Monday, December 15, 2008

Travel Postcard: 48 hours in New York for the holidays

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Got 48 hours to explore New York over the holidays? Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors make the most of the shopping and holiday attractions on offer in the Big Apple.


6 p.m. - Why not start the weekend with a cocktail? The Campbell Apartment in Grand Central Terminal on 42nd Street at Lexington Ave offer a taste of luxury in the famous New York landmark.

7 p.m. - Take a stroll along up Fifth Avenue to see the Rockefeller Christmas Tree which attracts about 500,000 people a day. Watch the ice skaters below and don't miss the spectacular window displays across the road at the upmarket Saks Fifth Avenue store.

8 p.m. - Try dinner at Tavern on The Green (www.tavernonthegreen) at Central Park West at 67th Street which prides itself on its festive atmosphere with a holiday dinner menu which ends with plum pudding.

10.30 p.m. - End the evening with a ride in a horse-drawn carriage around Central Park, pure magic on a snowy night.


8 a.m. - A trip to Santaland at Macy's, the massive department store on 34th Street at Broadway, is a must. Wind your way through a wonderland of trains, talking trees and busy elves to the North Pole where you can have photos with Santa. There are fantastic display windows too.

Other stand-in Santas are available for photo opportunities at Bloomingdales on Third Ave at 59th Street, Saks Fifth Avenue at Fifth Ave and 50th Street, Manhattan Mall on 33rd Street at Sixth Ave, South Street Seaport at Pier 17, and the World Financial Center at Winter Garden on Vesey Street.

12 noon - Walk up to Times Square to join the crowds squeezing into Toys 'R Us which has a ferris wheel inside the store and three floors of toys. For a family lunch try Carmines ( ) at West 44th Street, an Italian eatery which serves family sized portions of various pastas.

2 p.m. - New York is a city for shoppers with stores ranging from the very expensive to the affordable and the discount. Designer discount stores like Century 21 ( ) at 22 Courtlandt Street is a haven for the truly committed shopper.

There are numerous holiday markets as well to enjoy:

- Bryant Park on Sixth Ave at 42nd Street has over 100 booths with this European-style holiday market one of the biggest in town with free ice-skating on the park's rink.

- Grand Central Holiday Fair in the Vanderbilt Hall has stalls and a kaleidoscopic light show in the main concourse

- Holiday Gift Shops at St. Bartholomew's Church on Park Avenue at 50th Street is a pretty market

- Holiday market at Union Square on 14th Street at Broadway where red and white tents have been put up for various stalls

- Holiday Market at Columbus Circle at Central Park South and Central Park West is an ideal location for foodies

6 p.m. - Aim for an early dinner then pick one off the list of holiday shows in New York.

8 p.m. - There is a show for everyone. From the traditional high-kicking Rockettes at Radio City Hall ( ), to the Nutcracker ballet at the New York State Theater, Lincoln Center ( ), to the more modern musicals such as "Shrek the Musical" and Rodgers & Hart's "Pal Joey." Be sure to book shows in advance.


9 a.m. - A trip to New York is incomplete without a visit to Central Park for a ride on the carousel, to see the polar bears and penguins in the zoo, and for a skate around the picturesque Wollman Rink ( Go early as the rink is packed by noon.

12 noon - Grab a pretzel off a street stand for lunch and head down Fifth Avenue, making the upmarket toy store FAO Schwarz your first stop. Virtually every shore along Fifth Avenue has holiday windows to enjoy including Cartier, Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany & Co., and Henri Bendel.

2.30 p.m. - St. Patrick's Cathedral on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 51st Street is worth a stop and break from the crowds, regardless of your denomination or religion. It is an architectural beauty and a nativity scene with life-sized statues adds to the holiday spirit.

4 p.m. - Finish off the weekend with the final holiday windows at department store Lord & Taylor at Fifth Ave at 38th St, which are usually the most traditional of them all.

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Obesity 'controlled by the brain'

Bathroom scales
Rates of obesity are on the rise

Seven new gene variants discovered by scientists suggest strongly that obesity is largely a mind problem.

The findings suggest the brain plays the dominant role in controlling appetite, and that obesity cannot easily be blamed on metabolic flaws.

