Category Archives: Odd News
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida |
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) – Back on Earth, Canadian astronaut and cyberspace tweeter Chris Hadfield is getting a rough re-introduction to gravity after a five-month stint aboard the International Space Station, the former commander told reporters during a video webcast from Houston.
Hadfield became a social media rock star with his zero-gravity version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and a continuous stream of commentary on Twitter about his life in orbit. But living without gravity for five months has left him feeling dizzy, weak and prematurely aged. A veteran of three space flights, he is wearing a pressure suit under his clothes to help his circulation as his body re-adapts to getting blood back to his brain.
“Without the constant pull-down of gravity, your body gets a whole new normal, and my body was quite happy living in space without gravity,” Hadfield, 53, said in a video conference call with Canadian reporters on Thursday, three days after returning to Earth.
The video conference was posted on the Canadian Space Agency’s UStream channel.
“Right after I landed I could feel the weight of my lips and tongue … I hadn’t realized that I had learned to talk with a weightless tongue,” he said.
He is suffering overall body soreness, particularly in his neck and back which are again having to support his head after months in weightlessness.
“It feels like I played full-contact hockey, but it’s getting better by the hour,” Hadfield said. “The subtle things and the big things are taking some re-adaptation to get used to and they are coming back one by one.”
Hadfield, who is the first from Canada to command a space station crew, NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko landed in Kazakhstan on Monday. He and Marshburn were then flown to Houston to begin rehabilitation.
As a departing finale Hadfield created a music video rendering of Bowie’s classic “Space Oddity,” which as of Friday had 13 million hits on YouTube.
Hadfield, who is the lead singer and bass guitarist in the all-astronaut rock band Max Q, said it is too early to think about what he will do next.
“For now, I’m still trying to stand up straight. I have to sit down in the shower so I don’t faint and fall down, and I don’t have calluses on the bottom of my feet yet, so I’m walking around like I walked on hot coals,” he said.
It usually takes about three weeks until a returning astronaut can return to driving, according to the Canadian Space Agency.
“We’re sort of tottering around like two old duffers in an old folks home,” Hadfield said, referring to his crew mate Marshburn.
Hadfield’s orbital odyssey ended with a parachute descent of their Soyuz space capsule onto the steppes of Kazakhstan.
“We hit the Earth just like a car crash, like we expected,” Hadfield said. “There was enough wind so that we rolled up on our side. I was the guy hanging from the ceiling.”
“Our first true sense of being home was a window full of the dirt of the Earth and the smell of spring and the growing grasses in Kazakhstan wafting in through the open hatch,” he said.
(Editing by David Adams and Jackie Frank)
(Reuters) – An Idaho man who admitted to breaking into a Boise zoo last year and killing a monkey was sentenced to seven years in prison on Thursday, court records show.
Michael Watkins, 22, of Weiser, Idaho, in March pleaded guilty to attempted grand theft, a felony, and misdemeanor animal cruelty stemming from the break-in and beating death of the monkey at Zoo Boise in November.
The primate was one of the zoo’s two Patas monkeys, ground-dwelling animals from Africa that stand more than 2 feet tall and weigh about 35 pounds. They are rare in zoos but not endangered in the wild.
The case shook officials at the zoo and triggered an outpouring of sympathy and donations from animal lovers worldwide.
Watkins scaled the security fence at Zoo Boise in the pre-dawn hours of November 17 and attempted to steal the monkey, which bit him, police said. Watkins then kicked and hit the animal, severely wounding it, according to police. The monkey later died of blunt force trauma, zoo officials said.
Zoo Boise Director Steve Burns said on Thursday the sentencing of Watkins closed a particularly devastating chapter for the facility.
“We’re moving on,” he said. “The court has done its job and we’re continuing to do our job.”
In the days after the death, zoo staff sought to boost the spirits of the companion-less Patas monkey and considered shipping it to another zoo with primates since they are exceedingly social, Burns said.
Instead, Zoo Boise in December gained two female Patas monkeys donated by the Rosamund Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York.
News about the monkey’s death brought donations from across the United States and overseas, allowing the zoo to begin construction on Monday of a $ 250,000 exhibit for the three Patas monkeys, Burns said.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Bill Trott)
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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Robbers equipped with ropes, hammers and chisels broke into a strong-room at Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium after a Justin Bieber concert and made off with 3 million rand ($ 330,000) in cash, local media and police said on Monday.
