Thursday, August 28, 2008

Brides Look Forward to Marrying Under Tribal Same-Sex Marriage Law


A request from a bride-to-be has led an Oregon Indian tribe to legalize same-sex marriage, a move leaders say may be the first of its kind in the United States.

 Kitzen and Jeni Branting plan to marry under the Coquille Indian Tribe's law legalizing gay marriage.
Coquille Indian Tribe member Kitzen Branting, right, plans to marry fiancée Jeni Branting under her tribe's new law that legalizes same-sex marriage.
(Courtesy of Kitzen and Jeni Branting)

The Coquille Indian Tribe now not only recognizes legal same-sex unions from state and federal governments, but it will soon be handing out its own marriage licenses not only to heterosexual couples, but to homosexual couples as well.

Kitzen Branting is like a lot of other brides who have come before her: She has already found her wedding dress, set a date for the ceremony and proudly wears her engagement ring.

But her journey to the altar has been a bit different than most, since she requested new tribal legislation sanctioning same-sex marriage. Branting, 25, and her fiancee, Jeni Branting, plan to be married in May under the tribe's new law.

'Recognition and Respect'

The high school sweethearts have already gathered all the legal documents they are allowed -- wills, powers of attorney and domestic partnership registry -- but they wanted a legal ceremony from the tribe in which Kitzen Branting was raised.

"What I asked them was to be willing to recognize homosexual marriages," she said.

Before the tribe ruled on Kitzen Branting's request in May, the Coquilles did not have a policy defining marriage and did not perform ceremonies or hand out marriage licenses of any kind. Like most other American Indian tribes, the Coquilles have their own laws and customs.

"Native Americans, more than anyone, know about discrimination," Coquille Indian Tribe Chief Ken Tanner told "Our directive is to provide recognition and respect to all members of our tribe."

The clause about issuing marriage licenses, however, will not go into effect until the tribe passes legislation on divorce and child custody procedures, according to Coquille tribe attorney Brett Kenney.

But Kenney said he's optimistic that the tribe will be performing marriages before Kitzen and Jeni Branting are ready to walk down the aisle in May.

"I have a deadline now," Kenney said, laughing.

Tanner, 68, said the tribe's law was not intended to make a statement about gay marriage or advocate for similar legislation from any other tribe or governing body.

"We have no interest whatsoever in this being a national interest of any kind," he said.

 Kitzen and Jeni Branting plan to marry under the Coquille Indian Tribe's law legalizing gay marriage.
The brides-to-be are looking forward to being married under Coquille tribal law.
(Courtesy of Kitzen and Jeni Branting)

Looking for Acceptance, Not a Fight

Kitzen and Jeni Branting -- Kitzen legally took Jeni's last name three years ago -- signed up for the domestic partnership registry in their home state of Washington, but Kitzen Branting said getting married under tribal law means more to her than state or federal recognition.

"They're my family and we're a pretty small tribe and I have a close connection to them," Branting said. She remembers summers spent at youth camps and performances of traditional Coquille dances. "They are my immediate people."

Once married, Jeni Branting, 27, who is not a Coquille, will have the same rights as any other tribal spouse, including health insurance and the right to attend tribal functions.

Kitzen Branting said she approached the tribal council several years ago, but the issue was pushed aside for more pressing matters until another tribe member brought it back to the council's attention about a year ago.

The tribe held workshops for members in which the discussion was open for comments on all marriages, though the focus was mostly on the same-sex variety, Branting said.

Kenney said the tribe was in no way trying to pick a fight with the federal government, which partially funds some aspects of Coquille life, including education, natural resources and some health care.

"This is a very internal matter," he said.

In the Brantings' case, the couple -- who are in the process of moving out of Oregon and back to their native Edmonds, Wash. -- would receive tribal health-care benefits under a plan that is 100 percent funded by the tribe, Kenney said.

Sarah Deer, a tribal law attorney, said she doesn't see any reason why the federal government would or should intervene in the Coquille's marriage law, because the legislation does not involve any expenditure of federal funds.

Still, she said, "that's not to say they won't try."

Calls to the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs weren't immediately returned today.

The Coquille tribe, which is based in southwest Oregon and has about 860 members, received federal recognition in 1989.

Tanner said that there have been some tribe members who are displeased by the new legislation and that he appreciates their views just as he does the opinions of the law's supporters.

"Many people have expressed pride in the tribe's courage" to legalize same-sex marriage, Tanner said.

"We only ask that people respect differences and all the Creator's creations," he said.

Varying Tribal Law

Deer, who is a visiting professor at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minn., and a victim advocacy legal specialist for the California-based Tribal Law and Policy Institute, said she also does not know of any other American Indian tribe that has sanctioned or legalized same-sex marriage, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

"Very few of them want to make a splash in mainstream culture," she said.

Some tribes, however, have signed documents banning gay marriage, including the Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation and the Navajo Nation, in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Many other tribes, Deer said, have marriage laws that are modeled after state and federal legislation, not necessarily because of the tribe's belief system, but because such tribal laws are typically drafted for the tribe by outside legal counsel.

Still, she said, it's not uncommon for tribes to issue their own marriage licenses or perform traditional wedding rituals.

"Any time a tribe asserts its own definition of a cultural norm ? it's better they do it on their own terms," Deer said.

'Ups and Downs'

Kitzen Branting, then Kitzen Doyle, was a freshman in high school when she met Jeni Branting. The girls' announcement of their sexual orientation was "bumpy," Kitzen Branting said.

The two are now considered permanent members of each others' families.

"We've definitely had our ups and downs over the years," she said. "But overall they've been very supportive."

