texas, Oklahoma and Tennessee and two public schools in Louisiana on Tuesday, a day after a Virginia Tech student's shooting rampage killed 33 people.

In Louisiana, parents picked up hundreds of students from Bogalusa's high school and middle school amid reports that a man had been arrested Tuesday morning for threatening a mass killing in a note that alluded to the murders at Virginia Tech.

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Gonzales Hearing Postponed

Lara Jakes Jordan
Associated Press
2007-04-16 22:31:00

WASHINGTON - The Senate Judiciary Committee postponed Tuesday's questioning of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on the firings of eight federal prosecutors, saying the proceedings would be inappropriate in light of the Virginia Tech shootings.

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Hawaii's "Tiny Bubbles" singer Don Ho dies at 76

2007-04-15 17:22:00

HONOLULU (Reuters) - Don Ho, Hawaii's most popular entertainer who achieved fame far beyond his home state with the song "Tiny Bubbles," died on Saturday at age 76, an official said.

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Update:Gunman Identified in Virginia Tech Massacre

ABC News
2007-04-17 09:52:00

Seung Hui Cho, a permanent resident of the United States, a Korean national and a Virginia Tech student has been identified as the gunman in the shootings that left 33 people dead on the Virginia Tech campus Monday, ABC News has learned.

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Brace yourselves!!! Gun Bans Are The Problem, Not The Solution.

Ed Isler
2007-04-17 01:42:00

"When will we learn that being defenseless is a bad defense?" asked Larry Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of America.

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Marine's Mom Arrested at Pelosi's Office

Frederic J. Frommer
Associated Press
2007-04-16 16:56:00

WASHINGTON (AP) - The mother of a Marine who tried to kill himself after two tours of duty in Iraq was arrested Monday while protesting the war outside the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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UK & Euro-Asian News
France in Final Campaign Tension

Prensa Latina
2007-04-17 12:42:00

Paris - Doubtful e-voting and last minute tensions are the rule in the final stage of France´s presidential elections, with the April 22nd struggle focused now on the 40 percent undecided.

At the moment, it appears government candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, the former Interior minister who has led polls in the last few months, will have smooth sailing for the first test.

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Murder probe after body found in alley

Kelly Barker
Wirral Globe
2007-04-17 09:59:00

Police have launched a murder investigation following the discovery of a body in Birkenhead.

The man was found in an alleyway by workmen in Argyle Street South on Monday morning at around 10.20am.

Officers and crime scene investigators closed off four main roads while they scoured for clues. Only residents were allowed access through the taped off roads.

Police confirmed that the case, which was initially described as "unexplained" is now being treated as a murder.

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Gorbachev says "Marches of Dissent" undermine stability

RIA Novosti
2007-04-17 09:39:00

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, now head of a socioeconomic and political think tank, said opposition marches in Russia only undermined stability in the country.

Opposition protests, March of Dissent, were held in Russia's two largest cities over the weekend. Rights groups, oppositionists and journalists have accused Russian police of abusing their power in dispersing the unsanctioned opposition demonstrations. A total of 250 and 170 people were detained respectively.

"Somebody wants to complicate the situation in the country and push for instability," Gorbachev told a RIA Novosti news conference. "We must learn our lesson, and tell those who arouse fear in society that it is unacceptable."

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Over 2 mln secret files declassified in past 15 years - FSB

RIA Novosti
2007-04-17 08:28:00

Russia's Federal Security Service said Tuesday it has declassified over 2 million secret documents in the past 15 years.

"The declassification process is supervised by the FSB central expert committee, led by a deputy FSB head. It comprises representatives from all leading branches of the service," said Vasily Khristoforov, head of the FSB Archives Directorate.

Last year alone, the agency declassified about 300,000 documents kept in the Central Archives.

However, there are certain files that will never be declassified, the official said.

"These are primarily files containing information on FSB operatives and agents, on the forms and methods of operative work," he said, adding that such practices are common among foreign security services worldwide.

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US soldier's murder trial begins

2007-04-17 10:36:00

The trial of a US soldier charged with the murder of an Italian intelligence agent in Iraq in March 2005 has begun in a Rome court.