Two international studies, published in Nature Genetics, examined samples from thousands of people for the tiniest genetic changes.

Many of the seven key variants seem to be active in the brain.

This cannot be the explanation for the current epidemic of obesity since these genes have been present for centuries and the obesity epidemic is a relatively new phenomenon
Professor Peter Weissberg
British Heart Foundation

This suggests that the brain's impact on appetite and eating behaviour may be more important that any genetic variation which alters the body's ability to lay down or burn up fat.

All seven variants were picked up by a study led by Icelandic company deCODE Genetics, while six of the seven were also identified in a second, independent study by an international team dubbed the Giant consortium.

In both cases the researchers scrutinised DNA samples from thousands of people to assess the impact of tiny changes.

Each of the variants identified had a small impact on obesity, but a person carrying all of them was typically around 1.5kg - 2kg heavier than average.

It is estimated that as much as 70% of the variation in body mass index - a measure of obesity based on height and weight - is down to genetics, rather than environmental factors.

Researcher Dr Kari Stefansson, of deCODE Genetics said: "This suggests that as we work to develop better means of combating obesity, we need to focus on the regulation of appetite at least as much as on the metabolic factors of how the body uses and stores energy."

Major step forward

Dr Alan Guttmacher, of the US National Human Genome Research Institute, said the research was a major step forward in understanding how the human body regulates weight.

However, Professor Peter Weissberg, of the at the British Heart Foundation, expressed caution.

He said: "This research adds to the growing body of evidence that some people are more at risk of becoming obese because of their genes.

"It suggests that some people may be less able than others to resist the temptation to overeat because of their genetic background and it might start to explain why some people have no problem keeping their weight down whilst others struggle.

"However, this cannot be the explanation for the current epidemic of obesity since these genes have been present for centuries and the obesity epidemic is a relatively new phenomenon."

Almost one in four people in the UK is now classified as obese, and expert predict the proportion will continue to rise sharply.

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Antisocial, Invasive Cells Are Basis Of Cancer, Finding Suggests

Photomicrograph of cervical cancer cells in tissue culture. New research finds that cancer cells sidestep the mechanism by which cells normally repel each other. (Credit: iStockphoto/Torsten Wittmann)

Scientists at UCL funded by BBSRC and the Medical Research Council have discovered the mechanism by which cells normally repel each other – a process sidestepped by cancer cells which go on to invade and conquer healthy regions of the body.

The findings suggest an alternative way in which cancer treatments might work in the future, if therapies can be targeted at the process of ‘cell repulsion’ to stop cancer cells from spreading and causing secondary tumours.

Cells typically produce localized protrusions which help them navigate their environment. When two cells meet, they normally retract their protrusions and change their direction of movement, effectively ‘repelling’ one another. This phenomenon, called contact inhibition of locomotion, was first discovered 50 years ago in a UCL laboratory experiment, and its failure was thought to contribute to the malignant invasion of cancer. But it took up to now to witness the process in action and pin down the mechanism.

The latest UCL study led by Dr Roberto Mayor, UCL Cell and Developmental Biology, has captured the phenomenon ‘in vivo’ – in living tissue – and has identified the mechanism by which it works, suggesting possible new targets for future cancer therapies.

Dr Roberto Mayor says: "Contact inhibition of locomotion was first discovered by UCL Professor Michael Abercrombie more than 50 years ago, when he saw fibroblast cells under the microscope confront each other, retract their protrusions and change direction on contact. The failure of cells to repulse each other in this way was thought to play a role in the spread of cancer."

"However, until now the molecular basis of this process and whether it also occurred within the body was unknown. Our study of neural crest cells shows that these cells behave in exactly this way. When two migrating neural crest cells meet, they stop, collapse their protrusions and change direction. However, when a neural crest cell meets another cell type, it fails to behave as expected and instead invades the other tissue, in the same manner as metastatic cancer cells which migrate and go on to cause secondary tumours."

"Inhibition of a type of cell signalling - non-canonical Wnt signalling – is behind this behaviour, cancelling the normal repulsion you would expect between cells. Our discovery offers possible new targets for the future treatment of tumour metastasis – the spreading of cancer cells, one of the mostly deadly aspects of cancer."

