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December 4, 2007

Lesbian pushes for sperm donor's financial support

A lesbian who used donated sperm to conceive a child with her partner rationalized Tuesday why the donor should provide financial support, according to London's The Times.

Andy Bathie, 37, from Enfield, north London, said he was assured he would have no personal involvement nor hold financial responsibility for Sharon and Terri Arnold's children after he donated his sperm.

Bathie said that he is "having money stolen from him by England's Child Support Agency, which was "forcing him to pay thousands of pounds in maintenance for the boy and girl, aged 2 and 4, cared for by the couple, who have now split up."

Terri Arnold said that Bathie had acted as a father to their children for a large portion of their lives. "He was a father to the children, a dad. He played a father's role for two years of their, well, my daughter's life," she said.

Terri admitted that originally the plan was for Bathie to simply act as a donor, but that he changed his mind and wanted to be involved, according to the Times.

"At the end of the day, I believed it would be beneficial for my children to have their father involved. He wanted that responsibility," Terri said.

The CSA said that the biological parents were financially responsible unless the child is legally adopted. Only licensed, anonymous sperm donors are exempt from being treated as the legal father, said a CSA spokesman.

"[Bathie] approached us to take on the father's role, not the other way around," Terri said.


November 21, 2007

'Little Red Ship' sinks off Antarctica

The Explorer, a small cruise ship, sunk in the middle of the night, forcing 154 to endure hours of freezing temperatures in lifeboats before being rescued, reported the Star Tribune Friday.

The ship, known as the "little red ship" struck ice early on Friday, before the captain called 100 passengers and the crew of about 50 to the lecture hall, according to passengers' accounts of the incident.

The passengers were told that "water was creeping in through a fist-sized hole" in the ship's starboard, causing the power to fail as water flooded the engine room, reported the Star Trib.

At about 1:30 the passengers climbed into the lifeboats and inflatable craft, and waited for four hours in the 20-degree weather until two ships arrived, one of which took in all off the passengers.

The accident occurred north of the Antarctic Circle in an "island chain that is part of the Antarctic peninsula, which juts close to South America," reported the Star Tribune.

No injuries were reported, the Star Tribune said.

The Explorer was the first cruise ship to ever sink in the frigid Antarctic waters, the Star Tribune said.

November 17, 2007

Non-habitual binge drinking not harmful to baby?

According to a University of Oxford team, binge drinking does not harm a pregnant mother's unborn baby unless she habitually drinks excessive amounts, reported London's The Times Wednesday.

A team from Oxford analyzed studies from 1975 to 2005 said in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health that there is not consistent evidence of harmful effects when alcohol intake is low and "binge drinking" is infrequent, The Times said.

The team found little evidence that miscarriages, stillbirths and other birth defects resulted from binge drinking.

Mervi Jokinen, who represents the Royal College of Midwives, argued that the study implies that drinking during pregnancy is safe and that research proves that more than three "units" per week raises the risk of miscarriage, The Times reported.

November 11, 2007

Surgery on eight-limbed baby successful

A young girl born in India with four arms and four legs was given a chance of a normal life by Indian doctors, London's The Times reported on Wednesday.

Lakshmi Tatma, 2, was born with a rare condition called isciopagus, meaning she was born attached to a partially-formed twin.

A team of about 30 medics started early Tuesday morning and devoted more than a day "carefully detaching what amounted to Lakshmi Tatma's headless identical sister who was join to her at the pelvis," The Times said.

The most difficult parts of the operation entailed transplanting one of her kidneys, which was shared by her twin, and to reconstruct the veins and blood vessels shared by both bodies, The Times said.

If Lakshmi had not undergone the surgery she would not have had much change living past adolescence doctors said.

In addition to the removal of extra limbs, Lakshmi's "deformed" pelvis and spine were corrected. Extra organs were removed, and she will need "extensive skin grafts," doctors said.

November 2, 2007

British tennis coach jailed for molesting 13-year-old girl

Claire Lyte, one of Britain's most notable female tennis players and coaches, was jailed Friday for two years and nine months for molesting a 13-year-old girl whom she coached, according to London's The Guardian.

Last month, Lyte, 29, was found guilty of five counts of unlawful sexual conduct with the girl between May 2005 and June 2006 while coaching at the Lawn Tennis Training Academy in Loughborough.

The Guardian reported that Lyte, who offered to babysit the girl, was caught naked in bed with her, engaging in oral sex. The two also reportedly wore similar clothes, and the girl's mother reported that Lyte wore her daughter's clothes.

After seeing Lyte wearing her daughters clothes, she finally went to the police (10 months after discovering the two in bed together), which resulted in her daughter threatening to jump from a roof.

The teenager who is now 15 years old said she had been pressured into the relationship.

Lyte is banned from working with children and was ordered to register as a sex offender.

October 28, 2007

Gap uses child sweatshop workers to make clothes

WCCO reported Sunday that a British newspaper (The Observer) found children as young as 10 making Gap clothes in a sweatshop in New Delhi, India, which the company planned to sell in the West.

Some of the children had been working 16-hour days to hand-sew clothing; they said they were not being paid at the unidentified Gap supplier because their employer said they were still trainees, said the source.

