THE VIRGINIA BLOB!
theregister - Baffled passers-by have discovered a large, bizarre, blob-like lifeform floating in an artificial lake in Virginia. As there appeared no way in which the slow-moving, four-foot "mysterious blob" could have got into the lake naturally, the thing's discoverers - theorising that it must have come from above - have dubbed it the "alien pod".
Reportedly the "pod" was discovered by office worker Tracy Collier while out walking her boss's dog by the manmade lake in City Center at Oyster Point, a development in Newport News, Virginia.
“The lake is behind our office," says Collier's excellently-named colleague Charles Schmuck. "Tracy was walking by the lake, saw the object, and asked everyone else to come out and take a look.”
It was another colleague, Dale Leonart, who came up with the extra-terrestrial angle on seeing the lifeform.
"It has to be an alien pod," he stated authoritatively - though later reportedly adding that alternatively the thing might be "some type of sponge".
The puzzled office workers decided to call in expert help from boffins at the local Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences (VIMS). They sent an email with photos attached (see above) which read in part:
The object is about 4 feet in diameter. It has moved about 6 feet down the shoreline in the last 24 hours. It 'jiggles' when the waves in the lake hit it… when we prod it, it seems to be spongy feeling… The texture appears to be that of a rock with algae spots on it — it is brown and yellow, with a pattern of some type.
Sadly the VIMS experts pooh-poohed the alien landing theory. After a heated internal debate, they identified the blobaceous lakeside intruder as a very large colony of Pectinatella magnifica — aka the "magnificent bryozoan".
According to the boffins' description:
Colonies of Pectinatella magnifica feature a surface layer of adjoining "rosettes" — each with 12-18 animals or "zooids" — around a central jelly-like mass that is 99% water. The colonies can be free floating or attached to a piling or other submerged object. One study even showed that young colonies of P magnifica can actually move on their own by coordinated pulsing of the individual animals.
VIMS prof Carl Hershner says that the blobby hive-jelly creature eats algae and thus is “actually a good thing to have around, despite its looks. It's not a sign of bad water quality, and it doesn't hurt fish. It can clog pipes, though, and it will be smelly if it’s removed from the water.”
NOTE: seems to be related to the bryozoan 'blobs' found in several North Carolina sewers a few years ago...Lon
Young Ghana Witch Has 21 Sex Organs
peacefmonline - An 18-year-old student at Begoro District of the Eastern Region became the centre of attraction at the powerful house of Professor Aziz Sabo at Kukukorusan, near Suhum when she allegedly confessed having 21 female organs.
According to the self-confessed witch, her organs contained scorpions which she uses to woo big men including some notable politicians and businessmen to bed but later led them into all sorts of problems.
Throwing more light on how she acquired the witchcraft powers, she noted that her uncle gave the spirit to her through food at a tender age of four. She alleged that same night after retiring to bed, the uncle came calling her spiritually to accompany him to their place of meeting which she did.
She was later initiated into the witchcraft world and given the powers to destroy men with the 21 vaginas. With that power, she started having sex at the age of 12 years and woos men with her beauty and charm. She claims, she also destroyed her own biological mother’s business and turned her into a complete beggar.
According to the student, her power of destruction came to an end recently when her mother went to town and brought the powerful lucky soap, a product from Professor Aziz Sabo.
Meanwhile, two elderly women and a 15 year old girl have also been exposed at the shrine when they confessed that they are also engaged in witchcraft. They claimed responsibility for so many road accidents resulting in deaths especially in the Eastern Region.
NOTE: I could only hope, upon seeing 21 vaginas, her partners would have second thoughts. That must be some powerful ju-ju in order to pull that off...Lon
Giant Hole Opens up in German Town
spiegel - A giant crater 20 meters deep opened up in the German town of Schmalkalden on Monday. No one was hurt. Authorities say the landslide was caused by natural factors rather than mining.
A gaping hole 30 meters (98 feet) in diameter and 20 meters (65.6 feet) deep opened up in the eastern German town of Schmalkalden early on Monday morning. An empty vehicle plunged into it but no one was hurt, even though the chasm is in the middle of a residential area.
