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Monday, November 30, 2009

Meet the dog who thinks he’s a shop assistant
By Waleed Fakhroo

Wearing a uniform and name tag, Cody, a chocolate Labradaor retriever, greets people who pull up to the drive-through window of a family-owned convenience store.

Store owner Karim Mansour, from Clearwater in Florida, said he started bringing Cody to work five months ago for company on the early morning shift.

The dog quickly became a celebrity among store regulars. Mansour said Cody helps customers by calming those who come in sad or angry.

Hero squirrel saves her baby from being eaten by dog

They have a bit of a reputation for a vicious streak, but this dog certainly got more than it bargained for after pouncing on a baby squirrel it found on the ground.

Moments before the hapless baby would have been torn apart, these images show its mother appearing to leap off a nearby tree and attacking the surprised dog.

Using its sharp teeth and claws, the squirrel tore into its canine opponent and distracted it so the baby could escape to freedom.

It is unclear if the images have been edited, but the startled dog appears in considerable pain as the squirrel bites into its flank.


The surprise assault gives the baby squirrel just enough time to climb back up the nearby tree before its mother is thrown clear and escapes from the dog.

The baby squirrel appears to have fallen to the ground as it was being helped up the tree.



Spotting the helpless creature on the ground, the dog pounces and traps it underneath its front paws as it closes for the kill.

But it appears to have underestimated its diminutive opponent, as the brave mother squirrel clearly has no intention of letting her baby become dinner and rushes to its aid by jumping on the dog’s head.

After the whirlwind attack the mother squirrel springs free of the dog and rushes her baby back up into the safety of the tree.

The frustrated dog is left sitting forlornly at the base of the tree as its prey escapes into the upper branches.

The images appeared on a website that was set up solely to promote them using Weebly, a website creation programme.

Imaginary girl used by Russian bailiffs turns real and sues them

A 26-year old Moscow woman wants bailiffs from the Russian republic of Udmurtiya to pay her 5 million rubles for using her photos from social networking sites in a trap to catch tax-dodgers.

Yana Kulikova learned that her personal photos are being used in social networks without her permission following a report aired on one of the federal TV channels, where the Udmurtian bailiff service officers proudly shared their know-how with journalists, reports.

The officers created a fake account on the well-known Russian social networks, and, uploaded a picture of a randomly chosen woman who “luckily” happened to be Kulikova, and used the profile to make contact with tax-dodgers.

The account-holder, a fictitious woman named Eleanora from the Russian town of Izhevsk, promised “personal contact for everyone interested.” The bailiffs say men responded immediately and when it came to a date, on-scene appeared court officers with notices of debt amounts owed. For two months in using the scheme the court officers managed to catch three notorious tax-dodgers and collected around 400 thousand rubles (more than $14000).

“My colleagues were the first to tell me this,” Yana Kulikova told “I couldn’t believe my ears. Then I saw a replay of the report on the evening news and then couldn’t believe my eyes. When I realized what happened it wasn’t a laughing matter any longer. I told my husband and he was shocked by it.”

Kulikova filed a law suit against the court officers demanding 5 million rubles, which is more than $170,000, for violation of her human rights. Kulikov’s lawyer also insists the bailiffs acted beyond the scope of their professional powers.

But the Udmurtian department of Federal bailiff Service doesn’t understand the ground for the case.

“Frankly speaking, we don’t understand Kulikova’s claims,” the press-secretary of the department told “We were not the first to start such practices. As far as I know, the Transbaikal region was the first to use social networks and we just adopted the practice from our colleagues and here is what it cost us. Besides, we didn’t use the picture for commercial purposes or further copying, but for finding local non-payers. We never thought that a real owner of the photo would appear.”

But Kulikova flatly disagrees with the Bailiff Service’s stance.

“I’m surprised that nobody called me and asked for my permission,” the woman said. “If they did it that way, who knows for what other purposes they could use my picture.”

But the case is not the first in which bailiffs came up with more and more rather extraordinary ways of catching tax-dodgers.

In 2007 the Bailiff Service officers cooperated with road police units. Drivers getting caught for violating road rules, apart from tickets, were receiving a notice to visit debt inspectors in order to confirm their payments.

Moreover, tax-dodgers are being caught in airports, at passport checks and traced when purchasing goods with credit cards.

Brave British soldier tells of his brush with death after being shot while on patrol in Afghanistan

The scars that show how miracle soldier escaped sniper’s bullet that passed through his helmet and back

A British soldier serving in Afghanistan has told how he cheated death when a sniper’s bullet passed through his back, neck and helmet – but miraculously avoided all his vital organs.

Lieutenant Paddy Rice was described as ‘the luckiest soldier in Afghanistan’ after he was passed as fit to return to active duty only two weeks after being shot in Helmand province.

Lt Rice, of 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, was kneeling on the roof of a British compound in the Chah-e’Anjir area of central Helmand when a Taliban sniper opened fire on him.

The 25-year-old officer said: ‘I climbed on to the roof of Compound 23, where my soldiers and I were based, and was trying to move a radio into a sangar (a defensive bunker).

‘It was an exposed position so I was wearing my body armour and helmet.
‘Then I felt a thump in the back, as though I had been kicked, and I knew immediately I had been shot.’

Lt Rice’s hunched kneeling position meant that the bullet, after entering his body, tracked along his back, into his neck, before blasting out through his helmet.

Stitch marks on his body clearly show how the round travelled upwards, alongside his spine, before coming out just below his left ear.

He told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘I put my hand up to the back of my head and I could see blood and I think I said something to my platoon sergeant, Gert Botha, such as “I’ve been shot”.

‘I was helped down from the roof and I radioed company headquarters, gave a contact report and said, “There is one casualty and it’s me – I’ve been shot”.

‘I wasn’t panicking. I had considered how I might react if I was shot or injured but because everything seemed to be functioning normally I think I realised I would be OK.’

He said he phoned his girlfriend in Clapham, South London, who was shopping at the supermarket.

‘She was a bit startled to hear me saying I had been shot while she was buying her supper, but after I assured her that I was fine she relaxed a bit.’

