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Arachnaphobia! Army of Aggressive Alien Spiders invade Indian Village

© The Economic Times, India

Jintu Gogoi's neighbourhood in Sadiya, Upper Assam, is no longer friendly. Over two weeks ago, an army of eight-legged freaks invaded it. It all happened in the evening on May 8. Most of the inhabitants of Chaulkhowa Nagaon village had been to a Bihu function. When the programme drew to a close, swarms of spiders suddenly descended from nowhere and started biting the people. The festive mood soon turned into one of panic with people bumping into each other and tripping over empty benches in their frantic bid to egress. Jintu was bitten by one of these critters.

It all sounded like a scene from a Hollywood horror flick, but as Jintu showed his blackened, swollen finger, to TOI, it became clear that it was not some elaborate hoax created by some mischief-monger, it was something that happened for real. But the panic it triggered could have been certainly avoided had there been enough awareness among laymen and mandarins about arachnids.

Jintu spent a day at the Sadiya Civil Hospital after he complained of excruciating pain and nausea. When he returned home, he had more terrifying stories to tell. Terror was still writ large on his face even two weeks after the incident, but he thanked his stars for being alive. His neighbour, Purnakanta Buragohain, was not that lucky. He died in the hospital after a spider allegedly bit him.

The events that unfolded in the next few days left everyone baffled. Scores of people arrived in the Sadiya civil hospital with spider bites, some even carrying their tormentors to the hospital. Amid all this, another person, this time a schoolboy, died of an alleged spider bite. And the district administration panicked. They sounded an alert across Tinsukia district and asked people to stay indoors at night-the time the unknown critters would swarm all over the place. They talked about fogging the place with DDT to kill the arachnids but couldn't find any effective solution. What's worse: they even let the two bodies to be cremated without conducting any autopsy. Yet the spider menace continued. None had any answer as to what kind of a spider it was and how it made such a sudden appearance.

Then on May 22, a team of life scientists from Dibrugarh University and Gauhati University arrived in Sadiya. Led by Dr L R Saikia, head, Department of Life Sciences, Dibrugarh University, the team camped in the trouble spot for two days and nights and collected specimens. "As of now, we cannot give a specific name. It's similar to the tarantula, but it could be a whole new species. There aren't any arachnologists in the northeast, so it will take us a while to identify it. But whatever the species, it is a highly aggressive spider. It leaps at anything that comes close. Some of the victims claimed the spider latched onto them after biting. If that is so, it needs to be dealt with carefully. The chelicerae and fangs of this critter are quite powerful; but it's too early to declare it a killer spider. In fact, we are yet to test its venom and find out the toxicity," says Dr Saikia.


Advice for those considering joining the military

Retired Special Forces Master Sergeant Stan Goff explains what military life really entails.


Romney would be one of richest-ever presidents with $250 million fortune

Mitt Romney will become one of the richest ever occupants of the White House if he wins the presidential election, after his campaign confirmed he was worth up to $250 million.

wealthy romney
© Getty Images
The records also show that Mitt Romney sold off much of his overseas investments in the last year, including controversial holdings in the Chinese-owned companies Hang Lung and Komatsu
The Republican candidate disclosed his net worth, around £163 million, in a financial declaration to the Federal Election Commission which provided new details of his personal fortune.

A campaign spokesman said the former Massachusetts Governor and his wife Ann had assets of between $190 million and $250 million. Experts claimed analysis of his holdings suggested his wealth was closer to the upper figure.

The family has another $100 million (£65 million) in a separate trust for Mr Romney's five sons.

The candidate's exact net worth had been unclear until now, although it had been estimated in the $200 million to $250 million range after he disclosed that in 2010 he had paid taxes of $3 million (£1.9 million) on income of $21.7 million (£14 million). Because most of his wealth derived from capital gains, he was able to pay tax at a far lower rate than most Americans.

The records also show that Mr Romney sold off much of his overseas investments in the last year, including controversial holdings in the Chinese-owned companies Hang Lung and Komatsu, which have been criticised for doing business with Iran, and British Sky Broadcasting.

Bizarro Earth

Woman Arrested For Public Masturbation

© Jalopnik.com
For over half an hour last Sunday night, drivers on Highway 484 in Ocala, Florida watched Ashley Holton masturbate on the side of the road. They pulled illegal U-turns to watch and honked, only encouraging her. She was arrested once deputies arrived.

Che Guevara

Angry Egyptian protesters gather in Tahrir Square for 2nd day


Egyptian protesters gather at Cairo's Tahrir Square to demand a tougher verdict on former dictator Hosni Mubarak, June 2, 2012.
Angry Egyptian demonstrators have gathered in Tahrir Square in the capital, Cairo, for the second day to protest at former dictator Hosni Mubarak's 'lenient' life term.

