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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Philippine president said target of plot
By Oliver Teves,
Associated Press Writer
33 minutes ago

In a file photo Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo stands for the invocation as she attends the conclusion of the 'Energy Summit' Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008 in Manila. Philippine authorities Thursday Feb. 14, 2008,say they've uncovered a plot by al-Qaida-linked militants to assassinate the nation's president while also targeting foreign embassies in terror bombings.
(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez/file)

MANILA, Philippines - Authorities have uncovered alleged plots by al-Qaida-linked militants to assassinate the Philippine president and bomb foreign embassies, officials said Thursday.

Military chief of staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon said the assassination plot allegedly was hatched by the extremist Abu Sayyaf group and its Indonesia-based ally, Jemaah Islamiyah.

Brig. Gen. Romeo Prestoza, head of the Presidential Security Group said police uncovered the plot last week.

"It's not only the president who is the target, but also other people ... and embassies," he said without offering specifics.

The reports followed an announcement by security forces that they were going on high alert over an alleged communist rebel plan to infiltrate protests to demand Arroyo's resignation over corruption charges.

The officials did not specify when the attack was expected to occur. But Prestoza said Arroyo's attendance at an alumni homecoming of the Philippine Military Academy on Saturday in northern Baguio city has been canceled and the rest of her schedule was "under assessment."

A police counterterrorism officer said a captured member of the al-Qaida inked Abu Sayyaf told investigators late last year that his comrades, working with Jemaah Islamiyah and Manila-based Filipino Islamic converts, plotted a bomb attack in Baguio against unspecified targets that was believed to be scheduled for December.

Philippine security officials speculated that the targets could include Arroyo, who did not spend Christmas Eve with her family in the cool mountain resort city as she had traditionally done in the past, or U.S. diplomats, who have a consulate there, said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The police officer, however, said investigators failed to find other evidence that would back up the Abu Sayyaf member's claim. No bomb attack occurred in Baguio in December.

The Abu Sayyaf and its allies have been blamed for numerous kidnappings, beheadings and bombings, including a blast that triggered a fire that killed 116 people on a ferry in Manila Bay in February 2004.

Meanwhile, opposition leaders dismissed the military's announcement of heightened alert as a ploy to discourage crowds from joining a protest rally Friday in Manila's financial district, Makati, to demand the resignation of Arroyo and other officials.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Why Steal Famous Paintings?
How could you possibly sell them?
By Bruce Gottlieb

Monet's "Poppies Near Vetheuil"Monet's "Poppies Near Vetheuil"

Armed robbers in ski masks made off with $163 million in world-famous art from a Zurich museum over the weekend. The theft, which involved works by Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Degas, was the second Swiss art robbery in a week. In a 1998 "Explainer" column, reprinted below, Bruce Gottlieb delves into the world of high-end art thievery.

Two months ago, thieves stole two Van Goghs and one Cezanne from a Rome museum. Police recovered the paintings from the thieves' apartments last week. But why steal famous paintings? Stolen paintings this famous could never be publicly displayed in a museum or rich person's home, which means they can't just be resold at Sotheby's. They may be worth millions, but how can a thief turn them into cash?

One way is to sell to private buyers. Of course, these buyers cannot display or resell the painting—they are true aesthetes, willing to buy art just to look at it. Sometimes a collector will even commission a criminal to steal a particular artwork. (This is what Italian police initially suspected, since by stealing the Van Goghs and the Cezanne, the bandits passed up several more valuable works.)

A second way is to exact a ransom from the owner or owner's insurer. Third, if the painting isn't really famous, the thief can raise money by offering the stolen canvas as collateral for a loan. Even reputable banks don't always check the provenance (record of its ownership) of items they take as collateral.

Finally, drug traffickers and other ne'er-do-wells may use paintings as a sort of international currency that is easy to transport and hard to counterfeit.

Take These Tips to Bed
Too tired? Never in the mood? Turn things around with this expert advice.
By Denise Foley,

Isn't it a little unfair that guys can just take a pill when their sex drive is flagging? Even though drugmakers are hotly searching for female versions of Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra, it's pretty clear that there won't be a magic bullet for women at least for a while.

"There's not going to be one panacea—one cream or spray or nasal delivery system—that cures all women of sexual dysfunction," says Laura Berman, PhD, a sex therapist, director of Chicago's Berman Center, and half of cable TV's Sister Act (with Jennifer, a urologist) on the Discovery Health channel.

Until the female Viagra, there's self-help—and plenty of it works. Read on to find the most common sex-life saboteurs, the real reasons behind them, and expert advice on how to handle them.

You're Tired

No matter what causes it—insomnia, working the late shift, a new baby—exhaustion is no aphrodisiac. All you want to do in your bed is sleep. How do you perk up your love life when you're anything but perky? Try the following:

Make the time

"How important is sex and, because they're related, how important is your marriage?" asks Janet Hyde, PhD, a professor of psychology and women's studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Everyone says they're busy. But my husband and I make time for sex. Things that are important should come first." So, turn off The Amazing Race, and turn each other on. If you have to, says Hyde, make a date that morning so you both can think about it—and each other—all day.

Do it after exercise

For some people, exercising too close to bedtime makes it hard for them to sleep. Take advantage of that found energy. "After 35 to 40 minutes of moderate exercise, everything in your body is going right," says Hyde. "Your blood is circulating, your nervous system is firing, so scheduling sex right after you exercise makes for good sex."


If your partner comes on to you after a particularly grueling day, you're likely to get angry because he doesn't see how exhausted you are, says Marianne Brandon, PhD, cofounder, with Andrew Goldstein, MD, of the Sexual Wellness Center in Annapolis, MD. "Offer a compromise," recommends Brandon. "There are things you can do for your partner other than intercourse that are less draining but still satisfying, such as oral sex or holding or caressing him while he masturbates."

You're Angry

Relationship problems are often the uninvited trois in your ménage. "Some disputes between partners are disguised as sexual problems," says Leonore Tiefer, PhD, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine and author of Sex Is Not a Natural Act.

"It's easier to say, 'I'm not interested' or 'I have a headache,' when the truth is, 'I'm mad at you.'" Don't try to deal with the anger by shutting down sexually. If you do, you'll both end up suffering.

Use words

Let your partner know that you want to talk about something important. "If he doesn't have advance warning, he may feel blindsided," says Brandon. "You can say, 'There's something going on. I want to talk about it and get your thoughts. What's a good time?'" Pick a time when you won't be interrupted, i.e., when the kids are asleep.


Pay attention to what your partner is saying; don't use the time while he's talking to think up a snappy rebuttal. Remember, you're trying to reach consensus, not win. And don't expect an immediate resolution, says Brandon. "What's important is to stay in touch, so no one feels isolated. You need an ongoing dialogue."

You're Bored

"Relationships can settle into patterns that don't support a healthy sex life," Brandon says. "For example, couples can become more like friends than lovers and can lose that sexual spark." A routine repertoire of lovemaking techniques can make you feel ho-hum about sex. Here's how to spice it up"

Resurrect great memories

Make time every day to fantasize about having great sex with your partner. "When you imagine enjoying sex, it helps you get your body aroused," says Brandon.

Try some risky business

Do something you thought you'd never do. Find a new position—or a new location — that thrills you both.

Slow it down

Has sex gotten a little perfunctory? "Quick sex offers next to no pleasure most of the time," says Brandon. "It's like eating ice cream: If you gobble it down, your experience will be much less pleasurable than if you savor every bite. Slow it down until it takes three times longer than it usually takes."

Initiate sex talk

"Often couples have different ideas of what sex is for: One feels that it's for romance and bonding; the other feels that's much too serious, and it's just about having an orgasm," says Tiefer. Talk about your feelings in a neutral place (not your bed) with the idea that you're working on a project (your sex life) as colleagues, not negotiating a settlement like two sides in a labor dispute.

Remember, says Tiefer: "Sex is a lot like dancing. There's the same type of cooperating, making mistakes, and correction and praise back and forth before you get it right."

You're in Pain

Roughly 86% of women have some sexual dysfunction in the first year after they have a child. Fatigue and the delirious love you feel for your new baby play a role in sidetracking your sex life, but much of it is hormonal. "Nursing can affect your libido and your ability to be aroused, and it can even make sex painful," says Goldstein.

