Monday, July 30, 2012

Shuttered: America's Oldest General Store Closes Doors

A mercantile in Rhode Island with the claim of being the oldest general store in the US has officially closed its doors after 224 years of business.

Gray's General Store located in Adamsville, Rhode Island, had been in business since Colonial times, first opening its doors in the year 1788. The young country would not have an official president until the following year, when General George Washington was inaugurated as the first US president in 1789.

The mercantile served as the tiny village's main supply of food and other necessities for many generations. The store's current owner, Jonah Waite, inherited the store from his father, who passed away in June. Waite made the difficult decision to sell the store after inspecting the finances. It seems the supermarket down the street had siphoned away much of Gray's business over the years, although the store was still popular with tourists visiting the area in search of a photo opportunity and a few cheap souvenirs.
In 2007,  Senator Jack Reed and then-Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri issued proclamations naming Gray's as the oldest continuously run general store in the country.

"Obviously, I understand the historical aspect of it, and I would really love to keep it the way it is, but it doesn't seem to me that that's the most feasible option," Waite told local media regarding his decision to shutter the store's doors. "With the economy ... the place has lost its attraction, lost its luster," although he had seen an influx of visitors since announcing the closing. Waite is set to be a senior at nearby University of Hartford in Connecticut, where he is majoring in journalism.

The store officially closed its doors for good after business hours on Sunday.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Hot Zone: Ebola Virus Outbreak Terrifies Uganda

The deadly, highly contagious Ebola virus has killed at least 14 people in one of the worst outbreaks of the disease in recent years, officials with the Uganda Health Department have revealed.

World Health Organization members held a press conference in the Ugandan capital of Kampala to warn the press of the deadly outbreak of the dreaded virus on Saturday. Speculation about the cause of the outbreak has caused thousands of citizens to flee their homes in fear.

"Laboratory investigations done at the Uganda Virus Research Institute...have confirmed that the strange disease reported in Kibaale is indeed Ebola hemorrhagic fever," the Ugandan government and WHO said in joint statement during the conference.

Local health officials have reported that 14 people have died so far from the disease—including a four-month-old baby— with a total of twenty people diagnosed with the killer virus. Government agencies appealed to the public for calm during the crisis, saying a national task force had been convened to prevent the disease from spreading to other regions of the country.

In 2000, an outbreak of the virus claimed the lives of over two hundred people and traumatized much of the country. Ebola, which manifests itself as a deadly hemorrhagic fever, is highly infectious and kills very quickly. It was first reported in 1976 in Congo and is named for the river where it was recognized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 Richard Preston's bestselling non-fiction book, The Hot Zone, told the story of the origins of the horrifying disease and how it could possibly decimate human populations should an outbreak take place.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Run! Hide! Fight! Department of Homeland Security Makes Video on How to Survive Mass Shooting

In the wake of the recent Aurora, Colorado, cinema massacre, the US Department of Homeland Security has released a new instructional video on how to survive just such an attack.

The city of Houston prepared the six-minute video, which depicts what at first seems like an ordinary day at the office. Suddenly, a highly-armed man enters the crowded office complex, casually removes his backpack and takes out a gun, which he begins to fire randomly at unsuspecting workers standing nearby. The haunting narration is backed by sobering statistics of recent mass shooting massacres that have taken a high casualty count.

The video hits home that your initial reactions to seeing or hearing the gunman will be key to saving your life in an unimaginable situation. "There are three things you could do to make a difference," the narrator intones, "Run, Hide, Fight". The video advises if you can get away from the area safely, do so as quickly as possible, even if others in the group insist on remaining behind. Encourage others to go with you, but do not let anyone slow you down with their own indecision, as it could cost you your life.


The video reminds us to leave all possessions behind, including purses, handheld devices and money, as they are replaceable, whereas your life is not. Once out of the immediate danger zone, warn others entering the vicinity of what is taking place and contact emergency services.


If you cannot escape the area safely, the video advises people to find a hiding spot, acting quickly and quietly while not drawing attention to yourself. Try your best to keep a handle on your emotions and secure your hiding space as best as possible. Turn off lights and lock all doors if possible, while also silencing the ringer on your cell phone. As news breaks of the shooting on live television, loved ones will be certain to begin calling cell phones, which could reveal your hiding spot. Hide behind large objects and be as quiet as possible.


The video advises, as a last resort and if your life is in immediate danger, to engage the shooter in battle, using any object at hand as a weapon. Anything can be used as a weapon of defense, from a desk stapler to a hot cup of coffee or a fire extinguisher. If there is a large group of people together, they can form a gang to attack the shooter simultaneously, which will disorient him and leave him vulnerable. Commit to your actions once you have begun the attack and maintain momentum, while acting with aggression and screaming loudly.