A total of 25 people were evacuated from six houses and soil is continuing to crumble from the edge of the crater, police said. Wolfgang Peter, a resident, said he had been woken by a roaring sound at 3 a.m. on Monday morning. "First I heard the rushing of water and then it sounded as if a dozen gravel trucks were being emptied," Peter told the regional newspaper Thüringer Allgemeine.
He went outside to find out who was carrrying out roadworks at that time of night and found himself standing on the edge of a giant crater right next to his house.
'Natural Cause' Likely
Ralf Luther, a regional official, said 10,000 to 12,000 cubic meters of soil had slipped. A line of garages right on the edge of the hole is at risk of plunging into it and cracks have appeared in nearby houses. Luther said residents were lucky not to have been hurt.
Experts are at the scene to find out what caused the hole. The environment and agriculture minister for the state of Thuringia, Jürgen Reinholz, said: "I assume that there is a natural cause for the landslide." He ruled out that salt mining could have been the cause.
A spokesman for the ministry said the region is prone to landslides because of its geological makeup and pointed out a similar case in the town of Tiefenort where five houses became uninhabitable when a two-meter deep crater opened up in January.
Pentagon Building System For Massive E-Mail Privacy Violation
ACLU - Here we go again. Earlier this month the Pentagon announced a new effort to build a system aimed at allowing it to scan billions of communications in order to detect "anomalies" in people's behavior that will predict who is about to snap and turn into a homicidal maniac — or, perhaps, leak damaging documents to a reporter.
Citing the case of Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged with killing 13 people in Fort Hood, Texas, the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to try to identify, before they happen, "malevolent actions" by insiders within the military. (See coverage by Wired, CNN, or Government Security News.)
The new project is called ADAMS, for Anomaly Detection at Multiple Scales, and anyone who remembers the battles over the Bush Administration's "Total Information Awareness" (TIA) program may be experiencing a major flashback right about now. TIA, also a DARPA project, was based on a vision of pulling together as much information as possible about as many people as possible into an "ultra-large-scale" database, making that information available to government officials, and sorting through it to try to identify terrorists. Eventually shut down by Congress, it was probably the closest thing to a truly comprehensive monitor-everyone "Big Brother" program that has ever been seriously contemplated in the United States. And many of the problems with TIA are equally present with this ADAMS project. Continue reading at Pentagon Building System For Massive E-Mail Privacy Violation
Italian Mayor Imposes Ban on Illness
BBC - The mayor of a small town in central Italy has issued a controversial official edict ordering citizens not to fall ill.
Alberto Bambini, left-wing mayor of Acquapendente, said he wanted to draw attention to a decision by the regional governor to close the town's hospital.
From 1 January 2011, the town will have little more than emergency care.
The mayor said people should avoid any sickness or disease needing hospital treatment, particularly if urgent.
Acknowledging he was acting "provocatively", he warned that anyone who falls foul of the town by-law did so "under penalty of being forcibly transported to the Belcolle Hospital" some 30 miles away, "or of being fined in proportion to the seriousness of their pathology or disease".
Mr Bambini has also ordered fellow citizens to avoid any behaviour that could jeopardise their health, advising them not to leave their homes too often or practise any sport.
He told the BBC he was aiming to "turn the spotlight on the problems citizens in this area have".
The mayor said he had acted after an incident involving a group of mayors and Lazio regional governor Renata Polverini.
According to Mr Bambini, when a delegation of Lazio mayors affected by the cuts requested a meeting with Ms Polverini in late September, they were prevented from entering the regional headquarters and the Italian military police, the carabinieri, were called.
The mayors were later seen individually by the regional governor, he added.
Acquapendente's mayor has also threatened to request the town's annexation by the nearby Umbria region, because he believes Rome absorbs all the resources of the Lazio area.
Reports say Lazio has the biggest deficit in its health care budget in Italy.
While Italy's health care is respected worldwide, the government has had to cut its public budget considerably in the wake of the financial crisis.