- Signs of the Times Archive for Fri, 21 Sep 2007 -

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U.S. News
NY suit seeks to stop immigration raids

2007-09-21 15:57:00

Immigration authorities violated Hispanic families' civil rights by raiding their homes without court warrants, sometimes bursting in before dawn to look for people who didn't live there, according to a federal lawsuit.

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Immigration raids spark anger in Sun Valley area

Sandra Forester
Idaho Statesman
2007-09-21 15:36:00

Federal agents swept through the Sun Valley area last weekend searching for undocumented immigrants and arrested about 21 people in the raids.

One family with members who are U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents said they were terrified by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who came to their home in the predawn hours accompanied by Blaine County sheriff's deputies. No one in their home was arrested.

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Plane crashes into restaurant in North Carolina, killing one

2007-09-21 15:34:00

At least one person died Friday when a single-engine airplane crashed into a restaurant in North Carolina.

Employees of McCall's BBQ and Seafood Restaurant, which hadn't opened for the day's business, in Clayton,N.C., escaped injury, The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., reported.


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Plane Headed To Bahamas Crashes On Southbound I-95 in Florida

2007-09-21 15:27:00

Fort Lauderdale - A small plane has crashed on the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 between Commercial Boulevard and Cypress Creek Road.

Southbound traffic is moving slowly as firefighters and rescuers work to clear the scene.

The plane is on the west shoulder of the interstate.


According to a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman, the twin-engine Beechcraft took off from nearby Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport when the pilot failed to gain altitude and called in a mayday.

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Congress mandates Holocaust education in grades K-12; science and math requirements to be dropped; new legislation would also replace arts and crafts in senior citizens' homes with workshops on Holocaust denial

Kristin Erekson
The Jewish Advocate
2007-09-21 13:44:00

With more than 62 years having passed since the Shoah, local and state lawmakers are working to give Holocaust education a boost.

Currently being reviewed by committees in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, the Simon Wiesenthal Holocaust Education Assistance Act - if passed - would provide select organizations nationwide with competitive grants to be used to develop Holocaust curriculum guides as well as training for teachers.

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MIT student arrested at Logan in Playdough bomb hoax

Anna Badkhen, Michael Levenson, and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
Boston Globe
2007-09-21 13:38:00

Star Simpson was charged with possessing a hoax device today at Logan International Airport for wearing a sweatshirt that had a circuit board affixed to the front with green LED lights and wires running to a 9-volt battery.

©Bill Brett for The Boston Globe/Photo from Star Simpson's website

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UK & Euro-Asian News
Soul survivor, Dan Aykroyd

The Guardian
2007-09-19 11:25:00

His film career may have stalled lately, but Dan Aykroyd still has his eyes on the stars. He's an avid UFO-spotter, believes in alien abductions and thinks extraterrestrials are visiting the Lake District. Emine Saner has a close encounter with the Blues Brother.

Unless it is a very convincing joke, Dan Aykroyd most definitely believes in the existence of UFOs. We get on to the subject and his eyes start doing something strange. They bulge from his head, as if to punctuate his thoughts. And they are strange thoughts. "There's this one website I go on a lot," he says, "that just ends all debate about whether they're real or not, and that's Mufon.com."

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Turkey does not belong in Europe: Sarkozy

2007-09-21 03:26:00

French President Nicolas Sarkozy reaffirmed on Thursday he did not believe Turkey should be admitted to the European Union, while calling for a "true partnership" with the mainly-Muslim nation.

"I do not believe that Turkey belongs in Europe, and for a simple reason, which is that it is in Asia minor," Sarkozy said in a prime-time interview on TF1 and France 2 television.

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War rhetoric! Sarkozy says Iran wants bomb, demands new sanctions

2007-09-21 03:26:00

French President Nicolas Sarkozy directly accused Iran of seeking a nuclear bomb and threw his weight behind "stronger sanctions" which are to be discussed Friday by the major powers.

Sarkozy said that France does not want a war with Iran but charged in a prime time television interview late Thursday that "Iran is trying to obtain an atomic bomb."

Comment: Looks like Sarkozy is parroting the US line.

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Vanished: the child victims of trafficking

Lucy Ward and Matthew Taylor
The Guardian
2007-09-21 00:08:00

More than 180 children recently trafficked illegally into the UK have since gone missing without trace from social services care, according to a Unicef report warning that the government is failing to protect vulnerable youngsters brought into the country.

The study published today calling for new safeguarding measures says official figures significantly underestimate the "hidden crime" of child trafficking, which sees children as young as five brought secretly into Britain to work as domestic servants, in cannabis factories, or for sexual exploitation or under-age marriage.