The women have lived on the tribal reservation in Coos Bay, Ore., for about a year but they are moving back to Washington to live with Jeni Branting's grandmother who was widowed in January.

Nevertheless, Kitzen Branting said she will remain as involved with her tribe as she ever was. She is a Coquille descendent on her father's side, while her mother is Irish. The engagement ring she wears is a traditional Irish claddagh, while Jeni Branting sports a diamond.

So while the Coquille tribe works out the details of the new marriage laws, the two women continue planning for their wedding and are shopping for a second bridal dress.

And Tanner said he's going to marry the Brantings personally.

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Top 3 Most and Least "Fee Crazy" Airlines

Airline fees are a controversial topic these days, so we look a look at the fees that airlines were charging and picked the top 3 most and least "fee crazy" airlines. Avoiding fees is hard, so why not try to avoid the airlines that charge them instead?

Most Fee Crazy Airlines:

  1. U.S. Airways: Not only does U.S. Airways have the distinction of being the only US airline to charge for water, they were also the first to discontinue free snacks. They've also decided to do away with in-flight entertainment. So what will you think about while you're bored, hungry and thirsty? How about that $15 first checked bag fee, the $25 second checked bag fee, the $5-30$ fee to choose your favorite economy class seat, and the whopping $250 fee you paid to change your ticket. Oh, yeah, and remember when they made everyone crazy by charging a $5 fee to book a ticket... with their own website?
  2. United Airlines: United is following U.S. Airways lead with a combination of cutting amenities and introducing fees. They've done away with snacks and are selling "snack boxes." Soon, United will be raising the prices for these items and economy class passengers will be expected to pay $9 for a sandwich. While you're munching on that overpriced nonsense, you can add up the following fees: $15 to check your first bag, $25 for the second bag, and $125 for the third. Then there's the $25 you paid to book your ticket over the phone, the $125 you paid for the privilege of traveling with your pet in the cabin, and of course, the $349 per year that you pay to be able to "stretch out and relax in comfort in seats located at the front of the Economy section,".."if available."
  3. (tie) Delta Airlines & American Airlines: American was the first airline to charge for the 1st checked bag, and Delta has managed to resist that fee — but Delta's other fees are just so darn expensive that we had to call this one a tie. Ultimately, it costs more to check two bags with Delta than it does with U.S. Airways, United, or American. American currently charges $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second, and from $3-6 for snacks. Delta charges nothing for the first checked bag, but if you're thinking of checking two bags, get ready to pay $50 for the second bag, and $125 for the third bag. Ouch! Delta's snacks are complimentary, but they charge from $1-10 more for certain special items.

Least Fee Crazy Airlines:

  1. Southwest Airlines: Southwest is the only major airline that isn't charging a fee to check two bags, and the third checked bag will only cost you $25. There is also no fee to change your ticket. Instead, you'll get a flight credit that is good for one year. They don't charge a fee to book over the phone or in person, and they don't charge a fee for an unaccompanied minor.
  2. AirTran: AirTran has fees but they're lower than a lot of its competitors. For example, the 2nd checked bag is $10 and the third is $50. The ticket change fee is $75, and unaccompanied minors will only cost you $39, as opposed to $100 on Delta, United, etc. You will pay $6 for an advanced seat assignment and $20 to sit in an exit row.
  3. JetBlue: JetBlue keeps threatening to go over to the dark side with new charges for things that used to be free (headsets $1, blankets and pillows $7) but they still have some of the more reasonable fees in the industry. There is no charge for the first checked back, and the second bag will cost you $20. Changing your ticket will cost you $100, and expect to pay from $10-20 more for their mini-business class "extra legroom" seats. Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages are plentiful and free, however. Love those blue potato chips.

If you're looking for an easy way to compare fees, check out this excellent PDF from the folks at,, and

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How I survived a heart attack at age 43

When I had my heart attack at 43, all my doctors were really surprised. I was young, I'm not overweight, and I don't eat a lot of fatty foods.

At first, Francisco Menendez thought the tightness in his chest was indigestion.

At first, Francisco Menendez thought the tightness in his chest was indigestion.

In fact, I never eat junk food. My father had a heart attack, but he was in his 70s, so that is not a significant risk factor.

However, a closer look at my medical records would have suggested there was a problem. My total cholesterol was around 400, and my triglycerides, which are really affected by diet and exercise, were 600 to 700. A healthy number is 150 or below.

I was not on a statin, but the doctors were urging me to start exercising more and to cut down on refined carbohydrates, like pasta and bread. That can really make your triglycerides shoot up, and I love all those things.

The night of my heart attack I was home, and I felt a lot of pressure in my chest. Not pain, really. I thought it was indigestion. It went on all night and even though my wife Ingrid urged me to go to the hospital, a heart attack was the last thing on my mind.

The next morning the pressure was so great I could barely walk, so I took a taxi to the hospital. I know you are supposed to call an ambulance, but that's what I did. When I got to the emergency room, I knew what to say: "I have chest pressure, and I think I am having a heart attack." It was 6 a.m. and they wheeled me in and started giving me blood thinners right away.

The doctors were excellent, and they told me they were going to give me an angioplasty. That scared me because after my dad had his angioplasty, he had to have open-heart surgery. I didn't want that. Health Magazine: How doctors diagnose and treat a heart attack

The oddest thing about the angioplasty was that for six hours they told me not to move my foot, and I didn't know why. Turns out there is a plug in your skin where they put the needle in, and if it comes loose your blood shoots out like shaken Champagne because you are on blood thinners. I wish they would have told me that, because I didn't know why I needed to hold my foot still.

