Monday, March 15, 2010

Woman graduates from school at age of 91

A 91-year-old woman has graduated from evening school in southern Japan, the daily Mainichi Simbun paper reported on Wednesday.

The Kobe evening school is for people who failed to receive a secondary education because of difficult circumstances.

"I had to sacrifice a lot and give up a lot," Sidzue Hirai said.

Hirai was orphaned in early childhood and had to start to work at the age of twelve. She married at the age of 18 but her husband was killed in World War Two. After marrying again, her house was destroyed by an earthquake in 2007.

"This school has returned my youth to me. I've received back everything I lost. I would like to continue my education further and I believe this day is to be a start of a new path in my life", she said at a graduation ceremony.

Ria Novosti

Baby born with tail

Surgeons in China have operated to remove a five inch tail from a four-month-old baby girl.

The little girl, called Hong Hong, was born with the tail but it had since doubled in size, reports the Anhui Market Daily.

Her father, Hou, of Lixing town in eastern China's Anhui province, said he had been "shocked" to see the tail at birth.

"I wanted to cut it off when she was born, but doctors suggested we wait some time, as a newborn is too weak to take such a surgery," he said.

He checked the tail each day, hoping it would get smaller but instead it just "grew bigger and bigger", he added.

Doctors at the Anhui Provincial Children's Hospital said they too had been surprised by the case.

"It's very rare, about one in a million. We have never seen anything like this before," said Dr Sun Jun.

X-rays had shown that the tail was connected to a fatty tumor within the spinal column.

Dr Sun said the surgery had been successful, but it was still too early to say whether further treatment would be necessary.


Boy develops fish scales at 14 months old

This 14-month-old boy born without pores in his skin has baffled medics by developing fish scales.

Doctors believe Song Sheng, of Jinhu, eastern China, may be suffering from a rare genetic condition that means his body cannot cool itself.

Song Sheng - called fish boy by locals - began developing scales within days of his birth caused by his lack of pores.

Doctors say because he cannot sweat or lose heat through his skin, it peels away in fish-like scales.

Instead, his family controls his body temperature by laying him in baths of ice.

Song Dehui, his father, said: "He is in a lot of pain all the time and if we don't have enough ice he gets a fever."

But doctors have told the family there is still no known cure for the genetic condition, known as Lamellar ichthyosis.

"It can be treated but not cured so we are praying for a miracle or a folk medicine cure," his father said.


It's pregnancy, not gout -- woman shocked

BAMPTON, England, March 10 (UPI) -- A British woman said she gave birth to her first child only 3 hours after doctors discovered she was pregnant, and not suffering from gout as they had thought.

Belinda Waite, 21, of Bampton, England, said she had been in and out of the hospital for 9 months with problems her doctors attributed to irritable bowel syndrome and gout -- and she was shocked Feb. 6 when doctors told her she was about 3 months pregnant, The Sun reported Wednesday.

Waite and husband Wayne Boyles, 28, said the hospital sent her home just before midnight but she was back 3 hours later to give birth to a healthy 8-pound, 14-ounce daughter.

"I was really shocked. They told me to get some rest and make an appointment with the doctors the following Monday," Waite said. "Three hours later, Louise was born. I don't think Wayne could believe it was happening."

Officials at the hospital, run by National Health Service Devon, were unavailable for comment, The Sun said.


Woman sells souls to highest bidder

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – The rare spirits that went under the gavel at a recent online auction in New Zealand weren't aged brandies or hard-to-find liqueurs.

Instead, two glass vials purportedly containing the ghosts of two dead people sold for $2,830 New Zealand dollars ($1,983) at an auction that ended Monday night.

The "ghosts" were put up for bidding by Avie Woodbury from the southern city of Christchurch. She said they were captured in her house and stored in glass vials with stoppers and dipped in holy water, which she says "dulls the spirits' energy."

She said they were the spirits of an old man who lived in the house during the 1920s, and a powerful, disruptive little girl who turned up after a session with a spirit-calling Ouija board. Since an exorcism at the property last July led to their capture, there has been no further spooky activity in the house, she said.

The auction attracted more than 214,000 page views and dozens of questions before the winning bid, Trademe auction site spokesman Paul Ford said Tuesday. The name of the winning bidder was not released.

Woodbury said that once an "exorcist's fee" has been deducted, the proceeds of the spirit sale will go to the animal welfare group the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

7-Year-Old Calls 911, Saves Family From Attack

ORWALK, Calif. — A terrified 7-year-old boy begged emergency dispatchers to send police to his Southern California home where three armed robbers threatened his parents, according to a recording of the call released Tuesday.

Gunmen broke into the boy's home Tuesday morning and announced that they would take whatever they wanted, Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. Steve Kenny said.

The boy and his 6-year-old sister hid unnoticed in the locked bathroom while the suspects threatened his mother and father at gunpoint.

"There's some guy who's going to kill my mom and dad," he said breathlessly. "Bring cops. A lot of them! ... And soldiers, too."

The suspects eventually broke into the bathroom and someone screamed. The 911 operator sounded shaken as she explained what happened to her colleagues.

Kenny said the suspects grabbed the boy and asked who he called. He responded, "911." The gunmen fled without taking anything or injuring the family.

"If not for the brave and educated actions of the 7-year-old boy, this might have ended tragically," said sheriff's Capt. Pat Maxwell.

The three men remain at large.