Breastfeeding lowers your body's production of the three chemicals you need for a healthy sex life—the hormones estrogen and testosterone and the brain chemical dopamine—as it turns all the body's attention, via the hormone prolactin, to milk production. You lose your desire for sex, and your body isn't able to prepare for it even if you do get the urge. Without enough estrogen, your vaginal walls thin out and don't produce the lubrication you need for intercourse, so sex can hurt. (A similar problem occurs during menopause.)

"Also, women often take a progesterone-only Pill during lactation, and progesterone is one of the main sexual saboteurs," says Goldstein.

Nursing isn't the only thing that can wreak havoc with your hormones. Taking the birth control pill, going through menopause, or having your ovaries removed can disrupt the delicate balance—sometimes dramatically.

Testosterone levels also start declining naturally in women in their late 20s and are significantly decreased by the time a woman is in her 40s. "It's not a menopausal thing," explains Goldstein. What is menopausal: the cessation of ovulation and gradual decline of estrogen from the ovaries. The drop-off of testosterone lowers libido while the lack of estrogen further exacerbates the problem by reducing lubrication and thinning vaginal walls, making sex painful.

Having your ovaries removed, a surgery called oophorectomy, sends you into abrupt menopause because the ovaries are your body's most prolific producer of estrogen. Testosterone also plummets after an oophorectomy.

Some serious medical conditions—endometriosis, ovarian cancer, interstitial cystitis (inflammation of the bladder)—can also cause pain during sex and at other times. By some estimates, as many as 16% of women may have an ailment called vulvar vestibulitis, or vulvodynia, characterized by chronic pain and inflammation at the opening of the vagina. Some women may also have pelvic floor dysfunction, a syndrome that can include painful muscle spasms, often precipitated by childbirth, scoliosis, or lower-back problems that lead to misalignment of the pelvis. Here are your options:

Lubricate, lubricate, lubricate

Use lubricants that coat the vagina and are designed to be used just during sex, such as Astroglide and K-Y Warming Liquid. Longer-lasting products such as Replens and K-Y Silk-e Vaginal Moisturizer also relieve other symptoms of vaginal dryness, such as itching and irritation. These over-the-counter products are a good second best to your own natural juices to help prevent painful sex.

The Bridge

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Rest your arms at your sides, palms down. Take a deep breath. Exhale as you contract your abs and slowly curl your hips off the floor, using your buttocks and lower back (not your arms) to lift your torso. Support your upper body on your shoulder blades (not your neck), and use your hands only for balance. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, relax, and repeat once.

IMPORTANT: If you have neck pain, skip this exercise.

While in the bridge, lift your right foot off the floor. Stretch, throught your toes to keep your body in a straight line. Repeat with your left leg raised. Do the sequence one more time.

Single-Leg Circle

Lie on your back with your arms at your sides, your knees bent, and your feet flat on the floor. Extend your right leg toward the ceiling, and point your toes. Exhale, and contract your abs.

Slowly circle your right leg counterclockwise, keeping your hips level and motionless. Inhale as you circle your leg out, away from your body. Exhale as you circle it in, toward your body. Do six circles counterclockwise, then do six clockwise. Repeat.

Double-Leg Stretch

Lie on your back with your knees pulled in toward your chest. Rest your hands just below your knees, and exhale as you use your abs to raise your shoulders off the floor. Inhale.

Exhale, and stretch your body long, pressing your arms overhead and your legs straight out in front of you in the air. Make sure you move from your abs, and extend through your fingertips and toes. Hold for a second. Inhale as you bring your knees back in, and sweep your arms toward your knees. Then extend again. Repeat five to eight times.

Forward Spine Stretch

Sit with your legs extended hip-width apart in front of you. Your feet should be flexed and your knees slightly bent. Pull your abs in toward your spine. Extend your arms in front of you at chest level, making sure to keep your shoulders relaxed.

Exhale as you bend forward, pulling your abs back against your spine. Continue curling forward, lowering your head, neck, shoulders and ribs until your spine forms a C. Inhale as you roll back up to the starting position. Repeat three times.

The Saw

Sit with your legs extended shoulder-width apart, feet flexed and arms extended out to your sides, at chest level. Pull your abs toward your spine.

Exhale as you twist and reach your left hand toward your right foot, as if you were trying to "saw off" your foot with your pinkie. As you reach for your toes, contract your abs even more. Inhale as you return to the starting position, then twist to the other side. Continue, alternating sides, repeating the sequence two more times.


While you're nursing, you may even be able to use a doctor- prescribed vaginal estrogen cream such as Estrace or Premarin; the 3-month vaginal ring, Estring; or the suppository, Vagifem. Very little of the estrogen they contain is absorbed into your body, so it won't pass on to your nursing baby, but it will help thicken your vaginal lining and promote lubrication.

Switch to another contraceptive

If you want to stay on the Pill, try Yasmin; one study found that it didn't dampen libido. Or look for Pills that contain the progestins levonorgestrel or norgestrel, derived from testosterone, which may also have less impact on your sex life. Otherwise, the copper-containing intrauterine device or a new IUD called Mirena are just as effective as the Pill and don't interfere with libido.

Ask about testosterone

Most doctors currently use compounding pharmacies to mix testosterone creams in dosages for women. But a testosterone patch for women, manufactured by Procter & Gamble, is now through clinical testing and could be on the market soon.

In a recent trial of the patch in women who had their ovaries removed, researchers reported that the women experienced a 56% increase in sex drive and a 74% increase in satisfaction. (Studies of naturally menopausal women are being completed.) "What's interesting is that it didn't just raise sex drive; it improved orgasm and arousal and all the other things that contribute to a satisfying sexual experience," says Goldstein.

Visit a specialist

See your OB/GYN about your pain, and discuss estrogen options. If you think you may have vulvodynia or pelvic floor problems, look for a vulvar-pain specialist or a urogynecologist specializing in pelvic floor disorders.

For vulvodynia, you can get a physician referral after joining the National Vulvodynia Association; to find a urogynecologist, contact the American Urogynecologic Society; for pelvic pain in general, contact the International Pelvic Pain Society. You may be referred for biofeedback or physical therapy.

If your problem is caused by muscle spasms, talk to your doc about Botox. Now used cosmetically to reduce wrinkles, Botox is currently under study as a treatment for chronic pelvic pain (it works by relaxing muscles).

Don't touch that yeast-infection drug

Unless you've had recurrent yeast infections—diagnosed by your doctor—don't treat every ache, pain, or itch down there with those handy over-the-counter yeast treatments. "Women have limited ability to self-diagnose vaginal infections," says Goldstein, who cites a study in which researchers asked women about to buy medication at a drugstore to undergo testing—and only 30% had a yeast infection. Using the drugs in the absence of an infection can backfire because they can cause painful irritation.

Funny Business on the Funny Pages
By Helena Andrews

Why some black cartoonists aren't laughing.
Courtesy of Tim Jackson

Feb. 4, 2008--Comic strips inked by black cartoonists are about more than just being black. They muse about the angst of college kids, "bromance," even a rapping pitbull that's fallen on hard times. Yet their reach is limited. National syndicates, comics page and newspaper editors rarely allow more than two "black" strips on a funny page at a time.

The situation is so maddening to black cartoonists that ten of them have banded together to stage a "draw-in" of sorts on Feb. 10. Each cartoonist will draw their individual strips with an identical plot.

So, "Candorville"—a strip about culture clashes in the inner city and "Watch Your Head"—a strip about college students—will have different characters, but the same exact storyline.

But will anyone notice? Will anyone care?

"It's probably going to fly over a lot of heads," said "Watch Your Head" creator Cory Thomas, who organized the draw-in. Stephen Bentley, creator of "Herb and Jamaal," said, "Frankly I don't think very much is going to happen the next day, but what I envision is at least the conversation will be there."

In the late 80s familiar strips like "Curtis," created by Ray Billingsely, "Jump Start," by Robb Armstrong and Bentley's "Herb and Jamaal" successfully broke into national syndication. Although they faced the unspoken two-strip maxim then too, there were only a handful of black cartoonists competing on the national stage, so the situation was less obvious.

Then came the boon of "Boondocks," Aaron McGruder's wildy popular strip about two inner-city kids relocated to the suburbs, and with it a new wave of young artists looking to be the next McGruder. The problem now, according to many black cartoonists, is that industry hasn't caught up.