After the attack on October 26, Lt Rice was flown to Camp Bastion where he received 29 stitches.

He was described as the luckiest soldier in Afghanistan by Captain James Swanston, who was in charge of the operations room when the attack happened.

The captain said if the bullet had hit a millimetre either side of where it did, Lt Rice would be either dead or seriously injured.

It’s Barbie in a burkha: World-famous doll gets a makeover to go under the hammer for 50th anniversary

One of the world’s most famous children’s toys, Barbie, has been given a makeover – wearing a burkha.

Wearing the traditional Islamic dress, the iconic doll is going undercover for a charity auction in connection with Sotheby’s for Save The Children.

More than 500 Barbies went on show yesterday at the Salone dei Cinquecento, in Florence, Italy.

Makers Mattel are backing the exhibition which is the work of Italian designer Eliana Lorena.

The auction is part of Barbie celebrations for her 50th anniversary this year. The UK’s biggest Barbie fan Angela Ellis, 35, has a collection of more than 250 dolls.

The company director of Laird Assessors from The Wirral, Cheshire, said: ‘Bring it on Burkha Barbie, I think this is a great idea.

‘I think this is really important for girls, wherever they are from they should have the opportunity to play with a Barbie that they feel represents them.

‘I know Barbie was something seen as bad before as an image for girls, but in actual fact the message with Barbie for women is you can be whatever you want to be.

‘I have a Barbie in a wheelchair that was only out for six weeks.’

The mum-of-two’s own Barbie collection is set to be displayed at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum in 2012.

Barbie was first launched in March 1959 by American businesswoman Ruth Handler. The doll was joined by her long-term boyfriend Ken in 1961.

Rosie Shannon, from Save the Children, said all the proceeds from the auction will go to the charity.

She said: ‘We are delighted Sotheby’s and the designer chose to auction the burka Barbie dolls for our charity.’

The money will go towards the Rewrite the Future campaign which helps millions of children around the world effected by conflict.

American Woman Finds Image of Jesus on Bottom of Iron

Methuen woman sees likeness of Jesus on iron

METHUEN – Until this week, Mary Jo Coady had never given her iron a second thought. Then she saw a likeness of Jesus staring back from its not-quite stainless steel bottom.

Startled, Coady called in her daughters, both of them college students, and they saw what she saw. Then she took a picture and posted it on her private Facebook page, giving friends and relatives the same test. Everyone saw Jesus, she said.

“So I said, ‘OK, I’m not crazy,’ ’’ recalled Coady, a 44-year-old who works as a secretary in a medical office. After a challenging couple of years in which she let her Catholic faith wane, Coady found that the image had given her a spiritual boost. So she chose to share it with some others.

“This was just a good, uplifting thing for me, and it just made me reaffirm my faith and beliefs, and I’m not embarrassed to say that,’’ Coady said yesterday. “I believe in God, and I think that was a sign saying good things will come, and things will get better.’’

Coady first saw the image Nov. 22. She told The Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence about it and was featured in yesterday’s paper; the Associated Press picked up on it, and by that afternoon a picture of Coady’s iron had appeared on more than 200 news websites. It generated dozens of anonymous comments, and the jeering tone of many of them caught her by surprise.

Coady is not trying to persuade others to see Jesus where she does.

Five years ago this week, a grilled cheese sandwich that looked like a popular image of the Virgin Mary sold for $28,000 on eBay. Coady said she has no plans to market her iron similarly. She does not want pilgrims lining up at her door. She is not listed in the local phone book.

She simply thought others of faith might want to see an image that surprised her, cheered her, and made her want to return to St. Lucy, her Catholic parish, after a difficult two years. During that stretch, Coady separated from her husband; moved out of the home they owned and where they had raised their family; watched her hours get trimmed at work; and unpacked slowly in the rented two-family house where she now resides with her daughters, up against Route 110.

“I’m not telling anybody they’re going to be cured or anything if they look at my iron,’’ Coady said. “It’s just a nice story to share.’’

Coady’s pastor at St. Lucy, the Rev. Thomas E. Keyes, has not viewed the iron. He said he considers the power of such images to be personal, residing in individual inference and belief.

“I think it’s how we interpret things. It’s more of a personal thing. God works in his or her own way,’’ said Keyes, who believes that God or saints might choose to appear “in person, as opposed to on a toaster, or a cinnamon roll or a Frito, or whatever. But then, God does what it wants.’’ A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston did not comment yesterday.

Coady’s iron is otherwise unremarkable: manufactured for the Wal-Mart house brand, with a basic dial for fabric settings and a steam/dry switch.

She never used it much, but her 20-year-old daughter, Alison, regularly used it before going to work at a local Social Security office or class at Merrimack College.

Coady first spotted the image on the bottom when the iron was angled toward the door, near Alison’s bureau, when she entered her room that Sunday.

“That was my sign that things will be good,’’ said Coady, who moved the iron to the kitchen for safekeeping. Now that Thanksgiving is over, she plans to get a practical replacement.

“It’s Black Friday. Today’s a good day to run out and buy an iron.’’

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hero brothers pulled boy, 4, out of burning SUV
Off-duty firefighters John and Joel Rechlitz burned hands on melting metal
By Michael Inbar contributor

From left, brothers John and Joel Rechlitz, off-duty firefighters who helped rescue a mom and her two kids from a blazing SUV, still had bandaged hands when they spoke to TODAY.

Firefighting brothers John and Joel Rechlitz are somewhat the worse for wear after their amazing rescue of a Tennessee boy trapped in a hell on earth — but they are happy and modest to bear the bandaged wounds of heroes.

The off-duty Milwaukee firemen were preparing for a family birthday Sunday when John’s wife Joy called him in a frantic state — just four blocks away, an SUV had flipped over and burst into flames, trapping a mother and her two young children inside.

The Rechlitz brothers arrived on the scene within moments to find a group of good Samaritans already at work, struggling to free the family from the blazing vehicle — but it took guts and a combined 29 years of firefighting experience to save the life of the 4-year-old boy trapped inside by his car seat.

