Sunday, June 21, 2009


Swedish toads win song contest
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (UPI) -- The online European Bombina Song Contest, which compares the songs of fire-bellied toads in European countries, was won by an amphibian choir in Sweden.

Sweden's toads won 70 percent of the votes in the contest, beating out toads singing in their natural habitats in Lithuania, Germany and Denmark, Swedish news agency TT reported Monday.

Claes Andren of the Nordens Ark wildlife preserve in Bohuslan, Sweden, where the toad songs were recorded, said the country's amphibians also won the previous competition in 2007.

"Last time we claimed 80 percent of the votes," he said.

Andren said fire-bellied toads were declared extinct in Sweden in 1960 but the species is being reintroduced to the country using eggs from Denmark.

"Now Sweden has one of Europe's finest populations of fire-bellied toads," he said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Saturday, June 20, 2009


U.S. teenagers big on hugging
NEW YORK (UPI) -- Hugging among U.S. teenagers has become so prevalent some schools say they've banned the embrace or imposed limits on how long they last.

"Touching and physical contact is very dangerous territory," said Noreen Hajinlian, principal of George G. White School, a junior high school in Hillsdale, N.J., which banned hugging. "It wasn't a greeting. It was happening all day."

Hajinlian's school is among those from New Jersey to Bend, Ore., that have clamped down on hugging, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Ritual hugging has become so popular that students feel pressured to partake, said Gabrielle Brown, a freshman at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School in New York.

"If somebody were to not hug someone, to never hug anybody, people might be just a little wary of them and think they are weird or peculiar," Brown said.

The phenomenon reflects how physical boundaries have changed, said Amy Best, a sociologist at George Mason University.

"We display bodies more readily, there are fewer rules governing body touch and a lot more permissible access to other people's bodies," Best said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Friday, June 19, 2009


NYC's West Village has lots of rats
NEW YORK (UPI) -- New York officials say complaints about rats are down overall this year, but residents of the West Village say they're having a rough time with the vermin.

Some residents of the area -- which is home to many celebrities -- have told Fox 5 TV rats are overrunning the neighborhood. Some are even chasing down mice and eating them.

The health department has dispatched the rat patrol, the TV station said, and advised residents to call 311 to complain if a building has a rat problem and the landlord isn't handling it.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Three sisters in 40s graduate together
RALEIGH, N.C. (UPI) -- North Carolinian Valerie Noel says graduating from the University of Phoenix with her two younger sisters was the culmination of a collaborative dream.

Noel said she and her sisters obtained human services/management bachelor's degrees at the Raleigh, N.C., campus of the for-profit educational institution thanks to their ability to lean on one another in their individual times of need, The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported Sunday.

"When you didn't think you could go on, we could call on each other," she said. "We could help each other."

Noel said she and her sisters Jeanette and Delores, all in their 40s, initially learned about the university, which also offers courses online, from their friend, Hazel Henry.

While the sisters celebrated with Henry and one another after Saturday's graduation ceremony, Noel admitted the true motivating force for the siblings was missing.

"He was an inspiration," she told the News & Observer of the sisters' father Arthur, who died of cancer in 2007.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Urinals among top memorabilia requests

NEW YORK (UPI) -- An executive involved in the sale of pieces of the old Yankee Stadium says urinals are a hot commodity for those seeking New York Yankees mementos.

Steiner Sports Chief Executive Officer Brandon Steiner said while his company routinely receives requests for Yankee Stadium urinals, the bathroom items from the former MLB stadium are not available for sale, the New York Daily News reported Sunday.

"People always ask for the bathroom stuff, like the urinals," Steiner said. "There were some strange requests."

For those seeking an item from the former home of the New York Yankees there is a July auction that will find the actual Yankees dugout telephone up for sale.

The old stadium's foul poles will also be up for auction, along with the carpet from the team's clubhouse.

Plumber Joe Pesco of New Rochelle, N.Y., told the Daily News not being able to buy a stadium urinal was not too heartbreaking as he chose two seats instead.

"At least I can put the seats somewhere," Pesco said. "I don't have any place to put a urinal."

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Florida madam to face fines, house arrest

BOCA RATON, Fla. (UPI) -- The alleged Florida madam of a celebrity Internet call girl service is likely to face fines and house arrest under a plea deal, sources say.

Without naming sources, the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post reported Monday that Michelle Braun, 31, of Boca Raton, will strike a deal with prosecutors under which she'd draw probation, house arrest, a $30,000 fine and a promise to cooperate with FBI and Internal Revenue Service investigators.

The newspaper said Braun used two Web sites to advertise the availability of well-known pornography stars and Playboy Magazine centerfold models for introductions to wealthy men willing to pay up to $50,000 for "an evening of undiluted pleasure." Authorities say Braun raked in at least $8.5 million from the businesses.

Braun's attorney, Marc Nurik of Fort Lauderdale, said she is not a madam but a matchmaker, saying men responding to the Web sites weren't paying for sex but a chance to meet well-known centerfold models and porn stars who were looking for wealthy men.

The Internet, he told the Post, is allowing such women to meet admirers from all over the world and Braun, he said, is "just representative of a new wave of the industry."

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Monday, June 15, 2009


252-lb hooker 'one woman demolition job'
BERLIN (UPI) -- Numerous neighbors of a 252-pound prostitute in Berlin are asking a judge to put her out of business because of the shaking of her apartment.

Tenants of the building where Ilnes Lorbach, 36, lives and legally entertains her prostitution clients told the Administrative Court in Berlin the sex worker's lovemaking causes their apartments to shake, the British tabloid The Sun reported Thursday.

One neighbor told the court a pair of valuable Baccarat crystal glasses fell from a shelf and broke as a result of the shaking.

Carolso Hoffmann, who lives next door to Lorbach, compared his living situation to "that film 'Earthquake.'"

"I don't know if the earth moved for her clients but it did for us," he said. "When you have a 100-plus kilo women grappling like a wildebeest with her clients then you know about it, you really do. She's a one-woman demolition job."

Lorbach told the court she is "a mother and as a working woman," attempts to be "as discreet as possible."

The judge in the case reserved judgment for "a later date."

Copyright 2009 by United Press International