The video suggests that everyone should have an exit plan and to think about the possibility of such an event taking place at their place of employment, or even in a public place, such as a shopping mall, movie theater or government building. Immediately scan for emergency exits whenever you are in a public place and consider for a moment what you would do if someone should begin shooting at random.

You may view the potentially lifesaving video on YouTube below:

Friday, July 27, 2012

Up in Smoke: Woman Accidentally Bakes Life Savings

An Australian man wishes he had selected a better hiding place for his life savings after his wife accidentally baked the bills in the oven—where he had hidden some $15,000 for safe keeping.

The unidentified Sydney man stashed the money—which he had made from the sale of his Toyota Supra sports car—in the oven of his home, because his wife was not prone to cooking or baking. As luck would have it, only a few days after the sudden cash windfall, his wife decided that she would try her hand at baking, preheating the oven to cook up some chicken nuggets for the couple's two daughters.

Needless to say, all of the cash went up in smoke, literally. The man's wife found it difficult to tell him what had happened to the cash, which had melted away into tiny, colorful cubes. The man was naturally distraught about the situation. "It was everything I had. I've got nothing to my name. That money was supposed to go towards my mortgage," he lamented to local media.

The man took the money to the local branch of his bank, but they refused to reimburse him for the burned notes. The couple might have some recourse, as the Australian Reserve Bank does have specific guidelines about refunding damaged monetary bills, which may offer partial restitution for their losses.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bridge Over Troubled Water: Glacier Melt Takes Out Greenland Bridge and Roads

In what could be a sobering and frightening preview of things yet to come, a runaway glacier melt has washed away an important bridge and roadway in Greenland.

The glacier melted in only four days. The glacier normally retreats during the northern hemisphere summer months, but the melt this summer has been unprecedented. NASA imagery from space showed the Russell Glacier had melted by some 40% on July 8. The same satellite imagery from only four days later shows that the glacier had melted by an astonishing 97%, which would break all previous records according to climatologists studying the effects of climate change.

The incredible burst of fresh water took out the vital bridge over the Watson River at Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, an important part of the infrastructure used by scientists and locals alike to cross the glacier river. The bridge and roadways also link to the island's largest airport. This sudden melt-off follows another recent incident, where the Petermann glacier in Greenland collapsed, with an ice chunk twice the size of the island of Manhattan breaking away from the ice shelf.

The bridge was constructed during the 1950s, but can no longer handle the summer glacier run off due to the changing climate conditions in the region. Replacement of the bridge and roadways could costs hundreds of millions of dollars.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

College Offers Online Alien-Hunting Degree

If you are looking for a degree from an accredited college that will set you apart from others in a highly-competitive job field, you might consider one in "Alien Hunting". 

The University of Edinburgh is now offering students an opportunity to be certified in alien hunting with a new five-week course titled "Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life" available as part of its online education program.

Even better, the course is free and open to anyone who is interested in participating. The course will be taught by ex-NASA employee and Oxford scholar Professor Charles Cockell. The first two weeks of the course will focus on how life can originate and survive in even the most hostile of environments before moving on to the search of extraterrestrial life on other planets and the possibility of "First Contact" with other alien life forms in the universe.

Anyone interested in signing up for the course may do so on the University's web page:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Open Sesame: Navy Admits Radio Signal Responsible for Garage Door Problems

Residents living in Connecticut have been experiencing issues with their automatic garage door openers, and they can thank the Top Secret work taking place on a nearby submarine naval base for the problems!

Officials with the U.S. Navy acknowledged on Monday that a radio signal being transmitted out of the Groton Submarine Base in Connecticut is likely the cause behind the residents’ garage-door woes. Residents began complaining to the Overhead Door Company out of Norwich, Connecticut, that they were suddenly unable to use their remote devices to open their garage doors. The company inspected all of the devices and could not find a problem with their equipment. 

After some investigating, it was discovered that the nearby naval base was using the same digital frequency as the garage door devices as part of  the Enterprise Land Mobile Radio (ELMR) system, which is used by the military to coordinate responses with local civil emergency workers.

A manager with Overhead Door has explained that the company is not responsible for replacing the devices as the problem has to do with homeland national security. "Because garage door openers are unlicensed devices, they are not offered any protection from interference by licensed users in the same frequency band, and in fact are required by federal law to accept interference from licensed users," the spokesperson told local media. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Double Dutch Bus: Artist Creates Amazing Sculpture for London Olympics

A controversial artist has constructed a fitting new sculpture to commemorate the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, set to begin this week, using one of the city's iconic double-Decker buses.

Czech sculptor David Cerny fashioned his pièce de résistance to resemble an athlete doing push-ups from a circa 1957 London bus. The avant-garde new piece of art is named "London Boosted" and is situated at the  complex housing the Czech Olympic team in Islington, North London. 