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Around the World
South American Integration Underway

Prensa Latina
2007-04-17 12:46:00

Porlamar, Venezuela - The creation of the South American Nations Union (UNASUR), the First Energy Summit in this area, which concludes on Tuesday, won an important victory for regional integration.

"UNASUR is a concept that joins us together, which is what Bolivar said on the union of the Latin American nations," said Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

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Propaganda: Algiers Islamist rebels condemn attacks

AFP / Reuters
2007-04-17 12:19:00

ALGIERS - The founder of the group that claimed responsibility for last week's deadly Algiers bombings called on militants to put down their weapons under a government amnesty and stop trying to turn Algeria into a "second Iraq".

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Now in Chad - Crisis creeps towards catastrophe as village after village is wiped out

Julian Borger
The Guardian
2007-04-16 23:18:00

First eyewitness accounts reveal ethnic cleansing spreading from Sudan.

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Hypocrisy alert! U.S. Administration says Russian opposition must have freedom

RIA Novosti
2007-04-16 21:56:00

"In any state where you are having elections, it is imperative that all participants and everybody who has a voice in the political spectrum be able to freely express their point of view without threat of harassment or intimidation," McCormack said.

Comment: Look who is talking!

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Big Brother
Google Achieves Behavioral Targeting Nirvana

Rich Tehrani
2007-04-16 23:40:00

Imagine a world where advertisers would be able to predict your detailed behavior online. They would know when you are about to buy a song, a car, a present for your spouse - they would know virtually everything you are thinking.

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Axis of Evil
Belgian Defense Minister: Israel must pay to clear cluster bombs in Lebanon

Cnaan Liphshiz
2007-04-17 10:45:00

Belgium's Defense Minister said last week that he would act to extract payment from Israel for the removal of cluster bomb fragments that the Israel Defense Forces fired into Lebanese territory during the Second Lebanon War.

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Palestinians take to the streets to demand release of all 9000 hostages abducted by Israel

Nasser Abu Bakr
2007-04-17 10:12:00

Brandishing photos of their detained loved ones, thousands of Palestinians poured into streets throughout the territories on Tuesday, demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.

Palestinians hold images of their loved ones as they mark Palestinian Prisoners' Day in the West Bank city Ramallah, 17 April 2007. Thousands of Palestinians poured into streets throughout the territories, demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.

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Soros adds voice to debate over Israel lobby

2007-04-17 09:42:00

The billionaire investor George Soros has added his voice to a heated but little-noticed debate over the role of Israel's powerful lobby in shaping Washington policy in a way critics say hurts U.S. national interests and stifles debate.

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Rome court adjourns US marine's murder trial

2007-04-17 09:41:00

The murder trial in absentia of US marine Mario Lozano, accused in the March 2005 shooting death of Italian military intelligence deputy chief Nicola Calipari, was adjourned Tuesday to May 14.

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Kangaroo tribunals give a Kafkaesque edge to Guantanamo

H. Candace Gorman
San Francisco Chronicle
2007-04-15 00:27:00

The prisoners at Guantanamo Bay -- or Azkaban, as one of my clients, a Harry Potter fan, calls it -- have had no access to a hearing in a court of law. Instead, Guantanamo's inmates are subjected to two kangaroo procedures: Combatant Status Review Tribunals and Administrative Review Boards.

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Detainee Denies Membership in Al Qaeda

The New York Times
2007-04-16 21:53:00

A man who has sometimes been described by American officials as a top logistics chief for Osama bin Laden said at a closed hearing last month at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, that he was not a member of Al Qaeda and differed with its approach to holy war, according to a transcript released yesterday.

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Middle East Madness
UN chief urges countries to keep borders open for fleeing Iraqis

2007-04-17 09:39:00

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday urged neighbouring countries to keep their borders open to the growing flood of Iraqi refugees, amid warnings that Jordan and Syria were becoming overburdened.

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70 Percent of Iraqi Children Show Signs of Trauma

James Palmer
USA Today
2007-04-17 09:37:00

About 70% of primary school students in a Baghdad neighborhood suffer symptoms of trauma-related stress such as bed-wetting or stuttering, according to a survey by the Iraqi Ministry of Health.