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Making a mint from Arctic mammoths

2007-09-20 23:46:00

One day, climate change could cost the earth. For now, it is a nice little earner for Russian hunter Alexander Vatagin.

In Siberia's northernmost reaches, high up in the Arctic Circle, the changing temperature is thawing out the permafrost to reveal the bones of prehistoric animals such as mammoths, woolly rhinos and lions that have been buried for thousands of years.

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Around the World
Explosion in Algeria injures 9, including three Westerners

Deutsche Presse-Agentur
2007-09-21 15:53:00

Nine people, including three Westerners, were injured Friday when a bomb exploded near their vehicles close to the city of Lakhdaria, about 120 kilometres east of the Algerian capital Algiers, the Interior Ministry said.


The injured included two French citizens, an Italian and six Algerian nationals, five of them police officers who were charged with guarding the Westerners.

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Propaganda! 81 Killed in Afghan Fighting, Airstrikes

Brian Murphy
Associated Press
2007-09-21 11:24:00

KABUL, Afghanistan - Heavy battles punctuated by airstrikes killed 75 suspected Taliban and at least six civilians in Afghanistan's south, while a U.S. official on Friday accused Iran of supplying roadside bomb components to militants to get American soldiers "out of the region."

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Outcry as Musharraf re-election vote date set

Zeeshan Haider
2007-09-21 04:08:00

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will seek re-election on October 6, despite legal challenges in the Supreme Court and slumping popularity, officials announced on Thursday.

U.S. ally General Musharraf has said he will retire from the army if elected by parliament and provincial assemblies.

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Propaganda Alert! Cuban embargo prevented attacks, U.S. official says

Jane Sutton
2007-09-21 03:26:00

The U.S. economic embargo against Cuba has deprived its communist government of funds it might otherwise have used for military adventures, U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said on Thursday.

The Cuban-born Gutierrez, who left his homeland with his family as a child, said the trade and financial embargo imposed by Washington three years after Fidel Castro seized power in 1959 had been "an absolute and resounding" success.

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Lebanon mourns slain anti-Syria MP, crisis deepens

Tom Perry
2007-09-20 19:26:00

Lebanon mourned on Thursday an anti-Syrian member of parliament whose assassination plunged the country deeper into crisis and threatened to derail efforts to elect a new president.

Banks and schools closed a day after a car bomb killed Christian Phalange Party parliamentarian Antoine Ghanem and seven other people in Beirut in the latest of a series of attacks on opponents of Damascus.

Ghanem was the seventh anti-Syrian figure to be killed since the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

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West should not miss chance to end atomic row: Iran

2007-09-20 19:03:00

Iran is testing Western intentions by working with the U.N. atomic watchdog to resolve a nuclear row but the opportunity for such cooperation may not be repeated, a senior Iranian official said on Thursday.

Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, said he expected the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to stick to a technical role and not be swayed by Western pressure, Iran's Fars News Agency reported.

The IAEA and Iran agreed to a plan in August for resolving outstanding questions about Tehran's nuclear program, which the West believes is ultimately aimed at producing atomic weapons. Iran insists its aims are purely for energy.

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Big Brother
They're locking down the forests! US Forest Service Purchases 700 TASERs

2007-09-21 15:29:00

The following is a press release by TASER International, Inc

TASER International, Inc. (Nasdaq:TASR), a market leader in advanced electronic control devices, today announced that it received an order from the United States Forest Service for 700 TASER(r) X26 electronic control devices and related accessories.

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Private research group takes "voluntary" blood, saliva, breath test at roadway checkpoint with police assistance - public angry

Christopher N. Osher
Denver Post
2007-09-21 13:26:00

The Gilpin County Sheriff's Office was apologizing Monday after a weekend effort to help a research group led to complaints about what appeared to be a DUI checkpoint - but wasn't.

Sheriff's officials who participated in the stops now acknowledge that the nonprofit organization requesting voluntary DUI and drug tests from drivers was overly persistent, according to complaints.

"It was like a telemarketer that you couldn't hang up on," said Gilpin County Undersheriff John Bayne.

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Oh, the possibilities! Computer program traces genetic ancestry using anonymous DNA samples

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
2007-09-21 07:14:00

A group of computer scientists, mathematicians, and biologists from around the world have developed a computer algorithm that can help trace the genetic ancestry of thousands of individuals in minutes, without any prior knowledge of their background. The team's findings will be published in the September 2007 edition of the journal PLoS Genetics.