Chanting slogans during the Sunday morning protests, the demonstrators demanded the execution of the former ruler for his complicity in the killings of at least 900 anti-regime protesters during the country's historic revolution in February 2011.

In a final verdict by a Cairo court on Saturday, a life term was handed down to Mubarak and his Interior Minister Habib al-Adli.

However, six top police commanders were acquitted of the same charge due to what the judge described as 'lack of concrete evidence.'

Che Guevara

Thousands stage mass rally in Montreal as tuition fee talks fail


Demonstrators march to protest planned tuition hikes and an anti-protest law in Montreal, June 2, 2012.
Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Montreal in Canada to protest against a planned tuition fee hike after talks between student groups and Quebec government officials collapsed.

The mass rally, organized by the CLASSE student association, was held on Saturday as thousands of student protesters and their supporters convened at the base of Mount Royal near McGill University in Montreal.

The protest was the first since the latest tuition negotiations with Quebec Premier Jean Charest's government broke down Thursday.

CLASSE said some 10,000 people were marching by Saturday late afternoon in the biggest protest since the start of the tuition crisis in February.


Thousands of Israelis protest against social injustice

© Press TV
Israelis chant slogans during a protest calling for social justice (for themselves, not Palestinians), in Jerusalem on June 2, 2012.
Thousands of Israelis have participated in demonstrations in several cities in protest against social injustice and the high costs of living.

About 5,000 people gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday night to express their anger against the policies of the Israeli regime that prompt social inequalities.

Hundreds of people also protested in al-Quds (Jerusalem) and Haifa, renewing their calls for social justice.

The protesters demanded the improvement of social services and infrastructure, a decrease in the costs of living and an increase in the taxation on those with high incomes.

The organizers said in a statement that "our renewed call stems from grief and anger -- we've been fighting for a whole year, with the complete support of most of the Israelis."

Arrow Down

Cargo plane crashes into bus in Ghanaian capital

© Christian Thompson/AP
The wreckage of a Boeing 727 cargo plane which hit a bus full of passengers while trying to land at the airport in Accra, Ghana.
A spokesman for Ghana's fire service says at least 10 people died when a cargo plane crashed in the country's capital, Accra.

Bill Anaglate said the number of dead could rise. Anaglate said all the dead were in cars that the plane crushed when it failed to take off from Kotoka International airport on Saturday night.

The crash happened just outside the airport, which is near newly built high-rise buildings, hotels and the country's defence ministry. Witnesses said the plane first smashed through the fence that runs around the airport before hitting a bus and cars.

Police and soldiers quickly cordoned off the neighbourhood where the plane crashed. The area is near to El-Wak sports stadium and Hajj Village, where Muslims in the country stay before they journey to Mecca.


MPs from Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn arrested over racist attack

© Petros Giannakouris/AP
Greece's neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, led by the fuhr-ious Nikos Michaloliakos, won 21 seats in last month’s election.
Two newly elected MPs from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party were among six people arrested over an attack on a Pakistani man in Athens, in the latest in a series of incidents that have raised fears that Greece's immigrants are being targeted in the runup to this month's crucial elections.

Ilias Panagiotaros and Ioannis Vouldis were briefly held alongside the daughter of Nikos Michaloliakos, Golden Dawn's leader, but were later released.

According to police, the attack took place late on Friday when a group involved in a protest turned on a 31-year-old Pakistani bypasser.

Golden Dawn confirmed two of its MPs had been held, but denied they took part in the attack. "[They] could not have been involved because they were miles away," it said in a statement.


Shoot-out at Toronto shopping mall, 1 Dead, 2 injured

© Mark Blinch/Reuters
Police cordon off the Eaton Centre in Toronto, Canada, after a deadly shooting spree.
A gunman has escaped after killing a man and wounding five others at Toronto's Eaton Centre, one of Canada's busiest shopping malls.

Police said two people were in a critical condition. They included a 13-year old boy, while the man killed was 25. Several people were trampled and pushed in the panic, including a pregnant woman who went into labour.

Witnesses said multiple shots were fired in the mall's food court and hundreds of panicked shoppers sprinted for the exits. The mall, which is popular with tourists, was evacuated. People watched from outside as an injured man with visible bullet wounds was wheeled out on a stretcher.

The Toronto Blue Jays baseball player Brett Lawrie tweeted that he sprinted out of the mall after hearing the shots. "People sprinting up the stairs right from where we just were."