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Sadr raises pressure for US to withdraw

Damien McElroy
The Telegraph
2007-04-17 09:35:00

The United States faced a fresh challenge to its presence in Iraq yesterday when supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr's radical Shia Muslim movement quit the Baghdad government to demand a deadline for withdrawal of its troops.

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ElBaradei wants nuke-free Mideast

2007-04-17 09:06:00

The top U.N. nuclear watchdog said both Israel and Iran should be denied nuclear weapons. Mohamed ElBaradei, who heads the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Sunday that a Middle East free of nuclear weapons was key to ensuring regional stability.

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Flashback: UK coroner sez: Iraq friendly fire death unlawful - Washington Exonerates

By Peter Graff
2007-03-17 04:35:00

LONDON - A British coroner ruled on Friday that a U.S. friendly fire air strike that killed a British soldier was "criminal," a scathing verdict in a case that has exposed rifts between the
Iraq allies.

A U.S. A-10 tankbuster attack plane killed Lance Corporal Matty Hull by firing on his convoy near Basra in the first week of the 2003 invasion, after the American pilots mistook the British convoy for Iraqis.

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Coroner launches another attack on US

Stewart Payne
2007-04-17 01:01:00

A coroner who has made two scathing attacks on the US military for failing to provide vital evidence on the deaths of British service personnel in Iraq made further outspoken criticisms yesterday.

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The Loan Gunmen
Fears over Treasury losing control of gold left in its vaults

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
UK Telegraph
2007-04-17 12:39:00

As Gordon Brown prepares for a grilling in the Commons over his fire-sale auction of Britain's gold at the bottom of the market, concern is mounting that the Treasury may have lost control over the small amount still left in its vaults.

Peter Hambro, head of Britain's largest pure gold mining company, said he believed the Bank of England may have leased out its bullion to earn extra yield.

"The real risk is that the Treasury has lent out the remainder of the gold. It is very important to know whether the bank's gold lending is on a secured basis," he said. The concern is that counter-parties could default in a crisis such as the LTCM-Ashanti affair in 1998.

"The whole point of gold is that it's not somebody else's paper currency. It's the stuff that keeps you alive when everything else goes wrong," he said.

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US Companies plan to move 40 million high-skill jobs overseas

Froma Harrop
Seattle TImes
2007-04-17 09:44:00

The master plan, it seems, is to move perhaps 40 million high-skill American jobs to other countries. U.S. workers have not been consulted.

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Freedom at Last! Venezuela pays off debt to The World Bank

TeleSur/Prensa Web RNV
MR Zine
2007-04-15 01:16:00

"With this last payment (to the World Bank), paying off the debt that was almost 3 billion dollars in 1998, I can say to them today that we don't owe a cent of debt either to the International Monetary Fund or to the World Bank," he exclaimed.

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Mortgage defaults in California near decade high

Jim Christie
2007-04-16 21:37:00

SAN FRANCISCO - The number of mortgage default notices sent to California homeowners last quarter rose to its highest in nearly 10 years as home prices stagnated and rates on adjustable loans pushed higher, a report released on Monday said.

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The Living Planet
Snake-Ridden Florida Island Provides Unlikely Haven for Birds

Blake de Pastino
National Geographic
2007-04-17 09:05:00

On a remote Florida island crawling with venomous snakes, a scientist believes he has discovered an unusual truce between predator and prey.

The tiny island of Seahorse Key on the central Gulf Coast is renowned among researchers for its teeming numbers of poisonous cottonmouth snakes.

"The population of cottonmouths on Seahorse Key is large and dense - I mean a lot of snakes," said Harvey Lillywhite, a University of Florida biologist who has been studying the island.

About 600 vipers slither around the 165-acre (67-hectare) island, Lillywhite estimates-in some areas with an average of 22 cottonmouths on every palm tree-covered acre.

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Sandstorm wreaks havoc at Cairo airport

Reuters / IOL
2007-04-17 08:14:00

Egyptian authorities closed Cairo's international airport on Tuesday after a sandstorm reduced visibility, and incoming flights were being diverted to other airports, airport sources said.

