Who is the real Horse-boy?

Mystery surrounds a man wearing a horse’s head who has been captured on Google’s Street View in Aberdeen.

The man – who has become known as “horse-boy” – can be seen in the Hardgate area of the city. The sighting has become a popular attraction on Google’s service, which offers a photographic map of streets…

Dozens of BBC news website users have e-mailed from across Europe to say they know who horse boy is. Others have sent in images of the mystery horse-head wearer and some have claimed to be him.

Stefan Kleen from Germany said he and a friend met horse-boy at a German festival last weekend. He added: “He only spoke English so we didn’t really talk a lot to him.”

Anders Hauge reckons he has been shopping in Haugesund in Norway; John Hammond was convinced he was playing the fairways and relaxing in the bars of Marbella and Julian Sykes said he had been sighted in Cardiff.

John Ainsworth insisted he saw horse-boy in Norwich earlier in the year walking through Wensum Park. He said: “I thought I was hallucinating at first but then realised it was real.”

The BBC news website story has had more than 800,000 hits.

That is the point – for some. For the dude who owns the horse’s head? Who knows?

I presume he’s having fun.

Julia Gillard is Australia’s first woman prime minister

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Australia has its first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, after Kevin Rudd stepped down as Labor party leader, avoiding a ballot he was certain to lose.

In an extraordinary day in Australian politics, Gillard told a media conference in Canberra’s Parliament House she was “truly honoured” to become prime minister.

The 48-year-old who came under attack in 1998 when she entered parliament for being single and childless, said it was also an important milestone for Australian women. “I think if there’s one girl who looks at the TV screen over the next few days and says ‘Gee, I might like to do that in the future’, well that’s a good thing,” Gillard told reporters…

Gillard said she would stay in Altona, a suburb in Melbourne’s west, and not move into the prime minister’s Canberra residence, The Lodge, until after she had won the next election…

“Indeed, I believe it is appropriate for me to stay there until we have an election and I have fulsomely earned the trust of Australian people to be prime minister…”

Rudd, who was once regarded as Australia’s most popular prime minister which led to him being known as “Mr 60 Percent”, for his high approval ratings, has seen his support plummet to record lows this year as the nation reacted angrily to a series of government U-turns on key election promises.

The most damaging was the decision to shelve its flagship emissions trading scheme until 2013. He also came under fire over plans to tax the “super profits” of the key mining sector by 40%, earning the wrath of resources firms and their many shareholders.

Rudd, the first Labor prime minister to be dumped by his party before he could complete a term in office, was in tears today as he declared “I have given it my all…”

Much like the current situation in Japan – and should I say it, the United States? Voters don’t like being sold out on issues that change an election.

The American case involves a candyass Congressional delegation of Democrats – true. But, Japan’s case is a real parallel. Kowtowing to the United States over Okinawa military bases after opposition to the bases becoming a swing issue.

The latter case got the Japanese PM bounced. We’ll see what happens in 2012 in the U.S. – since we haven’t the advantage of a Parliamentary system or, for that matter, any political parties with backbone.

Paroled Republican lobbyist cops a pizza gig

He doesn’t need a tie for the new job
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

BALTIMORE — Like any new employee, Jack Abramoff is trying to keep a low profile — or as low a profile as a cause célèbre disgraced lobbyist and convicted felon can keep when news cameramen keep staking out his new workplace.

Mr. Abramoff started his new gig this week at Tov Pizza — “the best kosher pizza in town,” according to a catchy jingle that plays while callers are on hold.

He has so far stayed largely cloistered in a back office. He will work about 40 hours a week, said the owner, Ron Rosenbluth. He comes in around 10:30 a.m., leaves around 5:30 p.m., and wears a yarmulke to work, as many of the male customers and employees here do. He earns between $7.50 and $10 an hour (“or a little less than what he used to make”). He has been responsible, punctual, courteous. “He is not the monster he has been portrayed as,” Mr. Rosenbluth said…

He declined a request for an interview through Mr. Rosenbluth, and departed through a side entrance, skirting photographers waiting for him in a parking lot.

It is too soon to tell if Mr. Abramoff is cut out for a career in the pizza business, Mr. Rosenbluth said Wednesday. “He’s only been here three days,” said Mr. Rosenbluth, who has been here 26 years…

“People ask me, ‘Why would you ever hire Jack Abramoff?’ ” said Mr. Rosenbluth, who said he has not bothered to learn much about Mr. Abramoff’s past. “I say, ‘Why wouldn’t I hire Jack Abramoff?’ He’s paying his debt to society, right?”

As a matter of fact, I agree. I’ve worked with a few ex-cons in my life.

I may have a cynical view on recidivism based on the absence of education as a priority in our culture and within our prison systems. That doesn’t mean I’m unwilling to accept the right of someone who’s done time to try to make it on the straight and narrow back on the outside.

Unlike the unindicted creeps, say, from Lehman Brothers or Countrywide Mortgage, the SEC or Congress who simply move sideways to new job descriptions after they complete a prior round of corruption.

Brit perve goes for Darwin Award

A British man has died following a sado-masochistic sex session with a woman who claims to be “Europe’s most perverted dominatrix”.

The 58-year-old client, who drove a BMW car, collapsed in a shower after an “intense session” with prostitutes calling themselves Mistress Lucrezia and Mistress Juno, at their villa near Brecht, Belgium…

They have been arrested and charged with assault and battery leading to death, without intent to kill…

Mistress Lucrezia, 46, has a website which says she considers herself a “Creative Artist Perverted Sadist” who offers “bondage, humiliation, torture, education and cross-dressing”.