The incredible new sculpture is also animatronic, featuring groaning noises as wiring and suspension tools move the artwork up and down on its bright red arms, with video projections coming from the bus windows. 

Cerny purchased the classic bus from an owner in the Netherlands. "There is one common exercise for every sportsman in the world and that is push-ups," he explained. "...push-ups are a very universal physical activity... It is in a way very ironic."

Cerny has courted controversy in the past with his artwork. As his native Czech Republic began its EU presidency in 2009, he revealed a huge, puzzle-like object he named Entropa, which portrayed many of the European nations in highly unflattering ways.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Man Without a Country: Marathon Runner to Compete Under Olympic Flag

A marathon runner will be allowed to compete in the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games without being affiliated with a particular nation for the first time in history.

The International Olympics Committee will allow runner Guor Marial —who was born in the civil-war ravaged South Sudan—to participate in the games as an independent athlete. He will join the opening ceremonies on July 27 walking in the parade of athletes under the official Olympic flag (as seen above).

Marial—who now lives and trains in the United States—does not possess a passport and is not officially a citizen of the US, although citizenship is pending. He arrived in the United States as a teenager, fleeing the violence of the war-torn African nation. South Sudan gained independence last year after breaking away from the Sudan. It doesn't yet have a recognized Olympic body.

Marial was offered a spot on the Sudanese Olympic team, but he declined based on his principles. "I lost my family and relatives, and in South Sudan 2 million people died," he told Reuters news service.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fast as a Turtle: 1600 Turtles Escape Farm

Turtles aren't exactly known as great escape artists, what with their natural sluggishness and generally mopey demeanor. But a large group of the shelled-creatures recently took the opportunity to make a break for it from a Georgia turtle farm.

Approximately 1600 turtle fugitives went on the lam from David Driver's northern Georgia farm after some thieves made away with some metal fencing used to enclose the turtles, ostensibly to sell the metal for scrap. Driver was unaware of the Great Escape until neighbors began to call him, informing him there were literally hundreds of turtles moping along local roadways. The fugitives include snappers, Eastern paints and yellow-bellied sliders (definitely our favorite!).

Driver told local media that he had been amassing his collection of turtles for over a decade, and had constructed a hatchery on premises, with many of the varieties raised on the endangered list. He would then sell the tiny hatch-lings throughout the US as pets for children and to China, where turtles are considered a delicacy.

Driver says his neighbors have been a great help during this difficult time, retrieving many of the escapees and offering him free turtles to replenish his supply.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Don't Hassle the Hoff: David Hasselhoff Cut-Outs Target of Thieves

If you would have a difficult time walking by a life-sized cardboard cut out of Baywatch star David Hasselhoff without wanting to stick it under your arm and run off with it, you're apparently not alone!

It seems that thieves have taken a liking to the cardboard cut-outs of "The Hoff", as he flashes his still killer smile while wearing a tank top and hawking iced coffee in a new series of publicity ads. Hundreds of the cardboard likenesses have been lifted from Cumberland Farms convenience stores throughout New England and Florida in recent weeks.

In fact, out of the 570 cut-outs Cumberland Farms produced for the publicity campaign, only twenty still remain in the markets where they were placed. (Which would make it a highly impressive 96.5 pilfer rate!) While the company is happy at all the attention the cut-outs have generated, they ask that anyone who has taken one to keep it safe and to use it for only wholesome purposes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Less Cow Bell: Austrian Town Bans Cow Bells

Less cow bell, a judge in a small Austrian hamlet has decreed.

Although a common sound around the Alps, it seems that the constant ringing of cow bells in the tiny village of Stallhofen was keeping certain citizens from getting a good night's rest. Now, a court has ordered a farmer in the town to remove the clanging apparatus from his herd of cattle.

As of now, the farmer has refused to comply with the court order, claiming the ringing of cow bells is a time-honored tradition in the region that has endured for many centuries, which brings in tourists from all around the world. The cows had been free to roam the hilly countryside, but apparently the cow bells began clanging very loudly at a feeding and watering trough the farmer had installed.

Cowbells were originally used to help trace errant animals and to make it easier for the cows to stay close to each other in mountain pastures. The farmer faces a steep fine if he does not comply with the court order.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hostel Environment: New Italian Alps Inn Could Be World's Scariest

A new hostel has opened up in the Italian Alps that could possibly be the world's most frightening!

Shaped like a metal tube, the small hostel is precariously perched on a mountain peak in the deadly Mont Blanc range. It is designed to hold up to 12 guests—hikers trying to trek the Alps— and will be a welcome refuge to adventure-seekers caught in dangerous weather conditions high atop the mountain.