Visibility had dropped to less than 100 metres on one runway, preventing planes from landing or taking off, the sources said. The sandstorm was expected to continue until 3pm local time.

Incoming flights were being diverted to Sharm el-Sheikh in the Sinai peninsula and Hurghada along the Red Sea coast.

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Storm whips Northeast, batters marathoners

Jason Szep
2007-04-17 07:05:00

BOSTON - Record rainfall soaked New York while gale-force winds slowed Boston Marathon runners, 17 inches of snow blanketed Vermont and thousands lost power as a fierce storm whipped the U.S. Northeast on Monday.

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"Unknown Ecological Effect" Decimates Amphibian and Reptile numbers

UK Guardian
2007-04-17 02:59:00

Death in the rainforest: fragile creatures give the world a new climate warning

Amphibian and reptile numbers fall by 75% in reserve meant to save them

A protected rainforest in one of the world's richest biodiversity hotspots has suffered an alarming collapse in amphibians and reptiles, suggesting such havens may fail to slow the creatures' slide towards global extinction.

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Damaging hailstorms hit southwest China

2007-04-17 02:29:00

Coin-sized hailstones and winds of 100 kilometres (60 miles) per hour whipped across southwest China's Sichuan province, affecting 1.7 million people, state media said Tuesday.

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Health & Wellness
Chocolate gives people more of a buzz than passionate kisses: study

2007-04-17 09:42:00

British researchers said Monday they were stunned to discover that people get more of a buzz from eating chocolate than passionately kissing their lovers.
"These results really surprised and intrigued us," said psychologist David Lewis, who led a study that recorded brain activity and heart rate from volunteers who tasted pieces of dark chocolate or kissed their partners.

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Neurotic Men Die Sooner Than Their More Mellow Counterparts

Science Daily
2007-04-17 09:16:00

While mellowing with age has often been thought to have positive effects, a Purdue University researcher has shown that doing so could also help you live longer.

Dan Mroczek (pronounced Mro-ZAK), an associate professor of child development and family studies at Purdue University, compared neurotic and non-neurotic men over time and tied change in the trait with mortality.

"We found that neurotic men whose levels dropped over time had a better chance at living longer," Mroczek said. "They seemed to recover from any damage high levels of the trait may have caused. On the flip side, neurotic men whose neuroticism increased over time died much sooner than their peers."

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"Researchers" say: If you are a male who eats bacon and smokes, you are doomed to get lung cancer.

Merdical News Today
2007-04-17 08:40:00

A US study has linked eating cured meat like bacon and hot dogs with increased risk of lung disease.

The study is published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine and examines the link between frequent consumption of cured meats and impaired lung function in terms of the increased odds of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), of which emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the most common form (and often co-exist), is characterized by swelling of the airways.

According to the American Lung Association, COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the US and more women now die from it than men. In 2003 it claimed 122,283 American lives.

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Hundreds of Thousands of Iraq Veterans have Sustained Brain Injuries - With Little to No Treatment

Erin Emery
Denver Post
2007-04-16 22:07:00

Colorado Springs - After the 5-ton Army truck stopped tumbling down an embankment in Iraq, Gary Watts found himself standing on his head, upside down in the cab of the truck.

"All I had was a sore neck and a bad, bad headache," Watts said.

He rested for a couple of days after the July 24, 2003, accident, then went back to work. He would listen to his commander's directions but hear only pieces of sentences. Twice, he ended up in the wrong convoy in Iraq, driving a truckload of supplies to the wrong place. His bosses chewed him out, and fellow soldiers made fun of him.

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Science & Technology
Chimps 'more evolved' than humans

Bob Holmes
2007-04-17 10:03:00

It is time to stop thinking we are the pinnacle of evolutionary success - chimpanzees are the more highly evolved species, according to new research.

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New asteroid named after Philippine physicist

Barbara Mae Dacanay
2007-04-17 09:48:00

An international scientific body honoured Philippine physicist Roman Kintanar by using his name to identify a newly found asteroid that circles the Sun from the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, local papers said.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) officially christened as "Kintanar" the asteroid which was originally identified as 6636, in Massachusetts on April 2, local papers said in a belated report.

