Saturday, August 9, 2008

82 dead in Vietnam floods

Waters still receding, death toll could go higher
HANOI, Vietnam - The death toll from northern Vietnam’s floods and landslides rose to 82 after 20 more bodies were recovered, officials said Sunday. Seven more bodies were recovered in the worst-hit province of Lao Cai, bringing the death toll there to 32, said disaster official Pham Van Toan. Four more bodies were discovered in the neighboring Yen Bai province and one more body was found in Phu Tho, officials said.Flash floods and landslides have also claimed at least eight lives in Ha Giang province, raising the overall death toll to 82, said provincial disaster official Hoang Manh Hung.Another 37 people were reported missing.“The water is receding but very slowly,” said official Luong Tuan Anh of Yen Bai province, where 29 people died. “Many villages remain unreachable by car.”“We expect the death toll to rise because rescue workers have just begun to reach affected areas, where communication was very limited.Rampaging waters have also knocked down trees, electricity pylons and washed away houses. Thousands of people have been forced to evacuate to higher ground.
Vietnam is prone to floods and storms that kill hundreds of people each year.

Cloned puppies may have exposed old mystery

Dog owner allegedly made Mormon missionary her sex slave 31 years ago
SALT LAKE CITY - A woman who made news around the world when she had five pups cloned from her beloved pit bull Booger looked very familiar to some who saw her picture: She’s the same woman who 31 years earlier was accused of abducting a Mormon missionary in England, handcuffing him to a bed and making him her sex slave. Dog lover Bernann McKinney acknowledged in a telephone call to The Associated Press on Saturday that she is indeed Joyce McKinney, who in 1977 became a British tabloid sensation when she faced charges of unlawful imprisonment in the missionary case. She jumped bail and was never brought to justice.Through tears, she explained that she went public with her efforts to replicate Booger, who died two years ago, hoping people would be able to focus on that story rather than the “garbage” of the past.ner allegedly made Mormon missionary her sex slave 31 years ago.British tabloids first recognized the blond woman’s smiling face when she appeared in news photographs this past week with the five pit bull pups she paid South Korean scientists $53,000 to clone.McKinney, who initially denied a connection between the two women, acknowledged that she was one and the same after the AP ran a story noting the striking similarities in arrest records and court documents for the names Bernann McKinney and Joyce McKinney. They had the same birth date and Social Security numbers, the same hometown of Newland, N.C., and Joyce McKinney’s middle name is Bernann.

Car bomb kills 25 in Tal Afar

Car was parked when it exploded near crowded market, official
BAGHDAD - At least 25 people were killed in a car bombing at a crowded market in the city of Tal Afar, officials in northern Iraq reported Saturday. The blast was carried out by a lone Sunni Turkoman bomber, whose identity was confirmed after forensic tests. The bomber had been released from detention four months ago under an amnesty agreement passed by parliament earlier this year.
The bomber may have avoided detection at a checkpoint by having someone ride with him, officials said. The passenger apparently got out out after the checkpoint. Suicide car bombers are known to ride alone. For that reason, Tal Afar has banned men from driving alone. The bombing took place in a region where tensions have been growing among ethnic groups because of a dispute over control of the oil-rich area around Kirkuk. The city has now been placed under an indefinite curfew.

Vampire bats suspected in Venezuela deaths

At least 38 Warao Indians have died in possible rabies outbreakCARACAS, Venezuela - 38 Warao Indians have died in remote villages in Venezuela,and medical experts suspect an outbreak of rabies spread by bites from vampire bats. Laboratory investigations have yet to confirm the cause, but the symptoms point to rabies, according to two researchers from the University of California at Berkeley and other medical experts.The two UC Berkeley researchers — the husband-and-wife team of anthropologist Charles Briggs and public health specialist Dr. Clara Mantini-Briggs — said the symptoms include fever, body pains, tingling in the feet followed by progressive paralysis, and an extreme fear of water. Victims tend to have convulsions and grow rigid before death.Dr. Charles Rupprecht, chief of the rabies program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, agreed with their preliminary diagnosis."The history and clinical signs are compatible with rabies," Rupprecht told The Associated Press on Friday. "Prevention is straightforward: Prevent bites and vaccinate those at risk of bites."Venezuelan health officials are investigating the outbreak and plan to distribute mosquito nets to prevent bat bites and send a medical boat to provide treatment in remote villages on the river delta, Indigenous Peoples Minister Nicia Maldonado said Thursday, according to the state-run Bolivarian News agency.Outbreaks of rabies spread by vampire bats are a problem in various tropical areas of South America, including Brazil and Peru, Rupprecht said.according to him researchers suspect that in some cases environmental degradation — including mining, logging or dam construction projects — may also be contributing to rabies outbreaks.Humans an 'easy meal'"Vampire bats are very adaptable," Rupprecht said. And when their roosts are disrupted or their normal prey grow scarce, "Homo sapiens is a pretty easy meal."More study is needed to confirm through blood or other samples from victims that it is the rabies virus in Venezuela, and to determine what other factors may be contributing, he and other researchers say.At least 38 Warao Indians have died since June 2007, and at least 16 have died since the start of June 2008, according to a report the Berkeley researchers and indigenous leaders provided to Venezuelan health officials this week.