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Broccoli Compound Targets Key Enzyme In Late-stage Cancer

Broccoli. An anti-cancer compound found in broccoli and cabbage works by lowering the activity of an enzyme associated with rapidly advancing breast cancer. (Credit: iStockphoto/David T Gomez)

An anti-cancer compound found in broccoli and cabbage works by lowering the activity of an enzyme associated with rapidly advancing breast cancer, according to a University of California, Berkeley, study appearing Dec 3 in the online early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The compound, indole-3-carbinol, is already undergoing clinical trials in humans because it was found to stop the growth of breast and prostate cancer cells in mice.

The new findings are the first to explain how indole-3-carbinol (I3C) stops cell growth, and thus provides the basis for designing improved versions of the chemical that would be more effective as a drug and could work against a broader range of breast as well as prostate tumors.

"I think one of the real uses of this compound and its derivatives is combining it with other kinds of therapies, such as tamoxifen for breast cancer and anti-androgens for prostate cancer," said coauthor Gary Firestone, UC Berkeley professor of molecular and cell biology. "Humans have co-evolved with cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, so this natural source has a lot fewer side effects."

"This is a major breakthrough in trying to understand what the specific targets of these natural products are," said coauthor Leonard Bjeldanes, UC Berkeley professor of toxicology. "The field is awash with different results in various cells, but no real identification of a specific molecular target for these substances. The beauty of identifying the target like this is that it suggests further studies that could augment the activity of this type of molecule and really specify uses for specific cancers."

Firestone, Bjeldanes and their colleagues showed that I3C inhibits the enzyme elastase, which at high levels in breast cancer cells heralds a poor prognosis: decreased response to chemotherapy, reduced response to endocrine treatment and reduced survival rates.

Elastase is an enzyme that shortens a cellular chemical, cyclin E, that is involved in controlling the cell cycle. The shortened version of cyclin E accelerates the cell cycle, making cancer cells proliferate faster. Firestone showed that I3C prevents the elastase shortening of cyclin E, thereby arresting development of breast cancer cells.

For more than 15 years, Firestone, Bjeldanes and their colleagues have studied the anti-cancer benefits of vegetables in the cabbage family that are lumped together in the genus Brassica and, because of their cross-shaped flowers, are often referred to as cruciferous vegetables.

Though the anti-cancer benefits have been recognized since the 1970s, the mechanism is only now being discovered, in part through the work of Firestone, Bjeldanes and their UC Berkeley colleagues.

"We have connected the dots on one extremely important pathway" by which indole-3-carbinol works, Firestone said.

In previous work, they found that indole-3-carbinol interferes with more than cell proliferation. It also disrupts the migration and alters adhesion properties of cancer cells, as well as counteracts the survival ability of cancer cells, all of which are implicated in cancer cell growth. To have such broad downstream effects, I3C must act at the beginning of a major cellular pathway, Firestone said. The newly reported research pins this activity to elastase and its effect on cyclin E.

Bjeldanes noted that I3C is available as a supplement and is a preferred preventative treatment for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, a condition involving non-malignant tumors of the larynx. Improved versions of the chemical could thus help treat cancers other than those of the breast and prostate.

Graduate student Ida Aronchik and recent Ph.D. recipient Hanh H. Nguyen, along with colleagues in the Firestone and Bjeldanes labs, have already chemically modified I3C and boosted its activity in cell culture by at least a factor of 100. The lab teams currently are probing the elastase structure and how I3C interacts with it to identify the best parts of the I3C molecule to modify.

I3C is only one of many plant-derived chemicals, called phytochemicals, that Firestone is investigating in his laboratory as potential anti-cancer agents. Among them is the anti-malarial drug artemisinin. Last month, the Journal of Biological Chemistry accepted a paper by Firestone and his colleagues showing that artemisinin blocks prostate cancer cell growth by interfering with the same intracellular pathway as does I3C. This pathway involves the transcription factor SP1, which latches onto other genes to boost their activity.

"SP1 could be a generalized target of phytochemicals," Firestone said. "Phytochemicals work because they interact with and inhibit enzymes that control a host of cellular processes, including migration and adhesion."