One free, one still inside
John and Joel Rechlitz appeared live via satellite on TODAY Monday, recounting their efforts to free a boy who was literally burning to death in front of their eyes — a rescue that was captured in graphic video by bystander Jerry Lepkowski as his nephew Jason joined in on the frantic rescue bid.

Joel Rechlitz told TODAY’s Lester Holt that the mother — who had come to town to work a booth at the local county fair and had apparently fallen asleep at the wheel — had already managed to hand off her 2-year-old to Joel’s wife when the brothers arrived on the scene. Joel and John managed to smash out what was left of the front windshield and free the mother as well. But they were shocked to see the 4-year-old boy still lodged firmly in his car seat.

“It was horrific,” Joel Rechlitz told Holt. “The car was engulfed in flames and the child was in there screaming. All I could see was that child’s face, [which] seemed just perfectly fine, but you could see the car seat around the child was burning. The child was literally burning in front of me.

“It was horrific,” he reiterated. “It compelled you to act.”

Burned but helping hands
Joel and John took turns trying to wrest the child free from his seat restraint, both burning their hands badly in the process. John Rechlitz cursed his luck for not having a knife on him when every second was a matter of life or death.

“We tried looking for the seat belt release and we couldn’t find it in the mess, and that’s when I came out,” John said. “I’m screaming for somebody to hopefully have something in their pocket for me — I normally carry a pocketknife, but at the time I didn’t, and for me that was extremely frustrating.”

Joel ran to his car and retrieved a knife and John was able to cut the boy loose. Another quick-thinking neighbor had a garden hose at the ready to douse the boy in cold water to stop the burning.

Civilian rescuer Jason Lepkowski told NBC affiliate WTNJ: “[The boy] got burned pretty bad — when he got out, he was on fire. We did a good job, and thank God for the firefighters there.”

The Rechlitz brothers appeared on TODAY with heavily bandaged hands as the result of touching melting metal during their rescue ordeal — but still wore smiles as well as bandages, knowing they had likely saved the boy’s life. The boy, whose identity is being withheld, suffered burns over 30 percent of his bodyand required surgery. He was listed in critical condition on Monday morning. Still, the brothers were told he is likely to recover.

Joel Rechlitz sloughed off the brothers’ own injuries. “We’ll be OK; we’re hanging in there,” he told Holt.

Milwaukee Police Lt. Mark Wroblewski praised the efforts of both the Rechlitz brothers and the local citizens for turning what could have been an unspeakable tragedy into a near-miss for the family involved.

“It just shows the true spirit of this city [Milwaukee],” Wroblewski said. “Everybody’s willing to help.”

Girl, 4, reunited with dog rescued from well
Firefighters save her beloved pet Mollie, who plunged down 33-foot hole
By Michael Inbar contributor

Oct. 20: Four-year-old Olivia Hartzog and her dog Mollie are back together after firefighters rescued the dog from a well. TODAY’s Ann Curry meets the reunited pair and talks to Olivia’s father and the firefighter who rescued Mollie.

In the quiet little town of Olar, S.C. (population: 250), it’s the feel-good story of the year: Olivia Hartzog, age 4, was reunited with her beloved pet Mollie after the poor pooch was trapped overnight 33 feet down an abandoned well on the family property.

Olivia hugged her pet and playmate happily. “You’re OK, you’re OK! You’re OK, Mollie, you’re OK!” she cried in a taped segment shown Tuesday on TODAY.

That Mollie was indeed OK was due to fast, dedicated work on the part of Olar’s volunteer fire department. Local firefighter-rescuer Dwight Williams — who had been certified less than a week before — made the disconcerting descent down the well to retrieve the Hartzogs’ pet, putting a happy ending on what had been a frantic time for Mollie’s owners.

Williams, Olivia, her dad, James Hartzog, and the dog of the hour herself appeared live via satellite from Columbia, S.C., to relate a story that could have been an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” — but meant the world to one little girl.

Where’s Mollie?
James Hartzog told Ann Curry he was amazed that Mollie was little the worse for wear after the rescue. “I was stunned,” he said. “I was very grateful to Dwight for stepping up and doing the fine job he did, and was stunned that Mollie came out without so much as a limp.”

Mollie, a beautiful German shorthaired pointer, was taken in by the Hartzogs, who believe she had been neglected. She quickly became an integral member of the family and gave them a special gift this fall — two puppies.

James Hartzog said he was going out to feed Mollie and her puppies last Thursday night when he discovered the dog was missing. But he could hear Mollie barking in the distance, and figured she was just engaging in her favorite pastime — chasing deer through the woods.

However, when Mollie didn’t return home by morning, the family became concerned. Hartzog could still hear her barking, but it sounded like an echo. He went to investigate and found the poor dog had tumbled down a dry well on the property.

To the rescue
Hartzog told NBC affiliate WIS that daughter Olivia “loves that dog to death,” which explains why her immediate response was: “Daddy, jump down the well and get her!” But Hartzog decided it was a job for the Olar Fire Department, which doesn’t exactly have its phone ringing off the hook: It only received 60 calls last year.

But the Olar crew proved to be real pros, quickly converging on the Hartzog property and helping Williams climb down the deep hole and bring Mollie back up.

Mollie was trapped at the bottom of a 33-foot well overnight before firefighters hauled her out.

Still new to the job, Williams admitted to Curry that he approached his task with a little trepidation. “It was a little scary going down. I was concerned about snakes and whether or not the hole would collapse. But we made it down and made it out OK.”

The heartwarming doggie-daughter reunion was captured live by a WIS camera crew. James Hartzog shouted, “Hey, little buddy!” as Mollie made her first, tentative steps.

Williams was all smiles as he gave an aw-shucks response to being called a hero. “We do more than fight fires — we do whatever is required of us, like going down in holes and rescuing dogs,” he said with a chuckle.

Little Olivia Hartzog and her rescued dog Mollie appeared on TODAY from Olar, S.C., along with Dwight Williams (left), the firefighter who rescued Mollie, and Olivia’s father, James Hartzog.