It says: “Sessions can last from one hour, and even up to three days.

“I specialise in extreme medical and long sessions. Beware, I am not a softie.

I’m sadistic, intelligent and perverse. In my nature, I’m a sadist of the worst kind…”

A female neighbour: “This is a quiet street where families live. But after her arrival here there were suddenly all these expensive cars arriving, many with foreign license plates.

“I finally complained to the police after scantily-clad people were turning up on my doorstep because they had got the wrong house.


American terrorists sentenced to 10 years in prison in Pakistan

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

A Pakistani court on has sentenced five Americans to 10 years each in jail after finding them guilty of criminal conspiracy and funding a terrorist group, officials said.

The five Americans aged 19 to 25 had been on trial in a closed court behind prison walls in the eastern city of Sargodha since March. The judge found them guilty of two charges, but acquitted them of three other charges.

Both the defence and the prosecution vowed to appeal the verdict, which saw each defendant handed down concurrent sentences of 10 and five years and fined 70,000 rupees.

“We will appeal the verdict and ask for 20 years,” said Rana Bakhtiar, the deputy prosecutor general representing the Punjab provincial government in the case.

The Americans – of Egyptian, Eritrean, Pakistani and Yemeni descent – were arrested in December in Sargodha on charges of plotting a terror attack…

Defence lawyer Hassan Katchela told AFP…“We are surprised by the decision. We respect the judgement but this was not a case for a conviction. We will file an appeal against the decision…”

Pakistani officials have said the young men planned to travel to neighbouring Afghanistan and join up with Taliban-led militants fighting US and Nato troops.

Investigators claimed that the men planned to travel to South Waziristan, a training ground for Islamist militants in Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt and a region targeted by a major military operation last year.

Now, the propaganda battle can begin.

Agitprop for al-Qaeda will make them heroes. The ethnic communities back in the States will call them misguided – or arrested and convicted by mistake. Democrats will pat themselves on the back and claim a victory for administration spooks. Republicans will demand they be turned over to Blackwater inquisition squads unrestrained from torture by silly treaties like the Geneva Convention.

Five gullible, ignorant, religious kids will go to jail.

Hallucinations in hospital – a special risk to elderly

Justin Kaplan

No one who knows Justin Kaplan would ever have expected this. A Pulitzer Prize-winning historian with a razor intellect, Mr. Kaplan, 84, became profoundly delirious while hospitalized for pneumonia last year. For hours in the hospital, he said, he imagined despotic aliens, and he struck a nurse and threatened to kill his wife and daughter.

“Thousands of tiny little creatures,” he said, “some on horseback, waving arms, carrying weapons like some grand Renaissance battle,” were trying to turn people “into zombies.” Their leader was a woman “with no mouth but a very precisely cut hole in her throat.”

Attacking the group’s “television production studio,” Mr. Kaplan fell from his hospital bed, cutting himself and “sliding across the floor on my own blood,” he said. The hospital called security because “a nurse was trying to restrain me and I repaid her with a kick.”

Mr. Kaplan’s hallucinations lifted as doctors treated his pneumonia. But hospitals say many patients are experiencing such inexplicable disorienting episodes. Doctors call it “hospital delirium,” and are increasingly trying to prevent or treat it.

Disproportionately affecting older people, a rapidly growing share of patients, hospital delirium affects about one-third of patients over 70, and a greater percentage of intensive-care or postsurgical patients, the American Geriatrics Society estimates…

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Mirror, mirror on the wall – why does our healthcare suck?

Despite having the most costly health system in the world, the United States consistently underperforms on most dimensions of performance, relative to other countries. This report—an update to three earlier editions—includes data from seven countries and incorporates patients’ and physicians’ survey results on care experiences and ratings on dimensions of care. Compared with six other nations—Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom—the U.S. health care system ranks last or next-to-last on five dimensions of a high performance health system: quality, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives. Newly enacted health reform legislation in the U.S. will start to address these problems by extending coverage to those without and helping to close gaps in coverage—leading to improved disease management, care coordination, and better outcomes over time…

We hope.

The most notable way the U.S. differs from other countries is the absence of universal health insurance coverage. Health reform legislation recently signed into law by President Barack Obama should begin to improve the affordability of insurance and access to care when fully implemented in 2014. Other nations ensure the accessibility of care through universal health insurance systems and through better ties between patients and the physician practices that serve as their long-term “medical homes.” Without reform, it is not surprising that the U.S. currently underperforms relative to other countries on measures of access to care and equity in health care between populations with above-average and below-average incomes.

But even when access and equity measures are not considered, the U.S. ranks behind most of the other countries on most measures. With the inclusion of primary care physician survey data in the analysis, it is apparent that the U.S. is lagging in adoption of national policies that promote primary care, quality improvement, and information technology…

For all countries, responses indicate room for improvement. Yet, the other six countries spend considerably less on health care per person and as a percent of gross domestic product than does the United States. These findings indicate that, from the perspectives of both physicians and patients, the U.S. health care system could do much better in achieving value for the nation’s substantial investment in health.

No surprise to anyone who cares enough about healthcare to spend time working at improvements.

Then, there are the politicians, egregious conservatives and fools who feel that they’re well enough taken care of – and the rest of the country can drop dead. Literally.

Absent understanding, they have no realization of the fact that making better healthcare for all – also improves the likelihood of individual existing care improving as well.