Not just guns: Gazans smuggle lions into zoo

100 tunnels along border with Egypt feed local economyRAFAH, Gaza Strip - The monkeys and lions were drugged, tossed into cloth sacks and dragged through smuggling tunnels under the border between Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip before ending up in a dusty Gaza zoo. Stocked almost entirely with smuggled animals, the "Heaven of Birds and Animals Zoo" is a sign of Gaza's ever-expanding tunnel industry. Dozens of passages are believed to snake under the border, serving as a mainstay of the local economy and a way to smuggle in everything from cigarettes to lingerie to automatic weapons.And smugglers say a new effort by Egypt to blow up the passages will have little effect on the flow of goods.Gaza's commercial trade was literally forced underground after the Islamic militant Hamas seized the coastal territory last summer, prompting neighboring Israel and Egypt to restrict movement through commercial crossings. While Israel has allowed more goods in since a June truce with Hamas, it is not enough to meet Gaza's needs. Tunnel smugglers fill the gaps, bringing in contraband drugs and guns and more mundane items like frilly underwear and laptop computers, as well as exotic animals like the lion and lioness that pace in a cage at the Rafah zoo.$40,000 spent buying animalsThey were purchased as cubs from Egypt for $3,000 each, drugged and dragged through a tunnel in sacks. Zoo manager Shadi Fayiz said he went through a middleman to put in his order.At the small zoo, where umbrellas shade battered couches, there is a parrot who was slipped through a tunnel in a cage. He can ask for a kiss in Arabic, startling veiled Gazan women walking by, Fayiz said.

Henna hazard: Chemical causes ornate allergies

Harsh dye can swell popular tattoos into itchy, blistery swirls and shapesA women has never been one for tattoos. But when her daughter Kim begged to get a henna tattoo on a family vacation to Cancun a few years ago, she thought it couldn’t hurt because its tempprary, and Kim want to show off to her friends back home. But just two days later, the tattoo of a cute little bug had swelled into an itchy, bubbling blister on Kim’s upper right arm. “I was scared to death,”says her mother, who’s 43 and lives with her family in Cary, N.C. “I thought, she’s 9 years old and she’s going to be scarred for life.” The American Academy of Dermatology recently issued a warning that a chemical found in black henna tattoos can cause a severe allergic reaction, causing the skin to redden, swell and blister — but only where the henna is applied,people with bubbly blisters in shapes like suns, stars and flowers.As henna tattoo become very populer in the last few years, sometimes peddled at summer carnivals and concerts, dermatologists report increasingly treating patients,especially teen girls and young women, with these often elaborate looking allergic reactions.“Just because they’re temporary, people think they’re safe,” says Dr. Sharon E. Jacob, a dermatologist at the University of California, San Diego. Natural henna vs. black hennaWhile true henna is made from harmless plants, black henna uses a chemical called para-phenylenediamine, or PPD, which makes the tattoo dry quickly and last longer — and in some cases, that’s much, much longer. “These skin allergies themselves are not dangerous,” says Dr. Colby Evans, a dermatologist in private practice in Austin, Texas. “But they can cause scarring or darkness to the skin that can be permanent." There are also lifelong allergies to some medicationsBut Evans and other dermatologists warn that just one bad reaction to black henna can be enough to cause permanent sensitivity to PPD, and that allergy can cross-react with chemical relatives in certain anesthetics and medications for heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. “The allergy you can develop is lifelong,” says Jacob. But she’s found that people, especially teens, are generally unimpressed by her warnings of reactions to medication, so she reserves this for the kicker: “It may mean you can never dye your hair again.” Experts say there are a few easy ways to tell the difference between reall henna and black henna.For one,henna is never black — it’s red, which darkens to a brownish color on the skin as it dries. Real henna starts to fade away within a few days, so be wary of a henna tattoo artist who boasts of tattoos that will last any longer than that.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Booger is back: Woman receives 5 cloned puppies

