February 23, 2007

LinkNews Digest [02/23/2007]

Rogue Squirrel Grounds Airliner

ust when the squirrel menace looked like it might have faded away, an American Airlines flight from Tokyo has been forced to make an emergency landing in Honolulu because a rogue squirrel had managed to sneak on board.

The squirrel emergency was discovered when, on the flight from Tokyo to Dallas, the pilots heard what has been described as a 'skittering'noise in the space above the cockpit. Subsequent investigations revealed that the noise was caused by an insurgent squirrel that had somehow managed to board the flight.

The plane was forced to make a quick landing in Honolulu, Hawaii, as the pilots were worried that the squirrel could severely damage the plane by chewing through wiring. (LINK )

Honda Admits to "Overclocking" Odometers

If you've been wondering how your Honda or Acura just seems to cover ground an awful lot quicker than your previous ride without even getting you a speeding ticket, listen up.

Apparently, around six million Honda / Acura owners have been wheeling around in vehicles that are clicking off miles quite a bit faster than they're actually being driven. The Society of Automotive Engineers' voluntary standard for fluctuation in an odometer "is plus or minus 4-percent," and strangely enough, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration doesn't even regulate it. Honda claims that its units were "accurate to within 3.75-percent" on the high side, but a lawsuit against them claims that's just a bit too close for the average consumer's well-being.

The automaker will be shelling out over $6 million in overcharges for leasers who were unfairly penalized for exceeding the agreed upon mileage, and will also extend the warranty mileage five-percent. Of course, Honda has since tightened up its standards (read: fixed the programming bug), purportedly "aiming for zero" in regard to future error, but if you happen to own a Honda / Acura purchased between April of 2002 and November of last year (or a select '07 Honda Fit), these benefits should be coming your way pending a district court judgment on the settlement.(LINK )

Cultish Miami Pastor Claims to BE God

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- The minister has the number 666 tattooed on his arm. But Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda is not your typical minister. De Jesus, or "Daddy" as his thousands of followers call him, does not merely pray to God: He says he is God. "The spirit that is in me is the same spirit that was in Jesus of Nazareth," de Jesus says.

De Jesus' claims of divinity have angered Christian leaders, who say he is a fake. Religious experts say he may be something much more dangerous, a cult leader who really believes he is God. "He's in their heads, he's inside the heads of those people," says Prof. Daniel Alvarez, a religion expert at Florida International University who has debated some of de Jesus' followers. "De Jesus speaks with a kind of conviction that makes me consider him more like David Koresh or Jim Jones."

The church that he began building 20 years ago in Miami resembles no other:
  • Followers have protested Christian churches in Miami and Latin America, disrupting services and smashing crosses and statues of Jesus.
  • De Jesus preaches there is no devil and no sin. His followers, he says, literally can do no wrong in God's eyes.
  • The church calls itself the "Government of God on Earth" and uses a seal similar to the United States.

    And what about the tattoo of 666 on his arm? Although it's a number usually associated with Satan, not the son of God, de Jesus says that 666 and the Antichrist are, like him, misunderstood. The Antichrist is not the devil, de Jesus tells his congregation; he's the being who replaces Jesus on Earth.

    "Antichrist is the best person in the world," he says. "Antichrist means don't put your eyes on Jesus because Jesus of Nazareth wasn't a Christian. Antichrist means do not put your eyes on Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Put it on Jesus after the cross." And de Jesus says that means him.(LINK )
  • Storing Disney Data in Living Organisms

    Every type of storage media -- from stone to paper to magnetic disks -- is subject to destruction. From the great fire that destroyed Alexandria's world-class library in 48 B.C. to that unfortunate hard drive crash last week, information has had a habit of suddenly disappearing because the media that contains it succumbs to the forces of nature.

    Researchers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are tapping forces of nature to store information more permanently.

    The researchers used artificial DNA sequences to encode portions of the text of the children's song It's a Small World, added the sequences to bacteria DNA, allowed the bacteria to multiply, then extracted the message part of a DNA strand and retrieved the encoded information.

    Because DNA is passed down through generations of living organisms, information stored this way should survive for as long as the line of organisms survives, said Pak Wong, a chief scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

    Storing information is DNA's natural function, said Wong. "We [are] taking advantage of a time-tested, natural, nanoscale data storage technology perfected over the last 3 billion years." The encoding method could be used to store any digital information, he said. "Text, pictures, music -- anything you can send or receive over the Web could be saved in this form." (LINK )

    Boy Jailed, Charged with Felony for Slingshot

    After spending nearly 72 hours in an Ocala juvenile jail, the 11-year-old Lake County boy detained for his 'deadly' makeshift slingshot returned home to his parents Tuesday night.

    Kevin Cottle said he didn't deliberately try to hit another student at Tavares Middle School with his home-made slingshot. He said that he shot the pellet at a locker and the projectile ricocheted and hit the other student. 'I wasn't trying to hit him. It was an accident to shoot him,' he said soon after he was released from the Marion Regional Juvenile Detention Center Tuesday night. 'I just want to say I'm sorry.'

    The sixth-grader at Tavares Middle was arrested Friday when he was accused of using a toy balloon slingshot to hit another student in the chest. He faces second-degree felony charges of shooting or throwing a deadly missile.

    A Lake County judge ordered Kevin released from the juvenile detention center on Tuesday afternoon and placed him in home confinement in Tavares until his case is resolved. Kevin isn't allowed around the student he is accused of harming.

    That boy suffered a welt when a plastic pellet from Kevin's slingshot struck him, according to a Lake County Sheriff's Office report. Kevin fashioned the slingshot from a stretchy balloon, a plastic milk jug top and rubber bands, officials said.

    But Kevin's mother, Pam Cottle, said authorities overreacted, charging her son with a felony and locking him up in an Ocala facility with violent children. 'We just want the correct punishment,' she said. 'We'll accept community service, go to teen court, whatever the case may be -- but we do want the charges changed.'(LINK )

    Pizza Hut Spokesmodel Jessica Simpson Allergic to Pizza

    You know... it's not that we require that every celebrity constantly use the product they're shilling for, but we'd like to think that the spokesperson is able to eat the food without getting sick. Jessica Simpson, spokesperson for Pizza Hut and star of their commercials, told Elle magazine:
    There was that internal bleeding discovered last year around the time she was filming Employee of the Month; doctors found the presence of the little bugger thought to cause ulcers. Recently, Simpson tells me, after she was still feeling not quite right, an allergist delivered news that would chill the heart of anyone reared on Texan cuisine: She's allergic to cheese. And wheat. Oh, and tomatoes...
    Cheese and tomatoes and wheat? Yes, Jessica Simpson has ulcers, and pizza gives her internal bleeding. (LINK )


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