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World's first hypoallergenic cat: Scientific breakthrough or hype?

Hypoallergenic Cat
© The DenverChannel.com

A small biotech company earned global acclaim when it announced it had produced the world's first scientifically proven hypoallergenic cat. But while it seemed like a godsend to feline fanatics with allergies, an ABC's The Lookout investigation explored allegations that company's cats are no more hypoallergenic than other cats.

In 2006, Allerca: Lifestyle Pets , aimed to fill the niche for pet lovers plagued by allergies and touted what it billed as the world's first scientifically proven, hypoallergenic cat, ABC News reported.

Despite price tags ranging from nearly $4,000 to $28,000, Allerca had year-long wait lists for its felines.

However, experts and several customers contested the company's claims the cats were hypoallergenic and claims of Simon Brodie, the founder of Allerca. Other customers complained that they paid thousands for an Allerca cat that they never received.

Scientists have concluded that the main reason cats can trigger allergic reactions is a protein found in their saliva and skin called Fel d1. Allerca's website acknowledged that fact but said its cats had a naturally-occurring mutation, adding that its kittens "do continue to express Fel d1, (the known allergen that is present in saliva, fur, dander etc.) but at a different molecular weight. In human exposure tests, and with further feedback from our clients ... this molecular weight does not trigger allergies in the same way that 'normal' Fel d1 does.

Black Magic

Man gets 25 years to life in 'satanic' murder of mother

Moises
© Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / July 17, 2013
Moises Meraz-Espinoza, left, appears with his attorney, Jonathan Roberts, in a Norwalk courtroom. Meraz-Espinoza was convicted of first-degree murder in June.
Moises Meraz-Espinoza walked into the Huntington Park Police Department two years ago to report a crime: He had killed his mother.

Officers went to the Maywood apartment that the then-18-year-old factory worker shared with his mother, Amelia Espinoza, 42, and found a gruesome scene. A trail of blood led to the bathroom, where plastic covered the walls and floor. There, they found an electrical circular saw with pieces of bone, blood and flesh stuck to the blade.

Nearby, in a freezer, police found skin and muscles stored in plastic bags. The woman's skull, with all her teeth plucked out, her eyes removed and two upside-down crosses carved into the bone, was stashed in a backpack.

Prosecutors say that Meraz-Espinoza strangled his mother and then skinned, filleted and dismembered her body as part of a satanic ritual. A Norwalk jury convicted him of first-degree murder in June.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Thomas I. McKnew Jr. sentenced Meraz-Espinoza to 25 years to life in prison, saying that the slaying "certainly ranks up there at the top" of "the most disgusting, hideous and vulgar" cases he has seen during his 50 years in the legal profession.

"I don't know what I can say to turn your life around, but you'll have a lot of time to think about it," McKnew said.

Briefcase

Five Costa Concordia staff convicted over shipwreck in Italy

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© Gregorio Borgia/AP
The Costa Concordia cruise liner lies on its side after running aground off the Italian island of Giglio.
Italian court sentences cruise liner employees for manslaughter and negligence over sinking of cruise liner off Giglio.

An Italian court has convicted five people of manslaughter and negligence over the shipwreck of the Costa Concordia cruise liner that left 32 people dead.

The court in the Tuscan town of Grosseto accepted plea bargains for the Costa Cruises employees on Saturday, handing the harshest sentence to the company's crisis co-ordinator, Roberto Ferranini, who will serve two years and 10 months in jail.

The ship's hotel director was sentenced to two years and six months while two bridge officers and a helmsman got sentences ranging from 20 to 23 months. None are likely to go to jail as sentences under two years are suspended, and the longer sentences may be appealed or replaced with community service, judicial sources said.

Airplane

American Airlines flight makes emergency landing in Ireland

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© MSN News
The flight path of American Airlines Flight 55 July 19 shows it turning back to Ireland.
An unspecified emergency forced an American Airlines jet headed to Chicago from England to turn back and land in Ireland. All passengers are safe.

An American Airlines flight bound for Chicago made an emergency landing in Shannon, Ireland, Friday after departing from Manchester, England.

The Boeing 767 carrying 212 passengers experienced an unspecified emergency and landed safely. All 212 passengers have safely exited the plane.

Attention

UK's supermarket cartel boss breaks ranks: 'Cheap food era is over' - Major global food price hikes imminent

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How long before Tesco stores up and down the UK are looted, like this one during riots in Liverpool in 2011?
Philip Clarke admits prices will rise as poll finds UK shoppers would pay more to back farmers

Major food price rises are all but inevitable, the chief executive of Britain's biggest supermarket chain has admitted. Speaking exclusively to the Observer, Philip Clarke of Tesco, which was heavily implicated in the horsemeat scandal, said that rising global demand means the historic low prices to which British consumers have become used are now unsustainable.

