Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Creepy 'Horseboy' Photo On Scottish Road Becomes Latest Google Streetview Mystery

He only wanted to find an optician's to repair his glasses. But what Russell Moffatt saw on Google StreetView made him question whether he also needed to get his eyes tested. The bizarre sight, dubbed 'Horseboy', has become an unlikely internet sensation after being snapped by one of Google's cars on an otherwise unremarkable Aberdeen street. Now, the search is on to unmask the mystery prankster. Mr Moffatt, a 50-year-old IT manager, spotted Horseboy in Hardgate in Aberdeen. He said: 'I needed to get my glasses repaired and was looking for an optician's shop when I suddenly saw this crazy guy. 'I thought it was really funny; he obviously spotted the Google car photographing streets in the area, ran to get a horse-head mask and laid in wait for it. 'I bet he's been quietly smiling to himself ever since, waiting to be discovered.' The StreetView site will allow anyone in the world to type in a UK address or postcode and instantly see a 360-degree picture of the street, including close-ups of buildings, cars and people. Closer observation of the website reveals that the joker can be seen from further down the street pulling on the realistic-looking horse's head. But he is so far away from the camera that his face cannot be seen.Mr Moffatt, a father of one from Ellon, Aberdeenshire, was so amused by his discovery that he wrote about it on social networking site Twitter. Now, he is appealing for help to identify Horseboy, who is wearing a purple jumper and black jeans in the picture. But, despite the site being inundated with hits from an army of fans looking at the intriguing photograph, nobody has yet come forward to confess. The picture joins a list of unusual sights captured on Streetview. The most famous, from Norway, shows two men dressed in full scuba gear chasing a Google car down the road brandishing a harpoon. Two years ago in Australia, a man who fell asleep in a drunken stupor on the grass outside his home was horrified to find his embarrassment posted on the internet. The man, who has only ever been identified as 'Bill', had been drowning his sorrows over the death of a friend and collapsed after climbing out of a taxi. As he slept off his excesses, a Google StreetView camera passed by to record the street for its website. Google have since removed the image. Horseboy, by contrast, seems to have been totally aware that he was being filmed. Mr Moffatt said: 'I'd love to find out who this man is and I'm hoping he'll come forward. But for now he's a total, and very entertaining, mystery.'

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Census Records 157-Year-Old Woman

Estimates of the size and composition of Indonesia's booming population may remain just that despite an ongoing census, if the "discovery" of a 157-year-old woman is anything to go by. Census officials have said they believe the woman's claims to have been born in 1853, when Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata debuted in Venice, the Crimean War erupted and San Francisco got its first street signs at intersections. "There's no authentic data to prove her age but judging from her statements and the age of her adopted daughter, who's now 108 years old, it's difficult to doubt it," statistics bureau official Jhonny Sardjono said.The only person verified to have lived past 120 years of age was Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122. South Sumatran villager Turinah would be fully 35 years older than Calment when she died, according to officials. Even more incredible, she still works around the house and has smoked clove cigarettes all her life, Mr Sardjono said. "Despite her age she still has an incredible memory, clear sight and has no hearing problems. She speaks Dutch quite fluently," he said. Indonesia was a Dutch colony for hundreds of years until 1945. He said Ms Turinah burnt all her identification documents to avoid being linked to an alleged communist coup in 1965. Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous country with a population of around 240 million people. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said the census results will be important for future governance.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wheat Ridge Cemetery Seeks To Liven Up