"There's still the same limited number of spots," said Bentley.

Thomas and Bentley will be been joined by Darrin Bell of "Candorville," Jerry Craft of "Mama's Boyz," Charlos Gary of "Café Con Leche," Keith Knight of "The K Chronicles," Stephen Watkins of "Housebroken," and Tim Jackson, an editorial cartoonist with The Chicago Defender and Bill Murray, creator of "Those Browns."

The cartoonists describe Sunday's action as a "reminder" (not a protest or a rebellion or a mutiny) that the race of their characters is not their primary theme. And they are hoping that their laughing public will support them.

The idea for Sunday's action first began with a strip Thomas drew for the college life strip "Watch Your Head," that poked fun of this idea that all black strips were interchangeable. Bell saw the strip and suggested they do something with more impact. They chose Feb. 10th as the day when they published identical story lines because it is closest to pioneering black cartoonist Oliver "Ollie" Harrington's birthday. The two gathered all the names of minority cartoonists they could and sent out emails inviting them to join in.

The issue, unlike the newspapers it involves, is not black and white. Lalo Alcaraz, creator of "La Cucaracha," is also participating, and several white cartoonists have voiced their support as well. Thomas said he wouldn't categorize the limitations put on strips drawn by minorities as "overtly racist," but race is definitely a factor for comics pages editors, the majority of whom are white. "It's just that they choose what they're familiar with," he said.

If a white editor is considering a subscription to "Watch Your Head" explained Thomas, "in the back of his mind he's going to be like, 'OK this is a black strip', not a strip about college kids."

Amy Lago, an editor with the Washington Post Writers Group, which syndicates both Bell and Thomas' work, said she tries to "look beyond" race when deciding what strips to pick up. Lagos also pitches the syndicate's artists to newspaper clients.

"When I describe a strip, I tend not to mention that the cast is black or biracial or 'diverse,'" Lago wrote in an email. "I prefer to focus on its other attributes, such as, 'young people just entering the workforce, commenting on socio-politics and current events.' "

Anthony Zurcher, an editor with Creators Syndicate, works with Morrie Turner, the first African American to get national syndication in 1968 with his strip "Wee Pals." Zurcher said that fierce competition for space on funny pages is just the nature of the doodling business. "If you're a young cartoonist no matter who are, you're going to be competing," he said.

Bell said black cartoonists do want to compete, but with the entire comics page—not just those artists who happen to share the same skin color. In an email, Bell added that to some Sunday's drawn-in might look like "just another group of whiny dark people playing the race card." But he hoped most would see more than that. Thomas agreed.

"I'm not naïve to think it's going to be this grand sweeping change or anything, but hopefully you get people to maybe kind of reassess the way they look at our strips and look at our work."

Buying a dog? Beware of breeder
'USDA approved' and 'AKC registered' are bare-bones requirements
By Kim Campbell Thornton
MSNBC contributor

In the photo provided by Carroll County, Va., three puppies that appear to be a Maltese mix share a cage on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2007 in Hillsville, Va., at Horton's Pups, a dog breeding operation owned by Junior Horton, specializing in small breeds. These three dogs shared a cage at a "puppy mill." When buying a puppy, check out where the animal was raised.
The Roanoke Times / AP

If you're looking to get a new dog, recent headlines no doubt have warned you against buying an animal from illegal "puppy mills" run by unlicensed breeders. But don't be fooled into thinking that legal, licensed breeders and those with registration papers are a guarantee of a healthy puppy either.

When the Humane Society of the United States released a video last month charging that a Los Angeles pet store, Pets of Bel Air, purchased its pricey puppies from puppy mills, the store responded on its Web site with a statement that its dogs were purchased from pet breeders approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and that it relied on the USDA to inspect breeders and their premises.

But just because a breeder has a license from the USDA doesn’t mean much. USDA minimum standards for housing and exercise are bare bones. The agency requirement for cage size — the primary enclosure in which breeding dogs live their lives — is just six inches taller, wider and longer than the dog inside. That is, a miniature Dachshund measuring 20 inches from nose to base of tail and standing nine inches high might be housed in a cage only 26 inches wide by 26 inches deep by 15 inches high. The USDA waives the exercise requirement of 30 minutes per day for at least five days a week if the dog is housed in a cage with twice the floor space called for by the above formula.

In addition, USDA regulations don’t address socialization — the handling and exposure a puppy needs during its first weeks of life to develop properly — or the health, temperament and quality of the parents.

American Kennel Club (AKC) or other registration papers also may not mean much. All they certify is that both parents were of the same breed. No dog registry or government agency requires breeders to socialize puppies or health-test their parents for orthopedic, eye or heart problems, or even to be knowledgeable about the breed or dogs in general.

Best of breeders
So how do you know whether a puppy’s had a good start in life? Plan on doing some footwork. Purchasing a purebred puppy should entail at least the same amount of thought and research you’d put into buying a new appliance or car, if not more. After all, you’ll likely spend anywhere from $500 to $3,000 for a companion that will spend the next 10 or more years with you.

Your best bet is a breeder who belongs to national and local breed clubs and has signed the club’s code of ethics. But even that’s not foolproof, says French Bulldog breeder James Dalton in Portsmouth, Ohio.

10 signs of a good pet breeder:
— 1. Fully answers questions about the breed, including the downside of living with it
— 2. Is honest about the breed’s potential health problems, including any seen in his or her own dogs
— 3. Provides copies of health certifications performed by specialists on both parents of the puppies
— 4. Raises puppies in the home, not in pens in the backyard, and doesn’t live in filthy surroundings
— 5. Has puppies that are friendly and healthy, with bright eyes, shiny coats and no discharge from eyes or nose
— 6. Doesn’t breed more than one or two litters per year and limits each female to no more than three litters in a lifetime
— 7. Helps you choose the right puppy for your personality and lifestyle
— 8. Helps you find another breeder if he or she doesn’t have what you’re looking for
— 9. Has a sales contract that includes a minimum one-year health guarantee against life-threatening or crippling conditions caused by heritable defects
— 10. Willing to take the dog back at any time in its life if you’re unable to keep it

“The French Bulldog Club of America does have a code of ethics that breeders are expected to abide by, but they do not always and the FBDCA has no way of enforcing that code of ethics,” he says.

That’s true for any breed club. A code of ethics is only as good as the people who sign it, so look for red flags.

Visiting a breeder’s home gives you a chance to meet a puppy’s mother and the breeder’s other dogs. If they have nice temperaments, your puppy probably will too. If they’re shy or aggressive, there’s a good chance the puppy has inherited those undesirable traits.

Rule out breeders who sell dogs at flea markets or in parking lots or don’t want you to come to their home, a sign that the breeder doesn't want you to see the conditions in which the dogs live. If you do see the home, heed the advice of Bloodhound breeder Susan LaCroix Hamil of Laguna Beach, Calif.: “Never buy a puppy from a place where you wouldn’t want to eat dinner or use the bathroom.”

How breeders raise puppies before they go to their new families or are shipped to pet stores has a strong influence on their temperament. Breeders whose puppies live in the backyard, don’t meet other people and animals and aren’t handled much can have more behavior issues. They can also have more difficulty adapting to new homes than puppies raised in the home and exposed to different people, sights, sounds and experiences, says veterinarian Lore Haug, a board-certified behaviorist with South Texas Veterinary Behavior Services in Sugar Land.

Pet stores may charge as much as or more than breeders for puppies, but you don’t get the benefits of buying directly from a breeder: meeting the parents and seeing the conditions in which the puppies are raised. Without that context, it’s difficult to judge a puppy’s temperament and potential health.

Can't pass up that doggie in the window?
If your heart is taken by that doggie in the window, though, ask the pet store for the breeder's name, address and phone number, copies of the breeder's USDA inspection reports, pictures of the parents, and photos of the kennel where the dogs live. If you’re not satisfied with the response, don’t buy the puppy. You can also check the USDA inspection record of a pet store puppy’s breeders at

While sophisticated Web sites that accept credit cards and offer next-day shipping are quick and easy sources for finding puppies, they’re not the best way to ensure that you acquire a healthy, well-socialized puppy.