On TODAY, Olivia seemed more interested in her beloved Mollie than in giving an interview. Her father said that’s just how it’s been since she was reunited with her beloved pet. “Every chance she gets now, she wants to go pet Mollie and love on her and play with her — and her pups, of course.”

Curry asked Hartzog whether he is now contemplating converting Molliie from a yard dog to a house pet.

“I think my daughter is talking me into that as we speak,” Hartzog replied wryly.

Subway carries 3-year-old boy’s dad away
Doors closed after child exited car; Samaritan tended boy till dad returned
NBC News Channel
By Mike Celizic contributor

Nov. 20: Aaron Bailey faced a father's worst nightmare when he was accidentally separated from his 3-year-old son, Aiden, on a Portland, Ore., train platform.

The surveillance video needs no narration to convey the panic. A subway train stops at a platform. A little boy with a backpack gets off, holding the hand of a man behind him. But before the man can exit the train, the door closes.

As the train pulls away, the little boy looks befuddled as the hand remains extended out the door, straining futilely to reestablish contact.

It happened at 8:15 on a Monday morning in Portland, Ore. Aaron Bailey was riding the city’s TriMet subway with his 3-year-old son, Aiden. But when they arrived at the Main Street station, a perfectly ordinary commute turned into a parent’s nightmare.

Panicked parent
“I had him in my hand,” Bailey told reporter Anne Yeager of NBC affiliate KGW in Portland. “And when he was exiting, he pulled the handicap [button].”

The inadvertent action of the child actually should have provided his dad additional time to get off the train. Instead, for reasons no one has been able to explain, the doors closed early and the train left, carrying Bailey with it. The video, aired by TODAY Friday, shows little Aiden looking forlornly at the departing train, as if trying to understand why his dad isn’t joining him on the platform.

Inside the train, Bailey did what any parent would do. “I frantically tried to push the open button, but they didn’t open,” Bailey said.

As the train continued inexorably on its way with its doors firmly closed, the desperate dad hit the button again and again and again — at least 10 times. “Being panicked, I pushed the emergency button, and there was no answer,” Bailey recounted.

Meantime, little Aiden was still standing bewildered on the platform. But fortunately for the little boy and his dad, he was not alone.

Good Samaritan
The surveillance tape shows a woman with bright red hair standing next to Aiden. Realizing what had happened, she bends down to reassure him. She takes him by the hand and stays with him while Aiden’s dad is compelled to ride to the next stop.

Bailey then leapt off the train and made a mad dash for the opposite platform, where he caught the next train back to the Main Street station. After what had to have been the longest seven minutes of his life, he arrived back on the platform where he lost his son.

Thanks to a Good Samaritan, Aaron Bailey and his 3-year-old son Aiden were happily reunited after malfunctioning subway doors carried the dad away.

Again, the video tells the story eloquently, even without sound. Bailey bends down and hugs Aiden, who returns it. After a long embrace, Bailey then hugs the anonymous Good Samaritan who stayed with Aiden and allayed his fears. Aiden also gave the nice lady a hug.

“I was overwhelmed with emotion. We embraced, and I cried for a minute, and everything is OK,” Bailey said.

But Bailey was more than a little annoyed at the transit authority. He tried to call TriMet to get an explanation, but received no response. Only when KGW got on the story did an authority spokeswoman say no one knew why the doors closed and the emergency stop button didn’t work.

“We’re looking at this case ... it was very unfortunate,” she said.

Bailey still hopes for an explanation. But he’s also very grateful that a woman with bright red hair was there to make everything better.

The father also said he has a new personal rule for riding subways: “I will never push that button again.”

Another Dog, Another Hero!
By Joanna Caroll

Good boy!

Man and his dog....a classic love story. Over the years, we have read the stories how dogs are used in detecting cancer in humans with an accuracy rate sometimes better than the most sophisticated hospital hardware; how dogs can sense when children are nearing epileptic seizure; how dogs can alert those with heart conditions of an impending attack.

It seems that in addition to their absolute unconditional love, these joyful creatures, these adored pets, cherished companions, four-legged members of the family, are able to save our life and save the life of those we love. This extraordinary sense, the Sick Sense, that dogs have does not necessarily involve special training. Sometimes, it just happens. But what a gift.

And so it happened in my house last night. While my father was finishing dinner, his dog, Agah, began barking. There was something different about his bark, different enough that I immediately returned to my dad's room even though I had just been in there not more than ten minutes earlier. My father was sitting in his Lazy Boy, right arm hanging over the side of the chair, eyes closed. "Dad, open your eyes," I said emphatically. Had it been later in the evening, I might have just covered his legs, lowered the sound on the TV, closed the door quietly and left him to nap til bedtime. "Dad, open your eyes!" His eyes remained closed but he mumbled something and raised his right arm to his head. "Pain pill, please," is all I heard and in typical textbook fashion it was slurred. Dad was having a stroke. I immediately dialed 911 on my remote; recovering quickly, I got the phone, dialed 911. Help was on its way. One thing left to do was hug this bear of a dog and nose-to-nose just tell him thank you.

It's been less than 24 hours but Dad's doing really well. And the big guy in the picture is our hero!

Pushcart educator named CNN Hero of the Year

(CNN) -- Efren Peñaflorida, who started a "pushcart classroom" in the Philippines to bring education to poor children as an alternative to gang membership, has been named the 2009 CNN Hero of the Year.

CNN's Anderson Cooper revealed Peñaflorida's selection at the conclusion of the third-annual "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on Saturday night.

The gala event, taped before an audience of 3,000 at the Kodak Theatre, premieres on Thanksgiving, November 26, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the global networks of CNN.

The broadcast, which honors the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2009, features performances by Grammy Award-winning artist Carrie Underwood, R&B crooner Maxwell and British pop sensation Leona Lewis.

Peñaflorida, who will receive $100,000 to continue his work with the Dynamic Teen Company, was selected after seven weeks of online voting at More than 2.75 million votes were cast.

