January 23 2006


January 23 2006



Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew, campaigning for re-election in Montreal’s Papineau riding, took time out from door knocking to work on policy regarding Haiti and Iran. Then he met voters at a mosque on Rue Bellerive and zipped over to the Peerless Clothing factory on Blvd Pie IX to glad-hand employees. It helps that Papineau is Canada’s smallest riding, and it helps that Pettigrew is a regular transit user—sometimes. Two weeks ago he was mugged at a Metro station.


Bright pigs

Taiwanese scientists have combined genes from jellyfish with those of pigs and created transgenic porkers that glow in the dark. The pigs have green noses, teeth and trotters, and even their internal organs are green. Their

verdant genetic material will make easily visible markers that can be implanted and followed in other research animals.

Subtie movements

Sensing devices have become so sophisticated that a new motion detector intended for the U.S. military can probe movements as subtle as a person breathing on the other side of a 30-cm-thick wall. The Radar Scope is the size of a telephone handset and runs on AA batteries.

Doctor ant

Ants that grow fungus as a food supply protect their gardens with antibiotics. Scientists studying Panamanian ants have found they maintain microbes on their faceplates, which they rub onto the fungus gardens as an inoculant against a parasite that preys on the food supply. The ants nourish the microbes with nutrients created in exocrine glands.

Sick frog men

A U.S. defence company has developed a weapon to deter swimming terrorists from approach-

ing ships. This “swimmer-denial system” emits low-frequency audio pulses in a zone around a ship, which makes human organs resonate, causing swimmers to vomit into their breathing apparatus or suffer internal ruptures.


Goldilocks was a boar

A Bavarian family was astonished last week to find a wild boar had been sleeping on a bed in their guest room. The 60-kg sow had eluded hunters, and broke through a cellar window before settling in.for a nap. When it awoke, it panicked and couldn’t find a way out of the house. The family contacted a hunter-neighbour who shot it.

Perils of Sadie

A black Labrador mix named Sadie has had a tough five months. First she survived hurricane Katrina and was among thousands of pets rescued by animal-welfare volunteers. After being barracked in far-off New Jersey, she was due to be reunited with her New Orleans family, but the truck taking her rolled over on a highway. Sadie again survived, although she sustained a displaced hip.


Changing travel ills

A study by an international association of travel-medicine clinics of 17,353 sick tourists has yielded the most precise image yet of which regions host which travelrelated diseases, providing doctors with a database to help with treatment. Among the findings: eight per cent of 50 million travellers to developing countries grow sick during or after travel, and parasitic infections are more common than bacterial diarrhea. As well, dengue fever has become more common than malaria in most regions. More than 760 million crossed borders in 2004.

Breathe easier

People who suffer from exerciseinduced asthma can improve their condition by adding fish oil to their diet. Indiana University researchers say that not only does fish oil reduce narrowing of airways, it lessens the need for asthma medication, which often carries side effects.

Healing on the move

Older adults can speed wound healing through regular exercise. Ohio State University researchers say that in a study of adults between 55 and 77, those who exercised three times a week healed from a small puncture to the arm 10 days sooner than those who didn’t.


Kitchen fraud

A third of young Britons admit to misrepresenting a store-bought

meal as something they’d made. A survey by that nation’s Department of Health said that young women are even more likely to lie about their cooking, with 40 per cent passing off ready-to-eat food as their own. And women say they’re more impressed with men who can cook than with men who own expensive cars.

Cheat but don’t eat

The Italian magazine Riza Psicosomatica has published survey results that show Italians feel guiltier about binge eating than they do for having extra-marital affairs. Of seven guilt-inducing situations, infidelity came last and gluttony first.

Fat is okay

The number of Americans who find fat people unattractive has dropped from 55 per cent to 24 per cent in the past 20 years. A market research firm found that


Liberia’s first elected female president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, takes office, bringing what everyone hopes will be an end to an era of horrific carnage. Japanese energy executives tour Alberta, possibly beginning an era in which that nation reduces its near total dependence on Middle East oil. And India’s high-tech capital, Bangalore, begins paying residents 100 rupees for every street pothole they identify—and deducting 100 rupees from the pay of engineers responsible for them.

the U.S. public is growing more relaxed toward diet and obesity. However, critics say the survey shows only what people say, not what they actually believe.


