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Illegal ivory worth $1.4m seized in Hong Kong

© Part of a shipment of 779 pieces of ivory seized from a shipping container by customs officials in Hong Kong.
Part of a shipment of 779 pieces of ivory seized from a shipping container by customs officials in Hong Kong.
Customs officers find a tonne of elephant tusks hidden under rocks in shipping container in third big seizure in three months.

Hong Kong authorities have made their third big seizure of illegal ivory in three months, confiscating more than a tonne of elephant tusks worth $1.4m, customs officials said on Friday.

Customs officers seized 779 pieces of ivory weighing 1,323kg (2,916lb) in a shipping container that arrived at Hong Kong's port from Kenya after passing through Malaysia.

The officers discovered the ivory after x-raying the container, which was declared to be carrying architectural stones. Forty sacks holding the ivory were found inside five wooden crates, hidden under rocks.

The investigation is still continuing. No one has been arrested.

Eggs Fried

Off-duty Massachusetts police get caught egging house in Framingham

© Alex Jones
The Newton Police headquarters annex at 25 Chestnut St., on Dec. 31, 2012.
Three Newton police officers had egg on their faces last month. The trio were caught by Framingham police after egging the house of a superior officer.

The incident occurred at approximately 1:51 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 11, according to Framingham police, when officers responded to a report of two male "teenagers" throwing eggs at a Griffin Road residence. The caller said the pair drove off in a red car.

Framingham police stopped the car at 2 a.m. near the residence, and identified the occupants as two Newton police officers, according to Lt. Ron Brandolini, a Framingham police spokesman.

The driver admitted the pair had just egged the home but said, "It was a prank, a joke between friends."


Cleveland stripper falls from 15-foot balcony while giving lap dance, suffers severe head injury

© Lauren Block/Facebook
Lauren Block is seen in this undated Facebook profile photo.
A Cleveland stripper is in critical condition after attempting a tricky move during a lap dance that instead caused her to tumble off a balcony, landing 15 feet below, police say.

Lauren Block, 22, was entertaining a customer on the second floor of Christie's Cabaret at 12:40 a.m. Wednesday when she attempted a "jump-dance" move that misfired, the man getting the lap dance told police.

"He stated that she grabbed the rail, as he was facing away from the balcony, and she tried to complete some sort of jump-dance move, and accidentally went head first over the rail," a Cleveland Police Department incident report said.

Arrow Up

Canadians warned to get ready for higher food prices in 2013

Canadians likely will pay more for steak and poultry come BBQ season, but there is a way to manage the pain

Last year Canadian consumers experienced modest increases in food prices. In fact, not only did food prices barely increase, but fruit and vegetable prices decreased by more than eight per cent.

Unfortunately, this year will be a different story. Several forecasts predict food prices will go up anywhere from 1.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent, likely exceeding our national inflation rate.

In other words, consumers will have to rethink how they will spend their hard-earned discretionary income. Indeed, meat and poultry lovers will be especially hard hit as prices for meats will likely increase by more than 4.5 per cent.

With this rise in food prices, spending in other sectors is bound to decrease - a family may need to pass on that exquisite trip to Cancún or that new oversized television set.


Arizona teens rescued from tree after lake ice cracks

© Lakeside Fire District, Kirk Webb
In a Wednesday, Jan 2, 2013 photo provided by the Lakeside Fire District, two teenagers hang on to a dead tree while trapped after the ice ion the lake started to crack, in Show Low, Ariz. Authorities say the two teenagers spent two frigid hours hanging onto the dead tree before they were rescued late Wednesday. The rescued juveniles were transported to a hospital for treatment of what Mix described as mild hypothermia.
A firefighter in a waterproof suit crossed a partially frozen Arizona lake to help rescue two teenagers who spent at least two frigid hours hanging onto a dead tree after ice began to crack, authorities said Thursday.

A third teen who had stayed on the snow-covered bank of Fool Hollow Lake near Show Low called for help Wednesday while the other two clung to the tree, authorities said.

Emergency personnel retrieved the boys after firefighter Jack Gessner made his way across the lake with a rope attached to a boat carrying other rescuers.

Gessner said he initially crawled atop the ice then had to make his way through the water after he had covered half of the 200 feet and the ice broke.

His suit and training worked as designed, leaving him dry but tired.

"I thought it went well. It was a really good team effort and everybody did their jobs," said Gessner, a firefighter on the ice rescue team of Lakeside Fire District.


British food store chain tycoon: Food prices are going to rocket in 2013

Britain is on the brink of an alarming hike in food prices, the boss of Waitrose warned yesterday.

Mark Price said food price inflation would go even higher this year as the downpour during 2012 clobbers farming.

He told Sun City that recent price hikes for items such as bread and veg were "just the tip of the iceberg".

The comments came as Waitrose revealed a 5.4 per cent sales rise over Christmas - and claimed it poached customers from rival Sainsbury's.

Mr Price said: "We're seeing input food inflation of around 3 to 3.5 per cent, but we expect it go up to as much as five."