"Our planet is filled with heroes, young and old, rich and poor, man, woman of different colors, shapes and sizes. We are one great tapestry," Peñaflorida said upon accepting the honor. "Each person has a hidden hero within, you just have to look inside you and search it in your heart, and be the hero to the next one in need.

"So to each and every person inside in this theater and for those who are watching at home, the hero in you is waiting to be unleashed. Serve, serve well, serve others above yourself and be happy to serve. As I always tell to my co-volunteers ... you are the change that you dream as I am the change that I dream and collectively we are the change that this world needs to be."

The top 10 CNN Heroes, chosen by a blue-ribbon panel from an initial pool of more than 9,000 viewer nominations, were each honored with a documentary tribute and introduced by a celebrity presenter. Each of the top 10 Heroes receives $25,000.

"With the recognition they receive on our stage," said Cooper, who hosted the tribute, "they'll be able to help thousands and thousands of people. Through their efforts, lives will be changed and lives will be saved."

Maxwell sang "Help Somebody" from his first album in eight years, 'BLACKsummers'night.'

Lewis, a three-time Grammy nominee, performed "Happy," from her second album, "Echo."

All three performances echoed the spirit of the CNN Heroes campaign, which salutes everyday people whose extraordinary accomplishments are making a difference in their communities and beyond.

Presenters included Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Neil Patrick Harris, Pierce Brosnan, Dwayne Johnson, Eva Mendes, Randy Jackson, Greg Kinnear, George Lopez and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

"This record number of nominations is further evidence of the momentum CNN Heroes has built in just a few short years," said Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide.
Serve, serve well, serve others above yourself and be happy to serve.

"Viewers have been engaged by these stories of inspiration and accomplishment beyond our expectations. It is truly an honor to be able to introduce the CNN Heroes to our global audience every year."

Again this year, producer/director Joel Gallen served as executive producer of "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute." Among his credits, Gallen produced telethon events supporting victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina, winning an Emmy Award and a Peabody Award for "America: A Tribute to Heroes."

The Kodak Theatre is best known as the first permanent home of the Academy Awards.

Here are the 2009 Top 10 CNN Heroes:

Brad Blauser
Brad Blauser is providing hope and mobility to disabled children and their families in Iraq. Since 2005, his Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids program has distributed nearly 650 free pediatric wheelchairs to children in need.

Roy Foster
Army veteran Roy Foster started Stand Down House to help veterans struggling with addiction and homelessness in Florida. Since 2000, his program has provided life-changing services to nearly 900 veterans.

Doc Hendley
Bartender Doc Hendley is providing clean water to communities worldwide. Through creative fundraising, his nonprofit Wine to Water has brought sustainable water systems to 25,000 people in five countries.

Andrea Ivory
Breast cancer survivor Andrea Ivory is bringing early detection to the doorsteps of uninsured women. With mobile mammography vans, her group has provided more than 500 free screenings in Miami, Florida.

Betty Makoni
Zimbabwe native Betty Makoni founded the Girl Child Network to provide a haven for young victims of sexual abuse. The organization has rescued more than 35,000 girls since 2001.

Jorge Munoz
School bus driver Jorge Munoz is helping hungry New Yorkers make it through tough times. Since 2004, he has handed out more than 70,000 meals from his mobile soup kitchen in Queens -- for free.

Efren Peñaflorida
Efren Peñaflorida gives Filipino youth an alternative to gang membership through education. His Dynamic Teen Company's 10,000 members have taught basic reading and writing to 1,500 kids living in the slums.

Budi Soehardi
Budi Soehardi founded a children's home in one of the poorest areas of Indonesia. Today, Roslin Orphanage in West Timor provides food, shelter and education to more than 45 children.

Derrick Tabb
Derrick Tabb started The Roots of Music to give young people an alternative to New Orleans' streets. His music education program provides free tutoring, instruments and music instruction to more than 100 students.

Jordan Thomas
Jordan Thomas, 20, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, lost both of his legs in a boating accident in 2005. Since then, his Jordan Thomas Foundation has raised more than $400,000 to provide prosthetics for children in need.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Unusual Monuments
Text by Sonja Groset, Bing Travel; photo editing by Connie Ricca

Carhenge, Alliance, Neb. (© Bill Bachmann/

Monuments around the world honor important individuals or movements in politics, religion and history. The message and intent of most of these tributes is clear, but some are more obscure than others. Here are a dozen of the most unusual monuments around the world.

In the northwest corner of Nebraska, a unique replica of England’s Stonehenge rises out of the high plains. Carhenge was constructed in 1987 with vintage automobiles painted gray to replicate stone. The site was built by Jim Reinders as a memorial to his father, who once lived on a farm located where Carhenge stands today.

Unusual Monuments: Le Palais Ideal, France

Ferdinand Cheval was a French postman in the village of Hauterives in south-east France, who gathered stones on his mail route each day to build Le Palais Ideal, “The Ideal Palace.” The work took 33 years, from the late 1800s until the 1920s, mixes a variety of architectural styles, and drew inspiration from the Bible as well as other religious sources. Cheval is buried in a cemetery nearby, in a mausoleum he also constructed from stone.

Unusual Monuments: Crazy Horse Memorial

Begun in 1948, the still unfinished Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota will someday be the world’s largest sculpture, at a planned 563 feet high and 641 feet wide. The model pictured above, with the actual carving in the background, will immortalize the Oglala Lakota warrior, bare-chested and on horseback.

Unusual Monuments: Switzerland

In the Swiss city of Bern, a disturbing fountain depicts an ogre devouring a naked child, while holding an armful of other terrified-looking children. Built in 1546, the Kindlifresserbrunnen, or child-eater statue, is said to depict the story of Kronos from Greek mythology, who eats his children to keep them from taking his throne. There are other legends about the statue’s origins, but regardless of its meaning it remains successful at reminding local children to behave.

Unusual Monuments: Fremont Troll, Seattle

Lurking under a bridge in a quirky neighborhood of Seattle, the Fremont Troll stares down visitors with its one hubcap eye. The 18-foot-high troll, sculpted by artists in 1990 who received the commission after winning a national competition, clutches a Volkswagen Beetle in one hand.

