Thursday, November 17, 2016

Daily 2 Cents: Sicilian Town Plagued by Mysterious Fires -- Black Bear Attacks Grandmother in Maryland -- Raising the Dead

Sicilian Town Plagued by Mysterious Fires

In the middle of dinner, Antonino Pezzino discovered that his house was on fire. It was late December 2003, and Pezzino was at his home in Canneto di Caronia, a one-street town in the north of Sicily. The source was a fuse box, engulfed by flames so intense that they swallowed the heavy curtains that hung nearby. S’รจ bruciato tutto qui. All burned here. Pezzino, a 43-year-old insurance salesman, put out the fire and snapped a picture of what was left—a black and gray tangle of wires against a sooty white wall. Like the others on the street, the house was a refuge against the brilliance of the Sicilian sun and the sea—tight, shadowy interiors crowded with dark textiles, heavy wooden furniture, and framed photographs. A normal home, a normal fire. But then a few days later the kitchen fan caught fire, and the television, and other appliances, immolated as if by a secret hand.

Canneto di Caronia is an outpost of Caronia proper, a small town of about 3,400 people halfway between Palermo and Messina, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is a city of bricklayers, construction workers, small-business owners, and contadini, farmers worn by years of work in the sun. Thirty nine people lived in a dozen houses along a road called Via Mare; another hundred residents lived in the surrounding hillsides. Dusty chickens cluster in green yards, and when you pass by, dogs bark and jump, rattling the chain-link fences. In the winter, heavy yellow and orange citrus dot the emerald green hillside running down to the sea, and the air smells of smoke and soap from farmers clearing their fields and from clothes drying in the sun. The homes on Via Mare stand pushed together like stucco-and-stone teeth facing the water, with terra-cotta roofs and wild gardens. A looping ramp connects them to the main road above.

In the weeks that followed, Pezzino’s neighbors—his father, his mother, his aunt and cousins, who lived close together in four or five attached houses—also experienced unexplained fires. Pezzino lived with his wife, Maria, and a son, Giuseppe, who was 15 at the time. Together with his father, Pezzino had built his home in the 1980s; now he assumed faulty wiring was to blame. At the end of January, he changed the wiring, but the fires continued. Read more at When the Devil Enters

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Black Bear Attacks Grandmother in Maryland

FREDERICK, MD (WUSA9) - A mother bear that was shot to death by Maryland wildlife officials Thursday after attacking and injuring a 63-year-old woman was well known to residents and Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources.

Wildlife officials placed a radio collar on the sow on September 1 after complaints that the bear and her three cubs had been marauding trash cans and bird feeders for much of the summer, doing significant damage to one resident’s chicken coop, according to Harry Spiker, bear biologist for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Many residents had taken photos of the bear and cubs throughout 2016.

“She had a big scar on her shoulder and wasn’t able to use that one paw,” said Dick Klug. “I assume she’d been hit by a car at some point.”

Klug took photos of the sow and cubs after the bears wallowed in a decorative garden pond on his property during a heat wave in August.

The victim of the attack, Karen E. Osborne, was seriously injured with broken bones and more than 80 stitches, her son-in-law said. She was mauled repeatedly when she walked down the driveway of her daughter’s Frederick home in the 7900-block of Irongate Lane at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.

She went to investigate after the family dog began barking, according to son-in-law Mark Snuffin. He said some of the attack was overheard by a 911 dispatcher because the bear returned after an initial assault.

The attack was the first ever recorded in Modern Maryland history.

Wildlife officials believe the bear attacked to defend one of its cubs, which had climbed a tree, according to Candus Thomson, spokesperson for Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police.

There is no evidence the victim was attempting to harass or feed the bear, Thompson said.

“She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Snuffin.

The cub was tranquilized and recovered by wildlife officials. It survived the fall from the tree and has been released. The cub weighed 86 pounds and is expected to be able to survive on its own with the other 2 cubs.

Wildlife officials were able to track the sow’s radio collar early Thursday. They killed the sow with a rifle.

The bear was sent for a necropsy, but the results are not yet complete, according to Thomson.

Klug and other residents believe the bear had been frequenting the subdivision near the Gambrills State Park because the sow’s injuries made it too difficult for her to forage naturally.

“You could tell she was hurting,” Klug said. “She looked underweight and had trouble walking normally.”

But Spiker disagrees.

“She was fully capable despite that injury,” he said. “We’d actually witnessed her climbing a tree once.”

Spiker said the sow was weighed 193 pounds after it was shot, and there was evidence of good body fat going into the winter.

“We are aware of a number of three-legged bears in the state,” Spiker said.

Spiker said the sow had broken teeth which is also consistent with a previous impact with a car.

Maryland has approximately 2,000 bears living in the state’s westernmost counties. Hunters harvested 167 bears during a three-day season in October designed, in part, to cull the population. Bear hunting was allowed for the first time in Washington and Frederick Counties during the 2016 season. Eleven bears were killed in those counties combined, Spiker reported. - Bear that attacked grandma well known to neighbors, wildlife officials

NOTE: same general area in Frederick County, MD where the dogman flap occurred in the 1960's. The black bear population in western Maryland has increased substantially over the past decade. Lon




Raising the Dead

BENGALURU, INDIA—The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has derailed a controversial experiment that would seek to revive brain-dead accident victims. On 11 November, ICMR’s National Institute of Medical Statistics removed the “ReAnima” trial from India’s clinical trial registry.

In May, Himanshu Bansal, an orthopedic surgeon at Anupam Hospital in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand, announced plans to give around 20 brain-dead people a mix of interventions including injections of mesenchymal stem cells and peptides, and transcranial laser stimulation and median nerve stimulation. Transcranial laser stimulation involves shining pulses of near-infrared light into the brain; median nerve stimulation is the electrical stimulation of a major nerve that runs from the neck to the arm. Both techniques have been shown to improve cognition in patients with traumatic brain injury. Bioquark, a biotech firm based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, had agreed to supply the trial with peptides that are said to help regenerate brain cells.

In interviews with Indian media in the spring, Bansal described his aim as bringing brain-dead individuals back to a “minimally conscious state” in which patients show flickers of consciousness, such as moving their eyes to track objects. Although there is scant evidence that brain-dead people can recover such function, Bansal says the medical literature describes a significant number of cases of people who have recovered full consciousness from a minimally conscious state. Read more at Experiment to raise the dead blocked in India



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