Don’t be sucked in by a pretty Web site that promises puppies now. Large numbers of puppies available, acceptance of credit cards and high-pressure sales tactics — “That puppy might be gone tomorrow” — are red flags. Often, these sites are fronts for brokers who purchase large litter lots of puppies from mills in the U.S., Eastern Europe or Ireland. When you buy a puppy sight unseen, there’s no way of knowing what its parents were like or the conditions in which it was raised.

That said, surfing the Web can lead you to good breeders. Sandy Ford of Monterey, Calif., used the Internet to find English Springer Spaniel breeder Linda Prouty of Stonewall, La. Before purchasing a pup, he spent time getting to know Prouty by e-mail and then flew to Louisiana to meet her dogs in person.

Not everyone can do that, but if you know someone who lives in the breeder’s area, ask him to visit and report back to you on the condition of the dogs and where they’re raised. You can also call the AKC’s customer service line at 919-233-9767 and ask if the breeder has ever been suspended for any reason.

A puppy is a big commitment, financially and emotionally. Choosing a breeder carefully will help you make the right decision. And if you really want to make a difference in a dog's life, check your local shelter. Puppy season is coming up.

Kim Campbell Thornton is an award-winning author who has written many articles and more than a dozen books about dogs and cats. She belongs to the Dog Writers Association of America and is past president of the Cat Writers Association. She shares her home in California with two Cavalier King Charles spaniels and one African ringneck parakeet.

Greek archaeologists unearth rich tomb
Roman-era building contains gold jewelry, pottery and bronze offerings

The Associated Press

Archaeologists have discovered a Roman-era grave complex on the western Greek island of Kefallonia. The large, house-shaped grave (center) has a stone door that still works perfectly.
Culture Ministry / AP

ATHENS, Greece - Archaeologists on a Greek island have discovered a large Roman-era tomb containing gold jewelry, pottery and bronze offerings, officials said Wednesday. The building, near the village of Fiscardo on Kefalonia, contained five burials including a large vaulted grave and a stone coffin, a Culture Ministry announcement said.

The complex, measuring 26 by 20 feet, had been missed by grave-robbers, the announcement said.

Archaeologists found gold earrings and rings, gold leaves that may have been attached to ceremonial clothing, as well as glass and clay pots, bronze artifacts decorated with masks, a bronze lock and copper coins.

The vaulted grave, a house-shaped structure, had a small stone door that still works perfectly — turning on stone pivots.

On a nearby plot, archaeologists also located traces of what may have been a small theater with four rows of stone seats, the ministry said.

Previous excavations in the area have uncovered remains of houses, a baths complex and a cemetery, all dating to Roman times — between 146 B.C. and 330 A.D.

Break a leg? Try ‘Wiihabilitation’
System is used for patients recovering from strokes, surgery

By Lindsey Tanner

Pfc. Matthew Turpen, 22, of Des Moines, Iowa, who was paralyzed from the chest down in a car accident last year while stationed in Germany, shares a laugh with his therapist Jill Kalkofen-Jacobsen as he uses a Nintendo Wii as part of his therapy at the Hines Veterans Affairs Hospital in Hines, Ill.
M. Spencer Green / AP

CHICAGO - Some call it "Wiihabilitation."

Nintendo's Wii video game system, whose popularity already extends beyond the teen gaming set, is fast becoming a craze in rehab therapy for patients recovering from strokes, broken bones, surgery and even combat injuries.

The usual stretching and lifting exercises that help the sick or injured regain strength can be painful, repetitive and downright boring.

In fact, many patients say PT — physical therapy's nickname — really stands for "pain and torture," said James Osborn, who oversees rehabilitation services at Herrin Hospital in southern Illinois.

Using the game console's unique, motion-sensitive controller, Wii games require body movements similar to traditional therapy exercises. But patients become so engrossed mentally they're almost oblivious to the rigor, Osborn said.

"In the Wii system, because it's kind of a game format, it does create this kind of inner competitiveness. Even though you may be boxing or playing tennis against some figure on the screen, it's amazing how many of our patients want to beat their opponent," said Osborn of Southern Illinois Healthcare, which includes the hospital in Herrin. The hospital, about 100 miles southeast of St. Louis, bought a Wii system for rehab patients late last year.

"When people can refocus their attention from the tediousness of the physical task, oftentimes they do much better," Osborn said.

Nintendo Co. doesn't market Wii's potential use in physical therapy, but company representative Anka Dolecki said, "We are happy to see that people are finding added benefit in rehabilitation."

The most popular Wii games in rehab involve sports — baseball, bowling, boxing, golf and tennis. Using the same arm swings required by those sports, players wave a wireless controller that directs the actions of animated athletes on the screen.

The Hines Veterans Affairs Hospital west of Chicago recently bought a Wii system for its spinal cord injury unit.

Image: Billy Perry
Jonathan Fredin / AP
Billy Perry uses the Nintendo Wii Sports Boxing game for treatment following a stroke at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, N.C., on Jan. 21, 2008. Wii games require body movements similar to traditional therapy exercises, making patients so engrossed mentally they're almost oblivious to the rigor.
Pfc. Matthew Turpen, 22, paralyzed from the chest down in a car accident last year while stationed in Germany, plays Wii golf and bowling from his wheelchair at Hines. The Des Moines, Iowa, native says the games help beat the monotony of rehab and seem to be doing his body good, too.

"A lot of guys don't have full finger function so it definitely helps being able to work on using your fingers more and figuring out different ways to use your hands" and arms, Turpen said.

At Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the therapy is well-suited to patients injured during combat in Iraq, who tend to be in the 19 to 25 age range — a group that's "very into" playing video games, said Lt. Col. Stephanie Daugherty, Walter Reed's chief of occupational therapy.

"They think it's for entertainment, but we know it's for therapy," she said.

It's useful in occupational therapy, which helps patients relearn daily living skills including brushing teeth, combing hair and fastening clothes, Daugherty said.

WakeMed Health has been using Wii games at its Raleigh, N.C., hospital for patients as young as 9 "all the way up to people in their 80s," said therapist Elizabeth Penny.

"They're getting improved endurance, strength, coordination. I think it's very entertaining for them," Penny said.

"It really helps the body to loosen up so it can do what it's supposed to do," said Billy Perry, 64, a retired Raleigh police officer. He received Wii therapy at WakeMed after suffering a stroke on Christmas Eve.

Perry said he'd seen his grandchildren play Wii games and was excited when a hospital therapist suggested he try it.

He said Wii tennis and boxing helped him regain strength and feeling in his left arm.

"It's enjoyable. I know I'm going to participate with my grandkids more when I go visit them," Perry said.

While there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that Wii games help in rehab, researcher Lars Oddsson wants to put the games to a real test.

Oddsson is director of the Sister Kenny Research Center at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. The center bought a Wii system last summer and is working with the University of Minnesota to design a study that will measure patients' function "before and after this 'Wiihab,' as someone called it," Oddsson said.

"You can certainly make a case that some form of endurance related to strength and flexibility and balance and cardio would be challenged when you play the Wii," but hard scientific proof is needed to prove it, Oddsson said.

Meantime, Dr. Julio Bonis of Madrid says he has proof that playing Wii games can have physical effects of another kind.

Bonis calls it acute "Wiiitis" — a condition he says he developed last year after spending several hours playing the Wii tennis game.

Bonis described his ailment in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine — intense pain in his right shoulder that a colleague diagnosed as acute tendonitis, a not uncommon affliction among players of real-life tennis.

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Bonis said he recovered after a week of ibuprofen and no Wii, and urged doctors to be aware of Wii overuse.

Still, as a Wii fan, he said in an e-mail that he could imagine more moderate use would be helpful in physical therapy "because of the motivation that the game can provide to the patient."

Dogs give up their lives to save family
Bella and Maddie alerted owners to an early morning house fire
The Associated Press

WINONA, Minn. - Bella, a 3-year-old golden retriever/collie mix who was once rescued as an abused puppy, returned the favor to her owners by alerting them to a house fire. With help from Maddie, a 6-month-old golden retriever, Bella helped get Sue Feuling and her 9-year-old daughter, Mckenzie, out of the house last week. The dogs didn't make it.

"Those dogs were without a doubt the heroes," said Winona Assistant Fire Chief Jim Multhaup.