Unusual Monuments: Stone Mountain, Georgia

Stone Mountain
is a large granite dome that reaches nearly 1,700 feet high with a circumference of approximately 5 miles. Located in Georgia, in a town sharing the same name, the side of the mountain displays a bas relief that depicts three key figures of the Confederate States of America: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis.

Unusual Monuments: Manneken Pis, Brussels

The statue of a little boy urinating into a fountain, the Manneken Pis, is arguably the most well-known landmark in Brussels. The statue, built in the early 1600s, is thought by some to honor a young ruler who was known for urinating on troops. Others believe it commemorates a missing young boy who was found while peeing in the street, while a third legend refers to a small boy who saved the city from peril by putting out a fire with his good aim.

Unusual Monuments: Memento Park, Budapest

The open-air museum called Memento Park, in Budapest, is a peculiar collection of statues and monuments. After communism ended in Hungary in 1989, the country removed statues of Communist leaders such as Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx that had been placed around the country. Four years later, in 1993, this park opened to the public to display the symbols of a once-celebrated era.

Unusual Monuments: Concrete Park, Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Concrete Park in Phillips is an outdoor museum displaying 237 sculptures built by a retired lumberjack, Fred Smith. The figures are constructed of concrete and have been embellished with broken glass, ceramic and other reclaimed materials. The display depicts the history of the region and the nation between the late 1800s and early 1900s, including subjects such as American folklore and Native American history. Smith says he built the park "for all the American people everywhere. They need something like this."

Unusual Monuments: Cadillac Ranch, Texas

Located in a cow pasture off Interstate 40 in Amarillo, Texas, the Cadillac Ranch is a bizarre roadside attraction. Created in 1974, it consists of a row of half-buried Cadillac cars. Spray-painting graffiti or other messages on the cars is encouraged by the Ant Farm art group, which created the monument, so is has a colorful and ever-changing look.

Unusual Monuments: Prague

St. Wenceslas, the patron saint of the Czech Republic, is honored with many statues around the country. But the sculpture of St. Wenceslas Riding a Dead Horse in Prague turns those monuments — literally — upside down. Hanging in the gallery of a shopping and entertainment complex, it was created in 1999 as a parody of a right-side-up statue in a nearby public square.

Unusual Monuments: Russia

The Mashuk-Akva Term spa in the city of Zheleznovodsk southern Russia recently unveiled a particularly unusual monument. The Enema Monument is a nearly 800 pound bronze statue of a syringe held by three children. This area of the country, near the Caucasus Mountains, is known for its mineral springs, the water of which is used in enemas to treat digestive disorders as well as other ailments.

The case of the disorderly order going to trial
Utah teen to fight citation for rapping McDonald’s cheeseburger order
The Associated Press

From left, Morgan Glissmeyer, 17, Spenser Dauwalder, 18, Trevor Tolbert, 17, and Gage Christensen, 17, got into trouble when they tried to rap their order at a McDonald's.
View related photos
Paul Fraughton / The Salt Lake Tribune

SALT LAKE CITY - The case of one of four teens who were cited after rapping their order at a McDonald's in Utah appears headed for trial.

Police in American Fork, about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City, cited the teens for disorderly conduct last month after the drive-through rap.

The teens have said they were imitating a rap from a popular YouTube video, which begins: "I need a double cheeseburger and hold the lettuce."

Spenser Dauwalder, 18, has said employees at the fast-food restaurant told him and his friends they were holding up the line and needed to order or leave.

But Dauwalder said no one else was in line. He and his three 17-year-old friends left without buying anything.

A manager wrote down the car's license plate number and called authorities, police Sgt. Gregg Ludlow has said. Officers later cited the teens in a high school parking lot outside a volleyball match.

"We thought, you know, just teenagers out having fun," Dauwalder told KSL Newsradio last month. "We didn't think it would escalate to that."

Dauwalder is challenging the disorderly conduct infraction in state court in Utah County. He pleaded not guilty earlier this month, and at a hearing Wednesday, a bench trial was set for Jan. 29, said his mother, Sharon Dauwalder.

"It's just, it's wrong," Sharon Dauwalder said. "I think the whole thing is wrong."

Spenser Dauwalder's attorney, Ann Boyle, said the whole incident has been overblown.

"I just believe that the kids had a right to sing their order," Boyle said. "They asked them to leave, and they left."

But attorney Kasey Wright, who represented American Fork in court Wednesday, said the case isn't about free speech.

"This is not a First Amendment case," he said. "This is disturbing the peace. It's interrupting a business."

Wright said he's open to working out a deal in the case "if it can serve the demands of justice and the public interest." He said the trial likely wouldn't last more than an hour and is similar to what would happen if someone fought a speeding ticket in court.

3 Lousy Ways to Apologize for a Mistake
By Ellen Welty

Phil Date/iStock/iStock

Ever receive an apology from someone yet feel that they weren't sorry? You were probably right, says Jodi R.R. Smith, author of From Clueless to Class Act: Manners for the Modern Woman. "People will make obligatory apologies in which they don't take responsibility for their actions," she explains. "But if you say, 'It doesn't sound like you're sorry at all,' your relationship will be strained — it may even end," Smith says. "Is calling them on their lousy apology worth that?" Instead, if you receive one of the following apology impostors, reply, "Thank you for saying something" or "I forgive you."

"I'm sorry if I upset you."
Translation: I'm not really sorry for what I did. In fact, I don't see any reason I shouldn't do it again. I'm just apologizing because you seem to have gotten yourself all worked up about it.

"I'm sorry for what I did, but..."
Example: "I'm sorry I got a spot on your shirt that I borrowed, but you didn't tell me it would be hard to clean. Plus, the restaurant was dark, and I couldn't see that sauce was streaming off my fork onto it." Translation: I'm full of excuses, all of which absolve me of blame. The mistake is half your fault and half due to circumstances beyond my control.

"I know you'll forgive me because you're a reasonable person and we all make mistakes."
Translation: I'm not really guilty of anything except being human, so stop looking so cross — unless you're an unreasonable cretin.