Comment: Forget single digit food inflation, we'll soon be seeing triple-digit inflation on supermarket shelves. National food stores are empty and last year's particularly atrocious weather all over the globe, combined with years of weather extremes prior to that, have brought civilization to the brink.

Arrow Up

Food price hikes in 2013 far higher than predicted by government statistics

© Rant Finance
I was a bit shocked today to see the price of milk go up $0.50, seemingly overnight.

I was aware that farmland droughts this summer would raise dairy prices, but I didn't expect a sudden 17% increase for milk. What caused milk prices to surge? Are there any other food price hikes to be aware of? I started researching answers to these questions, and

The results are a bit dismal

I've been avoiding articles that add to the noise of the "fiscal cliff" war cries. Sorry to say, but the fiscal cliff has a lot to do with the recent milk price hike. An expired farm bill is among the "fiscal cliff" concerns in debate with Congress.

If a new farm bill isn't renewed, the government price for dairy products defaults to a 1949 statute. This means the government would pay twice today's price for milk. This would drive a further milk price hike for everyone.

Basically, if the dairy subsidy expires on January 1st, 2013, milk prices are expected to double.

Now, let's take a step to the side of the fiscal cliff flurry and

Arrow Up

Food prices in Sudan on the rise again as wages go up

© REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah
A man selling eggs waits for customers at the market in Khartoum, Sudan.
The prices of basic food commodities have risen by more than 4% recently coinciding with a decision taken by the Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir to raise the minimum wage.

The new minimum monthly wage, effective from this month, is 425 SDG ($97 based on official exchange rate) compared to the old minimum wage of 165 SDG ($38).

The loss of oil wealth now contained in the independent state of South Sudan has sharply cut Sudan's revenues and exports while also contributing to the drying up of the hard currency inflows.

The Sudanese pound is now trading at 7 SDG to the dollar on the black market which sharply contrasts the official exchange rate of 4.4. Analysts say the sinking value of the Sudanese pound means the country now pays a hefty amount more to import food.

Black Magic

Fear of 13 traced to Judas, myths

© AP Photo/The Express-Times, Matt Smith
Balloons spell out the number 2013 at an outdoor festival to celebrate the end of Allentown's 250th year Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, in Allentown, Pa.
Think the number 13 is something to be scared of? Try spelling the fear's official name without breaking into a cold sweat: triskaidekaphobia.

Tuesday is New Year's Day 2013, a day for revelers to nurse their hangovers and gyms to overflow with exercisers eager to rejoin the weight-loss bandwagon. But for people suffering from the tongue-twisting terror, it means just 364 days until 2014.

Edward Burger, a professor of mathematics at Williams College in Massachusetts, dismisses any unease that might be associated with the new year because it ends with 13, suggesting instead that the bad luck associated with the number has been imposed on it by society.

"Culturally, it's an induction point when something does happen. Mathematically, there's nothing to this numerology nonsense," he said.

Perhaps 13 is considered so taboo in American culture, Mr. Burger suggested, because "when things happen, all of a sudden you tether it to historical interest or intrigue, and you go 'Oh! it's the 13th!'"

When and what inspired the phobia, even psychologists and superstition experts can only hazard a guess, though two myths tend to surface regularly.


Three cops shot in two incidents in the Bronx, Brooklyn

© Joe Marino/New York Daily News
Police officer is rushed into an ambulance en route to Lutheran Medical Center after he and another officer were shot at Fort Hamilton Parkway and 62 St. in Brooklyn on Thursday evening.
New York - Three cops were shot Thursday night in two separate incidents an hour apart in the Bronx and Brooklyn, police said.

The first shooting, at 6:32 p.m. in the Bronxdale section of the Bronx, left an off-duty officer with a gunshot wound to the leg after he bravely fought back against a robbery crew that tried to rip off his car dealership. Exactly an hour later in Dyker Heights, in a gun battle on an N train, two officers and a straphanger were shot and wounded, and the gunman was killed by a police bullet.

The three officers -- all expected to recover -- were the first officers to be shot in 2013, following a year in which a dozen of the city's Finest were shot.

"As both of these incidents illustrate, the historic crime reductions that New Yorkers enjoy come at a price," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said late Thursday night in a press conference at Lutheran Medical Center, where the officers wounded in the Brooklyn shooting were treated.
"A dozen police officers were shot last year. And now three more, in the first three days of the new year, so thank God ... all of these officers will recover," Kelly added.

The first shooting occurred after a group of men tried to hold up Officer Juan Pichardo's car dealership on Boston Road, police and the officer's friends said.

While two suspects waited in a getaway car, two others went inside and pretended to be interested in buying a car - then at least one of them pulled a gun at the Auto Mall near Adee Ave., sources said.
© Andrew Savulich/New York Daily News
Police and detectives are on the scene at a Boston Road auto dealership after an off-duty police officer was shot in the leg Thursday evening while foiling an attempted robbery.