I ended up having three angioplasties, but my heart attack was mild. It turns out my heart was less than 5 percent damaged. I ended up on a lot of medications. I take a statin, TriCor, and Plavix, and a baby aspirin every day.

I have a stress test every year and a half, and so far my cholesterol looks OK; it's about 160. I don't think about myself as a person who had a heart attack, but I think my wife worries.

I still hate to exercise, and I do eat bread and pasta, but mostly my diet is fine.

The worst thing about being a young heart-attack survivor is knowing I will have to be on these medications forever. I am convinced that if I became a strict vegetarian and got all the stress out of my life I could go off the meds. But that would require me to quit my job and move to the country, and I am not ready to do that yet. -- As told to Bryan Miller

Original here

Teeth Can Yield Stem Cells, Scientists Say

Amitabh Avasthi
for National Geographic News

Dental pulp from wisdom teeth could be a new source of therapeutic stem cells, Japanese researchers announced recently. Like embryonic stem cells, the new cells—known as mesenchymal stem cells—are capable of developing into a variety of tissues, including bone, cartilage, and fat. These new lines of stem cells can be created without the use of an embryo—possibly sidestepping controversy.

In many countries adults routinely get minor surgeries to remove wisdom teeth.

"The [wisdom] tooth is usually discarded into trash, so there are no ethical concerns," said Hajime Ohgushi, principal research scientist at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in the Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan.

However, unlike embryonic stem cells, the newfound cells cannot morph into almost any type of cell in the body.

(Related: "Stem Cell Breakthrough: No More Need to Destroy Embryos?" [August 23, 2005.])

The new research has also not been published or vetted by other scientists in the field.


Work on embryonic stem cells has long been mired in controversy.

The cells could lead to breakthroughs in regenerative medicine by allowing certain tissues and diseased organs to be replaced.

But harvesting the cells typically requires the destruction of an embryo, which critics equate with the taking of a life.

Since 2001 the United States government has restricted public funding to a limited number of embryonic stem cell lines, a move many U.S. scientists say has stifled their work.

The race to create induced pluripotent cells—cells capable of developing into most types of cells in the body—in humans began in 2006, when scientists at Kyoto University in Japan announced they had inserted genes into cells from the tails of mice and reprogrammed them into cells with properties of embryonic stem cells.

In 2007 researchers from Kyoto University and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, separately announced that they had successfully applied the technique to human cells by using viruses to ferry four genes—OCT4, SOX2, NANOG, and LIN28—into skin cells.

Researchers from the two teams said they had given properties of stem cells to human cells taken from skin and connective tissues.

Now Ohgushi and his colleagues claim they used just three sets of genes—OCT4, SOX2, and KLF4—to program cells cultured from the center of a wisdom tooth into adult stem cells.

The researchers add that their success rate, about 10 stem cells for every 50,000 cells, matches that of the Kyoto researchers.

Better Source

Ohgushi said stem cells derived from wisdom teeth are not only easier to store—the tooth they used had been sitting in a freezer for three years—but also better than those extracted from bone marrow.

Stem cells found in bone marrow cannot express telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT), a type of protein crucial to cell division and growth, Ohgushi explained.

"Our cells clearly express TERT and showed [more] extensive … activity than stem cells from bone marrow."

Though clinical trials are still years away, the researcher envisions banks where donors could store their wisdom teeth and access their own stem cells to treat potential diseases later in their lives.

Shinya Yamanaka, a researcher from Kyoto University who was not involved in the teeth research, agreed that the discovery could provide an alternative source of stem cells for use in regenerative medicine.

But he said it was odd that the discovery was apparently announced directly to the press and that the results did not seem to be backed by a peer-reviewed publication.

"I know venture companies do this to keep investors' interest," Yamanaka said. "It was surprising to me that government-backed scientists did this."

Original here

Dealing with Difficult People

Can you recall the last time you had to deal with a negative or difficult person? Or the last time someone said something with the intention of hurting you? How did you handle it? What was the result? What can you do in the future to get through these situations with peace and grace?

No matter where we go, we will face people who are negative, people who oppose our ideas, people who piss us off or people who simply do not like us. There are 6.4 billion people out there and conflict is a fact of life. This fact isn’t the cause of conflict but it is the trigger to our emotions and our emotions are what drive us back to our most basic survival instinct; react and attack back to defend ourselves.

In these instinctual moments, we may lose track of our higher selves and become the human animal with an urge to protect ourselves when attacked. This too is natural. However, we are the only animal blessed with intelligence and having the ability to control our responses. So how can we do that?

I regularly get asked “How do you deal with the negative comments about your articles? They are brutal. I don’t think I could handle them.” My answer is simple, “I don’t let it bother me to begin with.” It wasn’t always this simple, and took me some time before overcoming this natural urgency to protect myself and attack back.

I know it’s not easy, if it was easy, there wouldn’t be difficult or negative people to begin with.

Why Bother Controlling Our Responses?