Bella had jumped on Feuling's bed early Friday morning and started barking, and Feuling then smelled smoke, grabbed her daughter and rushed out of the house.
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But Feuling couldn't coax the dogs out of the house, even when she tried to run back in to yell for them.

"Bella must have thought Mckenzie was still in the house," Feuling said.

A firefighter who arrived at the scene tried to save the dogs, but it was too late. The Feulings were taken to an area hospital for smoke inhalation monitoring, but were OK, Multhaup said.

The fire, which was caused by an overloaded electrical outlet, gutted the home, Multhaup said.

While an assistance fund was set up, Sue Feuling said she was only thinking about her dogs. "Everything I lost is nothing compared to them," she said.

What if Abe Lincoln had survived?
Medical conference ponders how history might be different
By Alex Dominguez
The Associated Press

Alexander Gardner / AP file
Abraham Lincoln is shown in this Nov. 8, 1863 file photo made available by the New York Public Library.

BALTIMORE - Abraham Lincoln might have survived being shot if today’s medical technology had existed in 1865.

Given that scenario, the question is whether Lincoln would have recovered well enough to return to office, a doctor and a historian said Friday at an annual University of Maryland School of Medicine conference on the deaths of historic figures.

While the conference has traditionally re-examined the deaths of historic figures to determine if the diagnosis of the time was correct, this year’s event asks if Lincoln could have been saved and what impact that would have had.

Dr. Thomas Scalea, the physician in chief at the University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Center, said brain injuries are unpredictable but Lincoln would have stood a good chance of surviving.
“I don’t believe that the president had a uniformly fatal injury,” said Scalea, who explained how

Lincoln would have been treated at his center, the world’s first dedicated trauma center. The trauma center can conduct CT scans, X-rays and a host of other tests within minutes of arrival. Physical therapy, nutrition and other rehabilitative treatment also can make for dramatic improvements, though recovery varies from patient to patient, Scalea said.

“He probably would have been left with substantial disability, but you never really know,” the surgeon told the conference.

Lincoln died within 10 hours of being shot in the head at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. If modern methods could have saved the 16th president, he may have also retained his cognitive abilities because the fatal shot did not damage the frontal lobes of Lincoln’s brain, which are responsible for language, emotion and problem solving, Scalea said.

However, Lincoln would have faced months of recovery before he could have returned to office, and whether he would have been able to communicate is unclear, the surgeon said.

U.S. presidential historian Steven Lee Carson said Lincoln’s secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, who made a number of important decisions the day after the assassination, would likely have played a greater role if Lincoln had survived.

Vice President Andrew Johnson would not automatically have taken charge had Lincoln lived because the 25th Amendment, which deals with the transfer of power when a president is incapacitated, was not in place until after the Kennedy assassination. The decision as to who took charge was handled on a case-by-case basis until then, Carson said.

For example, Woodrow Wilson’s wife essentially took over when her husband fell ill, Carson said. Johnson, who took office after Lincoln’s death, was the only Southern senator not to leave office upon secession. Lincoln had put him on the presidential ticket as a symbol of unity, but Johnson was a southern Democrat who was not sympathetic to Lincoln’s Republican party or to helping the newly freed slaves, said Carson, who spoke at the conference Friday.

If Lincoln had survived and “could reason and somehow get his thoughts across, the United States certainly would have been a better and more just nation, especially on matters of race, and in a far quicker fashion,” Carson said.

Johnson eventually tried to replace Stanton, an abolitionist and a close friend of Lincoln, which led to the attempt by Republicans to remove Johnson from office by impeachment.

Previous conferences have examined the deaths of Alexander the Great, Mozart, Beethoven, Edgar Allan Poe and others. This year’s event is part of the School of Medicine’s bicentennial celebration and the annual reunion of its Medical Alumni Association.

Note from Lincoln urged pursuit of Lee
Archivist found letter in drawer while looking for something else
The Associated Press

National Archives
July 7, 1863, three days after the Battle of Gettysburg and the fall of Vicksburg, President Abraham Lincoln penned this note to his General-in-Chief Henry Halleck expressing his belief that if Gen. George Meade could follow up his recent victory in Pennsylvania by defeating Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's army the Civil War would be over.

WASHINGTON - The National Archives on Thursday unveiled a handwritten note by Abraham Lincoln exhorting his generals to pursue Robert E. Lee's army after the battle of Gettysburg, underscoring one of the great missed opportunities for an early end to the Civil War.

An archives Civil War specialist discovered the July 7, 1863, note three weeks ago in a batch of military papers stored among the billions of pages of historical documents at the mammoth building on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The text of Lincoln's note has been publicly known because the general to whom Lincoln addressed it telegraphed the contents verbatim to the front lines at Gettysburg. There, the Union army's leaders failed for more than a week to aggressively pursue Lee following his defeat.

A week after Lincoln's note, the Confederate army slipped across the Potomac River into Virginia and the war continued for two more years.

Though Gen. George Meade led the Northern troops in the battle at Gettysburg that marked the turning point of the war, he has always been faulted for not closing in and destroying Lee's army.

At a news conference, archivist Trevor Plante said he was looking for something else last month when he found Lincoln's note tucked away in a drawer among other papers. His reaction was "wow" when he recognized the handwriting and Lincoln's signature.

Lincoln’s note says “the rebellion will be over” if only “Gen. Meade can complete his work.” Lincoln says he wants the “substantial destruction of Lee’s army.”

Plante’s find reinforces “Lincoln’s desperation to turn Gettysburg not just into victory, but decisive victory that stops the bloodshed,” said historian Allen Guelzo, director of Civil War era studies at Gettysburg College.

The importance of the newly discovered document is that it is in Lincoln’s own handwriting, pinning down in time what he was thinking.

The accuracy of the long-known telegram communicating Lincoln’s thoughts was not in doubt. At the same time, “there are always risks” relying on documents by a third party for what Lincoln was saying or writing, said Guelzo.

Slave passage found under Washington’s home
Hidden passageway was used by George Washington's nine slaves
By Rubina Madan
The Associated Press

The remains of Colonial-era buildings, including the house that George Washington lived in when he was president, are exposed at an archaeological dig in front of the Liberty Bell Center, top right, in Philadelphia. Archaeologists have discovered a hidden passageway that was used by Washington's nine slaves.
Matt Rourke / AP

PHILADELPHIA - Archaeologists unearthing the remains of George Washington's presidential home have discovered a hidden passageway used by his nine slaves, raising questions about whether the ruins should be incorporated into a new exhibit at the site.

The underground passageway is just steps from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. It was designed so Washington's guests would not see slaves as they slipped in and out of the main house.

"As you enter the heaven of liberty, you literally have to cross the hell of slavery," said Michael Coard, a Philadelphia attorney who leads a group that worked to have slavery recognized at the site. "That's the contrast, that's the contradiction, that's the hypocrisy. But that's also the truth."

Washington lived and conducted presidential business at the house in the 1790s, when Philadelphia was the nation's capital.

Quandary for exhibit planners
The findings have created a quandary for National Park Service and city officials planning an exhibit at the house. They are now trying to decide whether to incorporate the remains into the exhibit or go forward with plans to fill in the ruins and build an abstract display about life in the house.

Making that decision will push back the building of the exhibit, which had been slated to open in 2009. But the oversight committee won't rush into construction, said Joyce Wilkerson, the mayor's chief of staff.

"We never thought we'd be faced with this kind of decision," she said. "We would've been happy to have found a pipe! And so we don't want to proceed blindly or say, 'This isn't in the plan.'"

Rep. Bob Brady, D-Pa., was so moved when he visited the site last week that he declared: "We need to rethink what we're doing here."

"It's astounding, absolutely astounding," Brady said. "I'm going to fight to keep it open, I'll tell you that much."

More discoveries than expected
Aside from the passageway, archaeologists have uncovered remnants of a bow window, an architectural precursor to the White House's Oval Office, and a large basement that was never noted in historic records.

"We actually found a lot more of the remains of the President's House than anyone expected. Myself included," said Jed Levin, an archaeologist with the National Park Service.

Thousands of visitors have been drawn to the ruins, standing on a small wooden platform to gaze down at the house's brick and stone foundation. The public response spurred officials to continue the excavation until at least July 4; it began in March and had been scheduled to end last month.