Fox News

Alcoholic chimpanzee to be taken to treatment clinic from zoo

Frequent "treats" by visitors of a Russian zoo made one of its resident, Zhora the chimpanzee, an alcoholic and nicotine addict, a Russian daily has said.

Zoo authorities in the Russian city of Rostov (200 km northeast of Moscow) were quoted by Komsomolskaya Pravda as saying Zhora, who had been brought to the zoo from the Tatarstan republic five years ago, was to be taken back to the republic for treatment in early March.

They said visitors at the zoo frequently gave the chimpanzee, a former circus artist, alcohol and cigarettes which eventually led to heavy addiction.

"We asked visitors not to give him [alcohol and cigarettes], but it was all in vain," the Rostov zoo deputy head was quoted by the paper as saying. Although Zhora was kept behind a three rows of fences, visitors managed to throw him bottles and cigarettes, Nadezhda Yeutushenko said.

"People laugh when they see an animal drinking [alcohol] and smoking, but vicious habits damage [the animal's] health, and many do not understand this," zoo workers said.

Ria Novosti

Half pound baby survives

A premature baby born weighing less than nine ounces has survived in Germany - the lightest ever baby boy to live.

The tiny tot, weighing in at just 8.8oz, or 275 grams, recorded the lowest weight for a living birth of a newborn boy, according to doctors at the University of Goettingen Hospital.

He survived thanks to the latest developments in postnatal care.

In most cases, doctors said, it was regarded as impossible for a child with a birth weight below 350 grams to survive.

News of the birth was kept quiet while the boy was in a critical condition but doctors revealed details after announcing that he was no longer in danger.

The little boy was born in June last year in the 25th week of pregnancy, revealed Stefan Weller, a spokesman for the University of Goettingen Hospital.

He spent six months in intensive care and was finally discharged in December after he grew to more than 8lbs (3.7kg).

Weller said doctors had checked every available record worldwide of premature births and found no viable birth at a lower weight for boys.

Until now the lowest surviving birth weight for a boy was 297 grams. The lowest surviving birth rate for a newborn girl is 244 grams.


Morgue technicians used body parts as props for sick photographs

NEW York mortuary technicians were caught on camera turning cadavers and body parts into macabre playthings.

The New York Post reported today grinning employees used corpses as props in dozens of disturbing Polaroid snapshots.

One photo showed mortuary technician Kaihl Brassfield holding a severed head in a classic Heisman Trophy football pose.

"It was stupid," Mr Brassfield, 35, said.

"It was just the culture there. Everyone was doing it.”

The pictures, some undated and others from 2004, show Mr Brassfield and unidentified co-workers posing.

"It was foolish," he conceded.

"Now I'm older. It stopped."

Mr Brassfield, a $35,000-a-year ($39,382) technician at the Brooklyn morgue at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) was out of work due to a disability but was suspended without pay after the photos emerged.

He said that for several years everyone working in the Staten Island and Brooklyn morgues, from police to coroners, participated in the gory games.

But in recent years, after the OCME took over from the Health and Hospitals Corp, staff became more professional.

"We are looking into the allegations," said OCME spokeswoman Ellen Borakove.

"This is the antithesis of the mission of our agency to always treat families and decedents with the utmost respect and sensitivity."

The probe by the office's inspector-general began after queries were made about the photos. The city's department of investigation then began interviewing OCME employees.

Mr Brassfield said the photos were stolen in November and he received blackmail calls in December, but refused to pay.


School fundraiser sold porn DVDs

ORENO VALLEY, Calif., March 8 (UPI) -- Officials with a California school district said they have addressed parent complaints about racist and pornographic DVDs and books sold by a booster club.

Moreno Valley Unified School District Superintendent Rowena Lagrosa said all items have been removed from the empty Box Springs Elementary School classroom where the booster club held a sale that some parents said featured pirated DVDs and books with pornographic and racist content, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported Monday.

"We've investigated and taken appropriate action," Lagrosa said. She said the school's principal, teachers and booster club members were unaware of the inappropriate items until a concerned parent brought them to the attention of officials.

Parent Christina O'Donnell said she bought several of the offending items at the Feb. 26 sale. She said they included pornographic and R-rated films as well as a book titled "Aryan Nation Brotherhood" with a swastika on the cover.

Lagrosa said the items came from donations. She said future donations would be subject to the approval of the school board.


Man lives for two years on leaves and grass

A Chinese man claims to have survived for two years eating nothing but leaves and grass.

Li Sanju, 50, of Niuwei village, Guangdong province, says he is perfectly happy with his unusual diet.

He says he looks no different to other people in his village - but admits he does smell strongly of grass.

"I watched a TV programme which said a man can live more than 10 days without food but just water, so I thought I would try living on the natural things near my home," he said.

At first, he tried eating grass in a field like cattle - but it tasted bitter and made him ill, reports China News Network.

"I suspect that the field grass has been polluted by pesticides, so I changed to the plants in the mountain behind my house, and I never had any problem," he added.

Initially, he would eat a small portion of rice with his grass and leaves but soon gave up even that.

"I couldn't eat meat now," he said. "Anything greasy would make me sick. Someone bet me 10,000 yuan (£1,000) to eat a piece of pork, but I couldn't do it.

"I used to be known as a sick man in the village, always in hospital, but since I changed my diet, I've never been to see the doctors. Even the tumor on my right foot has disappeared."

The Local Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital said most of the plants were edible and not toxic - but did not recommend Li's diet.