The haven includes wooden bunk beds, a kitchen, dining room, storage racks and a living room with stunning views over the nearby Fribouze Glacier. The solar powered inn replaces a dilapidated wooden hut that stood on the site for over 64 years, which has been dismantled and relocated to a museum. 

Some critics have complained that the new refuge is incongruous with the breath-taking surroundings, but that is by design. Rescue squads note that the new structure will be more visible to people seeking refuge in the region's unpredictable and constantly changing weather conditions. 

The sky-high hotel includes internet connection in order to give real time information on weather conditions for hikers. Reservations have to be made online and it is expected to  cost around 30 euros a night to stay there.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Vanity Insanity: Woman Shows Results of Back-Alley Butt Injections

An American mother of two showed off the results of her back-alley butt injections—which has left her virtually disfigured for life—to shocked viewers of a UK coffee clutch.

30-year-old Vanity Wonder spent over $15,000 to enhance the size of her hips and buttocks dramatically, in a procedure that is not approved by the FDA or the Board of American Plastic Surgery. Vanity revealed to This Morning hosts Eamon Holmes and Ruth Langsford how a "doctor" injected her with what was claimed to be soy bean oil and how the injections felt like being struck by lightning and that they would often leak, but this didn't deter her.

Brown initially wanted the enhancements performed on her to help with her job as an exotic dancer. She eventually developed a dangerous infection from the illegal injections, which left her derriere looking like "a sack of oranges".  Brown admitted that "It did become addictive but it got infected so I was left with lumps. So I had a choice, I could have a medium-sized lumpy butt or keep padding it with silicone to make it better. So it wasn't my goal to get this big but padding it with silicone is how this happened."

Brown did finally stop with the injections, but only after she faced jail time and having her children removed from her custody. "Having the infection didn't make me stop. It was only when I was faced with jail and being away from my kids," she told the stunned audience. 

Brown has not had any injections since last year and has written a book titled Shot Girls—to warn others about the dangers of illegal cosmetic procedures.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Burning Money: Canada's New Money Melting in Heat

Canada's new monetary bills are melting, and it has nothing to do with the horrifying global economy!

Canadian mints switched to allegedly "indestructible" polymer $50 and $100 bills a few months ago, but as it turns out, the new bills begin curdling in the heat, like bacon in a frying pan, witnesses are saying. The bills were supposed to have been tested from -40 degrees to 280 degrees Fahrenheit, but Canadian citizens are saying that the bills begin to melt away if they are simply left inside of a car on a warm day!

A man in Halifax reported that his bills melted into "the shape of a Coke bottle" after he left his wallet on a still-hot toaster oven.  "So you can't rip them, you can’t tear them, you can’t wreck them by washing them but apparently you can heat them and melt them," commented one particular droll Canadian banking industry insider.

The Bank of Canada has defended the new issue bills, stating that while no bill is completely indestructible, the new bills are the "most durable ever produced" by the Canadian government. People holding damaged bills will be able to receive replacement notes—after they are examined by a laboratory in the capital of Ottawa.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Day the Earth Moved: Massive Alaska Landslide Could be North America's Largest Ever

An Alaskan landslide was so massive that it created an earthquake that registered on seismic devices around the world—yet the incredible event wasn't discovered until a month later.

The mammoth, five-mile-long landslide happened in a remote region of Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park and was so immense in scale that it was detected on earthquake monitors thousands of miles away. Although the slide took place on June 11, it wasn't until this week that a pilot who was flying over the area noticed the monumental geophysical event.

When a cliff collapsed in the park in Southeast Alaska, it sent millions of tons of rock and ice coursing down the valley and over a nearby glacier in what could be the largest landslide recorded in North American history. The landslide took place in a remote valley beneath the 11,750 foot Lituya Mountain in the Fairweather Range about six miles from the border with British Columbia, Canada.

If any humans had been standing at the base of the valley when the landslide took place, the air blast created by the impact would have blown them possibly hundreds of feet into the air, killing them instantly.

The region near Lituya Mountain has been the scene of extraordinary geophysical events before. In 1958, a landslide on the other side of the mountain produced a gigantic tsunami in a small but deep bay that was estimated to have reached an unbelievable 1,700 feet, which would be one of the largest waves recorded in modern history. 

Picture Perfect: First Image Ever Posted to the WWW Celebrates 20th Anniversary

The very first photograph ever uploaded to a newly-invented marvel known as the Internet is celebrating its 20th Anniversary!

No, the photo isn't of dancing hamsters or LOLcats, nor is it of a geek singing "Numa Numa", but rather a photograph of a surprisingly comely quartet of female scientists from the Large Hadron Collider project in Switzerland known by the acronym CERN.

Yes, those super-intelligent people responsible for discovering the much-anticipated "God Particle" AKA Higgs Boson are also responsible for the very first image to be uploaded online for the entire world to see and enjoy.