Archaeologists have served as guides, answering visitors' questions. Cheryl LaRoche, a cultural heritage specialist, said she enjoys educating people about how even a prominent statesman like Washington could own slaves.

"We've been striving to present a balanced view of history that stands apart from what's been taught in history books," LaRoche said.

Most of Washington’s slaves lived at his Mount Vernon estate in Virginia. When Washington died in 1799, he had more than 300 slaves. In his will, he arranged for them to be freed after the death of his wife.

Change of plans?
Before the ruins were unearthed, officials had planned an exhibit without archaeological findings. The planned design included a framework of the house, LED screens and other audiovisual elements explaining its history, including stories of Washington's slaves.

The remains would crumble if left unprotected. If the design included elevators, ramps or stairs to move visitors down into the newly dug ruins, costs would increase significantly.

Coard said he is confident the oversight committee will find the best way to tell the slaves' stories.

"Everybody's on board in terms of seriously considering incorporating the architectural dig into the design," Coard said. "The question now is: Is it doable? Nobody is saying, 'No, it shouldn't be done.'"

David Orr, an anthropology professor at Temple University, has visited the site at least four times. He posted a note on the President's House Web site urging officials to keep the ruins on display.

"It's just fantastic," Orr said. "I can't tell you enough how exciting it is. For years and years and years I've been trying to promote that kind of public archaeology."

George Washington's false teeth not wooden
Laser scans find gold, ivory, lead, human and animal teeth
The Associated Press

Light from a red laser scans a resin reproduction of the 1789 lower denture originally carved from Hippopatamus ivory for George Washington.
Jed Kirschbaum / The Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE - Researchers hoping to dispel George Washington's image as a stiff-jawed, boring old man are taking a bite out of history through a high-tech study of his famous false teeth.

The researchers were in Baltimore on Tuesday to perform laser scans on a set of Washington's dentures at the National Museum of Dentistry — dentures, they say, that were not made of wood as commonly believed.

Scientists and historians plan to use the information to help create new, expressive, life-sized figures of plaster and wax to show aspects of the 6-foot-3 Washington's personality they consider underappreciated.

"People know that Washington was great, but many people think he was boring and nothing could be further from the truth," said James C. Rees, executive director of the Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, Washington's home in northern Virginia.

"Of all the founding fathers, he was the most athletic, the most adventurous and clearly a man of action," Rees said.

Washington, contrary to his grim-faced portrait on the dollar bill, was a great dancer and horseman. He started losing his teeth in his 20s.

Mount Vernon plans to create three life-size figures for an exhibit due to open late next year in a new museum and education center. A 19-year-old Washington will be portrayed as a surveyor in a forest with his equipment. A 45-year-old Washington will be seen on a horse at Valley Forge. At age 57, he will be shown being sworn in for his first term as president.

Jed Kirschbaum / The Baltimore Sun
Scott Swank, DDS, Curator of The National Museum of Dentistry readies a George Washington denture for laser scanning.

A forensic anthropologist from the University of Pittsburgh came to the dental museum, which is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, to supervise laser scans on one of the four known sets of Washington's dentures. The dentures are made from gold, ivory, lead, human and animal teeth (horse and donkey teeth were common components).

The dentures had springs to help them open and bolts to hold them together.

"The portrait on the dollar bill is not the complete Washington," said anthropologist Jeffrey Schwartz. "I'm trying to get at the whole person."

Work on the project began in July when Schwartz and other researchers began making digital scans of a number of items at Mount Vernon, including Washington's spectacles, another pair of dentures and a bust of the former president created by the French artist Jean Antoine Houdon when Washington was 53.

All the presidents’ hair goes on display
Academy of Natural Sciences to show 'hair album' of first 12 U.S. presidents
By Joann Loviglio
The Associated Press

A lock of James Monroe's hair is pictured at the Academy Of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. For the first time, the academy plans to display a scrapbook that includes the hair from the first 12 U.S. presidents.
Matt Rourke / AP

PHILADELPHIA - It might be the strangest way to spend Presidents Day.

For the first time, The Academy of Natural Sciences is displaying a scrapbook that has locks of hair from the first 12 U.S. presidents. It will be on view Feb. 16-18.

The presidential "hair album" was assembled by Peter Arvell Browne, a Philadelphia attorney and scholar of the natural sciences who collected thousands of samples of animal fur and human hair in the 1840s and 1850s and organized them in a dozen leather-bound volumes.

Browne also wrote to presidents still living during his lifetime — 1762-1860 — and to the families of those who had died. His letters and their responses are included in the book along with the strands of hair.

His requests for hair weren't considered odd, as saving a loved one's locks in a family "hair album" was popular in the 19th century.

Because of the scrapbook's age and delicate contents, it will be displayed under glass and opened only to the page featuring George Washington's brown-and-gray locks. Photographs will be shown of the other presidents' hair, from John Adams to Zachary Taylor.

Thomas Jefferson's hair was reddish with gray when he died and James Monroe had dark curls.

In his first letter to Brown, Andrew Jackson's son apologized that he could not immediately send a lock from the seventh president, noting that his father recently had a "close cut" that would take a fortnight to grow out.

"There's something very human and touching about it," longtime academy curator Robert Peck said of the collection. "It gives you a sense of who they were as people."

Browne also acquired hair samples from Napoleon Bonaparte, Daniel Webster, many Pennsylvania governors, signers of the Declaration of Independence and other political figures.

Get Rid of These Bad Work Habits
By Anthony Balderrama, writer

Who doesn’t have at least one habit that drives everyone else insane? You might bite your nails, slurp your coffee or tap your pen incessantly. Annoying? Yes. Serious problems? Not really.

In the office, however, some habits can go beyond annoying your co-workers; they can damage your career.

For the sake of your career and your co-workers’ sanity, here’s a list of bad work habits that can harm your career and how you can break them. If you’re guilty of one (or more), it’s time to get them under control.

Bad Habit: Missing deadlines.
What you think: “If it’s only a little late, it doesn’t mean anything.”
What it really says: Your colleagues and boss can’t count on you.
What to do: Don’t view deadlines as negotiable. Remind yourself that people are counting on you to do your job well, which includes completing tasks on time. Even if you just barely missed the deadline and everything turned out OK, you probably caused your teammates a lot of anxiety and extra work, which they won’t forget.

Bad Habit: Dressing unprofessionally.
What you think: “I’m the office free spirit with a quirky sense of style!”
What it really says: You don’t take the job seriously.
What to do: You don’t have to be a boring dresser to be professional, but you shouldn’t look like you’re about to go clubbing or strutting down a runway. Take a cue from your co-workers to see what’s considered acceptable in the office.

Bad Habit: Not being punctual.
What you think: “As long as I get all my work in, nobody cares.”
What it really says: You think your time is more important than everybody else’s.
What to do: Stick to the schedule. Everyone in your office would like to sleep in a little or leave early, but they don’t because people rely on them to be on time.

Bad Habit: Checking your e-mail, playing games, shopping.
What you think: “I’m discreet.”
What it really says: You’re not doing your job.
What to do: Keep the fun stuff to a minimum. Most employers don’t mind if you check your e-mail every once in awhile or read your favorite blog for a few minutes in the morning. They begin to care when you minimize that game of Scrabulous every time they walk by your desk. You’re being paid to work, not play.

Bad Habit: Gossiping.
What you think: “I’m just saying what I heard.”
What it really says: You can’t be trusted.
What to do: Sure, everybody gossips a little here and there, but it shouldn’t be your livelihood. Eventually you’ll gain a reputation for not keeping anything confidential –whether it’s a personal matter or work-related. Plus, your chattering could end up hurting somebody’s feelings or reputation.

Bad Habit: Being negative.
What you think: “Everybody complains.”
What it really says: You’re the person to avoid.
What to do: It’s natural to grumble about work once in awhile. If you gripe and moan when you’re asked to do anything, however, people will not only get annoyed, they’ll wonder why you don’t just quit. Keep in mind that work isn’t always fun; keep the complaints to a minimum.

Bad Habit: Trying to be everybody’s best friend.
What you think: “I’m just sociable.”
What it really says: You don’t know how to set boundaries.
What to do: It’s not uncommon for friendships to develop at work, but don’t expect it to happen with everybody. Unless you have reason to do otherwise, treat your superiors, colleagues and subordinates like professionals, not like drinking buddies.