What’s Your Most Memorable Holiday Mishap?
Festive occasions can go horribly awry, as these tales from Real Simple readers prove
Real Simple

My in-laws were having Christmas dinner at our house for the first time, and I wanted everything to be perfect. I cooked my turkey and the giblets before we left for the family Christmas Eve party. Both were left on the back of the stove to cool. Imagine my shock when we returned to find that our boxer had eaten the turkey and we had to find a replacement at 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
Carol Beck-McCullough
Lacombe, Louisiana

Cooking goose for Christmas dinner. The butcher neglected to tell me about the reduced net weight of geese as they roast. When the final timer rang, I looked into the oven to see two roasting dishes full of fat and approximately two pounds of goose meat to feed 11 people. What was intended to be an elegant feast turned out to be a bit of Dickens gone awry.
Barb Bloom
Fenton, Michigan

When I was first married, I didn't know that when making mashed potatoes, you were supposed to use the hand mixer, not the blender. When I put the hot potatoes in the blender and shut the cover and turned it on, they exploded everywhere, including the ceiling.
Lisa Rakowski
Mayville, North Dakota

Christmas Eve, 10 days early, at the home of my grandparents. Don't even think of bringing any presents for Grandma and Grandpa or they won't speak to you for the rest of the year. The children will be getting socks, underwear, and sweats that are three sizes too big, probably wrapped in birthday wrapping paper, which you will leave behind for next year. Grandpa and the uncles will watch a sporting event the entire time and not speak to you about anything but said sporting event. The TV will be cranked to a maximum volume so Grandpa can hear the commentators. Cousin Kay will be wearing an inappropriate outfit, and Aunt Em will be a loud talker. Everyone will bring an appetizer; premade cheesecake and greasy meatballs will be provided. Aunt Em will be whipping up some type of grub. Eat at your own risk! If you try to throw any food away, Grandpa will put you in a headlock, then talk about the Depression.
Jane Pendergast
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

When I was younger, it was tradition to get a new pair of sneakers for Christmas. We also bought my grandfather a new pair. Needless to say, my pair was accidentally sent to him. Come Christmas morning, he opened a brand-new pair of tiny purple Nikes. He tried to act excited.
Fran Pfrimmer
Birmingham, Alabama

I desperately wanted to find the perfect hostess gift to impress my husband's aunt and uncle. We settled on a poinsettia, but the only one we could afford had clearly seen better days. His aunt accepted it at the door and proceeded to place it in a beautiful bay window filled with gorgeous poinsettias. I hoped it was the thought that counted.
Amy O'Dowd
Caledonia, Ontario

When my children were young, I was the typical mom, shooting tons of holiday photos for the scrapbooks. One year, after many agonizing photo setups with props (tree, decorations, etc.) and after having taken dozens of photos of my family, I discovered that I hadn't loaded film into the camera. I didn't have the heart to tell everyone that all the time spent on setting up the perfect photo opportunities was for naught.
Audrey Whitley
Charlotte, North Carolina

It was one of the first Christmases my husband and I spent together. We had been invited to several family dinners and decided to attend one later in the evening. We arrived at the chosen dinner to find that the couple had gotten inebriated and therefore hadn't cooked. My husband and I wound up eating hot dogs at a gas station as nothing was open on the 25th. And to top it off, while I ate my Christmas dinner, the hot dog landed on my blouse and got mustard all over me. The holiday meal is always at our house now.
Tracey Kinnaman
Thermopolis, Wyoming

It was Thanksgiving, and I was having only a few people over for dinner. I decided to get the smallest turkey I could find. I got a turkey at the grocery store that seemed like just the size I had in mind, about eight pounds. At our dinner, as we were eating, someone said, "This turkey tastes like chicken." I said it was turkey but then realized that the package didn't say anywhere that it was turkey. It didn't really say what it was. It said it was a roaster. Well, this was the time I learned that a "roaster" meant chicken, not turkey.
Sally Morrison
Rocky Point, New York

Our biggest holiday mishap happened when I was about 14 years old. It was Thanksgiving dinner. My mother is known for her great chicken and dressing. We ran out of room in the fridge, but since we lived in Illinois and it was so cold, we decided to use the garage steps to house the pan with the chicken and dressing. My mother missed the step and tripped. The entire pan dumped right onto the garage floor, and then she stepped in it! We had no time to prepare another pan, so we got down and scooped it back up and put it back in the pan. We didn't tell a soul. All during dinner, she got rave reviews on how great her dressing was.
Tameca Harris
Dallas, Texas

My family, like most, can be quite intense when you get us all together. My cousins all had multiple children a few years ago, and the chaos became less quaint. I appreciate children, but six screaming toddlers and 12 loud adults were too much to take. I walked in the door on Christmas Day and immediately had a panic attack. I spent most of the next two hours hiding in the bathroom until I could leave. Now I see my family members only in pairs.
Catie Kosinski
Bloomington, Indiana

One Thanksgiving morning, I had been up for a couple of hours and was enjoying my coffee and preparing dishes for our huge family feast. My granddaughter woke up, went to her comfortable chair to read, and minutes later said, "Um, Grandma. Do you know there's an opossum under this table?" Of course, I laughed at her humor, until something told me to check it out―and sure enough, there he sat under the end table. I won't take the time to tell you how he got there, but suffice it to say that animal control was there in minutes and the only animal we shared our dinner with was the turkey.
Lavonne Burkhart
Aurora, Illinois

Telling my husband's mother that her stuffing was terrible because I thought someone else had made it.
Lael Storlie
Deer River, Minnesota

Thanksgiving in Dallas, a family of 20 waiting in the dining room, me in the kitchen with my sister-in-law, who startled me as I was turning around with a 15-pound ham on a plate. The ham did a half gainer off the plate, scoring a 9.5, but belly flopped onto the floor. We congratulated the ham by eating it anyway.
Dea Mathews
Birmingham, Alabama