  • Hurting Ourselves - One of my favorite sayings is “Holding a grudge against someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” The only person we hurt is ourselves. When we react to negativity, we are disturbing our inner space and mentally creating pain within ourselves.
  • It’s Not About You, It’s About Them - I’ve learned that when people initiate negativity, it is a reflection of their inner state expressed externally and you just happen to be in front of that expression. It’s not personal, so why do we take it personally? In short: Because our ego likes problems and conflict. People are often so bored and unhappy with their own lives that they want to take others down with them. There have been many times when a random person has left a purposefully hurtful comment on TSN, and regularly checked back to see if anyone else responded to their comment, waiting eagerly to respond with more negativity.
  • Battle of the Ego - When we respond impulsively, it is a natural and honest response. However, is it the smart thing to do? What can be resolved by doing so? The answer: Nothing. It does however feed our ego’s need for conflict. Have you noticed that when we fight back, it feels really satisfying in our heads? But it doesn’t feel very good in our soul? Our stomach becomes tight, and we start having violent thoughts? When we do respond irrationally, it turns the conversation from a one-sided negative expression into a battle of two egos. It becomes an unnecessary and unproductive battle for Who is Right?
  • Anger Feeds Anger. Negativity Feeds Negativity. - Rarely can any good come out of reacting against someone who is in a negative state. It will only trigger anger and an additional reactive response from that person. If we do respond impulsively, we’ll have invested energy in the defending of ourselves and we’ll feel more psychologically compelled to defend ourselves going forward. Have you noticed that the angrier our thoughts become, the angrier we become? It’s a negative downward spiral.
  • Waste of Energy - Where attention goes, energy flows. What we focus on tends to expand itself. Since we can only focus on one thing at a time, energy spent on negativity is energy that could have been spent on our personal wellbeing.
  • Negativity Spreads - I’ve found that once I allow negativity in one area of my life, it starts to subtly bleed into other areas as well. When we are in a negative state or holding a grudge against someone, we don’t feel very good. We carry that energy with us as we go about our day. When we don’t feel very good, we lose sight of clarity and may react unconsciously to matters in other areas of our lives, unnecessarily.
  • Freedom of Speech - People are as entitled to their opinions as you are. Allow them to express how they feel and let it be. Remember that it’s all relative and a matter of perspective. What we consider positive can be perceived by another as negative. When we react, it becomes me-versus-you, who is right? Some people may have a less than eloquent way of expressing themselves - it may even be offensive, but they are still entitled to do so. They have the right to express their own opinions and we have the right and will power to choose our responses. We can choose peace or we can choose conflict.
Original here

Unwanted tattoos can be removed by cream injected into skin - without pain or scarring

By Rebecca Camber

Tattoos can often be a case of ink now, regret later.

Extracting the dye from the skin has usually been a painful process.

However, cosmetic surgeons are now offering what they say is a more efficient and less painful way of removing body art.

Step-by-step: The Rejuvi cream is injected through tiny needles and causes the ink to come to the surface of the skin, form a scab and then drop off

A cream called Rejuvi can be injected into the skin in much the same way as the ink is injected into the top layers of the epidermis to create the tattoo.

The Rejuvi is absorbed by the pigmented cells and bonds with the pigment, say experts.

This softens the ink and pushes it to the surface of the skin where it forms a scab.

When the scab falls off after six to eight weeks, the ink goes with it.

Experts claim the technique, first used in the U.S., has a higher success rate than laser treatment, is cheaper, less painful and has a minimal risk of scarring.

Stuart Harrison, director of Oxford Skin Clinics, which has just started using the process in its Harley Street, Richmond and Oxford clinics said: 'It is uncomfortable rather than painful but it is less painful than having the tattoo itself and certainly a lot less painful than having laser treatment.

'Laser works by breaking up the ink pigmentation. However this works by using the body's natural processes.

'The reason that a tattoo stays there is that a coating is put around the ink to protect it from the body's immune response.

'But this cream makes the ink identifiable to the body so that it realises the ink is there and starts rejecting it and healing itself.'

The technique was first pioneered in the U.S. but until recently the only way of using the cream was forcing it into the skin which had a 'cheese grater' effect on the skin.

Now a new micropigmentation gun can apply cream under the surface of the skin without scarring.

Previously the most popular method of removal in the UK has been laser treatment which breaks up the tattoo pigment in the skin, flushing the particles away through the immune system.

However, it can take several treatments and some complain the ink never completely fades.

Other treatments include a skin peeling acid or dermabrasion which involves freezing the skin and sloughing it off with a rotary tool.

It can lead to scarring and even a skin graft.

Some tattoos are surgically cut out but only when they are too deep to be treated with laser.

But Mr Harrison claims that this cream has a minimal risk of scarring.

He added: 'There is a risk of scarring but it is probably no worse than an ordinary cut.

'Aftercare is important to minimise the risk of any scaring.'

However, the efficacy of Rejuvi has been questioned on some U.S. chat forums.

Original here

Overcome 5 Sexual Mismatches for Hotter Sex

Mismatched socks are tolerable. Mismatched sex is not. Avoid these five common sexual disconnects—and find the right fit with any woman.

1. The mismatch: Her arousal is at a slow burn, but you're raring to go.

Sure, women are typically slower than men at becoming sexually amped. "But it actually takes much less time than even women realize," says Scott Haltzman, M.D., author of The Secrets of Happily Married Men. Rig the system: If you reinforce the idea that she's aroused, it may happen more quickly. Tell her you see that her nipples are hard and you feel she's wet. Her brain will signal her body to feel that desire, Haltzman says.

2. The mismatch: You like dirty talk, but she's timid.
Just because she's keeping quiet, don't assume she's opposed to sex talk. "A woman may not like to talk dirty because it takes her away from her body and sensations," says Joy Davidson, Ph.D., a New York–based sex therapist and the author of Fearless Sex. "But she might really like it if you talk dirty to her." Feed her lines. While you're teasing her, ask her what she wants you to do next. During sex, ask her what she likes best about how it feels. "In the future, she'll have those phrases on hand," Davidson says.