Unlike previous computer programs of its kind that require prior knowledge of an individual's ancestry and background, this new algorithm looks for specific DNA markers known as single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs (pronounced snips), and needs nothing more than a DNA sample in the form of a simple cheek swab. The researchers used genetic data from previous studies to perform and confirm their research, including the new HapMap database, which is working to uncover and map variations in the human genome.

©Peristera Paschou
Plot of genetic markers for 255 individuals from four continental regions. Red and green represents identical genotypes. Black represents genotypic variations. Notice the distinct patterns formed in the four continental blocks, highlighting the genetic similarities between people of the same ancestry.

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Axis of Evil
Bush family-United Arab Emirate ties deepen as Abu Dhabi takes ownership stake in Carlyle Group

Jerome R. Corsi
Worldnet Daily
2007-09-21 11:56:00

The Financial Times announced last night the government of Abu Dhabi has made an investment in the Carlyle Group, a Washington-based private investment firm with close ties to former President George H. W. Bush and his family, as well as to top government officials in the Reagan and Clinton administrations.

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Genocidal Bush says Iraqi's "Mandelas" are all dead, "a new Iraq had to be built": Iraqis must die

2007-09-21 11:36:00

US President George W. Bush on Thursday declared there were no more "Mandelas" left to help aid reconciliation in Iraq because former dictator Saddam Hussein had killed them all.

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Republicans pushed 'bogus' terror threat to expand FISA, lawmaker says

Nick Juliano
The Raw Story
2007-09-19 11:35:00

Republicans and the Bush administration used a 'bogus' terror threat that raised specific fears of an attack on the Capitol to scare lawmakers into adopting a dramatic temporary expansion of the government's spy powers last month, a former top intelligence committee Democrat said Wednesday.

Congress agreed to give President Bush and the nation's intelligence agencies extra authority to spy on Americans just hours before lawmakers left for a month-long recess in August. In the legislative session's final week, news emerged of an impending plot by foreign terrorists to attack the US Capitol, and Republicans pointed to the reports as justification to expand the administration's powers.

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You think? Dan Rather: Government Influencing Newsrooms

Samantha Gross
Associated Press
2007-09-21 09:57:00

Dan Rather said Thursday that the undue influence of the government and large corporations over newsrooms spurred his decision to file a $70 million lawsuit against CBS and its former parent company.

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Israel, U.S. shared data on suspected Syrian nuclear site: report

2007-09-21 03:26:00

Before it decided to strike Syria, Israel shared intelligence with President George W. Bush this summer indicating that its neighbor was getting help from North Korea on a nuclear facility, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

The White House was deeply troubled by Israel's assertion that North Korea was assisting Syria's nuclear ambition, but opted against an immediate response because of concern over negotiations on Pyongyang's nuclear program, the Post reported, citing U.S. government sources.

Israel has a knack for sharing bogus intelligence when they want a certain response. This is yet another example.

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Netanyahu 'admits Israeli strike'

2007-09-21 00:00:00

The Israeli opposition leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, has made the first apparent admission of Israel's involvement in an alleged air strike against Syria.

In a live interview on Israeli TV, Mr Netanyahu said he had congratulated Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the raid.

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Middle East Madness
Critical humanitarian situation in Gaza as 1.5 million suffer Israeli embargo

2007-09-21 13:50:00

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour urged Israel on Friday to exercise restraint in its dealings with the Hamas-led Gaza Strip.

In a statement voicing concern at Israel's decision on Wednesday to declare Gaza an "enemy entity", Arbour said reducing fuel and power to the coastal territory would place an "unbearable burden" on its 1.5 million people.

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Bush Plans For Iraq Will Cost Trillions - Budget Office

Spencer Ackerman
2007-09-21 12:02:00

A new Congressional study finds that President Bush's plans for the U.S. in Iraq over the next several decades will reach the trillions of dollars, on top of the approximately $567 billion the war has already cost. That accounting assumes a significant troop draw-down -- and still tallies a daunting expense for the United States.

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Surprise! US Resumes Blackwater Convoys in Iraq

Katarina Kratovac
Associated Press
2007-09-21 10:46:00

BAGHDAD - American convoys under the protection of Blackwater USA resumed on Friday, four days after the U.S. Embassy suspended all land travel by its diplomats and other civilian officials in response to the alleged killing of civilians by the security firm.

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Long-term US Iraq bill to be 25 billion dollars annually: Congress

2007-09-21 03:26:00

A decades-long US presence in Iraq would cost around 25 billion dollars a year in combat conditions, and up to 10 billion even in more peaceful times, a new congressional report said.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) tallied up the price-tag for a long stay in Iraq after the White House said in May the half-century US military presence in South Korea could be a model for future Iraq deployments.

