April 15, 2005

LinkNews Digest [04/15/2005]

Smuckers Denied Patent for Pre-Made PB&J

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rejected an effort by J.M. Smucker Co. to patent its process for making pocket-size peanut butter and jelly pastries called "Uncrustables."

Smucker's 2-ounce peanut butter and jelly pockets come in two flavors -- strawberry and grape -- and are enclosed without a crust using a crimping method that the Orrville, Ohio, company says is one of a kind and should be protected from duplication by federal law.

Smucker said in a statement released Friday that it was disappointed with the decision but does not anticipate it will affect the company's short- or long-term financial performance.

"We bought a unique idea for making an everyday item more convenient (and) made a significant investment in the idea and in developing the innovative manufacturing technology that makes Uncrustables so easy to use," the company said. (LINK)

Dubai to Use Robot Camel Jockeys

DUBAI (AFP) - The United Arab Emirates is to mount robot jockeys on racing camels later this year after a ban on using children in the region's popular sport. It will become the second Gulf Arab state, after Qatar, to use robots and ban child jockeys following criticism that infants, some as young as four, were being brought in from poor countries to race the camels.

The US State Department and human rights groups say children are exploited by traffickers who pay their impoverished parents a paltry sum or simply kidnap their victims. The children, mostly from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, are then smuggled into the Gulf states.

They are often starved by employers to keep them light and increase their racing potential. Mounting camels three times their height, the children face the risk of being thrown off and trampled. (LINK)

Wisconsin Considers Cat-Hunting Season

La Crosse firefighter Mark Smith, 48, helped spearhead the cat-hunting proposal. He wants Wisconsin to declare free-roaming wild cats an unprotected species, just like skunks or gophers. Anyone with a small-game license could shoot the cats at will.

At least two other upper Midwestern states, South Dakota and Minnesota, allow wild cats to be shot — and have for decades. Minnesota defines a wild, or feral, cat as one with no collar that does not show friendly behavior, said Kevin Kyle with that state's Department of Natural Resources.

Critics of Smith's idea organized Wisconsin Cat-Action Team and developed a Web site — dontshootthecat.com. Some argue it is better to trap wild cats, spay or neuter them, before releasing them. (LINK)

Idaho Legislature Moves to Praise "Napoleon Dynamite"

some highlights from the bill:
WHEREAS, the "Happy Hands" club and the requirement that candidates for school president present a skit is an example of the importance of theater arts in K-12 education; and
WHEREAS, Pedro's efforts to bake a cake for Summer illustrate the positive connection between culinary skills to lifelong relationships; and
WHEREAS, the prevalence of cooked steak as a primary food group pays tribute to Idaho's beef industry; and
WHEREAS, Napoleon's tetherball dexterity emphasizes the importance of physical education in Idaho public schools; and
WHEREAS, Tina the llama, the chickens with large talons, the 4-H milk cows, and the Honeymoon Stallion showcase Idaho's animal husbandry; and
WHEREAS, any members of the House of Representatives or the Senate of the Legislature of the State of Idaho who choose to vote "Nay" on this concurrent resolution are "FREAKIN' IDIOTS!" and run the risk of having the "Worst Day of Their Lives!" (LINK)

Grece Lifts Ban on Jesus Cartoon Book

ATHENS (Reuters) - A Greek court on Wednesday has lifted a ban on selling a cartoon book from Austria depicting Jesus Christ as a drinking buddy of Jimi Hendrix and a marijuana-smoking, naked surfer.

Austrian cartoonist Gerhard Haderer had been found guilty by a Greek court of "malicious public blasphemy" earlier this year and given a six-month suspended prison sentence for his take on the life of Christ. But the Athens appeals court ruled the book was not "blasphemous" and overturned Haderer's conviction, his lawyer Maria Marazioti told Reuters.

"The Life of Jesus" has so far been translated into 10 languages. (LINK)

Dwarf Tossing Captures Burglar

LONDON, England (AP) -- A grandmother stopped an intruder from entering her home by lobbing a heavy garden gnome at him, police said Friday.

Jean Collop was woken early on Tuesday morning by the sound of an intruder on the roof of her home in Wadebridge, southwest England.

"I grabbed the first thing that came to hand -- one of my garden gnomes -- and hurled it at him, and hit him," she recalled."He lay there and I began to scream. I went back into the kitchen and found a rolling pin in case he came down. I didn't want to break another gnome." (LINK)

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