Thursday, March 8, 2007

AIDS Cure!

AIDS Vaccine Nearing Reality at Emory
Web Editor: Keith Whitney
Last Modified: 3/8/2007 7:49:17 AM

The world could have a new vaccine designed to kill the AIDS virus in as little as three to four years according to an Atlanta-based group working on the vaccine.

It is a scientific advance that could save tens of millions of lives, and it is being developed on the campus of Emory University.

The work has been going on quietly for the last 15 years. But now it appears headed for the bell lap in the race to prevent the disease.

And the Atlanta-based group may be way ahead of the rest of the world.

The GeoVax lab at Emory is smaller than many garages. And yet the small modular building may be where the battle to end the reign of one the world's biggest killers could be won with a vaccine to prevent AIDS.

"We're getting results back that indicate we're getting very strong immune responses in these individuals these people who received our vaccine," said Don Hildebrand, the president and CEO of GeoVax Inc., the company spearheading the research in collaboration with Emory, the Centers for Disease Control, and the National Institutes of Health.

The vaccine uses a decoy virus with some of the genetic material of the aids virus but not enough for anyone to ever get the disease itself from the shot, according to Dr. Harriet Robinson, Ph. D., of the Emory Vaccine Center.

"It exposes your immune system to a pathogen like a virus or bacteria so before you've seen it you set up memory cells,” Dr. Robinson said, “and then these memory cells mobilize should you get the actual infection."

The test trials have been so successful that the vaccine is now more than a year ahead of schedule.

"Actually another two trials are starting later this year using different combinations of our vaccine and different administration programs,” said GeoVax CEO Hildebrand. “And following that presuming everything goes well we'll be starting a phase two program at the end of the year."

The vaccine works using a one-two pharmaceutical punch to prime the body then kill the virus.

“It raises both antibodies that can block the virus and it raises white blood cells called t cells that can kill the virus infected cells,” said Dr. Robinson. “So it really has two methods of controlling an HIV/AIDS infection once it enters the body."

The vaccine’s success with the simian AIDS virus has been nothing short of remarkable. Not only did the vaccine prevent the infection, it kept it under control for the monkeys that already had it, putting it in a kind of remission.

Researchers believe the same benefits await human subjects.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Chic-fil-a Field Day

Holy Cow! Meat-loving calf eats Indian chickens

KOLKATA, India (Reuters) - When dozens of chickens went missing from a remote West Bengal village, everyone blamed the neighbourhood dogs.

But Ajit Ghosh, the owner of the missing chickens, eventually solved the puzzle when he caught his cow -- a sacred animal for the Hindu family -- gobbling up several of them at night.

"We were shocked to see our calf eating chickens alive," Ghosh told Reuters by phone from Chandpur village, about 240 km (150 miles) northwest of capital Kolkata.

The family decided to stand guard at night on Monday at the cow shed which also served as a hen coop, after 48 chickens went missing in a month.

"Instead of the dogs, we watched in horror as the calf, whom we had fondly named Lal, sneak to the coop and grab the little ones with the precision of a jungle cat," Gour Ghosh, his brother, said.

Local television pictures showed the cow grabbing and eating a chicken in seconds and a vet confirmed the case.

"We think lack of vital minerals in the body is causing this behaviour. We have taken a look and have asked doctors to look into the case immediately," Mihir Satpathy, a district veterinary officer, said by phone.

"This strange behaviour is possible in some exceptional cases," Satpathy said.

Hundreds of villagers flocked to Chandpur on Wednesday to catch a glimpse of Lal, enjoying his bundle of green grass for a change.

"The local vets said the cow was probably suffering from a disease but others said Lal was a tiger in his previous birth," Ajit added.

(c) Reuters 2007. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Wazzup, Brits!

LONDON — Princely pranksters William and Harry have been accused of recording a bogus message on Queen Elizabeth II's answering machine.

The pair were asked for help by their regal gran when she was baffled by the technology.

But she was reported to be mortified when she heard the end result.

"Hey wassup!" their message said. "This is Liz. Sorry I'm away from the throne."

Click here for's Europe center.

"For a hotline to Philip, press one. For Charles, press two," the recording continued. "And for the corgis, press three."

According to The Daily Star, the Queen saw the funny side later when she thought about which VIPs might have heard the message.

But her private secretary was not so amused.

The paper says he almost fell off his chair the first time one of his calls was put through to the voicemail.

The Queen, who is 80, has been taught by Prince William and Prince Harry how to send text messages on her mobile phone.

She was given her first mobile phone in 2001 by the Duke of York.