The research is supported by the National Cancer Institute. Other coauthors of the paper are Gloria A. Brar, currently a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and former UC Berkeley undergraduate David H. H. Nguyen, now a graduate student at New York University.

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Teens Favor Painkillers, Alcohol and Marijuana Over Stimulants

Many teens are still abusing prescription painkillers, even as the use of stimulant drugs declined, according to an annual study of teen drug and alcohol use released today.

abused drugsThe 2008 Monitoring the Future Survey, conducted by scientists at the University of Michigan and sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is part of the NIH, surveyed 8th, 10th and 12th graders about their habits regarding drugs and alcohol. This is the 34th year for the study.

Earlier this year, the WSJ reported that an increasing number of young people, dubbed “Generation Rx” by some drug experts, are abusing prescription drugs, especially narcotics such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Percoset. Sure enough, the 2008 MTF data show the rates of abuse of these prescription narcotics remain high, with little change in the past six years. (Click on graphic to enlarge chart of most abused drugs.)

Nearly 10% of high school seniors reported using Vicodin for non-medical purposes in the year before taking the survey, while 4.7% reported abusing OxyContin. Both drugs are opioid painkillers.

“It’s a very serious problem,” Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told the Health Blog. “There’s a misconception that these drugs are safer than illicit substances because they are prescribed by doctors.”

Meanwhile, the levels of abuse of over-the-counter cough and cold medications varied by age. Their abuse remained fairly high among 10th graders, since first being tracked in 2006, but fell among 8th and 12th graders.

There was some good news in the survey: The use of some stimulants—amphetamines, methamphetamine, crystal methamphetamine, cocaine and crack—continued a gradual decline. In addition, cigarette smoking among teens is at its lowest rates since the survey started in 1975.

Teen alcohol use has declined since the mid-1990s, though the levels are still pretty high. The 2008 survey showed that the number of 8th and 12th graders who reported that they drank alcohol one or more times in the past year remained fairly steady at about 32% and about 66% respectively. The number of 10th graders who reported alcohol use in the past year fell 3.8% to 52.5%.

The study showed that marijuana use among teens, which has consistently declined since the mid-1990s, appears to have leveled off, with 10.9% of 8th graders, 23.9% of 10th graders and 32.4% of 12th graders reporting using it in the past year. Teen use of several other illicit drugs, including LSD, ecstasy and heroin remained steady.

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Beyond Guacamole: Work Avocado Into Your Daily Menu

By Steve Petusevsky
From Health magazine

Although sometimes maligned for its fat content, the creamy, heart-healthy avocado can play a very versatile—and nutritious—role in your diet. Here are a few facts about avocados.

Avocados are a fruit, not a vegetable, and have more potassium than bananas.

The Aztecs, among the earliest harvesters of the avocado, used it as a sexual stimulant.

Avocados are cholesterol-free but have 30 grams of fat, most of which is heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.

Hass avocados (the most common variety) are available year-round. They’re ripe when the skin is nearly black and the fruit yields to soft pressure.

Tip: In the bag
Contributing Editor Robin Miller, host of Food Network’s Quick Fix Meals With Robin Miller, offers this tip: To speed ripening, put avocados in a brown paper bag with an apple for a few days at room temperature. The apple releases ethylene gas, a ripening agent.

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‘Flintstones’ Car First to Combine Pedals, Solar, & Battery

GOP: Don't blame us, blame the UAW


A Chrysler dealership in Pennsylvania

Republicans who fought a White House-backed bailout plan want Americans to blame the United Auto Workers and think about Rod Blagojevich.
Photo: AP

As General Motors announced the temporary closure of 20 plants Friday, Republicans who fought a White House-backed bailout plan want Americans to blame the United Auto Workers and think about Rod Blagojevich.

The GOP strategy, previewed in an “action alert” sent by a Republican lobbyist and outlined by Republican aides, is based on the idea that the best defense is a good offense — and the hope that the taint of the Illinois governor will rub off on organized labor.

“This is the Democrats’ first opportunity to pay off organized labor after the election ... a precursor to card check and other items,” said the memo. “Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor, instead of taking their first blow from it.”