Bad Habit: Burning bridges.
What you think: “I’ll never see them again.”
What it really says: You’re not a professional who thinks about the future.
What to do: As much as you dream of telling off your boss or co-workers after you’ve handed in your resignation, restrain yourself. People change jobs, companies merge – someone you dissed in the past may end up being your boss down the road.

Bad Habit: Always being the funny one.
What you think: “People love me.”
What it really says: You’re really annoying.
What to do: There’s nothing wrong with being funny – most people do like a good sense of humor. Just remember that not everybody wants to hear your sarcastic quips and “Godfather” impersonations every five minutes.

Bad Habit: Forgetting you have neighbors.
What you think: “I’m not as annoying as they are.”
What it really says: You’re inconsiderate.
What to do: Do unto your co-workers as you’d want them to do unto you. Your hour-long conference call on speakerphone is just as irksome to your cube mates as theirs are to you.

Scientists prove Napoleon not poisoned
Researchers measured arsenic levels using nuclear reactor to irradiate hair
By Robin Pomeroy

Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 - 1821) died in exile on the island of St. Helena. Scientists used a nuclear reactor to irradiate the hairs to get an accurate measure of the levels of arsenic.

ROME - Italian scientists say they have proved Napoleon was not poisoned, scotching the legend the French emperor was murdered by his British jailors.

Napoleon's post-mortem said he died of stomach cancer aged 51, but the theory he was assassinated to prevent any return to power has gained credence in recent decades as some studies indicated his body contained a high level of the poison arsenic.

"It was not arsenic poisoning that killed Napoleon at Saint Helena," said researchers at the University of Pavia who tested the theory the British killed him while he was in exile on the South Atlantic island in 1821.

The Italian research — which studied hair samples from various moments in his life which are kept in museums in Italy and France — showed Napoleon's body did have a high level of arsenic, but that he was already heavily contaminated as a boy.

The scientists used a nuclear reactor to irradiate the hairs to get an accurate measure of the levels of arsenic.

Looking at hairs from several of Napoleon's contemporaries, including his wife and son, they found arsenic levels were generally much higher than is common today.

"The result? There was no poisoning in our opinion because Napoleon's hairs contain the same amount of arsenic as his contemporaries," the researchers said in a statement published on the university's website.

The study found the samples taken from people living in the early 1800s contained 100 times as much arsenic than the current average. Glues and dyes commonly used at the time are blamed for high environmental levels of the toxic element.

"The environment in which people lived in the early 1800s evidently caused the intake of quantities of arsenic that today we would consider dangerous," the scientists said.

One theory was that Napoleon was poisoned accidentally by arsenic vapor from dyes in his wallpaper at Saint Helena, but the study showed there was no massive increase in arsenic levels in his latter years.

"It is clear that one cannot talk about a case of poisoning, but of a constant absorption of arsenic," the researchers said.

Napoleon had been exiled once before — on the Italian island of Elba after his failed invasion of Russia. But he returned to France and was finally defeated at Waterloo in 1815 after which he was sent to the much more remote Saint Helena.

`Spamalot' Changes Britney Lyric
The Associated Press

Britney Spears is out, Posh Spice is in — as a lyric for the Lady in the Lake in the Broadway musical "Monty Python's Spamalot."

Asked why the lyric was changed in the song "Diva's Lament," "Spamalot" author Eric Idle said Tuesday in an e-mail:

"Because we don't laugh at sad people. Mike Nichols (the show's director) requested it and he's right. We changed the lyrics in London, on tour, on Broadway and in Las Vegas. We think that it's now too sad. Britney Spears is being tortured to death and we don't want to be on that side."

The changes went into the various companies last week.

What the Lady in the Lady (currently played on Broadway by Hannah Waddingham) once sang:

"I am sick of my career

Always stuck in second gear

Up to here with frustration and with fears

I've no Grammy no rewards

I've no Tony Awards

I'm constantly replaced by Britney Spears

Britney Spears!"

It's been replaced by:

"My love life is a mess

I've got constant PMS

My career is about as hot as ice

They hate me there backstage

They say I'm too old for my age

They're trying to replace me with Posh Spice

With Posh Spice!!"

Some turning Ledger’s death into business
By Courtney Hazlett
The Scoop

Dima Gavrysh / AP
Heath Ledger passed away on Jan. 22 and was laid to rest on Feb. 9, and some people are ready to benefit from his death. Jokes are starting to fly, and a tour company has added the SoHo apartment where he died to its list of attractions.

Howard Stern sidekick Artie Lange made jokes about the recent death of Heath Ledger during a Feb. 2 comedy show in Las Vegas, and the New York post reports New York City tour company Rich and Famous Tours has added the SoHo apartment where Ledger was found dead to its list of stops.

Both actions have prompted some to ask, “Is it too soon for this sort of thing?” No one asked me, but I say yes. Jim Dykes, Rich and Famous Tours president, defends his decision.

“I suppose some people would say that (it’s in poor taste), but I hear what the public wants to know about,” said Dykes, who noted the stop was added at the request of customers.

“It (where Ledger lived) is in the media, and of course people want to know about it. We point out the building and talk about the neighborhood, the rent he paid, his toxicology report. We mention everything that’s in the news.”

One person who knew Ledger feels that both developments — Lange’s jokes and the new tour stop — are callous to say the least. “There hasn’t even been time for his family to really mourn, and now they have to deal with this? It’s amazing what people will do to get attention,” said the friend.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Churches prove vital after deadly twisters
Survivors are drawn to talk about experience, volunteers to help
The Associated Press

Charlie Riedel / AP
Monica Adams on Saturday paints a temporary sign at the West Lafayette Baptist Church in Lafayette, Tenn., one of towns hardest hit by last weeks twisters.

LAFAYETTE, Tenn. - On the way to this storm-ravaged community, a billboard bubbling with fresh paste rises over a rural road with a message from the Gospel of Matthew: "Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

In Macon County and other predominantly Christian areas where tornadoes laid a deadly path, churches — and individuals' faith — are playing a vital role in the aftermath.

Faith is a way of life here. Many have volunteered services, opened disaster centers with food and shelter, clothing and medicine, while those who escaped death when so many did not say they are finding hope in stories of survival.
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"I was in a tornado — and I lived," said James Krueger, a 49-year-old electrician, as tears streamed from his eyes blackened in the storm. When the winds hit, his 100-year-old home flew from the foundation until he lay on barren ground.

It was an unlikely survival he cannot help but attribute to a higher power.

"The bottom line is something kept me there," he said, shaking his head in disbelief.

'No atheists in foxholes'
Stories like Krueger's are bringing hope for many residents struggling to figure how they will reassemble their lives, said Terry Gillim, a minister at the Church of Christ in Lafayette.

On Friday, Gillim directed a disaster center flush with supplies, including clothing and medicine. Members of his church brushed elbows over boxes with those he had never seen in church before.

"They say there are no atheists in foxholes," Gillim said. "There is a deep desire to know God. And when tragedy strikes or adversity comes our way, those desires are brought to the forefront — whether we want them or not."

Among the volunteers was Karen Long, 43, herself a survivor whose family huddled in the living room of their home when the winds stripped the roof away and showered them in debris.

Long said her faith — now more than ever — allowed her to help others. She laughed when she described the damage and her nephew finding a hymnal shredded of all but one song — "Victory Behind The Clouds."

"It's a thousand wonders we're still here," she said.

In many of the cities and small towns across the South struck by storms that killed 59 people in all, churches are the meeting places, social centers and shelters for residents — whether they are regular members or not.

It was a theme President Bush addressed during a visit Friday to Lafayette to tour the devastation, offering hugs to those caught in the storm's deadly path.

"I have no doubt in my mind this community will come back better than before," Bush told residents of the poor, tobacco-farming area near the Kentucky border. "Macon County people are down to earth, hardworking, God-fearing people, who if just given a little help, will come back stronger."

'Raging outside ... peaceful inside'
The words were comforting to Charles Hale, a 66-year-old retiree, who said his faith is carrying him forward.

He recounted the storm hitting. He and his wife huddled in a closet beneath the stairs as the house shook around him and winds drove branches through the bricks like bullets.