But she banned servants at the royal palaces from carrying phones on duty, after becoming annoyed at their ring tones.

The ban was reportedly prompted by several mobile phones ringing during a major banquet held for foreign dignitaries.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Sloth becomes our favorite Sin

Written by Rene Millman
Monday, 05 March 2007

beer_fridge.jpgIt is a situation that we have been in many times, we are playing on our Wii and we simply cannot be bothered to get up to get a beer. So thank God for North Carolina University student John Cornwell, who has invented a beer throwing refrigerator.

Cornwell, 22, recently graduated from college and spent around $3,000 designing the "Beer Launching Fridge" which is activated via remote control.

"Have you ever gotten up off the couch to get a beer for the umpteenth time and thought, 'What if instead of ME going to get the BEER, the BEER came to ME?'" said Cornwell. "Well, that was how I first conceived of the beer launching fridge. About three months and several hundred dollars later I have a fully automated, remote controlled, catapulting, man-pit approved, beer launching mini-fridge."

He said that the fridge holds ten beers in its magazine with 14 more in reserve to store a full case. It is controlled by a keyless entry system. Pressing unlock will start the catapult rotating and when it is aiming at your target, pressing unlock again will stop it. Then the lock button can be pressed to launch a beer in the selected direction.

The mini fridge can throw beers to people ten feet away. Although he did warn that there was a minor design flaw.

"There is a slight danger of being hit in the head with a flying can but this danger decreases the more you use it."

Cornwell said almost all of the raw materials for the refrigerator were purchased from McMaster-Carr, some motors came from Jameco, and the switches/potentiometer were purchased at RadioShack. "In total the beer launching refrigerator uses 3 limit switches. Two of which are triggered when the elevator reaches the top or bottom of its travel, and one is triggered when the catapult arm is fully cocked. I also have a potentiometer that is connected to the rotating catapult platform."

"The voltage across the potentiometer is read by the microcontroller to sense the angle of the catapult platform."

There is a video of the fridge in action here.


Train Miracle

Elderly woman unscathed after being run over by a train

Mon Mar 5, 9:29 AM ET

LISBON (AFP) - An elderly woman has walked away without a scratch after being run over by a train in Portugal.

Maria Delores Ramos, 77, slipped as she attempted to cross the railway near her home in the northern village of Barroselas, the daily Jornal de Noticias reported.

She could not get up on her own as she suffers from arthritis in her legs, so she sat in the middle of the track to wait for someone to pass by.

But when a train approached she decided to lay down after her frantic waving failed to get the attention of the conductor, Ramos told the newspaper

"I started to pray and ask God for forgiveness for my sins. But when I saw that the first carriage passed over me and didn't touch me, I realized I was safe. And I survived," she said.

The train stopped a little further ahead and the conductor got out of the train and helped Ramos, a mother of seven, to crawl out from under one of the carriages.

"Other people quickly arrived and raised me off the ground and held on to me but I told them I didn't need need them to hold on to me, that I could stay up on my own," she said. "I can brag that I survived being run over by a train."

Cool In School

Tech strikes back against Plaid Avenger
The unorthodox textbook will receive a warning sticker and undergo other changes.

By Greg Esposito and Albert Raboteau
The Roanoke Times

The basic message of the Monroe Doctrine was, "Don't mess in our hemisphere, b------!"

And Portugal "got screwed pretty damn good" in the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas.

Those are some of the lessons being taught by "Plaid Avenger's World," the new textbook in a geography course at Virginia Tech.

John Boyer, a popular instructor who wrote the book and teaches the course, said it's an experimental approach aimed at getting students to better learn the material. Chock-full of foul language, recipes for cocktails and more than a few cultural stereotypes, the book features a central character -- the Plaid Avenger -- who travels to different parts of the globe and explains culture and history in 21st-century college student vernacular.

The book made its debut in Boyer's Geography 1014: World Regions course this semester. Boyer said he doesn't like using textbooks in his classes because they're too dry and boring. With help from students, he wrote the book in three months last year.

Boyer, who resembles the avenger in both appearance and dress, said the book has received a positive response from the roughly 600 students in his course. No students or parents have complained to him. The only negative feedback he has heard is from "a few very squeaky wheels" among the faculty, he said.

Tech spokesman Larry Hincker said the administration did hear a complaint about the book from a faculty member a couple of weeks ago. Since the situation arose, some changes have been planned for the book, Boyer said.

A warning sticker will be added to the book noting that some of its language is explicit. A disclaimer, urging underage readers not to drink alcohol and all readers to respect diversity and to stand up for racial and sexual equality, is also expected to be applied.