Hours after that memo was circulated Wednesday, five GOP senators went before TV cameras to declare their opposition to a $14 billion bailout for GM, Chrysler and Ford. The House approved the plan Wednesday night, but it died in the Senate Thursday night when only 10 Republican voted for a procedural motion to allow passage.

With world markets plunging on the news, the Bush administration quickly opened the door to using money from this fall’s $700 billion financial-market bailout to keep Chrysler and GM alive into next year — an idea it had previously rejected.

Some Republican senators are resistant to that plan, too, saying the White House shouldn’t do anything to help the automakers without imposing the restructuring requirements that would have been included in the congressional bailout plan.

Either way, GOP aides are already plotting their strategy to deal with any blowback on the bailout vote. They’ll portray the UAW as intransigent; hammer away at the theme that unions don’t effectively represent mainstream workers; and play up the involvement of labor officials in the corruption scandal revolving around the Democratic governor of Illinois.

The hope: By making Big Labor the bogeyman, Republicans will escape blame for whatever happens with the automakers and set themselves up well for the card check debate expected to hit Capitol Hill after the first of the year.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who played a central role in the negotiations that fell apart Thursday, put parts of the plan into play Friday.

In an interview with Politico, Corker said that the bailout plan lost any hope of Republican support in the Senate when the UAW refused to agree to a “date certain” on which the secretary of labor would begin the process of certifying that the wages paid by domestic automakers were “competitive” with those paid by foreign manufacturers with U.S. plants.

And in a press conference, Corker said a Republican alternative to the White House-backed plan could have passed both the House and the Senate if the UAW had “released” Democrats to vote for it.

“I hate to be so blunt,” Corker said. “That’s politics.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) echoed Corker’s suggestion that the UAW’s position on the wages issue was the “sticking point,” and he washed his hands of responsibility for the Big Three’s larger problems.

“None of us want to see them go down,” he said in a statement, “but very few of us had anything to do with the dilemma that they've created for themselves.”

But Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) suggested that the Republicans had set up the wage fight solely for the purpose of scoring points against the UAW.

“I think it was designed to create a political problem rather than solve an economic one,” Dodd said.

Dodd called the wages provision an “impossible condition” that would have caused a riot among Senate Democrats, and he said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her closest adviser, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), would have laughed at him if he had agreed to it.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) issued a statement saying that Republicans were “recklessly playing games with the nation s economy just so they can take shots against unionized workers.”

UAW officials argued that the competitive-wage certification requirement would have singled out the union’s workers and done little to reduce the companies’ debt. They argued that no other stakeholder in the autowmakers’ future was being forced to agree to such a demand – and that union members could not afford to take a pay cut in difficult economic times.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a conservative stalwart who voted against the bill, rejected the notion that Republicans were gunning for the UAW but added that a job with a slight wage cut was better than no job at all.

Bill Samuel, director of government affairs for the AFL-CIO, said Thursday night’s vote against the bailout plan was a last gasp from the most conservative elements of the Republican Party. With a smaller minority next year, he said, these conservative Republicans won’t be able as successful in blocking legislation.

But a bigger Democratic majority in the Senate has come at the expense of some moderate Republicans who have long been allies of organized labor, leaving unions with just a handful of reliable GOP votes next Congress.

Martin Kady II and Ryan Grim contributed to this report.

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BBC Relies on ‘Pirate’ Audio To Bring Back Lost TV Show

Written by enigmax

Back in the 60’s, archive space at the BBC was hard to come by, forcing the broadcaster to delete some of its own material. Now, a TV show that fell victim to this regime has been resurrected, with the BBC using a pirate recording of the show’s audio to bring it back to life.

BBCLogoIn these Internet and file-sharing times, it seems unthinkable that we could ever be in the position of any media becoming ‘rare’ again. No matter where material appears, it always seems to end up on the Internet and, once there, it is copied time and time again to every corner of the globe. Losing a movie, song or TV show forever should be a thing of the past - but it hasn’t always been that way.

With today’s compression and hard drive technology, we can store hundreds of movies in a very small space indeed, but before the mainstream uptake of digital technology, storing video or music was a very expensive and resource-hungry task. Recent news from the BBC gives us a taster of how difficult things had become for them in the 1960’s, with the public broadcaster finding itself squeezed by lack of funds and lack of storage space, and even having to resort to erasing TV shows it had previously made.

