Giant jellyfish attacking Japanese fishermen

Giant jellyfish descend on the Sea of Japan, causing untold devastation to coastal villages and leaving a trail of destruction and human misery behind.

Sounds like a great sci-fi flick. But it’s not. It’s real and it’s a nightmare for Japanese fishermen.

The massive sea creatures, called Nomura’s jellyfish, can grow 6 feet in diameter and weigh more than 450 pounds. Scientists think they originate in the Yellow Sea and in Chinese waters. For the third year since 2005, ocean currents are transporting them into the Sea of Japan.

Monty Williams, a marine biologist at Alabama’s Dauphin Island Sea Lab, said the jellyfish grow to an enormous size as they are transported by ocean currents. He said they stay together in packs and as they drift northward, they get caught in fishermen’s nets…

The jellyfish destroy fishermen’s nets, getting trapped in them, tearing holes and ruining catches.

Fishermen often use expensive mazelike nets that stretch for hundreds of kilometers. When swarms of giant jellyfish tear them, the result is devastating. “Communities of fishermen and these fishing villages own these nets,” Williams said. “When these nets get wiped out, it actually has this economic devastation for an entire community.”

I know it doesn’t feel like anything termed “short-term phenomenon” to the fishermen. But, in terms of oceanography, unless someone knows of radical changes taking place in the region, that’s exactly what’s described. That’s why I never would be a farmer, regardless of how many times my agricultural kin offer that avenue. And a decade or so of subsistence fishing as a youth was sufficient, thank you.

Surely, there must be a lame and leftover Cold Warrior in Japan’s Parliament who can blame China – or Greenpeace – for this? I probably could find a dozen or so in Congress.

Cheonggyecheon – a river again instead of a cement sewer

Seoul – For half a century, a dark tunnel of crumbling concrete encased more than three miles of a placid stream bisecting this bustling city…

The waterway had been a centerpiece of Seoul since a king of the Choson Dynasty selected the new capital 600 years ago, enticed by the graceful meandering of the stream and its 23 tributaries. But in the industrial era after the Korean War, the stream, by then a rank open sewer, was entombed by pavement and forgotten beneath a lacework of elevated expressways as the city’s population swelled toward 10 million.

Today, after a $384 million recovery project, the stream, called Cheonggyecheon, is liberated from its dank sheath and burbles between reedy banks. Picnickers cool their bare feet in its filtered water, and carp swim in its tranquil pools.

The restoration of the Cheonggyecheon is part of an expanding environmental effort in cities around the world to “daylight” rivers and streams by peeling back pavement that was built to bolster commerce and serve automobile traffic decades ago…

Cities from Singapore to San Antonio have been resuscitating rivers and turning storm drains into streams. In Los Angeles, residents’ groups and some elected officials are looking anew at buried or concrete-lined creeks as assets instead of inconveniences, inspired partly by Seoul’s example…

Environmentalists point out other benefits. Open watercourses handle flooding rains better than buried sewers do, a big consideration as global warming leads to heavier downpours. The streams also tend to cool areas overheated by sun-baked asphalt and to nourish greenery that lures wildlife as well as pedestrians…

We’ve basically gone from a car-oriented city to a human-oriented city,” said Lee In-keun, Seoul’s assistant mayor for infrastructure, who has been invited to places as distant as Los Angeles to describe the project to other urban planners.

Who knows? One of these centuries we may conclude that people are more important than profits, homes outrank highways, a healthy reflection upon life and living might be more meaningful than some beancounter’s favorite time clock?

Brad Pitt says: Don’t chat at the urinal; text instead!

In Wired’s new cover story, Brad Pitt offers etiquette for the digital age.

So Brad, should people talk on the phone while they’re using the restroom?

“No, you can’t talk on the phone!” Pitt tells the magazine. “Do you want the guy next to you to hear your entire conversation?

“That’s why you should only text in the bathroom. Just be sure you don’t hit the wrong button and end up putting a photo of your junk on Twitter. Trust me, you don’t want those followers.”

Har! If you’re texting in front of the urinal, you’re probably going to pee on your shoes.

Humor covers for Pitt’s lack of tech credentials as…he offers up a range of tongue-in-cheek advice for Wired readers…

One question asks if a person who exaggerated his or her salary on an online dating profile should confess.

“Hell no,” Pitt writes. “Everyone lies online. In fact, readers expect you to lie. If you don’t, they’ll think you make less than you actually do. So the only way to tell the truth is to lie.”

A question about viewing pornography at work is paired with a photo of Pitt scanning a copy of Hustler magazine at an office desk. A half-eaten doughnut sits on the table in front of him.