The photograph was uploaded by CERN IT technician Silvano de Gennaro and is a mock-up of an album cover featuring the faux all-girl band called Les Horribles Cernettes.

"My colleague asked me for a few scanned photos of the CERN Girls to publish them on some sort of information system he had just invented called the World Wide Web," Gennaro explains. “I had only a vague idea of what that was, but I scanned some photos on my Mac and FTPed them…how was I to know that I was passing a historical milestone as the… first picture ever to be clicked on in a web browser?”

20 years later, the photograph still endures, giving all of the millions of people tagged in those "Epic Fail" photographs a good reason to cringe knowing their humiliation will live perpetuity!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Constant Companion: Woman Keeps Dead Body of Friend in Home for 18 Months

A 72-year-old Michigan woman kept the dead body of her male companion in her home for over 18 months so she could have someone with whom she could watch NASCAR racing on television!

Police found the mummified remains of 65-year-old Charles Zigler seated in a barcalounger in the home belonging to Linda Chase of Jackson, Michigan. Authorities believe Zigler passed away of natural causes around December of 2010, although Chase claims he only died this past December.

Chase told police that she kept the body clean and dressed in fresh clothes, in a scene right out of the 80s B-movie classic Weekend at Bernie's. She often carried on conversations with the corpse, especially during NASCAR races being broadcast on television. "It’s not that I’m heartless... I didn’t want to be alone. He was the only guy who was ever nice to me," Chase is quoted as saying.

Chase has not been arrested for keeping the body of Zigler in her home, but she is being investigated for insurance fraud after admitting to cashing Zigler's benefit checks that were mailed to the residence. The police were alerted that something was amiss after Zigler's son tried numerous times to visit with his father, with Chase refusing to let him inside the residence each time.

"I'm probably going to prison," Chase admitted.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

World's Narrowest Street Shrinking

A street in Germany confirmed as the world's narrowest by Guinness is in jeopardy of relinquishing its title, as the wall of a near-derelict half-timbered house is starting to bulge outwards because water has seeped into the ancient beams, making the street impassable.

Spreuerhofstrasse Street in the town of Reutlingen in the German region of Swabia has held the record of the world's narrowest street since 2007. The street measures only 12.2 inches (31 centimeters) across and is only 12.5 feet long, but it has become a top tourist draw for the small village, as people flock from across the world to photograph and walk the Spreuerhofstrasse.

However, the street might possibly have to surrender the record, if one of the old houses located on the street continues to bulge outward, making it impossible for people to pass through.  "A street is no longer a street if no one can get through it," a city official has pointed out. If the house is torn down, that would then make the street too wide, which would also take away the world record.

Local experts warn that if nothing is done, the street will become impassable by next year and will have to be closed down for public safety reasons. The city owes its world record to a devastating fire and a city official who was either unfamiliar with his town or extremely thin. The conflagration tore through the city in 1726, prompting local authorities to rule that buildings should have gaps between them in order to prevent fires from spreading too quickly. Then, in 1820, a town hall administrator decided to elevate the status of this particular crevice to that of a full-fledged public street.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Oh, Tooo-Looo! The Furby Is Back, As Annoying As Ever

1998 is calling, and it wants its toy back...

Yes, the talking alien-like creature that was all the rage in the late 1990s is making a grand return to a store near you. An updated version of the animated doll that caused people to riot during the Christmas rush of 1998 will soon be available to purchase.

The new Furby will have softer, more touchable fur that will hide sensors, with a more expressive face,  twitching ears and backlit LCD eyes with mechanical eyelids that blink in response to movement or sound picked up by a tiny implanted microphone. It also comes with a fairly hefty new price tag at $60 per toy.

There will also be an app available to make your new-found bestie more interactive with your iPad or smart phone. It will also have the ability to "communicate" better with other Furbies, so you'll have to invest in a whole passel of the toys to keep him (and you) entertained! The toy will pick up more and more language and words as it communicates with other Furbies as well as people.

The updated Fur-Monster created by toymaker Hasbro will hit the stores by September, just in time for all of the holiday madness.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Fire Next Time: US Records Hottest 12 Months in History

If you thought the past few weeks were incredibly hot, you haven't been imagining things. A new report states that the past 12 months have been the warmest ever in the United States since records have been kept!

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released the climate report today, which took into account skyrocketing temperatures for June as well as an extremely abnormal early Spring, which saw March temperatures surge into the low 90s in many parts of the nation.

June alone saw more than 170 all-time high temperatures broken, with thousands more records falling to the wayside as the heatwave continued into early July. The NOAA reports South Carolina and Georgia  hit all-time highs last month, with scorching temperatures of 113 degrees and 112 degrees, respectively. June was also the 10 driest month on record, as a crippling drought took hold of a large swathe of the country.