For more than a century, folks have gone to Olinger Crown Hill Cemetery to mourn endings. But now, the 260-acre, 103-year-old graveyard is working to reimagine itself as something more than a spot for solemn rituals. Crown Hill is pushing into the territory of galleries and performance halls, scheduling concerts and art exhibitions in hopes of engaging more routinely with the community, said general manager Kevin Wolfe. "People come to cemeteries, and they are always looking down," he said. But Wolfe wants them to look around, to experience the music and the art, the plants, the history and the culture. Crown Hill, 7777 W. 29th Ave., has laid careful plans for its transformation, as have some competitors. Cemeteries across the country are increasingly broadening their attractions beyond disposal of bodies to draw people past the wrought-iron gates. For example, Denver's historic Fairmount Cemetery, 430 S. Quebec St., has long been hailed for its fine collection of old roses and trees but also hosts "First Friday" social events, summer potlucks celebrating loved ones buried there and concerts that pay tribute to Colorado history. "This is part of the way in which cemeteries have been sprucing themselves up," said Marilyn Yalom, who wrote "The American Resting Place," a history of 400 years of cemeteries in the United States. "It's a contemporary movement that doesn't have a counterpart in the past." Commerce, Yalom said, is behind some of the evolution. Cemetery directors want to bring people onto the grounds, to introduce them to the place and make it feel comfortable instead of forbidding. But the tranformation, too, is tied to a blossoming realization that cemeteries are rich with history, that they can chronicle a community's march through the centuries. Last week, Crown Hill hosted an exhibit of lush and life-affirming landscape paintings by New Mexico artist Ed Sandoval.Garden displays also are important. The grounds were recently certified as an arboretum, and the cemetery now has a garden club. The just-completed Our Lady of Guadalupe garden anchors one part of the cemetery. Another new area is the "Asia Paradise," the only feng-shui-designed burial site in the state, complete with headstones topped with pagodalike designs. Wolfe even encourages couples to tie the knot on the cemetery grounds. So far, six have. The push to make the cemetery feel more like an ordinary part of the community began a few years ago and is gaining momentum. Crown Hill now urges people to tour the grounds and examine works by the Mexican artist and architect Dionicio Rodriguez — his only pieces in the state are scattered throughout the grounds. There's a unique stained-glass installation dense with Masonic references, including the "Eye of Providence" that is familiar because it's also on the $1 bill. The Wheat Ridge cemetery holds a plot of Spanish-American War and Civil War gravestones. And there's a local celebrity factor to graveyard tours. Adolph Coors? You can't miss his obelisk grave, a smaller version of the Washington Monument, or the final resting place for George Tebeau, the father of Colorado baseball. Just look for the gravestone emblazoned with a baseball player. The grounds support 1,700 trees, representing 72 species, including 19 Colorado state-champion trees. "Cemeteries do make you ask the big questions, and I think that is all to the good, particularly in a society that manages to fail to ask truly big questions and does so much to deny death," Yalom said. "People don't die in their homes anymore. We don't lay out the bodies as we did in the past. There are so many ways in which we can think of death belonging to other people. I think a closer relationship to cemeteries is a good thing."

Saturday, June 5, 2010

What Are The Bilderberg Group Really Doing In Spain?

Security is so tight at the annual cabal of the world's elite that conspiracy theories about what is discussed – and who's invited – are rife. If the conspiracy theorists are on to something, they could be plotting the invasion of Iran, planning the funeral of the Euro or scheming to wipe out French poodles in pink sweaters at this very minute. Or perhaps the world's financial and political leaders are simply schmoozing about their golf game as they enjoy a "chocolate massage" followed by the "honey body scrub" and the "spectacular oxygen Echo2 facial" at the Dolce Hotel's spa in Sitges. It is also possible that the world's executives, media moguls, and financial gurus came to the elegant seaside town near Barcelona to study the booming gay tourist market there (although they missed the wild Carnival celebration by a few months) and to sneak a preview of next year's international horror film festival. But ordinary citizens can only guess at the goings-on at the annual meeting of the secretive Bilderberg Group, a media-barred pow-wow of the global elite that in the past has reportedly attracted former US President Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and David Cameron, and US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner. Even the late Enoch Powell once attended. The heavyweight weekend retreat kicked off yesterday with hordes of police security and a gag order for employees at the luxury Dolce, whose aptly-named presidential suites overlook the Mediterranean. None of the illustrious guests posed for photos or spouted prepared statements for the media. Instead, activists, journalists and bloggers attempted to stake out positions in the surrounding hills to catch glimpses of this year's participants, guerrilla-warrior style. "We just dropped two people by the hills and they are trying to run for cover so they aren't spotted by the snipers," said Hannah Borno, co-founder of an activist agency, Trilever, which is calling for transparency on the Bilderberg deliberations and offers information (also known as leaks) to the press. "I hope they're OK." Ms Borno paid €135 for the hotel's cheapest room for the chance to see the preparations – as well as swarming secret service agents – before being forced to leave for a nearby campsite, surrounded by police. Overhead: a no-fly zone. "The public is paying for this security," she added. "I can see 20 to 30 police vans right now. We are offering a pro-bono lawyer in case any of the activists or bloggers are arrested." Some people consider the Bilderberg Group, founded in 1954, an innocent brainstorming session, but the cloak-and-dagger theorists scored a point this week when the self-appointed Bilderberg expert Daniel Estulin addressed the European Parliament on the invitation of an Italian member, Mario Borghezio. Mr Estulin, an investigative journalist who has written two best-selling books on the subject, contends that "the Bilderberg Club" is not a classic conspiracy but a potentially dangerous meeting of minds with a common goal: to centralise global economic power to benefit corporations. He defined it as "a virtual spider web of interlocking financial, political and industrial interests"."It isn't a secret society," he said. "No matter how powerful they are, no group sits around a table holding hands and deciding the world's future. It is an ideology." Secret society or not, the speculation surrounding Bilderberg rivals the eternal question of who shot JFK – to the extent that one Spanish activist vowed he has sighted freemasonry symbols on the Sitges hotel. Being the meeting is secret, it is impossible to confirm which executives and lawmakers have checked into the spiffy Dolce, in the heart of golf-and-sunbathing territory. Politicians often deny participation. But according to press leaks, this year's A-list participants include Queen Beatrix of Holland, Spain's Queen Reina Sofia (supposedly a regular), World Trade Organisation Director Pascal Lamy, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, former NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and former Spanish vice president Pedro Solbes, known during his stint as an EU commissioner as "Mr Euro". Meanwhile, Extremadura Progresista, a left-wing newspaper from Extremadura, one of Spain's poorest regions, published a list of participants on its website, including former Secretary of State for Business Peter Mandelson and the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (although he's currently in Asia), plus executives from Siemens AG, Microsoft, Royal Dutch Shell, Chase Manhattan Bank and Morgan Stanley International. And what might this all-star cast be discussing between forkfuls of paella and sips of cava on a warm summer's eve? Topics reportedly include everything from the possible failure of the euro and the creation of a global currency, to a military strike against Iran. Another issue supposedly on the agenda is the financial meltdown in Greece, where last year's brainstorming session was held. The irony is not lost on Spanish activists, who hope the Bilderberg "witches' Sabbath" does not brew bad tidings for the troubled Spanish economy. "We joke that the horror film festival is starting early," Didac Sanchez, an activist with the organisation EcoXarxa Montseny, told The Independent over the phone amid background chanting. "The monsters are here." Thursday's protests, which attracted about 100 demonstrators, were paltry compared to previous anti-globalisation rallies in Catalonia – partly because chic-and-wealthy Sitges is not the sort of place to get ruffled about whatever a bunch of CEOs do in their spare time. But Bilderberg's low profile also played a part. "It's so secretive that not even people in the leftist movements know about it," Mr Sanchez said. "And it's so frightening that people can't even believe that it's real. Some people theorise that they want to kill off half the world; others believe they're directing the world's finances. But we're here to say it is real, it is happening." He expects momentum to build throughout the weekend, however. The carnival-inspired theme of the protest is "unmasking Bilderberg". "We will set up a healing camp," he said. "It will be a festival of cleansing."
The guests...