An officer from the nearby Booysens police station in the sprawling Soweto township said officials at the stadium, which hosted the final of the 2010 soccer World Cup, only realized the cash was missing on Monday morning.
The haul included takings from Sunday night’s concert by 19-year-old Canadian pop sensation Bieber and a gig the previous evening by U.S. rockers Bon Jovi.
“The money was taken from the building and they only realized today,” the police officer, who declined to be named, told Reuters. “We don’t know how many people were involved as we are still gathering evidence.”
($ 1 = 9.1121 South African rand)
(Reporting by Zandi Shabalala; Editing by Ed Cropley and Alison Williams)
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LITTLETON, New Hampshire |
LITTLETON, New Hampshire (Reuters) – In December James Cleaveland made an unusual New Year’s resolution: to do all he could to keep police in the city of Keene, New Hampshire, from issuing parking tickets.
Cleaveland and a group of friends took to the streets with pocketfuls of change and began shadowing the city’s three parking enforcement officers, stuffing coins in expired meters before they could issue $ 5 tickets.
They call their practice “Robin Hooding,” and in just over four months, the group claims to have spared motorists more than 2,000 tickets in the city of some 23,000.
“It’s my philosophy,” said Cleaveland, 26, a member of a group called Free Keene, which subscribes to the libertarian principle of smaller government.
“I could go talk to the city council at every meeting but to me, actions speak louder than words. I can go out and try to save people and reduce the number of tickets.”
The southern New Hampshire city’s government does not share Cleaveland’s view. This month it filed suit in state court against him and five others seeking a restraining order to keep them at least 50 feet from parking enforcement officers.
The suit accuses Cleaveland and five others of videotaping, taunting and intimidating its parking meter personnel.
The alleged behavior includes chasing officers on bicycles, shouting insults and accusing them of stealing people’s money. One officer became so stressed that he complained of heart palpitations and began having nightmares about the group, according to court papers.
“It’s affecting the employees and it’s taking a lot of time and energy to deal with it, and so the city’s intent was to try to establish some clear boundaries and a little breathing room,” said James Duffy, a member of the Keene City Council.
“We’re not saying you can’t complain about the meters or plug them, it’s just how that’s done.”
Cleaveland has vowed to continue. He said he knows each parking attendant by name.
“I don’t follow them home or try to find them off duty,” he said. “They always use the excuse ‘I’m just doing my job.’ I always say ‘I’m just doing my activity too.’”
The Free Keene movement is part of the Free State Project, a group that has sought to get 20,000 libertarians to settle in New Hampshire, a state already known for its limited government and which has no sales or income tax.
The Keene chapter’s prior actions included publicly smoking marijuana in the city’s central square to protest drug laws, and holding a protest against gun restrictions that featured a half-nude woman armed with a holstered handgun walking through downtown.
Cleaveland’s compatriot Garrett Ean, 24, said he feeds meters up to five days a week in three- to four-hour shifts during the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. period when motorists must pay to park downtown.
He said he spends less than $ 15 a day since some of Keene’s meters cost as little as 10 cents for 30 minutes of parking.
Like Cleaveland, he leaves a card on the windshield of each “saved” car that says: “Your Meter Expired! However we saved you from the king’s tariff! – Robin Hood & The Merry Men.”
The card leaves an address for an activists’ center and encourages motorists to send a donation.
The group sometimes receives handwritten thank-you notes in addition to donations, which are sometimes enough not only to cover the costs of feeding meters but also to allow the group to pay the activists a small amount, said Cleaveland.
City Councilor Duffy said the city, home to Keene State College, is a progressive community whose tolerance is sometimes stretched by the group’s scrutiny of even the most minor actions of local government.
“In many ways this is a progressive community and also a tolerant one, but it’s been going on long enough,” he said. “This won’t be the last issue.”
(Editing by Scott Malone and Xavier Briand)
ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s contemporary art scene is buzzing. Collectors pay millions for the hottest works at exclusive auctions, high-end galleries are springing up by the dozen, and more and more Turkish artists are holding exhibitions abroad.
The clients are the usual family magnates and super-rich – Istanbul ranks fifth in the world on the Forbes list of billionaires. But they also include an expanding class of young professionals looking for investment opportunities and a touch of prestige.
The boom in Turkey’s modern art market has coincided with a decade of steady economic growth. Since a financial meltdown brought the Turkish banking sector to its knees in 2001, the economy has more than doubled in size and per capita income has tripled in nominal terms.