3. The mismatch: You always make the first move.
Women may subconsciously feel they need permission to take the lead, says Patti Britton, Ph.D., author of The Art of Sex Coaching. Casually say, "I wonder what it'd be like if you took the lead tonight. That would really turn me on." Also, realize that any of her casual comments about sex—or anything about either your body or hers—are often subtle requests, Haltzman says.

4. The mismatch: Your number is higher than hers.
A big gap in bedroom know-how can make her worry about her performance or about being just another brick in the wall, says Haltzman. In that case, "don't rush in with your whole utility belt of sexual experiences and toys," he says. Face-to-face positions—cowboy (a.k.a. cowgirl), missionary, sitting together on a chair—are best, because they offer her a sense of intimacy and connection. And forget about the Big O at first. Focusing on orgasm only stresses her.

5. The mismatch: The two of you don't measure up.
If there's a significant height difference between the two of you, furniture can be your best friend. If she's taller, try lying on an ottoman or a small bench and have her straddle you. That way, she can still have her feet on the ground, Haltzman says, "giving her leverage and flexibility." Or, if you're taller, "try holding her up and pinning her against the wall," says Brian Zamboni, Ph.D., a sex therapist and clinical psychologist at the University of Minnesota.

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World's Deadliest Delicacies

Adam Bulger

Bad berries, frightening fish and other natural-born killers

When Edward Bachner was arrested in July for buying enough poison to kill about 100 people, he inadvertently implicated sushi chefs as potential bioterrorists. The 35-year-old Chicagoan ordered 98 milligrams of Tetrodotoxin, a nerve toxin found in the Japanese puffer fish served as fugu, an expensive sashimi dish. Sometimes called the Russian roulette of sushi and once featured on an episode of The Simpsons, fugu requires delicate preparation for its edible meat to be separated from its toxic internal organs. Before they're licensed to serve fugu, Japanese chefs undergo months of training and a rigorous exam which only 30 percent of applicants pass.

Even when properly prepared, fugu's toxicity is a critical part of its appeal. The flavor is so subtle it's nearly nonexistent, but eating it numbs the lips, and creates an alcohol-like buzz for the diner. Popular in Japan, it's banned in Europe and offered in a small number of restaurants in the United States and Korea.

See our slideshow of World's Deadliest Delicacies.

But while it's the most notorious toxic fish, fugu is neither the most powerful nor the most commonly served. And beyond fish, there are scores of other foods whose deadliness equals their deliciousness, including commonly served fruits and vegetables that come with a sickening (and maybe lethal) kick. While the dangers can usually be avoided through proper preparation, this association with danger is irresistible to adventurous diners.

Fish present the most clear and present danger. There are hundreds of species of toxic fish, and many find their ways to dinner plates.

"People would definitely be surprised at how venomous fish are," says Dr. Leo Smith, assistant fish curator at the Field Museum in Chicago. Smith is a leading researcher of poisonous and venomous fish, and says that while snakes are more often associated with venom, there are far more poisonous species of fish. "Because humans live on land, they don't think of fish as venomous."

In nature, the most venomous fish is the stonefish, a fixture of Asian and tropic cuisine whose potentially fatal sting has been described as the worst pain a human can feel. However, human death from eating stonefish is rare to nonexistent.

"There's an important distinction you have to make between poisonous and venomous," Smith says. Venom is commonly deployed when a fish bites its prey, but certain fish are poisonous due to their diet and environment.

See our slideshow of World's Deadliest Delicacies.

When stonefish venom is cooked, it loses its potency. And when served raw—as is the sashimi dish Okoze—its venomous dorsal fins are simply removed. The body meat that remains is delicious and nontoxic. On the other hand, puffer fish and the silver-striped blaasop do not deploy venom, but they are nonetheless toxic to humans because of bacteria in their diet.

As a result, puffer fish farmers in Japan have been able to breed non-poisonous puffer fish by restricting the fish's diet. The newly safe but still legally suspect puffer fish liver, where Tetrodotoxin is most concentrated, has reportedly become a sought-after underground delicacy in parts of Japan.

Of course, you needn't rely on the ocean to provide dangerous delicacies; a number of poison plants serve as side dishes and garnishes around the world. Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica. This bulbous-looking plant has the look and taste of scrambled eggs when cooked, and is often paired with stonefish and eaten as breakfast. But pray that breakfast comes at the right time—ackee can cause extreme nausea if served when it's not ripe enough, which occurs often enough for the condition to acquire the nickname "Jamaican vomiting sickness." It can be even fatal to children.

Like ackee, cassava is a dietary staple in the tropics. In Brazil, Peru, Cuba and other countries, it's used to make breads, ground into pastes and fried into cakes. Also like ackee, it can have undesirable consequences if not washed and prepared properly; the root vegetable contains enough cyanide to kill. Cassava is found in Africa, too, where it's at home with the Namibian bullfrog, a nasty-looking specimen that grows to the size of a housecat—and contains enough poison to be lethal.

The fans of these foods argue that deliciousness outweighs the danger. And anyway, a simple chicken dinner isn't guaranteed to be safe. According to the Center for Disease Control, an average of 600 Americans die from the chicken-borne bacterial disease Salmonella every year. On the other hand, annual worldwide deaths by fugu amount are just a small fraction of that.

Of course, Salmonella poisoning occurs if the chicken is undercooked or dirty—the chicken itself isn't inherently poisonous. James Briscione, chef and instructor at Manhattan's Institute of Culinary Education, speculates that it takes a certain mindset to order a dish with a lethal reputation. "I think it gets back to when a kid eats worms in the playground. It's an adventurous thing to do and you're going to have a story to tell."