Wrestling Italian-style

Italian boys have become transfixed by U.S. pro wrestling. Wrestling programs are broadcast two hours a day and merchandising has created a mania. Although some experts warn of a rise in schoolyard bullying, the real worry is expressed by Marcello Lippi, Italy’s national soccer coach, who says boys have stopped playing street soccer in favour of wrestling.

Musical commodity

Downloading music is creating a generation that doesn’t appreciate music as anything more than a commodity. Psychologists monitoring 346 people said music doesn’t command an emotional commitment from listeners who download, compared to live-performance enthusiasts.


7 heard a while ago that West Virginia was going to ban it. But that’s a state that was lynching people only 25 years ago, so that’s to be expected. ’’—Actor Heath Ledger on a Utah cinema deciding not to

show his gay-cowboy movie Brokeback Mountain.

“Everybody knows the difference between smacking a kid and abusing a child. ’’—Tony Blair on disciplining his children.


Elite java

Canadian and Australian buyers paid a record US$50 a pound last week for Brazil’s finest coffee in the seventh annual Cup of Excellence coffee auction, held online by the Brazilian Specialty Coffee Association. The previous record ofUS$l3.65 was paid byjapanese buyers in 2004. The purchase entitled Vancouver’s Caffé Artigiano to a share of 12 60-kg bags of what the chain’s president Vince Piccolo called “the best coffee in Brazil.” Price per cup will be about $5.82.

Cashmere gets hip

Elite but stodgy, luxurious yet dull, cashmere has suddenly become hip, thanks to new clothing makers such as California’s Raw 7, which makes pullovers emblazoned with less-than-country-club looks of Tweety Bird and Curious George on them. The cost of the sweaters, however, remain luxuriously priced at US$400.


Unwatchable movie

A PR firm handling Steven Spielberg’s new movie, Munich, recently sent out more than 5,000 copies of a DVD of the film to members of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in hopes it would be nominated for a prize. Unfortunately, the copies sent from the U.S. had code for use only in North America, making them unplayable on British DVD players, and replacements would have arrived too late for last week’s nominations dead-

line. Someone at the lab, said the PR firm’s spokeswoman, “pushed the wrong button. It was a case of rotten bad luck.”

Staying put

Johannas Pope sat in front of her TV for 2V2 years. It wasn’t the programming that was so riveting; the 6l-year-old Pope died and was left in her chair in 200 3. She’d left instructions with her caregiver not to be buried because she’d come back. Her caregiver continued to live downstairs. A reliable air conditioner enabled her remains to mummify but when it broke down last month, she was discovered.

Suspended forsassing

A British oil worker who made defiant hand gestures to a speedcontrol camera he passed was fined $184 last week and barred from driving for a year. Although Sean Tohill was not speeding when he passed the camera, and was not driving out of control, a court in Fife, Scotland, passed the sentence because he had removed both hands from the wheel to make Churchillian V-for-victory gestures.

Drinking habit

Authorities in Poland are investigating Sister Malgozata Lato, a Benedictine nun who allegedly bribed a policeman after he caught her driving while drunk—for the third time. A local newspaper has charged that Sister Lato paid a traffic cop $1,000 to cancel a drunk-driving charge.

Funerals by mistake...

When Angela Saraiva went missing after a New Year’s party in Salta, Argentina, her parents panicked. They mistakenly identified a woman’s body as being hers. So when Saraiva returned she found a funeral for her under way. Said Saraiva, “My parents thought I was this woman because she looked like me.” Sarai-

va had been missing from her family for all of 20 hours.

...Funerals for fun

A Dutch entertainer is proposing “Fun Burials,” a fake funeral for thrill seekers. For 75 euros, fun-seekers can be buried 1.6 m underground in a coffin and beneath a 3.5-tonne concrete block for one hour. Says promoter Eddy Daams, “It is very safe, nothing can go wrong.”


Heinrich Harrer, 93, Austrian mountaineer who conquered Switzerland’s toughest ascent, the north face of the Eiger, in 1935. He later escaped a British POW camp in India during the Second

World War and reached Tibet, where he tutored the young Dalai Lama. His memoir, Seven Years in Tibet, was made into a film.

Birgit Nilsson, 87, opera singer who was considered the best Wagnerian soprano of her generation. Known as the essential Isolde in Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, she sang the role more than 200 times and could dominate a full orchestra for more than 40 years. M