A temporary respite has arrived to some parts of the country, as a cold front brought temperatures from the mid-100s on Saturday to a more comfortable mid-80s today.

Ernest Borgnine Dead at 95

Ernest Borgnine, the beefy Academy Award winning actor of stage and screen, has died in Los Angeles at the age of 95.

An unlikely movie star, Borgnine captured the Oscar for his performance as a lovelorn butcher in the 1955 film Marty.  His longtime spokesman, Harry Flynn, told The Associated Press that Borgnine died of renal failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with his wife, Norwegian-born cosmetics entrepreneur Tova Traesnaes and his children by his side.

Borgnine started out in tough-guy roles, playing the character Fatso Judson who beat Frank Sinatra to death in the classic WWII movie From Here to Eternity. He also starred in The Dirty Dozen, The Wild Bunch, The Flight of the Phoenix, The Poseidon Adventure and Escape from New York.

One of his most popular roles came on the 1960s television sitcom McHale's Navy, which ran from 1962-1966. Borgnine played the title character, the commander of a World War II PT boat with a motley crew of misfits aboard.

He continued working until the very end, earning a Golden Globe nomination for the 2007 television movie A Grandpa for Christmas, making him the oldest nominee for the award at the age of 90. He also gave his voice to the character of Mermaid Man on the popular Nickelodeon cartoon Spongebob Squarepants.

Borgnine was married five times, including a brief, six-week-long marriage to Broadway star Ethel Merman. His fifth and final marriage to Tova Borgnine brought an interesting partnership, with Ernest even modelling for Tova's skincare line and appearing in television infomercials hawking the anti-wrinkle moisturizers.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Maneaters: Carnivorous Fish Found in Illinois Lake

A carnivorous species of fish known for munching on male genitalia has been found in an Illinois lake popular with swimmers and campers.

The exotic fish—complete with a set of human-like chompers—has been identified as a pacu, a species of fish from the South Pacific known as "The Ball Cutter", after a series of attacks caused the deaths of two men from intense blood loss after the fish bit off their testicles.

One of the pacu was discovered in Lake Lou Yaeger in June of this year, while a second fish was discovered only two weeks later. The fish were initially believed to be piranha, but were later identified by the Department of Natural Resources to be pacu. Although related to the piranha, the pacu has wider, sturdier teeth, unlike the piranha's deadly sharp, serrated teeth.

The pacu were more than likely illegally dumped into the lake—thousands of miles away from their native habitat.Originally from the Amazon basin of South America, the species was introduced to Papua New Guinea decades ago in order to increase fish stock. Officials say swimmers and people fishing should not be concerned and should take simple precautions to avoid being bitten by the fish, such as wearing swimming trunks at all time while in the water.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

UK Faces Summer Olympics Wash-Out

While a majority of the United States withers under a record-smashing, sweltering summer, the United Kingdom is suffering through its "worst-ever summer", as cold weather and torrential rains and flooding continue to put a damper on things.

The wet weather already made the Queen's Jubilee a wash-out in June, and now threatens to do the same to many upcoming events for the Summer Olympic Games in London. The UK meteorological office has already issued its advance forecasts, which calls for a continuation of the heavy rains and cool temperatures, meaning summer is effectively over for the island nation.

Gloomy forecasts suggest dire weather will continue as officials last night put Britain on flood alert after torrential downpours yesterday wreaked havoc. The meteorological agency last night issued 51 flood warnings after monsoon-like downpours drenched 85,000 music fans at the T In The Park festival in Kinross, Scotland, and 28,000 Formula 1 spectators camping out for the British Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone.

The meteorological office has predicted that the dank, dreary weather will continue through at least August, meaning many events planned for the Summer Olympic Games could be adversely affected by the inclement conditions. The Games are set to begin Friday July 27, running through Sunday, August 12.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Pet Cemetery: Man Uses Fake Dead Cat Claim to Defraud Insurance

A man in Washington State has been charged with fraud after allegedly filing a phony insurance claim for a dead cat that never existed.

Yevgeniy M. Samsonov, 29, was involved in a minor fender-bender in 2009, when the car he was driving was hit in the rear by another car while he was stopped at a red light. Samsonov would later file an insurance claim for soft tissue damage to the face that allegedly took place at the time of the accident. He was eventually awarded $3,452 from the other driver's insurer, PEMCO.

Fast forward two and a half years later, and Samsonov then files a second claim, stating that his beloved pet cat Tom had been killed in the accident. The insurance company initially wrote him out a $50 check for the claim. Samsonov, however, insisted that this was hardly enough restitution money for the loss of his cherished pet feline, claiming he had paid over a thousand dollars for the animal and that he was "like a son" to him.