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Congress Blocks Habeas for Gitmo Detainees

Jim Lobe
Inter Press Service
2007-09-20 17:57:00

Despite the support of a solid majority of the U.S. Senate, a measure designed to restore the right of foreign terrorist suspects to challenge their detention in federal court was blocked here Wednesday on a procedural manoeuvre.

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The Loan Gunmen
House prices to drop much lower: Greenspan

2007-09-21 12:05:00

VIENNA - A big overhang of property will bring U.S. house prices down further, but it is too early to say if the economy will plunge into recession, former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan was quoted as saying on Friday.

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More Than $1B Needed to Make Forbes List

2007-09-21 04:17:00

A billion dollars just doesn't go as far as it used to. For the first time, it takes more than $1 billion to earn a spot on Forbes magazine's list of the 400 richest Americans. The minimum net worth for inclusion in this year's rankings released Thursday was $1.3 billion, up $300 million from last year.

The new threshold meant 82 of America's billionaires didn't make the cut.

Collectively, the people who made the rankings released Thursday are worth $1.54 trillion, compared with $1.25 trillion last year.

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The Living Planet
100 trawlers with 1200 fisherman 'missing' in Bay of Bengal due to sudden storm

The Daily Star
2007-09-21 15:47:00

Over 100 fishing trawlers with some 1,200 fishermen aboard went missing in the Bay as high waves, triggered a by sudden storm, hit the trawlers on Thursday night.

The fishermen who returned to the shore said they saw three trawlers sinking in the rough sea.

Barguna District Trawler Owners' Association Adviser Golam Mustafa Chowdhury told the news agency that about 400 out of 500 fishing trawlers returned to the coast, but the fate of the rest 100 with 1200 fishermen could not be known.

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Fierce winds whip through Labrador towns in Canada

CBC News
2007-09-21 15:39:00

Winds approaching hurricane strength wreaked havoc on people and property in Labrador towns on Thursday.

Winds gusting up to 117 km/h on Thursday evening knocked down trees, fences and power lines in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

©53 North
Residents in several Labrador communities woke up Friday to find many trees had been uprooted during heavy winds.

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Reported Tornado Damages Fla. Homes

Associated Press
2007-09-21 11:04:00

EUSTIS, Fla. - Severe weather, including a possible tornado, damaged about 50 homes, shearing the entire second story off one home, authorities said Friday.

Radar indicated a tornado spun off from a storm system that crossed through central Florida before spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, touching down late Thursday night, according to the National Weather Service. The system was being monitored Friday, with Gulf Coast residents and the oil industry making early preparations.

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Recent 'Extreme Weather' Trend For New York Could Span Years

2007-09-19 23:39:00

Take this recent span of dry, gorgeous weather, New Yorkers, and embrace it. It certainly towels the fact that this year has been one of the wettest - and most extreme - years in weather history for the city.

Coming off both the fourth wettest spring and summer ever, New York City could actually see its second wettest year in history if this year's strange weather trends continue. Between January and August, officials measured 46.55 inches of precipitation in Central Park, according to the National Weather Service.

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Health & Wellness
Teen girls report abusive boyfriends try to get them pregnant

University of California - Davis - Health System
2007-09-21 08:00:00

Seven years ago, Elizabeth Miller was a volunteer physician in a community-based clinic in Boston, Mass., which offered confidential services to teens. She is still haunted by the memory of a 15-year old girl who asked her for a pregnancy test. It was negative, but two weeks later the girl was treated for a severe head injury in a nearby emergency room. The girl's boyfriend had pushed her down a flight of stairs.

"I assumed all she needed was to be educated about her contraceptive options," Miller recalled. "Later, I wondered what I had missed. Could I have asked a question that would have identified that she was in an abusive relationship""

That nagging question inspired Miller, now a pediatrician with UC Davis Children's Hospital, to dedicate her career to trying to understand the unique characteristics of adolescent partner violence.

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Additive-free foods are swamping shop shelves

2007-09-19 23:22:00

An unprecedented number of additive-free food and drinks are hitting shop shelves, market research shows.

One in every four products launched this year claims to be free of additives and preservatives. This compares with just 8 per cent of new food and drinks in 2004, according to figures from Mintel's global new products database.

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Science & Technology
Agencies work on DNA 'barcodes' database for earth's known species

John Heilprin
Associated Press
2007-09-14 11:19:00

To help shoppers avoid mislabeled toxic pufferfish and pilots steer clear of birds, federal agencies are starting to tap into an ambitious project that is gathering DNA "barcodes" for the Earth's 1.8 million known species.