SEOUL, South Korea - Booger is back. An American woman received five puppies Tuesday that were cloned from her beloved late pitbull, becoming the inaugural customer of a South Korean company that says it is the world's first successful commercial canine cloning service.
Seoul-based RNL Bio said the clones of Bernann McKinney's dog Booger were born last week after being cloned in cooperation with a team of Seoul National University scientists who created the world's first cloned dog in 2005. "It's a miracle!" McKinney repeatedly shouted Tuesday when she saw the cloned Boogers for which she paid $50,000.McKinney said she was especially attached to Booger because he saved her life when she was attacked by another dog three times his size. The incident resulted in her left hand being severely injured, and also damaged her leg nerves and stomach. Doctors later reconstructed her hand and she spent part of her recovery in a wheelchair. McKinney said Booger acted as more than just a canine companion as she recuperated from the attack. Her dog pulled her wheelchair when its battery ran out. He opened her house door with his teeth and helped her take off her shoes and socks, even though she never trained him to do so. "The most unusual thing about Booger was that he has a unique ability to reason," she said. "He seems to understand I couldn't use my hands."RNL Bio charges up to $150,000 for dog cloning but will receive just a third of that sum from McKinney because she is the first customer and helped with publicity, said company head Ra Jeong-chan.

Russian tanks enter South Ossetia

Russian tanks have entered the capital of Georgia's separatist region of South Ossetia, says Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili.
Amid fierce fighting, Georgia has been trying to regain control of the breakaway province, which has had de facto independence since the 1990s. Georgia is reported to have said any involvement of Russian forces in the conflict will result in a state of war. Russia's president promised to defend Russian citizens in South Ossetia. Moscow's defence ministry said more than 10 of its peacekeeping troops in South Ossetia had been killed and 30 wounded in the Georgian offensive. At least 15 civilians are also reported dead. Russia said earlier it was sending reinforcements to support peacekeepers in the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali. Reports from Georgia claim Russian jets have attacked an airport near the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. Nato, the US and the EU have all called for an immediate end to hostilities. Georgia's president said 150 Russian tanks and other vehicles had entered South Ossetia. He told in interview,"Russia is fighting a war with us in our own territory." The Russian defence ministry told Interfax news agency that reinforcements for Russian peacekeepers had been sent to South Ossetia "to help end bloodshed". But Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said: "I must protect the life and dignity of Russian citizens wherever they are," Interfax quoted him as saying. "We will not allow their deaths to go unpunished. Those responsible will receive a deserved punishment." Georgian Foreign Minister Ekaterine Tkeshelashvili told the BBC the present situation was calm as Georgian troops were observing a unilateral ceasefire which started at 1100GMT. She said they wanted to ensure that any civilians who wanted to leave the conflict zone could do so safely.

Vietnamese pilgrim bus crashes in Texas, at least 12 dead

WASHINGTON — A bus chartered by Vietnamese pilgrims crashed in Texas on Friday, killing at least 12 people and injured more than 26, local media reported.
There were 55 people in the bus, drove off a major highway overpass bridge shortly after midnight and crashed below near the town of Tyler, some 96 kilometers (60 miles) north of Dallas.Sherman police spokesman Robert Fair told in an interview that at least 12 people were killed in the crash."We are being told that a tire on the bus had blown," Fair told. "We shall continue our investigation to see if other factors were involved."The accident took place around 12:45 am Friday (0545 GMT), the Sherman Herald-Democrat reported, adding that the bus was lying on its right side.That was a wrong track.A large section of the highway was closed down as ambulances and at least 13 helicopters rushed to the scene to ferry the wounded to Dallas area hospitals, the newspaper reported.Dozens of passengers were injured, Fair told in interview, while the Dallas Morning News put the number at at least 26."We've got ambulances and helicopters from all over the county," Fair told the newspaper.The Morning News, quoting local TV, said the group from the Vietnamese Martyrs Church of Houston was on the way to an annual celebration in honor of the Virgin Mary in the city of Carthage, in Missouri.

Jewel marries rodeo star in Bahamas

LOS ANGELES -A Pop singer Jewel eloped with her rodeo-star boyfriend in the Bahamas on Thursday, People magazine reported. The 34-year-old singer married Ty Murray, 38, during a private ceremony.
Jewel said that she and Murray were heading to the Caribbean islands for six days with two friends.The pair, who live on a ranch in Texas, had been together for more than a decade. Jewel, whose last name is Kilcher, achieved fame in the mid-1990s with such pop-folk tunes as "Who Will Save Your Soul" and "Foolish Games." She recently released a country album and served as a judge on the TV talent show "Nashville Star."Murray is a legend on the rodeo circuit, winning the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's All-Around world championship title a record seven times.ny, the magazine said, quoting Jewel's publicist.