Original here

Utah Woman Charged With Homicide in Alcohol Poisoning Death of Teen She Was Called to Help

A Utah woman was charged with homicide in the alcohol poisoning death of a 14-year-old boy she reportedly tried to help.

Authorities say that the teen, Jess "Micade" Horrocks, died because of inaction on the part of 24-year-old Candice Collard, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Collard now could spend 15 years in prison if she is convicted of second-degree felony homicide.

Prosecutors said Collard was allegedly called to help Horrocks, who had been drinking hard liquor in Uintah County with some friends April 12, according to the Tribune.

Horrocks guzzled so much alcohol that he became unresponsive. Collard was called, but took the boy to her home 13 miles away rather than driving him to a hospital, Uintah County Deputy Attorney Greg Lamb told the paper.

Another adult called 911 about midnight after discovering the teen, who was declared brain dead the next day and removed from life support.

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Applebee's Food Comes With Delicious "Use By" Sticker

Reader Jamie's Applebee's dinner came with an interesting ingredient: an expiration date sticker. Understandably grossed out, Jamie asked Applebee's for some new food. They agreed, fished out the sticker and brought the old food back. Ick.

Jamie writes:

Me and my 4 other military friends were enjoying our appetizers when our food arrived. After eating a few bites, I noticed a "food good until" date sticker cooked in with my food. I did not know a date was required on my food...

Anyways, we called the waiter over to show him what was going on. "Well," he said, "Sometimes the food bags and stickers can be mixed in with the chicken when cut up."

WTF! He said he is sorry and is there anything else he can do? Yes you can sir, you can get me another bowl of my food, cooked new. Well, he took the bowl back and about 2 min later he brought out another bowl... 2 min to cook a new bowl?

It looked exactly the same. My fork was still in the bowl. I told him I wanted it to go. He said he was sending the manager over to talk to me. Well the manager came over and said he was sorry and "any drinks need to be refilled?"

Jamie says he didn't get new food, nor did the manager take the sticker pasta off the bill. You stay classy, Applebee's!

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Bartering sex for stuff or services

By Michelle Goodman

(LifeWire) -- While she was studying in Brazil during college, the one thing Stephanie Gerson longed to do before leaving was spend time in the thick of the Amazon rain forest. Unfortunately, she couldn't find a tour that would take her past the forest's edge.

Survey at college finds 27 percent of men and 14 percent of  women willing to trade favors or gifts for sex.

Survey at college finds 27 percent of men and 14 percent of women willing to trade favors or gifts for sex.

So, when a college-aged busboy at a resort she was visiting began flirting with her, she asked him if he thought a tourist could survive alone in the jungle.

"He laughed and told me I was nuts," says Gerson, 27, who works part-time in online marketing for a chocolate company in San Francisco.

Then he told her that he'd grown up in the jungle in a nearby indigenous community. That was all Gerson needed to hear. Although she wasn't attracted to the guy, Gerson flirted right back in the hopes that he would be her jungle tour guide. It worked. The busboy wormed his way out of work, and the two headed into the rain forest.

"It was amazing," Gerson says of her adventure in 2000. "We built our homes out of palm leaves, I saw animals I'd never seen before, he taught me the medicinal properties of all the plants, we picked fruit off the trees, we swam with and ate piranhas. And, of course, we had sex ... for almost two weeks."

Body currency system

Gerson never felt sleazy or uncomfortable with her unspoken arrangement with the busboy.

"It was a good barter both ways," she says. "I got to stay in the jungle, and he got to have sex with a cute, young American girl."

Such trades aren't so unusual. Throughout history, humans have used their bodies to get what they want -- from ancient Egyptian ruler Cleopatra, who cemented her power through liaisons with Roman rulers Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, to the man and woman who were arrested at a Fort Wright, Kentucky, motel in late June for allegedly swapping sex for gasoline. Regardless of our motivation, scientists say we're hardwired to use our bodies as a bargaining chip.

A recent study of 475 University of Michigan undergraduates ages 17 to 26 found that 27 percent of the men and 14 percent of the women who weren't in a committed relationship had offered someone favors or gifts -- help prepping for a test, laundry washing, tickets to a college football game -- in exchange for sex. On the flip side, 5 percent of the men surveyed and 9 percent of the women said they'd attempted to trade sex for such freebies.

And although they weren't hard up for resources, the students surveyed "recognized the value of this socioeconomic currency system," says Daniel Kruger, research scientist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, who published his findings in the April issue of "Evolutionary Psychology."

"It's more about getting what you want than getting what you need," he says. "Unless you think everyone needs a $200 Louis Vuitton bag."

The handyman hookup

But unattached coeds aren't the only ones who barter with their bodies. Some professionals will attest that their skills are, well, sexy.

"Women are turned on just by the simple idea of their guy getting off his ass and doing something for them," says Rocky Fino, author of "Will Cook for Sex: A Guy's Guide to Cooking."

It works both ways, he adds.

"Give it to me first thing in the morning, and I'll play [handyman] all day," says Fino, a 39-year-old father of two and part-time construction worker.

Ben Corbett, a 39-year-old contractor from Boulder, Colorado, credits his tool belt with prompting the barrage of come-ons he fields from female clients -- most of them married -- on a regular basis.

"It starts with the flirting, and it just progresses," says Corbett, who has run a construction and remodeling business for 20 years. "They'll touch my hand, and there's all this physical contact. Or they'll run around in their pajamas."

"Once," he says, "I was painting the hallway right outside a client's bedroom, and she was lying on her bed like a girl at a slumber party with her legs up and her arms crossed and her head resting on them, asking me if I had a girlfriend.