A consortium of scientists from almost 50 nations is overseeing the building of a global database made from tiny pieces of genetic material. Called DNA barcoding, the process takes a scientist only a few hours in a lab and about $2 to identify a species from a tissue sample or other piece of genetic material.

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Most Science Studies Appear to Be Tainted By Sloppy Analysis

Robert Lee Hotz
The Wall Street Journal
2007-09-14 11:16:00

We all make mistakes and, if you believe medical scholar John Ioannidis, scientists make more than their fair share. By his calculations, most published research findings are wrong.

Dr. Ioannidis is an epidemiologist who studies research methods at the University of Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece and Tufts University in Medford, Mass. In a series of influential analytical reports, he has documented how, in thousands of peer-reviewed research papers published every year, there may be so much less than meets the eye.

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Experiments challenge models about the deep Earth

Carnegie Institution
2007-09-21 09:17:00

In the first experiments able to mimic the crushing, searing conditions found in Earth's lower mantle, and simultaneously probe tell-tale properties of iron, scientists have discovered that material there behaves very differently than predicted by models. The research also points to the likelihood of a new zone deep in the Earth. The work is published in the September 21, 2007, issue of Science.

Surface phenomena such as volcanoes and earthquakes are generated by what goes on in Earth's interior. To understand some of these surface dynamics, scientists have to probe deep into the planet. The lower mantle is between 400 and 1,740 miles deep (650 km- 2,800 km) and sits atop the outer core.

©Russell Hemley
As depth increases in the planet, so does the temperature and pressure. In this diagram the crust and upper mantle is grey, the lower mantle is yellow, the outer is core orange, and the inner core is bright orange. The pressure between the upper and lower mantle is about 23 gigapascals or about 230,000 times atmospheric pressure at sea level. At the base of the lower mantle the pressure increases to an intense 1.35 million times sea-level pressure (135 GPa).

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Our Haunted Planet
So which is it? Stony or iron meteorite in Peru?

Monte Hayes
2007-09-21 09:42:00

Peruvian astronomers said Thursday that evidence shows a meteorite crashed near Lake Titicaca over the weekend, leaving an elliptical crater and magnetic rock fragments in an impact powerful enough to register on seismic charts.

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Peru meteorite landing confirmed, illnesses questioned

The Associated Press
2007-09-20 15:56:00

A fiery meteorite crashed into southern Peru over the weekend, experts confirmed on Wednesday, but they remain puzzled over claims it gave off fumes that made 200 people ill.

Local residents told reporters that a fiery ball fell from the sky and smashed into the desolate Andean plain near the Bolivian border Saturday morning.

Jose Mechare, a scientist with Peru's Geological, Mining and Metallurgical Institute, said a geologist had confirmed that it was a "rocky meteorite," based on the fragments analyzed.

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Health official blames "collective psychosis" for Peruvian sickness following meteor strike

Liubomir Fernandez and Patrick J. McDonnell
Los Angeles Times
2007-09-21 07:39:00

"Those who say they are affected are the product of a collective psychosis," said Jorge Lopez Tejada, health department chief in Puno, the nearest city.
©Los Angeles Times

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Flashback: 40 Foot Crater 'Caused by Lightning': Locals Report Headaches and Nausea

2007-05-26 14:12:00

Smoke and flame are found emanating from a 40-feet long and two feet wide crater, caused by lightning which struck last afternoon at Talaikuda village on the outskirts of Udhagamandalam.

According to official sources, nearly 300 eucalyptus trees were burnt, following the lightning, which hit the area, and big crater was formed.

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Irish defence forces eyed UFOs for 37 years

2007-09-20 22:12:00

Ireland's defence forces maintained a dossier on unidentified flying objects (UFOs) for 37 years, according to details released Thursday under the country's freedom of information laws.

The documents dating back to 1947 that were released to the Irish Times newspaper log a range of strange sightings.

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Don't Panic! Lighten Up!
Seagull becomes cheese Doritos shoplifter

2007-09-21 08:24:00

A seagull has turned shoplifter by wandering into a shop and helping itself to crisps.
The seagull has been nicknamed Sam by locals

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'God' Apparently Responds to Lawsuit

Nate Jenkins
Associated Press
2007-09-20 23:43:00

LINCOLN, Neb. - A legislator who filed a lawsuit against God has gotten something he might not have expected: a response. One of two court filings from "God" came Wednesday under otherworldly circumstances, according to John Friend, clerk of the Douglas County District Court in Omaha.
©AP Photo/Nati Harnik, file
Nebraska's longest-serving state senator says he is suing the Almighty to make a legal point.

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