Samsonov also sent photographs of "Tom" to the insurance company, asking for $20,000 to cover the loss of the cat. Before forking over another check, the insurance company decided to do a little bit of investigating, googling images of white cats with blue eyes, as in the photograph Samsonov had sent them. They quickly discovered that Samsonov had submitted photographs of "Tom" to various web sites. They also discovered that the photographs were actually of two entirely different cats.

Samsonov has been charged with first-degree attempted theft and felony insurance fraud, with an arraignment scheduled for next week.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Kaboom: Fireworks Malfunction Turns San Diego 4th of July "Nuclear"

San Diego's annual 4th of July "Big Bay Boom" was just exactly that this year, after a malfunction turned the celebratory event "supernova"!

In one incredible moment, all of the fireworks being carried on three separate barges on the city's ocean front ignited at one time, creating a spectacular and thunderous explosion that sent enormous mushroom clouds into the sky! From certain angles around the city (for a few scary moments), it looked as if the city was under a nuclear attack. The massive explosion created a deafening blast that shattered nearby windows and caused the entire ground to shake, which was felt miles away. An intense blast of heat quickly followed the explosion.

So many of the explosives ignited at once, the display—meant to last for almost an hour—ended up being only a few minutes long. Hundreds of thousands of people who had lined up hours before the event began once the sun set were left hugely disappointed by the truncated annual fireworks display.

Garden State Fireworks, the New Jersey-based company that was hired for the fireworks display, is blaming a timing signal sent to the four barges in the harbor which triggered a simultaneous detonation of all of the fireworks on three of barges.

 Fortunately, no one was injured in the powerful blast. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, America: New Copy of Rare American "Birth Certificate" Discovered

A copy of an extremely rare 500-year-old map that depicts a strange new continent called "America" as a small, boomerang-shaped island has been discovered between the pages of a book in Germany.

The map, drawn by the famous German cartographer Martin Waldseemueller, is credited as the first document to attach the name "America" to the New World. It was thought that Waldseemueller had only made four copies of the American "birth certificate" until the recent discovery of the fifth copy amid the pages of an unrelated 19th century manuscript on geometry at the Munich University Library.

Waldseemuller named the new continent America after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, whom he believed had discovered the continent before Christopher Columbus in 1492. A larger copy of the map can be viewed at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, which was a gift from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the United States in 2007 to mark the 500th anniversary of the naming of America.

German researchers are set to make the map, which is printed in clear black ink on yellowing paper, available to view online beginning July 4, American Independence Day.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Goodbye, Mayberry: Andy Griffith Passes Away at 86

Beloved actor Andy Griffith has passed away at the age of 86.

The star who endeared himself to millions the world over with his portrayal of Sheriff Andy Taylor in the fictional Southern hamlet of Mayberry on the Andy Griffith Show passed away at his Roanoke Island, North Carolina home Tuesday morning after an illness, said a statement from Griffith's family. "Mr. Griffith has been laid to rest on his beloved Roanoke Island," the statement continued.

Most critics consider The Andy Griffith Show one of the Top 10 best American television shows of all time. It was Griffith's simple, Southern charm that made the show such a huge success. The program has never left the air since it originally aired during the 1960s, and continues to be popular in reruns today. Griffith brought to life the town of Mayberry, where he watched over colorful characters with the help of his Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife, played memorably by the late Don Knotts.

Much of the action centered around Andy Taylor's home life, which consisted of young son Opie (Ron Howard) and the much-loved Aunt Bea. The show captured the true essence of small-town Americana, which Griffith knew intimately, as he grew up in quaint Mount Airy, North Carolina, which he is believed to have been the basis for the town of Mayberry. Mount Airy is now the home of the Andy Griffith Museum and also hosts the "Mayberry Days" festival each September.

Griffith would experience more success later on in his life, with the hit drama series Matlock, which ran from 1986 through 1995, first on NBC then later on ABC. The show featured Griffith as crotchety criminal defense lawyer Ben Matlock, who was so good that he charged $100,000 to take on a case.

Griffith graduated from the University of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with a degree in music. He started his career acting and singing in musicals, scoring Tony Award nominations for his turns in the plays "No Time for Sergeants" and "Destry Rides Again" on Broadway. He made his big screen debut with legendary actress Patricia Neal in the film A Face in the Crowd, where he played a singer who turns into a monster after experiencing great success.

 Griffith never forgot about his musical roots. He received a Grammy Award for best Southern, country or bluegrass gospel album for "I Love to Tell the Story: 25 Timeless Hymns," in 1997.

He had been plagued by health problems in recent years, including a quadruple heart-bypass surgery following a heart attack in 2000 and hip surgery after a fall. He was also diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that can cause sudden paralysis.

Griffith was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2005. Bush was an admitted fan of Griffith and his show of simple, homespun values.