"It's all about the fantasy of being taken by the rough-hewn construction guy," muses Corbett, who, despite the temptation, has avoided getting sexually involved with his clientele for fear of jeopardizing his business.

It's the biology, stupid

Call it crass, sexist or gender stereotyping all you want, but there are thousands of years of biological programming at work here, says Dr. Chris Fariello, director of the Institute for Sex Therapy at the Council for Relationships, a nonprofit relationship-counseling group based in Philadelphia.

Plain and simple, a partner who provides more resources -- wealth, shelter, home repairs -- is seen as more attractive and stands to reap more sexual rewards.

Or, as Fariello puts it, "I don't get anybody in my office who says, 'My husband sits on the couch all day and eats bonbons, and I want to have sex with him all the time.'"

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Fuel Economy Tip - Follow the “3 Second Rule”

Here’s a tip that will not only help you increase your vehicle’s fuel economy, but will also help you become a much safer driver:

Follow the “3 Second Rule”

As you are driving down the road - particularly at highway speeds - make sure that you give keep plenty of space between your car, truck, SUV, etc. and the vehicle in front of you. In most cases, you are giving proper spacing if you are traveling three seconds behind the car in front of you, however, you will likely need to give more time and space if you’re driving in bad weather.

For those of you who don’t know how to tell how close you are traveling to the car in front of you, pick a set object up a head - an exit sign, a light pole, etc. - and once the bumper of the car you’re following crosses the designated object, begin counting and don’t stop until the hood of your car passes the same object.

Following the “3 Second Rule” will help keep you from constantly tapping your brakes and accelerator every time the car in front of you slows down and speeds up. By avoiding tap dancing on your brake and accelerator pedals, you can significantly increase your fuel economy. Here’s why:

By tapping your brakes, you essentially waste the energy it took to get up to and maintain the speed at which you were traveling. Then, In order to get back up to your previous speed, you’ll need to hit your accelerator, which, obviously, will take some energy. This energy - both the wasted energy and the newly required energy - came from or will come from the burning of your car’s fuel.

If you leave plenty of space between you and other drivers, you’ll give yourself time to adequately judge whether you actually need to use your brakes, or if you can just ease off the accelerator and coast for a short while. If you coast, you’ll still lose some of the initial energy and will still have to use fuel to get back up to the previous speed, but it won’t be nearly as much as if you had used your brakes.

Using less fuel tends to mean better gas mileage!

And, in terms of safety, by having plenty of space between you and the car ahead of you, you’re much more likely to avoid a serious accident because you’ve given yourself enough time to either come to a stop, or make the proper “evasive maneuver.”

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2020: Cars of the Future

Ransom Riggs
by Ransom Riggs

bladerunner460.jpgLooks like the cars from Blade Runner are never going to happen — or not anytime soon, anyway. IBM’s Institute for Business Value undertook a massive survey of automotive experts from all over the world in order to discover the shape of things to come, and the results are green: among other findings, it’s believed that all new cars will be hybrids by 2020. The industry may well be unrecognizably different in just over a decade, and the reasons for this are many:

Vehicles will become more intelligent. “Electronics will bring new capabilities to every part of the vehicle. New technologies will provide for greater assistance in navigation, enhanced driver information about the vehicle, its environment and vehicle connectivity.” (I’m not sure what “vehicle connectivity” means, but so far I’m imagining Kit from Knight Rider.)

Corporate social responsibility becomes a buying factor. “Consumers will be more empowered and sophisticated. They will also become increasingly watchful and wary about how companies perform outside the manufacturing and distribution processes. Corporate social responsibility will become markedly more important to the consumer.” I hope so — but I’m a bit more skeptical of this one.

Sustainability hits the bottom line. “The impact of external forces on the industry will continue to be significant, but the leading influencers will be radically different from those that affect the industry today. Technology will continue lead, but other issues, such as sustainability, will migrate to near the top of the list.”

Among the more specific (and relevant) predictions they trot out, one of the most interesting is about ethanol: food-based ethanol will fade away, they believe, thanks in part to rising food costs and the “chorus of vocal dissent” which already exists regarding its use. In its place, cellulosic and other waste-based ethanols will come into play more heavily (I recently blogged about a Japanese airplane that’s partly garbage-fueled); the report predicts “widespread acceptance” of these kinds of next-gen fuels.

As for hybrids, the experts say that “battery technology will be ubiquitous” and that “all new vehicles in 2020 will have some level of hybridization.” Hydrogen cars will be out there, but not quite as ubiquitous: “even optimistic projections put only a small fraction of vehicle production migrating to this technology (less than 1 percent of vehicles in the United States).”

Another interesting prediction is that rather than having just one car for all our transpo needs, the consumer will shift toward owning a diverse “garage” of vehicles. Which is to say, “lifestyle changes will allow access to luxury or larger vehicles during the weekends, as an example, while a small, efficient vehicle will suffice for daily commuting needs.” (Are they saying we’ll all be rich?!)

So there you have it — smaller, greener, cleaner, and a big honkin’ truck for weekends at the lake. How does that sound to everyone?

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Peter K Austin's top 10 endangered languages

Khomani bushmen visit ancestors' graves in Kalahari Gemsbok Park in South Africa

On the way out ... Khomani men visit ancestral burial grounds in South Africa. Photograph: Obed Zilwa/AP

Peter K Austin has published 11 books on minority and endangered languages, including 12 Australian Aboriginal languages, and holds the Märit Rausing Chair in field linguistics at the School of Oriental and African Studies where he is also director of the Endangered Languages Academic Programme. His most recent book is 1000 Languages: The Worldwide History of Living and Lost Tongues, which explores the state of languages around the world.