The university's name appears on the book's title page, implying that the school was involved in the publishing, which is not the case, so that will be concealed with the sticker and removed in future printings.

Boyer said he planned to make some changes in the book for future editions that would make it more marketable.

Hincker said the university does not review the content of textbooks written by its faculty. If a professor assigns a book he or she wrote, the work must be reviewed but "the issue here is not content," Hincker said. "It's to ensure that a faculty member is not setting himself up as a publisher and then requiring students to purchase his book."

Boyer said he receives no royalties from sales of the book, which is published by the Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co. of Dubuque, Iowa. He said he intends to make some changes to the book so it could be peer-reviewed, which would enable him to get royalties from it in the future. Money from the current book's sales may go toward buying more pictures for the textbook or reducing the price of a future edition.

Boyer said the book's unconventional nature made it tough to get it through the publishing process. He said the book came out too recently to tell if it will be used in classes taught by people other than him. A message left at Kendall/Hunt was not immediately returned.

Boyer, who has bachelor's and master's degrees from Tech, has been teaching there since 1998. He received the Student's Choice Award for Faculty Member of the Year in 2005 and Tech's Sporn Award for the best teacher in an introductory subject in 2002. Sporn Award candidates are nominated by Tech students.

"He's the man," freshman Alex Horner said of Boyer while leaving the Geography 1014 course Thursday. "He's a great teacher. The textbook's written the way he speaks."

In explaining different cultures in the book, Boyer disregards political correctness. Describing how people of South America blended their culture with the Catholicism brought over from Europe, he refers to it as "freaky-freaky crap that doesn't look like Catholicism."

And the war crime known as the "Rape of Nanking," in which Japanese soldiers killed thousands of Chinese people in 1937 and 1938, "really sucked for China."

Those words accompany a photo of corpses tied to stakes.

Hincker described the description as "insensitive at best."

Elsewhere in the book, a photograph of an elderly Asian man is accompanied by the words, "Old China sez: "Me Chinese, me play joke."

The book has multiple photos of attractive women with captions that have sexual overtones. The chapter on South Asia has a shot of a woman on a cellphone captioned: "Yes Plaid Avenger, my back office is always open for you ..."

Sophomore Erin Olasz said Boyer tells students they can talk to him if they're offended by the course material. And she enjoys the class.

"I think the book's interesting," Olasz said. "It's actually a good read."

Boyer explained that the main character is similar to James Bond in his love of women and alcohol.

"I understand why that might be troublesome to some, but it is done in a lighthearted way," he said. "And after all, it is hosted by a cartoon character."

Tequila, wine, beer and various cocktail mixes are mentioned as the main character makes his way around different countries.

Hincker, who serves on the university's task force on alcohol abuse, said "anything to do with glorifying alcohol to underage students is a concern for me. I'm speaking for myself, but think I'm speaking for the administration because we are very concerned about alcohol abuse."

Asked if cocktail recipes are appropriate in a textbook largely directed at people younger than 21, Boyer said: "The drink recipes are entirely fictional. I made all of them up. They're not tested or tried, and I actually heartily encourage people not to try those things. They're there to make political points, or comedy points."

He said the "White Russian" and "Red Russian" recipes, for example, are a device to get students to remember the names of the factions in that nation's civil war.

It has been remarked that many of today's youths are more likely to be exposed to current events though the irreverent comedy shows of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert than through traditional media. Asked if Stewart was an influence on his teaching style, Boyer said, "I would say I'm doing something similar to him, but I've been doing this [class] longer than he's been on TV, so he's doing something similar to me is the way I look at it."

Boyer scoffed at the notion that the stereotypes in the book might perpetuate racist or insensitive attitudes to other cultures. His object is to eliminate those types of attitudes by giving students a better understanding of different cultures and people, he said.

"We're internationally clueless as a country," he said. "I'm trying to build all of this stuff from the ground up."

Boyer, who was known by students for his unconventional teaching methods well before the book was published, said he has never gone out of his way to draw attention to himself, good or bad.

"I don't really give a lot of thought into trying to offend or trying to create excitement," he said. "I just do what I do. That creates excitement."

Hincker said he had only seen a few photocopies from the book, not the more than 400-page text itself.

He described Boyer as a junior faculty member who "might be a little edgy" and going "a little too far in some areas." But Hincker also said, "I think the important thing is there hasn't been a single complaint from a student. Students love this guy."

Bill Carstensen Jr., the head of Tech's geography department, said today's students "live on MTV and iPods. They don't live on reading the textbooks that I had in school."

Boyer, he said, "is trying to do something that pushes the envelope, but mainly he does it because it makes the whole process more educational for the students."