Peter Mandelson, Ex-Business Secretary

Jean Claude Trichet, European Bank President

Reina Sofia, Queen of Spain

... and the alumni

Bill Clinton, US President

Tony Blair, Prime Minister

Enoch Powell, Conservative minister

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Calif. Car Dealer Who Attempted Voodoo Hex On Prosecutors Gets 12 Years In Prison For Fraud

Authorities say a used car dealer is headed to prison for fraud, despite attempting to place a voodoo hex on prosecutors handling his case in Los Angeles. Thirty-four-year-old Ruben Hernandez was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years after being convicted of using false Social Security information and bank statements to buy properties. Hernandez was arrested in February 2009 after being a fugitive for a year.Authorities searching his home found a shrine with voodoo dolls dunked headfirst in cups of water with pins in their eyes. Officials say the case number and names of the prosecutor and investigators were written on the dolls. Hernandez was convicted in May on four counts of filing a false application and three counts of grand theft. He was ordered to return to court next Wednesday to face 28 additional counts.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Haunted Lady Gaga Ghostbuster

Lady Gaga admits that she bought a Ghostbuster kit. Gaga uses the Ghostbuster device for regular sweeps to fend off evil spirits that are haunting her. Gaga admits that the problem started a few weeks ago and is convinced that she needs the Ghostbuster kit to fight against negative forces. "When I took the order for the kit I had no idea who it was for. But then I checked the listings and saw who was playing the O2. Her aide said the gear had to be robust as they were taking it on the road. So they must be doing this everywhere [...] Gaga is performing," Ghostbuster firm owner Dan Webb said in a statement. The kit she bought includes electro-magnetic field readers.Gaga, 24, is terrified of "bad energy" and hired Dan Webb's firm to do a complete cleansing behind the stage at London's O2 Arena. Gaga originally thought she was experiencing a mental breakdown, or hallucinations, that usually come with skitzophrenia. However, she is still convinced that unseen forces are haunting her. If the reports are true, Gaga wouldn't be the first celebrity to admit ghost sightings. Several Hollywood legends have their own story to tell after experiencing similar paranormal activity. While the subject is always up for debate, the activity is still unexplained and why it happens in the first place.