Buy 1000 Languages from the Guardian bookshop

There are more than 6,900 languages used around the world today, ranging in size from those with hundreds of millions of speakers to those with only one or two. Language experts now estimate that as many as half of the existing languages are endangered, and by the year 2050 they will be extinct. The major reason for this language loss is that communities are switching to larger politically and economically more powerful languages, like English, Spanish, Hindi or Swahili.

Each language expresses the history, culture, society and identity of the people who speak it, and each is a unique way of talking about the world. The loss of any language is a loss to both the community who use it in their daily lives, and to humankind in general. The songs, stories, words, expressions and grammatical structures of languages developed over countless generations are part of the intangible heritage of all humanity.

So how to choose a top 10 from more than 3,000 endangered languages? My selection is a personal one that tries to take into account four factors: (1) geographical coverage - if possible I wanted at least one language from each continent; (2) scientific interest - I wanted to include languages that linguists find interesting and important, because of their structural or historical significance; (3) cultural interest - if possible some information about interesting cultural and political aspects of endangered languages should be included; and (4) social impact - I wanted to include one or more situations showing why languages are endangered, as well as highlighting some of the ways communities are responding to the threat they currently face.

1. Jeru

Jeru (or Great Andamanese) is spoken by fewer than 20 people on the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. It is generally believed that Andamanese languages might be the last surviving languages whose history goes back to pre-Neolithic times in Southeast Asia and possibly the first settlement of the region by modern humans moving out of Africa. The languages of the Andamans cannot be shown to be related to any other languages spoken on earth.

2. N|u (also called Khomani)

This is a Khoisan language spoken by fewer than 10 elderly people whose traditional lands are located in the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa. The Khoisan languages are remarkable for having click sounds – the | symbol is pronounced like the English interjection tsk! tsk! used to express pity or shame.The closest relative of N|u is !Xóõ (also called Ta'a and spoken by about 4,000 people) which has the most sounds of any language on earth: 74 consonants, 31 vowels, and four tones (voice pitches).

3. Ainu

The Ainu language is spoken by a small number of old people on the island of Hokkaido in the far north of Japan. They are the original inhabitants of Japan, but were not recognised as a minority group by the Japanese government until this year. The language has very complicated verbs that incorporate a whole sentence's worth of meanings, and it is the vehicle of an extensive oral literature of folk stories and songs. Moves are underway to revive Ainu language and cultural practices.

4. Thao

Sun Moon Lake of central Taiwan is the home of the Thao language, now spoken by a handful of old people while the remainder of the community speaks Taiwanese Chinese (Minnan). Thao is an Austronesian language related to languages spoken in the Philippines, Indonesia and the Pacific, and represents one of the original communities of the Austronesians before they sailed south and east over 3,000 years ago.

5. Yuchi

Yuchi is spoken in Oklahoma, USA, by just five people all aged over 75. Yuchi is an isolate language (that is, it cannot be shown to be related to any other language spoken on earth). Their own name for themselves is Tsoyaha, meaning "Children of the Sun". Yuchi nouns have 10 genders, indicated by word endings: six for Yuchi people (depending on kinship relations to the person speaking), one for non-Yuchis and animals, and three for inanimate objects (horizontal, vertical, and round). Efforts are now under way to document the language with sound and video recordings, and to revitalise it by teaching it to children.

6. Oro Win

The Oro Win live in western Rondonia State, Brazil, and were first contacted by outsiders in 1963 on the headwaters of the Pacaas Novos River. The group was almost exterminated after two attacks by outsiders and today numbers just 50 people, only five of whom still speak the language. Oro Win is one of only five languages known to make regular use of a sound that linguists call "a voiceless dental bilabially trilled affricate". In rather plainer language, this means it's produced with the tip of the tongue placed between the lips which are then vibrated (in a similar way to the brrr sound we make in English to signal that the weather is cold).

7. Kusunda

The Kusunda are a former group of hunter-gatherers from western Nepal who have intermarried with their settled neighbours. Until recently it was thought that the language was extinct but in 2004 scholars at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu located eight people who still speak the language. Another isolate, with no connections to other languages.

8. Ter Sami

This is the easternmost of the Saami group of languages (formerly called Lapp, a derogatory term), located on the Kola Peninsula in Russia. It is spoken by just 10 elderly people among approximately 100 ethnic Ter Sami who all now speak Russian as their daily language. Ter Sami is related to Finnish and other Uralic languages spoken in Russia and Siberia, and distantly to Hungarian.

9. Guugu Yimidhirr

Guugu Yimidhirr is an Australian Aboriginal language spoken at Hopevale near Cooktown in northern Queensland by around 200 people. A wordlist was collected by Captain James Cook in 1770 and it has given English (and the rest of the world's languages) the word kangaroo. Guugu Yimidhirr (like some other Aboriginal languages) is remarkable for having a special way of speaking to certain family members (like a man's father-in-law or brother-in-law) in which everyday words are replaced by completely different special vocabulary. For example, instead of saying bama dhaday for "the man is going" you must say yambaal bali when speaking to these relatives as a mark of respect and politeness.

10. Ket

Ket is the last surviving member of a family of languages spoken along the Yenesei River in eastern Siberia. Today there are around 600 speakers but no children are learning it since parents prefer to speak to them in Russian. Ket is the only Siberian language with a tone system where the pitch of the voice can give what sound like identical words quite different meanings. (Much like Chinese or Yoruba). To add to the difficulty for any westerner wishing to learn it, it also has extremely complicated word structure and grammar.

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