“Don’t just look at it at work, bring in your old porn mags and scan them there!” Pitt writes in the magazine. “It’s like converting your vinyl to MP3s. Fill up your hard drive, and when you need a break from spreadsheets, just open a favorite pictorial…”

Nice to see Pitt doesn’t take himself too damned seriously. Especially since he’s one of the Hollyweird people who actually devotes a significant chunk of his time to human being-type causes – like rebuilding New Orleans.

Royal copper ran his scams from the palace!

A former Scotland Yard royal protection officer was found guilty of a £3m property investment scam. Paul Page, 38, defrauded colleagues, friends and others out of life savings, redundancy cash, pension payouts, retirement money and loans.

Many of his “innocent dupes”, including police officers guarding the Queen, lost five- and six-figure fortunes. Some were pushed to the brink of financial ruin by “rampant deceit”, and several saw their marriages crumble under the stress. All thought they were investing in a thriving property development company. In fact its assets were “so much moonshine” and as real as “fairies at the bottom of the garden”, Southwark crown court was told.

Their money funded Page’s expensive lifestyle and gambling addiction, paid debts and kept afloat a spread-betting scheme which he ran from Buckingham Palace

He began working as a royal protection officer in 1998 and set up a number of sidelines, including a spread-betting venture called The Currency Club, in which up to 100 colleagues took part. When he and other officers lost more than £250,000, Page set up a fake property company, United Land and Property Development, in 2003 and persuaded his colleagues to invest hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The glossy brochure he used to lure them in was a fake. Page, who drove a Porsche and lived the life of a high-flying executive, owned none of the properties that his victims bought into. He conned 20 colleagues out of £1.3m and other victims out of a further £1.7m…

In a notepad found at his home, investigators found a drawing of a house, underneath which Page had written: “United Piss your savings up against the wall Ltd.”

As the saying always goes, “If it sounds too good to be true – the odds are it isn’t!”

Meanwhile, who was supposed to be checking up on the royal watchers and defenders?

Mexican police arrested – connected with killings of Federal officers

Mexican army now has 36,000 troops deployed in the war against drug gangs
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

A federal judge ordered 10 municipal police officers arrested in connection with the slayings of 12 off-duty federal agents in southwestern Mexico, the attorney general’s office said.

The recent spate of violence was sparked by the arrest of high-ranking drug cartel member Arnoldo Rueda Medina.

The federal officers’ bodies were found Tuesday on a remote highway in Michoacan state, where at least 18 federal agents and two soldiers have been killed since July 11 due to drug-related violence…

The officers arrested are on the police force in the city of Arteaga.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon, whose home state is Michoacan, responded to the violence by dispatching 1,000 federal police officers to the area. The infusion, which more than tripled the number of federal police officers patrolling Michoacan, angered Michoacan Gov. Leonel Godoy Rangel. He called it an occupation and said he had not been consulted.

Authorities said Wednesday they were searching for the governor’s half-brother, who they say is a top-ranking member of La Familia Michoacana drug cartel. The cartel is blamed for most of the recent violence in the state.

The governor has publicly urged his brother to surrender.

Uh, his brother hasn’t surrendered.

GM preparing for a $1 billion expansion in Brazil


General Motors says it is to invest more than $1 billion to develop two new car models in Brazil despite woes at the company’s US headquarters. GM says the planned investment should create about 1,000 jobs. A government tax break which cut the cost of new vehicles in Brazil, led to GM seeing record sales in the country.

The expansion comes as GM emerges from bankruptcy proceedings as a private company which is majority owned by the US government. However, GM in Brazil is financially independent of the US company – and it has been keen to stress that there will be no dependence on products from the United States.

Half of the investment will come from the company itself and the rest from loans from state-run banks, says the BBC’s Gary Duffy in Sao Paulo…

The US government has a 60.8% stake in the new U.S. company, while Canada and a United Auto Workers union retiree healthcare trust fund also have a stake.

The “old GM” will retain a 10% stake – this is to allow creditors to recover some of their losses.

Looking at the value of some of their latest product, I actually think they can work their way out of the dungeon a bit faster than expected. Their design studio is still stuck in the 1950’s’ but, then, that’s true of a significant portion of the world’s consumers.

Man tries to patch his air mattress – blows up his apartment

Don’t let spiny pets use your air mattress

A German who tried to fix his leaky air mattress blew up his apartment instead, says the fire brigade in the western city of Duesseldorf.

The 45-year-old man used tire repair solvent to plug a hole in his airbed and left it overnight.

But it blew up when he went to inflate it the next day. “A spark from the electric air pump ignited it,” a fire brigade spokesman said.

The blast pushed his living room wall into the building’s stairwell and caused extensive damage to walls, windows and furniture.

Fire fighters evacuated the 12-apartment building and a neighboring housing block while they checked for structural damage.

The dude must have poured a whole can of solvent into the hole. It vaporized into whatever compressed air remained in the mattress – and KABOOM!