"Over the long run I think food prices and the proportion of income spent on food may well be going up," he said. "Because of growing demand it is going to change. It is the basic law of supply and demand." The admission comes as a new poll, commissioned by the Prince's Countryside Fund to mark National Countryside Week beginning tomorrow, reveals that a majority of British consumers would be prepared to pay more for food if they knew the extra was going to farmers rather than to supermarket shareholders. The YouGov poll also indicates that more than 80% of consumers think it is important to buy British produce where possible as a way of showing support for the nation's farmers.

Comment: Rising food prices, climate change and global 'unrest'


X

Unexplained National Grid power outage causes electricity loss to thousands in Hardwick and Ware, Massachusetts Saturday afternoon

About 5,700 customers in Ware and Hardwick lost power temporarily Saturday, after a control panel running a powerful circuit breaker at a substation failed, according to National Grid spokesman David Graves.

The outage occurred at 11:20 a.m. Saturday, affecting 5,700 customers, Graves said in a telephone interview. Crews restored power to 4,200 residents by 1:20 p.m. and the rest by 2:30 p.m., he said. Baystate Mary Lane Hospital was one of the customers, but was protected by a generator.

Bomb

Two Britons killed in helicopter crash in North Russia

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© RIA Novosti. Alexandr Kovalev
Eurocopter
Three people, including two British nationals, died after a private helicopter crash landed in the Murmansk Region in north Russia, the Emergencies Ministry reported on Sunday.

Russia's aviation watchdog Rosaviatsia previously reported a Eurocopter-120 helicopter crashed during takeoff, falling on its side and killing three people on the ground.

"As a result [of the accident], three people were killed, including two British citizens," the Emergencies Ministry said in a statement.

The helicopter crashed 45 km (28 miles) from the settlement of Tumanny on the Kola Peninsula, the ministry said.

Dollars

US woman steals $480,000 from Boston Bombing Fund

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© Reuters/ Dan Lampariello
Runners continue to run towards the finish line of the Boston Marathon as an explosion erupts near the finish line of the race on April 15, 2013
A court in the United States charged a woman from New York with fraudulently collecting nearly half a million dollars after she claimed to be a victim of the Boston marathon bombing, Boston.com reported.

Audrea Gause, 26, collected $480,000 from One Fund Boston, the fund established to help bombing victims with a budget of over $64 million, after she claimed that she suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of the terrorist attack.

Police arrested her later after investigators established that she was not in Boston at the time of the tragic events and provided a false document verifying that she was admitted to a hospital in Boston.

Arrow Down

How poverty wages for tea pickers fuel India's trade in child slavery

Child Trafficking
© Gethin Chamberlain for the Observer
Saphira Khatun, whose daughter Minu Begum was trafficked to Delhi at the age of 12. Her sisters Munu, 20, and Nadira, 17, have not seen her since.
When the trafficker came knocking on the door of Elaina Kujar's hut on a tea plantation at the north-eastern end of Assam, she had just got back from school. Elaina was 14 and wanted to be a nurse. Instead, she was about to lose four years of her life as a child slave.

She sits on a low chair inside the hut, playing with her long dark hair as she recalls how her owner would sit next to her watching porn in the living room of his Delhi house, while she waited to sleep on the floor. "Then he raped me," she says, looking down at her hands, then out of the door. Outside, the monsoon rain is falling on the tin roof and against the mud-rendered bamboo strip walls, on which her parents have pinned a church calendar bearing the slogan The Lord is Good to All.

Elaina was in that Delhi house for one reason: her parents, who picked the world-famous Assam tea on an estate in Lakhimpur district, were paid so little they could not afford to keep her. There are thousands like her, taken to Delhi from the tea plantations in the north-east Indian state by a trafficker, sold to an agent for as little as £45, sold on again to an employer for up to £650, then kept as slaves, raped, abused. It is a 21st-century slave trade. There are thought to be 100,000 girls as young as 12 under lock and key in Delhi alone: others are sold on to the Middle East and some are even thought to have reached the UK.

Every tea plantation pays the same wages. Every leaf of every box of Assam tea sold by Tetley and Lipton and Twinings and the supermarket own brands - Asda, Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury's and the rest - is picked by workers who earn a basic 12p an hour.

Heart - Black

Israeli soldiers have depraved "fun" making "Rachel Corrie pancakes"

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Israeli soldiers had a "fun" time making what they called "Rachel Corrie pancakes."

Photos of the event were posted on the Facebook page of the "Heritage House," a settlement in occupied East Jerusalem that houses so-called "lone soldiers," men recruited from overseas to join the Israeli occupation forces.

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Nesim Pesarel, one of the “Heritage House” residents, seen in a photo from his personal Facebook page.
Above the photos of young men, some in Israeli army fatigues or apparently carrying guns, is the caption "Afternoon of 'rachel corrie' Pancakes and fun!"

Rachel Corrie is the young American woman murdered by an Israeli soldier who crushed her to death with a bulldozer as she tried to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian family home in the occupied Gaza Strip on 16 March 2003.

The depraved joke that these men were presumably making is a play on the English idiom "flat as a pancake." Their celebration and joking about Rachel Corrie's death is utterly vile and reflects the culture of dehumanization inculcated into Israeli soldiers.