A Second from Disaster: Leap Second Added to Time Caused Web Crash

Who would have thought a mere second could cause so much trouble?

Some of the world's most popular web sites crashed on Sunday after a "leap" second was added to the clock by international timekeepers, it has been revealed.

Sites such as Reddit, FourSquare, Yelp, LinkedIn, Gawker and StumbleUpon all experienced problems simultaneously on Sunday after the extra second was added to Universal Coordinated Time (UTC). The extra blip in time played havoc with the sites' source code and also caused servers to crash, leaving the sites down and unaccessible for hours, experts reveal. 

The extra second is added to UTCthe benchmark time agreed internationallyevery few years to keep it in line with the time as determined by the wobble in the Earth's rotation.

Working on the assumption that every minute always lasts 60 seconds, computer applications tend to go haywire when an extra leap-second is inserted into the code, much like the problem computer programers faced during the dreaded "Y2K" debacle over a decade ago.

The sites were back up and running later on in the day, after tech experts sorting through the problem.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Death Valley Days? Record-Breaking Heatwave Continues Across US

The intense heat wave that has caught a majority of the US in its unrelenting grip continues today, as weather records keep falling.

Brief respites in the incredible heat came again last night—by way of dangerous thunderstorms brought on by the heat.  Powerful thunderstorms struck across parts of Indiana and Kentucky—which did provide some much-needed rain —while storms in North Carolina left three people dead and thousands without power.

This follows a series of storms on Friday that rolled through parts of Maryland, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia, which left at least thirteen people dead and cut off power to over three million people. Millions of people in the Washington, DC, area are still in the dark, as thermometers are set to hit the century mark once again today.

Between June 24 and Saturday, more than 1,928 record-high temperatures were broken or tied across the country, which does not include new records expected from Sunday that are not yet listed in the National Climatic Data Center's official count.

Emergency services have been overwhelmed with calls in major metropolitan areas with people overcome by the intense heat. Excessive heat alerts have been issued across a wide swathe of the country, and authorities are asking citizens to check in on elderly neighbors often. Many 4th of July celebrations have been curtailed or cancelled in certain locations, due to dry conditions and the oppressive, dangerous heat.

There is little relief spotted in future-casts from the National Weather Service, which predicts that the heat wave will continue relatively unabated through at least next weekend.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Land of the Lost: Police Search for Missing Dinosaur

If you are driving near Missoula, Montana, and you happen to notice a 12-foot-long dinosaur moping around, police ask that you not panic and to notify them of its whereabouts.
Seems some prankster thieves made off with the giant fiberglass dinosaur that had been located outside of the Hi-Noon Petroleum gas station in Missoula. Nicknamed "Dino"—after The Flintstone's loveable "mongrel"—the large statue had been the unofficial mascot for the filling station. Now, the station's owners are offering a $250 gas card for information leading to his safe return.

Dino is pretty hard to miss. He stands over six feet tall, is twelve-feet long and is a bright shade of green. He's believed to be a brontosaurus, but there has been no confirmation from a dinosaur expert regarding what type of dinosaur the statue actually is.

Dino had been situated on a hill overlooking Interstate 90 for the past five years, occasionally making appearances in University of Montana Homecoming parades. Passing tourists would often stop and take photographs of the dinosaur.

Anyone with any information regarding the missing dinosaur may contact the Hi-Noon Petroleum station or the Missoula police department.

Mon Dieu! True Croissants Dying Out in France

Sacré bleu! Fresh-baked croissants—long an iconic gastronomic symbol of France—are an endangered species, at least according to a new study that has the nation in an uproar.

It seems that in recent years more and more of the flaky, buttery crescent-shaped pastries sold in boulangeries—pastry shops—are frozen and then heated up on-site and sold to unwitting customers believing they are purchasing freshly made croissants. 

“Around one viennoiserie [croissants and other puff pastries or cakes] in two in our ‘traditional’ bakeries is now industrial,” Philippe Godard, spokesman for the French bakery and patisserie business federation told The Telegraph last week.

Apparently, there is a little French law loophole that has allowed this to happen stating that while boulangers can only call themselves such if they actually make their own bread,  no such rule applies for the viennoiseries they sell in their shops.

Gastronomic purists are certainly up-in-arms over the claims, as fresh baked goods are an important part of the unique and beautiful French culture. Now, bakeries who do make all of their pastries fresh are going out of their way to announce that all of their viennoiseries are fresh-baked every day on site. The baker's federation union of France is now devising a plan to print up and distribute "home-made viennoiseries” labels local bakers can stick on their shop windows to announce to their customers they sell only fresh-baked goods.

Other makers of true French croissants complain they cannot compete with the lower prices of industrially made croissants, which are sold at around 20 cents apiece in bakery catalogs and shipped frozen to the bakeries.

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