Do not even hum on Pakistan buses
Bus drivers in the northwest Pakistan town of Mardan are quickly removing audio and video equipment from their vehicles after Taliban militants threatened suicide attacks against those who played music or movies for their passengers, saying they are guilty of spreading "vulgarity and obscenity." Police said they were unaware of the threat, but transportation officials said they didn't report it. "What can the police do? It involves the lives of hundreds of passengers, and we do not want to put them in danger," said Walid Mir of the town's transport union.
Russia getting out of space tourist biz
With a plan to double the resident crew of the international space station from three to six, Russia will have to eliminate something else: space tourists. Since 2001, the lucrative Russian space tourism program has flown six "private spaceflight participants" who paid at least $20-million each for flights aboard Russian-built Soyuz crafts brokered by a U.S.-based company. U.S. software designer Charles Simonyi — who has already flown to the station — will be the last private tourist when he blasts off in March. The resident crew is being expanded to accommodate astronauts from Canada, Europe and Japan, countries that have contributed to the station.
Treasure found in Ike's debris path
A contractor helping clear debris from Hurricane Ike is looking for the owner of an ammunition box he found buried in sand that contained keepsakes, including an 1863 Confederate $50 bill, war medals and diamond earrings. The green steel Army ammunition canister was found Jan. 7 by Michael Pate, who was working on a tractor equipped with a grappling arm, snatching storm debris from the sand at Galveston Island State Park. "I thought it would be an encouraging story for the community," Pate said. "We've seen so much destruction."
Study: Bottom of globe warming, too
Antarctica, the only place that had seemed immune from climate change, is warming after all, according to a new study. For years, temperatures on much of the continent at the bottom of the world were staying the same or slightly cooling, previous research indicated. The new study, published in today's issue of the journal Nature, went back further and filled in a gap in data with satellite information to find that Antarctica too is getting warmer. The study does not point to man-made climate change as the cause of the warming — doing so is an intricate scientific process. The research found that since 1957, the annual temperature for the continent has warmed by about 1 degree Fahrenheit, but still is 50 degrees below zero. West Antarctica, which is about 20 degrees warmer than the east, has warmed nearly twice as fast, said study lead author Eric Steig of the University of Washington. Some researchers skeptical about the magnitude of global warming said that the new study didn't match their measurementss and that there appears to be no warming in Antarctica since 1980.
There is a new doctor on staff at Hau Sheng Hospital in Taiwan. Dr. Hello Kitty. In fact, the iconic Japanese cartoon now blankets the maternity hospital in an effort to calm anxious mothers.
"When new moms feel anxious and lost about how to deal with their new babies, Hello Kitty can make them more relaxed and reduce their sense of discomfort while giving birth," said Tsai Tsung-ji, who owns the hospital and not, surprisingly, a Hello Kitty franchise.
Some have suggested that the omnipresent cartoon motif could make the facility seem like a theme park, but Tsai said the hospital has delivered about 2,000 babies since it underwent its Hello Kitty makeover in 2006.
If there was any doubt, the Labrador retriever is the people's choice among purebred pooches for the 18th straight year. That's the word from the American Kennel Club, which keeps its nose to the ground on such matters. AKC says more than twice as many Labs were registered in the United States in 2008 as Yorkshire terriers — the No. 2 dog. The rest of the Top 10:
. German shepherd
. golden retriever
. shih tzu
The bulldog returned to the list last year after an absence of 70 years.