Buttcrack of the Earth in Atlantic

Scientists have discovered a large area thousands of square kilometers in extent in the middle of the Atlantic where the Earth’s crust appears to be missing. Instead, the mantle - the deep interior of the Earth, normally covered by crust many kilometers thick - is exposed on the seafloor, 3000m below the surface. Marine geologist Dr Chris MacLeod, School of Earth, Ocean and Planetary Sciences said, “This discovery is like an open wound on the surface of the Earth. Was the crust never there? Was it once there but then torn away on huge geological faults? If so, then how and why?”

To answer some of these questions Dr MacLeod with a team of scientists, led by marine geophysicist Professor Roger Searle, Durham University, will travel to the area which lies mid-way between the Cape Verde Islands and the Caribbean.

The expedition will be the inaugural research cruise of a new UK research ship RRS James Cook. The team intends to use sonar to image the seafloor and then take rock cores using a robotic seabed drill. The samples will provide a rare opportunity to gain insights into the workings of the mantle deep below the surface of the Earth.

Cardiff University scientists will shortly set sail next week (March 5th) to investigate a startling discovery in the depths of the Atlantic.

Cyborg Pigeon

No, this isn't a punk rock pigeon with a crimson mohawk. Rather, the bird now can receive computer commands through electrodes in its brain from the device attached--rather cumbersomely, it seems--atop its head.

Scientists from the Robot Research Center at the Shandong University of Science and Technology in Qingdao, China, performed the work, which enables them to direct the pigeon's flight (take off, hover, fly forward, turn right or left) by remote control. The researchers said that the pigeon was under anesthesia when the device was attached and that it doesn't feel pain at the head. Somehow that seems unlikely to mollify animal rights activists.


Guatemala sink holes aren't kidden around!

Tribe slave descendants face uncertainty

By SEAN MURPHY, Associated Press Writer Sun Mar 4, 4:13 PM ET

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Cherokee Nation vote this weekend to revoke the citizenship of the descendants of people the Cherokee once owned as slaves was a blow to people who have relied on tribal benefits.

Charlene White, a descendant of freed Cherokee slaves who were adopted into the tribe in 1866 under a treaty with the U.S. government, wondered Sunday where she would now go for the glaucoma treatment she has received at a tribal hospital in Stilwell.

"I've got to go back to the doctor, but I don't know if I can go back to the clinic or if they're going to oust me right now," said White, 56, a disabled Tahlequah resident who lives on a fixed income.

In Saturday's special election, more than 76 percent of voters decided to amend the Cherokee Nation's constitution to remove the estimated 2,800 freedmen descendants from the tribal rolls, according to results posted Sunday on the tribe's Web site.

Marilyn Vann, president of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes, said the election results undoubtedly will be challenged.

"We will pursue the legal remedies that are available to us to stop people from not only losing their voting rights, but to receiving medical care and other services to which they are entitled under law," Vann said Sunday.

"This is a fight for justice to stop these crimes against humanity."

Cherokee Nation spokesman Mike Miller said Sunday that election results will not be finalized until after a protest period that extends through March 12. Services currently being received by freedmen descendants will not immediately be suspended, he said.

"There isn't going to be some sort of sudden stop of a service that's ongoing," Miller said. "There will be some sort of transition period so that people understand what's going on."

In a statement late Saturday, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith said he was pleased with the turnout and election result.

"Their voice is clear as to who should be citizens of the Cherokee Nation," Smith said. "No one else has the right to make that determination. It was a right of self-government, affirmed in 23 treaties with Great Britain and the United States and paid dearly with 4,000 lives on the Trail of Tears."

The petition drive for the ballot measure followed a March 2006 ruling by the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court that said an 1866 treaty assured freedmen descendants of tribal citizenship.

A similar situation occurred in 2000 when the Seminole Nation voted to cast freedmen descendants out of its tribe, said attorney Jon Velie of Norman, an expert on Indian law who has represented freedmen descendants in previous cases.

"The United States, when posed the same situation with the Seminoles, would not recognize the election and they ultimately cut off most federal programs to the Seminoles," Velie said. "They also determined the Seminoles, without this relationship with the government, were not authorized to conduct gaming."

Ultimately, the Seminole freedmen were allowed back into the tribe, Velie said.

Velie said Saturday's vote already has hurt the tribe's public perception.

"It's throwback, old-school racist rhetoric," Velie said.

"And it's really heartbreaking, because the Cherokees are good people and have a very diverse citizenship," he said.

Miller, the tribal spokesman, defended the Cherokees against charges of racism, saying that Saturday's vote showed the tribe was open to allowing its citizens vote on whether non-Indians be allowed membership.