One such TV show that suffered was Dad’s Army, a sitcom about the Home Guard in World War 2. The series ran for a huge 80 episodes on TV and made further appearances on radio, film and stage. The show pulled in 18 million viewers an episode during the 1970’s and still appears on TV today. Last night a very special episode aired on the BBC.

Room at the Bottom, an episode presumed lost by the BBC when it was erased to save space and money over thirty years ago, appeared on TV last night. The original show was in black and white (the color version was erased, along with the audio) but experts recreated the color version from the black and white source. But what about the lost audio?

Ed Doolan MBE is a presenter on BBC Radio WM, but back in 1969 before he worked for the BBC, he was a very naughty boy. Using a reel-to-reel tape recorder, Doolan recorded many shows, including the audio from the ‘lost’ episode when it first aired, and has kept the recording ever since. Today, far from hauling him over the coals, the BBC has used Doolan’s illicit copy to help bring the show back to life.

Last night, millions of Dad’s Army fans enjoyed the ‘lost’ episode of their beloved show and you can bet that not a single one would be calling for Doolan to be sued. In the end, the ‘good’ in his piracy leads to enjoyment for millions, and that can never be a bad thing.

It’s only when we lose something that we truly appreciate its full value and, thanks to file-sharing and the Internet, we are now in the enviable position of never having to apply the words ‘rare’ or ‘lost’ to any media ever again. And even though companies want to make media less accessible with their DRM, in the longer term, no-one will thank them for locking away history.

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Strange religion in India - temple devoted to rats

Believe it or not, in a small village of Deshnok in India lays a beautiful temple - devoted to rats. Yes you read it well - Karni Mata temple is devoted to RATS. Every day hundreds of worshipers of the Hindu goddess Shri Karniji make the long pilgrimage to this shrine. Shri Karniji is reputed to have lived for 151 years, and it’s said she was capable of miracles. Today in her temple you can find a large number of rats. Her followers consider that all people reincarnate as rats, and vice versa.

In the whole history of this temple there hasn’t been a single case of disease caused by rats. The worshipers say that these rats are clean and healthy unlike other “house” rats. Believers not only feed the rats but they also eat food which the rats have already nibbled, or sit down and eat with them from the same dish - considering it’s a blessing.

There is a big mystery about how these rats reproduce. These rats don’t left the building and there are no rats coming in it. The reason people started to discuss about this is that no one has ever seen baby rats in the temple

The white rats are said to be a manifestation of Karni Mata, there are very few of them, and seeing one is rare. They say that touching them can bring you luck for life.

Here is a video report from this temple:

Nude Virgin Mary cover prompts Playboy apology

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES, Dec 12 (Reuters) - A nude model resembling the Virgin Mary on the cover of the Mexican edition of Playboy magazine, published only days before a major Mexican festival dedicated to the mother of Jesus, prompted the company's U.S. headquarters on Friday to apologize.

The magazine, which hit newsstands on Dec. 1 as ceremonies began leading to Friday's pilgrimage to the Mexico City shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, showed a model wearing nothing but a white cloth over her head and breasts.

She is standing in front of a stained glass window with the cover line, "We Love You, Maria" in Spanish. The model's name is Maria Florencia Onori.

The Virgin of Guadalupe, said to have appeared to a sixteenth century Indian peasant, is Mexico's most revered Roman Catholic figure and the annual pilgrimage to the Mexico City basilica dedicated to her is one of the world's largest religious events.

In a statement, Chicago-based Playboy Enterprises Inc (PLA.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said the Mexican edition of the magazine is published by a licensee, and the company did not approve or endorse the cover.

"While Playboy Mexico never meant for the cover or images to offend anyone, we recognize that it has created offense, and we as well as Playboy Mexico offer our sincerest apologies," the statement said.

Raul Sayrols, publisher of Playboy Mexico, said in a statement, "The image is not and never was intended to portray the Virgin of Guadalupe or any other religious figure. The intent was to reflect a Renaissance-like mood on the cover."

Playboy Mexico printed 100,000 copies of the issue. (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Todd Eastham)

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