Sunday, February 04, 2007

Did you know some bears like beer?

A black bear went on a binge at a campsite in the US state of Washington - 80 miles (129km) northeast of Seattle - guzzling down some 36 cans of beer.

Campground workers were stunned to come across the bear sleeping off the effects in their grounds, surrounded by dozens of empty beer cans.

He had apparently tried out and rejected the mass-market Busch beer in favour of local brand Rainier.
The bear appeared to have got into campers' cool boxes and used his teeth and claws to puncture the cans.

Fish and wildlife enforcement Sgt Bill Heinck said the bear tried one can of Busch and ignored the rest - then got stuck into three dozen cans of Rainier.

"We noticed a bear sleeping on the common lawn and wondered what was going on until we discovered that there were a lot of beer cans lying around," camp worker Lisa Broxson was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

She said the bear was chased away by wildlife agents, but returned the next day.
The agents decided to trap the bear with doughnuts, honey and, of course, two cans of Rainier beer. It did the trick and he was captured.
"This is a new one on me," Sgt Heinck said in an Associated Press report. "I've known them to get into cans, but nothing like this. And it definitely had a preference."

Read the whole BBC story here.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Festival in the Desert

The BBC offers you a wonderful audio slideshow about the Festival in the Desert: music, voice and great photos.

The Festival in the Desert, in Essakane, northern Mali, has become an increasingly prestigious event.

Thousands of international visitors travel for days to join local tribes people and artists among the dunes of the Sahara, in celebration of the music and culture of Mali and beyond.

Hear and see it here. Superb!
Why are we destroying this wonderful planet?

Thursday, February 01, 2007


The BBC has published three very interesting texts about migrants in the UK.
Read them here.

The children of migrants in three of Britain's long established ethnic communities recount the experiences of their parents and describe the difficulties of growing up in a closed society.

Read their stories and then use the form at the bottom of the page to send your comments.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Liberia gets all-female peacekeeping force

A unit of United Nations peacekeepers with a difference has arrived for work in Liberia - they are all women. More than 100 female peacekeepers from India are there to work as an armed police unit to help stabilise Liberia which, after years of war, is trying to rebuild its own police force from scratch.

Stepping off the chartered plane in immaculate blue uniforms and berets, the 103 women were immediately on parade and probably bewildered by the media frenzy. It is just a coincidence that the first all-female peacekeeping force is in Liberia, the first African country to elect a female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Crime is high especially in Monrovia and the war has left a degree of violence simmering just below the surface.

But having served in turbulent areas, including parts of northern India, the commander Seema Dhundiya says they are well prepared.

"These girls are experienced and have been trained. They have worked in areas of India where there was insurgency. They will do a good job and the Liberian ladies will get motivated and inspired to come forward and join the regular police."

Excellence, excellence, excellenece

Non-learners 'may lose benefits'

The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, has said he would seek to take away benefits from young people who refused to take up education or training opportunities. In a BBC interview he advocated a "carrot and stick" approach - education maintenance allowances balanced by "compulsion if necessary".
He wanted to ensure all aged 16 to 18 were in some form of education, as part of a drive to improve the UK's skills. His priorities would be "excellence, excellence, excellence", he said.

Earlier this month, the Department for Education and Skills confirmed plans to raise the school leaving age in England, in effect, by 2013.
Statistics indicate 267,000 of those aged 16 and 17 are not in education or training.

Mr Brown said young people must realise they could not receive benefits unless they were "contributing to their own training".
He also called for employers to take a more active role in training young people.
Read the whole text: BBC NEWS.

UK sees second warmest January

This January is on course to be the second warmest in the UK since records began and the fifth warmest in central England for 350 years.
The average UK temperature so far for the month - which experts say is unlikely to change - is 5.9C (43F). The average Central England Temperature (CET), which has been measured since 1658, is 7.1C (45F). The Met Office began recording UK weather in 1914, with the warmest January since that time coming in 1916.

During that record month, the average temperature was 6.3C (43F).
The Met Office said temperatures had been pushed up by winds blowing warm air in from the west.

This month's average is 2.5C above the Met Office's long-term January average, measured between 1971 and 2000.
This January has also seen 17% more sunshine and 21% more rain than normal.
Read the BBC story here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ice storms in the USA have given people wonderful chances for extraordinary pictures.
See more BBC photos here.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Can chewing gum be used to tackle obesity?

Scientists are looking at whether an appetite-suppressing chewing gum could be used to tackle obesity. The Imperial College London team are developing a drug based on a natural gut hormone that mimics the body's "feeling full" response. An injectible treatment could be available in five to eight years, but the long-term goal is to produce a form that can be absorbed in the mouth.

One in five adults are obese, but that could rise to one in three by 2010.

The hormone in question is called pancreatic polypeptide (PP), which the body produces after every meal to ensure eating does not run out of control. There is evidence that some people have more of the hormone than others, and becoming overweight reduces the levels produced. A vicious circle then results, causing appetite to increase, an inability to resist the temptation of food, and further increases in weight.

Early tests have shown moderate doses of the hormone, pancreatic polypeptide (PP), can reduce the amount of food eaten by healthy volunteers by 15% to 20%.

The team have now been given funding of £2.2m from the Wellcome Trust to take it forward. As well as chewing gum, they believe it could be incorporated in a nasal spray.

Lead researcher Professor Steve Bloom said: "We have got a problem and we don't know what to do about it.
"We hit on the idea of a chewing gum because obese people like chewing."

BBC story - Read more here.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Jaywalking and crossing roads in the UK and USA

Distinguished historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, visiting professor of global environmental history at Queen Mary College, University of London, tried to cross the road while in Atlanta for the conference of the American Historical Association, only to find himself in handcuffs and surrounded by armed police.

"I come from a country where you can cross the road where you like," said the visiting professor of global environmental history at Queen Mary College, University of London. "It hadn't occurred to me that I wasn't allowed to cross the road between the two main conference venues."

The bespectacled professor says he didn't realise the "rather intrusive young man" shouting that he shouldn't cross there was a policeman. "I thanked him for his advice and went on."

The officer asked for identification. The professor asked for his, after which Officer Leonpacher told him he was under arrest and, the professor claims, kicked his legs from under him, pinned him to the ground and confiscated his box of peppermints.

Professor Fernandez-Armesto then spent eight hours in the cells before the charges were dropped. He told the Times that his colleagues now regard him as "as a combination of Rambo, because it took five cops to pin me to the ground, and Perry Mason, because my eloquence before a judge obtained my immediate release".

Not every jaywalking Brit abroad will be similarly blessed, nor enjoy the intervention of the city mayor.
Just because you can do something in the UK doesn't mean it's OK in another country. Jaywalking is an offence in most urban areas in the United States - although enforcement varies between states - and Canada, and in places such as Singapore, Spain, Poland, Slovenia and Australia.

Read the whole BBC story here.