"I think it's actually the opposite. To say that the Cherokee Nation is intolerant or racist ignores the fact that we have an open dialogue and have the discussion, he said.


On the Net:

Cherokee Nation:

Spring Forward

Rationale and original idea

The main purpose of Daylight Saving Time (called "Summer Time" in many places in the world) is to make better use of daylight. We change our clocks during the summer months to move an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening. Countries have different change dates. Glide your cursor over the map to see how changing the clocks affects different latitudes.

If you live near the equator, day and night are nearly the same length (12 hours). But elsewhere on Earth, there is much more daylight in the summer than in the winter. The closer you live to the North or South Pole, the longer the period of daylight in the summer. Thus, Daylight Saving Time (Summer Time) is usually not helpful in the tropics, and countries near the equator generally do not change their clocks.

A poll conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation indicated that Americans liked Daylight Saving Time because "there is more light in the evenings / can do more in the evenings." A 1976 survey of 2.7 million citizens in New South Wales, Australia, found 68% liked daylight saving. Indeed, some say that the primary reason that Daylight Saving Time is a part of many societies is simply because people like to enjoy long summer evenings, and that reasons such as energy conservation are merely rationalizations.
However, Daylight Saving Time does save energy. Studies done by the U.S. Department of Transportation show that Daylight Saving Time trims the entire country's electricity usage by a small but significant amount, about one percent each day, because less electricity is used for lighting and appliances. Similarly, in New Zealand, power companies have found that power usage decreases 3.5 percent when daylight saving starts. In the first week, peak evening consumption commonly drops around five percent.

Energy use and the demand for electricity for lighting homes is directly related to the times when people go to bed at night and rise in the morning. In the average home, 25 percent of electricity is used for lighting and small appliances, such as TVs, VCRs, and stereos. A good percentage of energy consumed by lighting and appliances occurs in the evening when families are home. By moving the clock ahead one hour, the amount of electricity consumed each day decreases.

In the summer, people who rise before the sun rises use more energy in the morning than if DST was not in effect. However, although 70 percent of Americans rise before 7:00 a.m., this waste of energy from having less sunlight in the morning is more than offset by the savings of energy that results from more sunlight in the evening.

In the winter, the afternoon Daylight Saving Time advantage is offset for many people and businesses by the morning's need for more lighting. In spring and fall, the advantage is generally less than one hour. So, Daylight Saving Time saves energy for lighting in all seasons of the year, but it saves least during the four darkest months of winter (November, December, January, and February), when the afternoon advantage is offset by the need for lighting because of late sunrise.

In addition, less electricity is used because people are home fewer hours during the "longer" days of spring and summer. Most people plan outdoor activities in the extra daylight hours. When people are not at home, they don't turn on the appliances and lights.

There is a public health benefit to Daylight Saving Time, as it decreases traffic accidents. Several studies in the U.S. and Great Britain have found that the DST daylight shift reduces net traffic accidents and fatalities by close to one percent. An increase in accidents in the dark mornings is more than offset by the evening decrease in accidents.

Opposition to Daylight Saving

Many people intensely dislike Daylight Saving Time. Frequent complaints are the inconvenience of changing many clocks and adjusting to a new sleep schedule. For most people, this is a mere nuisance, but some people with sleep disorders find this transition very difficult. Indeed, there is evidence that the severity of auto accidents increases and work productivity decreases as people adjust to the time change.

Some argue that the energy savings touted by DST is offset by the energy used by those living in warm climates to cool their homes during summer afternoons and evenings. Similarly, the argument can be made that more evening hours of light encourage people to run errands and visit friends, thus consuming more gasoline.

Protests are also put forth by people who wake at dawn, or whose schedules are otherwise tied to sunrise, such as farmers. Canadian poultry producer Marty Notenbomer notes, "The chickens do not adapt to the changed clock until several weeks have gone by, so the first week of April and the last week of October are very frustrating for us."

In Israel, ultra-Orthodox Sephardic Jews have campaigned against Daylight Saving Time because they recite Slikhot penitential prayers in the early morning hours during the Jewish month of Elul.

A writer in 1947 noted, "I don't really care how time is reckoned so long as there is some agreement about it, but I object to being told that I am saving daylight when my reason tells me that I am doing nothing of the kind. I even object to the implication that I am wasting something valuable if I stay in bed after the sun has risen. As an admirer of moonlight I resent the bossy insistence of those who want to reduce my time for enjoying it. At the back of the Daylight Saving scheme I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves." (Robertson Davies, The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks, 1947, XIX, Sunday.)