I was cooking my first turkey dinner and had a houseful of people. In that mad frenzy 20 minutes before you put it all on the table, I was making gravy. I meant to grab the bottle of Gravy Master from the cupboard but mistakenly grabbed a bottle of vanilla and didn't realize it until it was too late. Definitely a new take on turkey gravy that I would not recommend. My brother-in-law has never let me forget that day, and now when I set my Thanksgiving table, I put the bottle of vanilla at his place, just in case he wants to add a little.
Debra Smietana
Cheektowaga, New York

I had too much to drink at my company's holiday party and almost walked off with the dinner-table centerpiece. I had been to seven weddings that year and was used to the brides offering up the floral arrangements at the end of the night. Only this time, the banquet manager stopped me and said, "You can't take that! Put it back!"
Sonal Bellino
Oakland, California

My two youngest sons, who were 3 and 4 years old at the time, were playing in the dining room while I was vacuuming the house. Then suddenly it got quiet―too quiet. I ran into the room only to find that my two boys had unwrapped every gift under the tree, well before the big day. There they stood with wide-eyed excitement, holding the trucks and cars they had just discovered inside the torn wrapping paper, which was now covering our living room. I chuckle about it today because my sons are 30 and 31 with boys of their own.
Susan Anderson
Minot, North Dakota

Fighting with my sister as adults. Something about returning to my childhood home made me act like a child. I've finally grown out of that behavior, but I regret every holiday we ever fought. The older I get and the closer we become, the more I realize how much I need family in my life, especially my sister.
Stephanie Magilow
Dallas, Texas

In 1994 my husband and I celebrated our first Thanksgiving as a married couple. My father and stepmother and all my husband's family were coming for the big feast. I didn't have enough wineglasses for all; nor did we have much cash to buy nice glasses. I bought some cheap wineglasses but didn't know exactly how cheap until they were on the table being filled and started breaking. We broke 12 of 16 wineglasses just by filling them―at the table, of course, with the meal spread out before us and a very soggy tablecloth. Luckily, the turkey was cooked to perfection, and the wine tasted just as good in juice glasses.
Nancy Heintz
Dunedin, Florida

I neglected to defrost the bird. I called home and was told to put it in a tub with cold water to thaw. A male friend did just that while I continued talking with my dad. Next thing I heard was my friend in the background yelling, "I can't get her legs open!" I thought my father would have a heart attack. Needless to say, dinner was at 10 p.m., not 3 p.m.
Judy Baldwin
Chelmsford, Massachusetts

Trying too hard to please everyone, cramming too much into too few minutes, and forcing everyone to "have a good time or else."
Janice Dobbs
Choctaw, Oklahoma

Last Thanksgiving, everything went wrong. We borrowed a neighbor's oven to warm the stuffing but forgot to turn the oven on. My husband labored for hours over a giblet gravy, and I accidently dumped it down the sink. Then two little kids at the party overstuffed the toilet with tissue and flushed it over and over. Water flowed like a river down the hallway. We resorted to tequila shots at noon, and everyone agreed it was the best holiday ever.
Barbara Patrick
Newtown, Connecticut

My parents and godmother are master song-parody writers. But as a child, I failed to see that some of their lines could be offensive. One Christmas Eve, I burst into a parody about one of my cranky uncles set to the tune of "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer." It started a feud that lasted for almost a decade, but it's still the number one story told around the tree.
Emily Morisette
Oxford, New York

I wish I could tell you. But my extended family reads Real Simple. If they saw what I confess here, I would never hear the end of it.
Kelley Atkinson
Eldersburg, Maryland

Obese man dies after 8 months in home recliner
Wife says he couldn't get up; slept and used the bathroom in his chair
The Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. - When an ambulance brought Daniel Webb home from the hospital after he hurt his knee in March, paramedics warned the then 550-pound man he probably wouldn't be able to get up from his recliner if they put him there, his wife said.

Webb told them to leave him there anyway. He would sit in that recliner, slowly dying, for the next eight months. Finally, paramedics were called back to his Greenwood home on Wednesday because he was in a lot of pain.

Webb's body was physically stuck to the power recliner and firefighters had to cut him from the chair to take him to the hospital. He died a few hours later, his body covered with sores and a "very bad odor," according to a police report.

Webb, 33, didn't ask for help for all those months, because he was ashamed and didn't have health insurance, said his wife, Ada. He slept and used the bathroom in his chair and she cleaned it every day. The former preacher would post sermons online from the chair, and it wasn't long before he decided he was ready to go home to the Lord, she said.

"After he sat there in that one spot for a week, he was embarrassed. It was like he already knew what was going to happen," Ada Webb said.

Webb's mother was the one who placed the final call to paramedics. Not only did crews have to cut apart the chair, but they had to cut a hole in the wall of the couple's mobile home about 70 miles west of Columbia to get him out. A police report said he weighed about 800 pounds, but his wife said he was closer to 500 pounds.

The hospital told Daniel Webb's wife he died from a heart attack, she said. The coroner's office isn't investigating the death and referred all questions to Greenwood County deputies, who sent their report, but didn't respond to a phone message.

He's with Jesus now'
Webb died on the couple's second anniversary. They met four years ago on MySpace, and Ada Webb said she didn't see a man who weighed more than 500 pounds, but instead saw a guy who loved the Lord and had a big heart.

"I had the worst anniversary yesterday I ever had, but I know he had the best one he ever had because he's with Jesus now," she said.

Daniel Webb drove school buses for nearly 15 years, until his weight made it impossible. His health kept getting worse, and Ada Webb said she begged hospital officials to keep him after doctors treated his knee injury in March. But the couple had no way to pay and were sent home.

For his first few weeks home, Daniel Webb was open to the idea of seeing someone. Getting to them was the problem.

"Everybody kept telling us, if you get here, we'll help you. We didn't have no way of getting him up, and nobody was willing to come help us," Ada Webb said. "He just kind of said, 'it's in God's hands' at that point."

Daniel Webb spent the rest of his days playing with his four dogs and talking about religion to other people on the Internet.

"I did all I could for him. He loved me with a passion," his wife said. "The only reason he held on to life here was for his family because he wanted to go home and be with the Lord."