When it was finished he opened the door and saw sky above.

"It was just like there was something comforting through the whole thing," Hale said with a smile. "The almighty was raging outside, but everything was peaceful inside."

Not all churches were able to help in disaster relief.

Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in nearby Galen was destroyed in the storm for the second time in its nearly century-old history — the first decades ago to a fire.

But its members said their faith was more important than the wood beams that hold the building. They have to rebuild.

Ronnie Holland, a 48-year-old church member, stopped clearing branches to explain the small country church was an anchor to the community — had been "ever since there has been people here," he explained.

"I've got four kids who were saved here," Holland said. "This old church is still here."

'Jaws' Actor Scheider Dies at 75
The Associated Press

© John Kroll/Retna
Roy Scheider

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Roy Scheider, the actor best known for his role as a police chief in the blockbuster movie "Jaws," has died. He was 75.

Scheider died Sunday at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences hospital in Little Rock, hospital spokesman David Robinson said. The hospital did not release his cause of death.

However, hospital spokeswoman Leslie Taylor said Scheider had been treated for multiple myeloma at the hospital's Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy for the past two years.

Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss starred in the 1975 movie, "Jaws," which was widely hailed as the film that launched the era of the Hollywood blockbuster. It was the first film to earn $100 million at the box office.

In 2005, one of Scheider's most famous lines in the movie — "You're gonna need a bigger boat" — was voted No. 35 on the American Film Institute's list of best quotes from U.S. movies.

That year, some 30 years after "Jaws" premiered, hundreds of movie buffs flocked to Martha's Vineyard, off the southeastern coast of Massachusetts, to celebrate the great white shark that terrified millions of moviegoers.

The island's JawsFest '05 also brought back some of the cast and crew, including screenwriter Carl Gottlieb and Peter Benchley, who wrote the novel that inspired Steven Spielberg's enduring classic.

Spielberg, Scheider, who played a police chief, and Dreyfuss, who played an oceanographer, were absent from Jawsfest '05. Co-star Robert Shaw, who played Quint, died in 1978.

Scheider also participated in rallies protesting U.S. military action in Iraq, including a massive New York demonstration in March 2003 that police said drew 125,000 chanting activists.

The New Rules Of Attraction
By Nina Malkin

When it comes to finding love, there are certain truths that seem so irrefutable that any single person would be a fool to not follow them. Maybe you’re a firm believer that you can tell within seconds if you’re attracted to someone. Or, maybe you adhere to the idea that a first kiss says it all: If you feel fireworks, your date’s a keeper; if it bombs, cut your losses. While these romantic maxims have their fans, experts insist that these laws no longer hold true in today’s dating world. In short, many rules single people follow need a little revamping. To that end, we’ve consulted authorities in the field to bring you the most up-to-date tactics for finding someone you’ll click with.

Old rule: You can tell if you’re truly attracted to someone in three seconds
New rule: You can’t tell if you’re truly attracted to someone until you’ve had three dates

“Love at first sight” is a familiar romantic notion. And in our increasingly fast-paced world, it’s darn convenient to think you can tell if you click with someone that quickly. But experts recommend cultivating a bit more patience, sticking to a three-date minimum to know for sure whether you’re a match (or not). The reason: People are a bundle of nerves on date #1, begin to unwind on date #2, but only by date #3 can people truly relax and maybe build some rapport. And while sparks early on are nice and all, they say nothing about someone’s long-term potential. “An important part of a compatible relationship is assuring that each partner’s values coincide, and to learn that takes time, discussion, observation, and interpersonal interaction, not an initial impression based on superficial cues,” says James C. Piers, Ph.D., professor and program director of social work, at Hope College in Holland, MI. So, don’t write someone off — or fall head over heels — until you’ve done due diligence.

Old rule: Your mate must meet all the criteria on your “must list”
New rule: A “must list” looks great on paper, but paper won’t keep you warm at night

You can check off the attributes you want — appearance, background, education, career, salary — but unless you’re building your lover in a lab, you’re missing out. Of course, you should have standards and not settle for a two-pack-a-day smoker who doesn’t want kids when you’re allergic to smoke and eager to start a family. But settling for nothing less than perfection is unrealistic. “Must lists are a classic recipe for unsuccessful dating,” says Fleming. “They’re too limiting and don’t allow for chemistry, which is more intangible and valuable.” Try to be flexible, especially when it comes to physical or material attributes like someone’s height, salary, or hair color. After all, just because someone’s 6’2”, blonde, or makes six figures doesn’t mean he or she will make you happy, so do yourself a favor and treat your ideal-mate wish list as just one factor in deciding who’s right for you.

Old rule: Opposites attract
New rule: Opposites distract

Dating your diametric opposite might mean the surprise of someone really new and different, lots of challenging banter and scintillating make-up sex—but sustaining a partnership with your polar opposite may ultimately prove unfulfilling. “The classic couple with nothing in common except their on-fire fights plays well in the movies, but in real life that attraction fizzles quickly,” says Alyssa Wodtke, co-author of Truth, Lies, and Online Dating: Secrets to Finding Romance on the Internet. “If you don’t like to do the same things, there will be nothing for you to do outside of the bedroom. And if you don’t want the same things for the future, what kind of future can you have?” We’re not saying you should end up with your clone, but ideally it should be someone who complements your personality (see the next rule for more details).

Old rule: Your date’s record collection (or DVD library, or bookshelf) mirrors yours—so you must be soul mates
New rule: You want a person, not an iPod playlist

Sometimes you meet someone and have so much in common, you know it must be love: Each of you saw Phish perform at least a dozen times and know the works of David Sedaris inside out. But don’t confuse mirror-image taste with chemistry. In fact, it’s probably better if your interests don’t match up exactly. Not only does that leave room for you to expand your boundaries and dabble in something new that your partner digs, it also means you two will probably have little trouble maintaining some healthy independence. “Some of the best relationships are those where both parties have completely independent hobbies and allow for the concept of ‘his, her, and our’ time,” notes relationship coach Hu Fleming, Ph.D. So, take it as a good sign if you spend the occasional Saturday night apart—you doing dips at ballroom dancing class, your date doing the wave at an NBA game.

Old rule: Your first kiss should be a toe-curling experience
New rule: Your first kiss is inconsequential

In fairytales, an amazing first kiss leads to happily ever after—no wonder we place such importance on that primary pucker! But there are ample reasons why a first kiss from a potentially great partner can go awry (nervousness or a less-than-ideal setting) and just as many to explain why a first kiss from Mr./Ms. Wrong can feel so right (you’ve exceeded the two-drink minimum, perhaps). “ A kiss can be a romantic, erotic experience with someone you find physically attractive, but a relationship will crumble without more complex attributes like shared values,” points out Piers. So rather than write someone off following a less-than-mind-blowing kiss, smile and move in slowly for smooch number two, either at that moment or on a subsequent date. Trust us, you owe it to yourselves.

Old rule: When it’s true love, you think about this person constantly
New rule: When it’s true love, thinking about this person makes you feel good

Hmm, has Willie Nelson’s “You’re Always on My Mind” become the theme song for how you feel about your sweetie? That may not be for the best. “Constantly thinking about another person isn’t love, it’s infatuation, and infatuation has no correlation with being a good match,” says Fleming. Ultimately, it’s a better gauge to assess the quality of your thoughts rather than the quantity. “If you have warm and comfortable feelings when you think about your date, that indicates a relationship built on stability, trust, and a strong ‘friendship’ factor, denoting a relationship that will more likely wear well over time,” says Piers. If, on the other hand, your relationship keeps you up all night as you analyze this person’s emails for

Labrador named Jet earns his wings
Dog survives 6-story leap over parking garage railing
The Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. - Authorities say a Labrador retriever named Jet really can fly. The 65-pound dog survived a six story leap from a Tampa airport parking garage and lived.

Police and Jet's owners and vet say the 2-year-old dog accidentally leaped over a parking garage railing on New Year's Eve and walked away from the landing — 60 to 80 feet below.

Jet spent the night at a vet's office with a collapsed lung and some cuts and bruises. But by the next day, the dog was getting antsy again.

His owners are Clayton and Jessica Tieman of Largo. They named Jet for the sheen of his black fur, not for any flying abilities. They say their next dog will get a more earthly name, perhaps Scooter.