Sometimes people recommend a "compromise," wherein clocks would be set one-half hour forward year round. While this may initially sound appealing, it is not a good solution. In the winter months, when daylight saving is not occurring, our clock is divided such that noon should be the middle of the day (although since time zones are so wide, this does not always happen). In the summer, when there are more daylight hours, we want to shift a full hour to the evening.

Some countries set their clocks to fractional time zones. For example, Kathmandu, Nepal is 5:45 hours ahead of Universal Time, and Calcutta (Kolkatta), India is 5:30 ahead. This is not an attempt to compromise and have half Daylight Saving Time year-round, but rather an adjustment made because the countries straddle international time zones.

Idea of Daylight Saving Time

The idea of daylight saving was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin (portrait at right) during his sojourn as an American delegate in Paris in 1784, in an essay, "An Economical Project." Read more about Franklin's essay.

Some of Franklin's friends, inventors of a new kind of oil lamp, were so taken by the scheme that they continued corresponding with Franklin even after he returned to America.

The idea was first advocated seriously by London builder William Willett (1857-1915) in the pamphlet, "Waste of Daylight" (1907), that proposed advancing clocks 20 minutes on each of four Sundays in April, and retarding them by the same amount on four Sundays in September. As he was taking an early morning a ride through Petts Wood, near Croydon, Willett was struck by the fact that the blinds of nearby houses were closed, even though the sun was fully risen. When questioned as to why he didn't simply get up an hour earlier, Willett replied with typical British humor, "What?" In his pamphlet "The Waste of Daylight" he wrote:

"Everyone appreciates the long, light evenings. Everyone laments their shortage as Autumn approaches; and everyone has given utterance to regret that the clear, bright light of an early morning during Spring and Summer months is so seldom seen or used."

Early British laws and lax observance

About one year after Willett began to advocate daylight saving (he spent a fortune lobbying), he attracted the attention of the authorities. Robert Pearce - later Sir Robert Pearce - introduced a bill in the House of Commons to make it compulsory to adjust the clocks. The bill was drafted in 1909 and introduced in Parliament several times, but it met with ridicule and opposition, especially from farming interests. Generally lampooned at the time, Willett died on March 4, 1915.

Following Germany’s lead, Britain passed an act on May 17, 1916, and Willett’s scheme of adding 80 minutes, in four separate movements was put in operation on the following Sunday, May 21, 1916. There was a storm of opposition, confusion, and prejudice. The Royal Meteorological Society insisted that Greenwich time would still be used to measure tides. The parks belonging to the Office of Works and the London County Council decided to close at dusk, which meant that they would be open an extra hour in the evening. Kew Gardens, on the other hand, ignored the daylight saving scheme and decided to close by the clock.

In Edinburgh, the confusion was even more marked, for the gun at the Castle was fired at 1:00 p.m. Summer Time, while the ball on the top of the Nelson monument on Calton Hill fell at 1:00 Greenwich Time. That arrangement was carried on for the benefit of seamen who could see it from the Firth of Forth. The time fixed for changing clocks was 2:00 a.m. on a Sunday.
There was a fair bit of opposition from the general public and from agricultural interests who wanted daylight in the morning, but Lord Balfour came forward with a unique concern:

"Supposing some unfortunate lady was confined with twins and one child was born 10 minutes before 1 o'clock. ... the time of birth of the two children would be reversed. ... Such an alteration might conceivably affect the property and titles in that House."

After World War I, Parliament passed several acts relating to Summer Time. In 1925, a law was enacted that Summer Time should begin on the day following the third Saturday in April (or one week earlier if that day was Easter Day). The date for closing of Summer Time was fixed for the day after the first Saturday in October.

The energy saving benefits of Summer Time were recognized during World War II, when clocks in Britain were put two hours ahead of GMT during the summer. This became known as Double Summer Time. During the war, clocks remained one hour ahead of GMT throughout the winter.

For All You Disney Do-Gooders...

Health and safety check for Mickey Mouse

Richard Luscombe in Miami
Monday March 5, 2007
The Guardian

They might work at the happiest place on Earth, but Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Cinderella and Buzz Lightyear face more danger in the workplace than most of us, a new study reveals.

Children who punch and kick, heavy costumes that cause neck and back strain and moving parade floats caused injuries to more than a third of the 1,900 actors who play the characters in Disney parks worldwide, according to the US Health and Safety Administration.

Disney has turned to Nasa engineers to help design "user-friendly" costumes that are lighter, more manageable and offer greater flexibility and vision for those inside. "We've benefited from a lot of work that the government's been doing," Carol Campbell, Disney's vice-president of character programmes and development, told the Orlando Sentinel.