"This is such a big honour for me. I feel that my efforts in the past are well compensated by this unique accolade," said Kintanar, 77, head of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) from 1958 to 1994. He was also president of the UN World Meteorological Organisation from 1979 to 1987. He received his doctorate from the University of Texas in 1958.

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From beneath Antarctica's Ross Sea, scientists retrieve pristine record of the continent's climate cycles

2007-04-17 09:20:00

Frequent climate fluctuations on the worlds southernmost continent have been so extreme over the past 5 million years that Antarcticas Ross Ice Shelf, a floating slab of ice the size of France, oscillated in size dramatically, and perhaps even disappeared for periods of time when the West Antarctic Ice Sheet may have been smaller, according to scientists engaged in an unprecedented international geologic drilling project.

Researchers with the Antarctic Geological Drilling (ANDRILL) Program, which concluded its first field season in January, say long cores of sedimentary rocks that they recovered from below the bed of the Ross Sea beneath the ice shelf allow them to peer deeply into the past to a time when Antarctica was a warmer, more inviting place.

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Our Haunted Planet
Meteorite Traces Deep In The Ocean

Kizilova Anna
Russian Science News
2007-04-17 13:14:00

A theory suggests a giant meteorite falling on Earth 65 million years ago and killing all dinosaurs. Russian scientists have found traces of this meteorite. During a marine expedition, organized by the Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics (Russian Academy of Sciences) and aimed at ocean studies, the crew of the science and research ship "Morskoy Geofizik (Marine Geophysicist)" discovered an astroblem - a circular structure, which usually forms after a celestial body falls down from the sky - at the bottom in north-west of the Pacific. Researchers gave found astroblem the name "Sakhalinka". .

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Kenya: Village Haunted As Children Suffer From Strange Disease

Daniel Otieno And Maureen Ongwae
The Nation (Nairobi)
2007-04-17 13:13:00

Residents of a village in Kisii are living in fear of an unknown enemy who has inflicted their children with a strange ailment.

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Don't Panic! Lighten Up!
UK: Thousands call in sick and enjoy the sun

Laura Clout
2007-04-17 08:22:00

The lure of holiday sunshine was too much for thousands of workers yesterday, who swapped suits for shorts and "pulled a sickie".

A specialist legal advisory service for businesses said more than 60 per cent of its calls were from employers concerned about absenteeism.

Britain's beaches recorded higher than normal numbers of visitors and those who did venture into the office found themselves able to find a seat on trains and buses that are usually packed.

With cool fronts expected to bring temperatures down to about 64F (18C) over the next few days, it seems that some workers could not resist taking advantage of the continuing hot spell, with temperatures reaching 77F (25C) in the Solent yesterday.

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Jail For 'Witch' Pensioner

Sky News
2007-04-17 08:19:00

A pensioner dubbed the "original neighbour from hell" has been jailed for six months.

Dorothy Evans - who said she was a witch and threatened to cast spells on her victims - will serve a minimum of three months before being freed.

The 81-year-old was jailed today for harassment and six breaches of her Asbo.

Judge Roderick Denyer QC said the punishment was reduced because of her age.

He said: "In spite of your age and infirmities, over a period of 10 years you made life a misery for your neighbours."

Evans had a string of previous convictions involving neighbourhood disputes: four for harassment and eight for breaching a restraining order, between 1999 and 2005.

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Asians rate sex lives so-so: survey

2007-04-17 04:44:00

Asia's lovers rate sex far less highly than those elsewhere around the globe, spend less time having intercourse and are less likely to reach orgasm, according to a survey released Tuesday.

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Seattle Man Charged in Bizarre Duck Case

Associated Press
2007-04-16 21:46:00

EVERETT, Wash. - A Seattle man has been charged with a slew of crimes that involved an alleged shoplifting, assaults and a pet duck named Mr. Peepers. Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor Paul Stern on Thursday charged Kenneth Blaine Quinlan, 35, with two counts of third-degree assault and one count each of vehicular assault and hit-and-run.

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