“There are many young professionals who make good money and really want to have a piece of art in their home,” said painter Yigit Yazici as he sipped an espresso at his studio in Istanbul’s upmarket Nisantasi district.
Traditionally, patronage of the arts in Turkey was left to wealthy industrialist families.
The Sakip Sabanci Museum, owned by the Sabanci family, opened in Istanbul in 2002. Two years later, the Eczacibasi family launched the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, followed by Suna and Inan Kirac Foundation’s Pera Museum in 2005.
The launch of Istanbul’s International Contemporary Art Exhibition, known as the Istanbul Biennial, in 1987 introduced many once-skeptical Turks to contemporary forms of painting and sculpture.
But it was the opening of the Istanbul Modern – Turkey’s first modern art museum – nine years ago that really changed the scene by creating a space for contemporary artists that combined permanent and temporary exhibitions, a photography gallery and educational and social programs.
“A museum is an orderly home for art and this is what we have achieved here,” said Levent Calikoglu, chief curator at the Istanbul Modern.
“For the artists it’s prestigious to be included in the museum, and for investors it creates a benchmark and a guarantee for their investments.”
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK Party has come under frequent criticism for curbing freedom of expression in Turkey and there are growing fears that the arts – and artists – could be affected.
Critics cite examples such as the recent trial of world-renowned concert pianist Fazil Say on a charge of insulting religious values with a posting on Twitter. He received a 10-month suspended jail sentence.
In 2011, a work by sculptor Mehmet Aksoy in the eastern province of Kars was torn down after Erdogan described it as a “freak”.
But the availability of patronage and influx of money have emboldened Turkish artists, integrating them increasingly into the global art world and giving them a sense of greater independence in Turkey’s often conservative environment.
“Political power and art have never been at peace in Turkey. The only difference now is that the conflict is now more visible and we discuss it openly,” Calikoglu said.
ART AS INVESTMENT
In the absence of significant government support, private-sector sponsorship has become the mainstay of art through the purchases and commissions of major banks like Ziraat Bankasi, Garanti, Akbank, and Yapi Kredi, and art-savvy corporations.
Recently, independent collectors have also started making inroads as prominent buyers of sculpture. Central Istanbul has seen dozens of new art galleries in just the past few years.
“Ample global liquidity and negative real interest rates have had a great impact on increasing investment in art,” said Saltik Galatali, Akbank Deputy General Manager in charge of Private Banking.
“Art investments have become a tool for protecting the value of assets,” said Galatali, whose team manages a 17 billion lira ($ 9.5 billion) portfolio for 4,500 clients.
Pelin Sandalli has seen her business boom since she set up her Linart Gallery in Nisantasi in March 2011, exhibiting a full range of contemporary art forms, including video art, installations, photography, paintings and sculpture.
More and more of her clients are young professionals who are first-time buyers.
“The number of more conscious collectors who are highly educated, make extensive research and devote their time and energy to art are increasing day by day,” Sandalli said.
Sotheby’s was the first major international auction house to hold an exclusively Turkish contemporary art sale in 2009. British auctioneer Bonhams has since joined the competition with its own dedicated Turkish sales.
Such events have seen record prices for modern Turkish art.
At a Sotheby’s sale in 2010, highlights included Fahrelnissa Zeid’s “Untitled”, the first modern Turkish work to exceed $ 1 million at auction. Rising star Taner Ceylan’s painting “1881″ was sold for over 100,000 pounds ($ 154,900).
“We started off collecting art as a hobby, but now we see it as a good investment and something to leave to our son,” said ex-banker and marketing manager Burcu Egene as she flashed her card at an auction in one of Istanbul’s smartest hotels.
The Koc, Sabanci and Eczacibasi families, leading Turkish industrial dynasties, are pumping millions of lira into building art collections.
Two years ago, Murat Ulker, chairman of Yildiz Holding, a leading Turkish food and beverages group, paid 2.2 million lira for Burhan Dogancay’s “Blue Symphony”.
He also recently bought a controversial work by contemporary artist Bedri Baykam.
The eclectic tastes of the Ulker family, a pillar of the conservative business establishment, as well as the price tag, caught attention: “Empty Frame”, a suspended empty frame, sold for $ 125,000.
($ 1 = 1.7975 lira)
($ 1 = 0.6454 pounds)
(Editing by Jonathon Burch, Nick Tattersall and Sonya Hepinstall)