The worst example cited in the study was the death of 38-year-old Javier Cruz, who was crushed by a parade float at Disney World in Orlando in 2004 while dressed as Pluto. Disney was fined $6,300 (£3,200) and introduced new safety measures such as "spotters" to look for hazards along the parade route.

But actors in costume reported a range of other injuries and ailments, including aches, bruises and sprains attributed to "excited guests" jumping on them or hitting them, skin rashes from prolonged exposure to the furry costumes and muscular problems.

Employees at Disney parks in Florida, California, France and Hong Kong were interviewed for the study, reporting 783 injuries in a 12-month period. Of those, 282 were blamed on heavy costumes.

Character actors earn between about £4 and £7 an hour.
*That's Pounds folks, twice as much as dollars!!!

Unkept Secrets

From Times Online
March 05, 2007
59 things that would have stayed secret
What they didn't want you to know: A list of intriguing facts disinterred by the Freedom of Information Act.

»Ministers and MPs were claiming thousands of pounds on taxis as part of £5.9m in expenses for travel

»The Thatcher Government concocted a plan to search for the Loch Ness monster using a team of dolphins

»Foreign diplomats – who have diplomatic immunity – were accused of rapes, sexual assaults, child abuse and murders while working in Britain

»The Government agreed a £1.5m bailout of one of the most troubled schools in its flagship city academies programme ten days before the 2005 general election

»People charged with certain criminal offences in Warwickshire are 30 per cent more likely to be convicted than those in Bedfordshire. The figures showed huge variations in performance of the Crown Prosecution Service

»Politicians are spending £2.2bn a year of taxpayers’ money on private management consultants

»Ted Heath was once offered concert work by Idi Amin of Uganda. The eccentric dictator made his offer in a 1977 telegram

»Ian Huntley was officially “eliminated” as a suspect six days into the investigation into the Soham murders

»Thousands of women are getting breast enlargements, tummy-tucks and nose jobs on the NHS

»Tax inspectors are routinely offered bonuses to encourage them to collect as much money as possible

»Weapons used by paratroopers on Bloody Sunday have ended up in the hands of the army in Sierra Leone, paramilitary police in Beirut and even in an Arkansas gun shop

»Tony Blair spent nearly £2,000 of taxpayers' money on cosmetics over six years

»Seventy-four police officers serving with the Metropolitan Police have criminal records

»Senior civil servants in the Home Office were paid more than £2m in bonuses despite the scandals that have engulfed the department

»The Prime Minister wined and dined celebrities at the taxpayer’s expense at his country residence, Chequers. Guests included Esther Rantzen, Trevor Brooking, Elton John and Des O'Connor

»Killings carried out by strangers have increased by a third since Tony Blair came to power

»Government advice at the time of Prince Charles’s divorce from Diana suggested that his marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles would be illegal

»A clandestine British torture programme existed in postwar Germany, “reminiscent of the concentration camps”

»Britain helped Israel to obtain its nuclear bomb 40 years ago, by selling it 20 tonnes of heavy water

»John Prescott met the US billionaire Philip Anschutz as the businessman’s representatives were aggressively lobbying the Department for Culture, Media and Sport over the progress of the gambling bill and plans to build a supercasino

»The NHS has been giving girls as young as 13 contraceptive injections and implants that make them infertile for up to three years, in an attempt to cut teenage pregnancies

»The Prime Minister took trips costing more than £1.2m over four years from 2002 on RAF jets allocated to the Royal Family and government VIPs, including those for holidays abroad

»Police in England and Wales spend £21m a year on interpreters

»Britain has extradited four times as many people to the US as have been sent in return since the introduction of fast-track extradition

»More than 1,000 girls aged 14 and under had abortions in a single year

»Alastair Campbell thought that it was a “barmy” idea for Tony Blair to appear on the Simpsons show in 2003, but that Mr Blair could be seen to “seize any opportunity to promote Britain”

»The Metropolitan Police spent £900,000 policing illegal street meetings by the cleric Abu Hamza and his followers

»The Yorkshire Ripper probably committed more crimes than the 13 murders and seven attempted murders for which he was convicted

»Six British military policemen died at the hands of an Iraqi mob in Majar al-Kabir because nearby reinforcements decided it was too dangerous to rescue them

»Health tourists received free NHS kidney treatment worth about £30,000 a year, potentially competing with British patients for scarce transplants

»DNA tests showed that, since 1998, 3,034 men had been wrongly named by mothers as fathers of children for whom they had claimed maintenance. The taxpayer had to repay these sums

»Robert Maxwell was being investigated for war crimes and was to be interviewed by police just before he drowned

»In 2004 the BBC paid £15.5m in staff bonuses when it was planning to cut more than 3,000 jobs

»Rich landowners top the league of EU farm subsidy payouts

»The railway stations that provide the worst facilities for passengers were revealed in a National Audit Office document

»More than 300 babies a year are being left with brain damage because of oxygen starvation caused by lack of proper care at birth

»Countries with poor human rights records and those on the front line in the War on Terror, including Iraq, were targeted by the Ministry of Defence as the most lucrative places for British arms companies to sell weapons

»Weapons and ammunition are being smuggled into Britain by coalition forces returning from war zones

»Restaurants belonging to Britain's leading fast-food chains were branded “extremely poor” by health inspectors

»Ministers were given prior warning that a postal voting scandal was looming just before local polls that sparked claims of stolen votes

»John Birt, Tony Blair's key adviser in Downing Street, identified the abolition of National Service as a significant factor in the “exponential” rise in crime over the past 50 years

»Illegal immigrants are getting into Britain by enrolling on university courses, obtaining visas and then failing to turn up to study

»A former No 10 adviser lobbied the Government to relax gambling laws and pave the way for valuable casino contracts on behalf of Kerry Packer, the Australian billionaire

»Cherie Blair became the first Prime Minister's spouse to be given a government car and driver for her personal use

»A cache of more than 300 weapons, including air pistols, swords and an improvised flame-thrower, were seized from schoolchildren in one year

»Police were instructed to let off offenders with a caution if they commit any one of more than 60 types of crime, ranging from assault to some types of theft, criminal damage and underage sex.

»More than 700 nurses and doctors were disciplined for drink or drugs at work in the past ten years

»Plans to turn Britain into a “world leader” in internet gambling were drawn up by ministers

»In one year hundreds of 10»year»old children were charged with crimes including serious sexual offences, robbery, actual bodily harm and assaulting a police officer

»Lord Falconer was dragged into a dispute over plans for a supercasino at the Millennium Dome when it emerged he had met representatives of the US billionaire behind the venture 13 times

»Two hundred serving police officers have criminal records for offences that include assault, breach of the peace, theft and vandalism.

»Documents suggested that one in 15 officers has broken the law

The full extent of the damage caused by “Black Wednesday”, when in 1992 Britain fell out of the ERM, was revealed

»Humphrey, the Downing Street cat who mysteriously disappeared in 1997, had not been put down but had been sent to “a stable home environment where he can be looked after properly”

»Documents from the mid1980s showed how Mark Thatcher was paid commission for a Middle East building contract for which his mother had lobbied

»Previously secret health inspections of some of Britain’s most prestigious restaurants revealed criticisms of some of those run by Heston Blumenthal, Gordon Ramsay and Raymond Blanc

»1980s school dinners could be the cause of three young Welsh people’s deaths from the human form of mad cow disease

»The Elgin Marbles were damaged by two schoolboys fighting in the British Museum in 1961. One of the boys fell and knocked off part of a centaur's leg

»Some NHS dentists earn up to £250,000 a year in fees, as demand for those who have remained in the public sector increases

»Greg Dyke asked to be reinstated as Director»General of the BBC a week after he was sacked over the Hutton report

Harry Scarry

Terrorists have vowed to kidnap or kill Prince Harry when he fights in Iraq, it is reported.

The 22-year-old is due to be sent out in May with colleagues from the Blues and Royal regiment.

Threats have been posted on extremist Web sites since his deployment was revealed, The Sun says.

• Visit's Iraq Center for more in-depth coverage.

One message said: "Prince Harry will be sent to Iraq to be killed by Muslims."

Another added: "May Allah give him what he deserves — like his fellow crusaders."

Read the original report from SkyNews.

Army officials fear the Prince will be paraded on television if he is kidnapped.

Harry was 'over the moon' at his deployment A Blues and Royals source told the paper: "Officially Harry is being treated just like any other soldier but in reality everyone knows how desperate the insurgents out there will be to get their hands on him."

Internet terror expert Neil Doyle was quoted as saying: "Harry would be the ultimate prize for one of these insurgent groups.

"He would be worth his weight in gold in propaganda terms if killed or captured."

From the end of May, the prince will be patrolling in Scimitar armored reconnaissance vehicles in Maysan.

Harry will this week pose as a hooded hostage in a special training exercise, the paper says.

His men will use tear gas and stun grenades to free him.

More than 100 British soldiers have been killed since the 2003 invasion.

Complete coverage is available in's Iraq Center.