The Observer quoted a boy who said the children were hit with a rubber pipe or had oily cloths stuffed into their mouths for crying or not working hard enough, WCCO said.

The British paper also said the sweatshop was "smeared in filt, the corridors flowing with excrement from a flooded toilet."

October 20, 2007

Nobel Prize winning scientist claims black people are 'less intelligent'

According to London's The Times, the respected scientist and Nobel Prize winner, James Watson, who was part of the team which discovered the structure of DNA, made the claim that black people are less intelligent than white people; he plans to speak to an audience at London's Science Museum on Friday to promote his new book, Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science.

Watson, 79, made the controversial remarks about blacks' intellectual inferiority in an interview with The Sunday Times.

He said that discrimination should not be based on color, as “there are many people of color who are very talented, but don’t promote them when they haven’t succeeded at the lower level."

The occurrence of such controversial remarks is not a first for Watson, as he has been known in the past to share alleged scientific claims and personal opinions regarding abortion and homosexuality, black people having stronger sex drives, and genetically manufacturing "pretty" girls.

The Times also reported that he has written that “there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so?.

The genes responsible for creating differences in human intelligence levels could possibly be found within the next decade, Watson said.

“It is sad to see a scientist of such achievement making such baseless, unscientific and extremely offensive comments," Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said Wednesday.


October 13, 2007

Beer prices rice due to drought continuation in Australia

The price of beer and other Australian staple products such as bread and meat are expected to rise in New South Wales due to a prolonged drought, according to The Australian.

September's lack of rack put 80 percent of the state into a drought, according to NSW Prime Industries Minister Ian Macdonald. He also said that the estimations for next winter's March and April crops have been lost.

Price increases of up to ten percent are expected within about a month, The Australian reported.

"Wheat and barley are among the crops hardest hit with the knock-on effect hitting beer drinkers and raising the price of bread," The Australian said.

The barley shortage is not expected to affect the taste of beer, however, according to Macdonald.

October 6, 2007

Seventy-two-year-old man donates sperm to father grandchild

A 72-year-old man is going to donate sperm to try and help his son and daughter-in-law conceive a child due to the husband being infertile, The Times reported Saturday.

The case has caused controversy not because of the family relationships, but because of high level of risk that results from genetic damage accumulated by sperm as it ages. "Raised paternal age is a risk factor for autism, schizophrenia, achonodroplasia (dwarfism), Down's syndrome and congenital defects," The Times reported.

Allan Pacey of the British Fertility Society said, "You could say that if everybody is happy they should go ahead, but God forbid if there if there’s a child born with a problem. It would be delicate to explain to that child that it might be the result of its grandfather’s 72-year-old sperm.?

The article states that it is, however, common for infertile men and women to use sperm and eggs donated by siblings.

September 30, 2007

Arabic advertisements to aid in the search for Madeleine McCann

Arabic television ads will be screened across Morocco requesting reports of sightings of Madeleine McCann, since her parents believe she may be alive in North Africa, reported London's The Observer Sunday.

Although the blond girl sighted in the Moroccan town of Zaio was not Madeleine, her parents believe she may be somewhere in the country, said The Observer.

Billboards in villages and supermarkets throughout Portugal and Spain will feature the girl in case someone may have missed out on the news of the disappearance.

The latest sensational stories coming from Portugal include claims that the girl's body was stored in a fridge and moved to 'various locations' around the Portuguese resort before being placed in the trunk of her parents' rental car and dumped, The Observer reported.

The story also includes details on background information on the case, including affiliated attorneys/lawyers and media officials, all of which has been mentioned in prior news reports and stories throughout the UK.

September 23, 2007

Chinese factory provides dangerously strong Viagra

A Chinese factory has been supplying British chemists with Viagra that is three times more powerful than the regular product, according to The Times.

The levels of the active ingredient--sildenafil--in the Viagra are life-threatening to men with heart conditions, said the source. A spokesperson from Pfizer, its manufacturer, said, "The effects in men with existing diseases, such as cardiovascular conditions, may be unpredictable and potentially serious.?

The pills were supplied by Gabriel Zhang, a 32-year-old businessman, whose intentions are to expand his business from sex drugs to life-saving medicines, said the Times.

According a separate article in the Times (reported on Sunday), Gabriel Zhang is a "devout Catholic" involved in the "illegal counterfeiting of pharmaceuticals."

The factory where the fake drugs are produced is in a remote location in the Henan province of China.

Reporters from The Sunday Times went undercover as UK wholesalers to investigate the Chinese counterfeiting scandal and found that the Viagra contained "overdose" levels of the active ingredient."

The factory has been getting ready to start producing drugs for heart disease and cancer as well, said The Sunday Times.

"The packaging and the pills look like the real thing but with forensic analysis you see impurities and we often find that the active ingredient is reduced," Mick Deats, head of enforcement at the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, said.


September 13, 2007

Putin makes obscure decision in appointing new prime minister

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Russian president, Vladimir Putin, accepted Mikhail Y. Fradkov's resignation as prime minister and appointed the low profile politician, Viktor A. Zubkov, to fill the position.

Russian diplomats were puzzled by the president's selection, though some believe his motive was to show that he is still in charge.

"He pulled this rabbit out of the hat, and that shows he can shake up the Russian world, and the international world, whenever he wants to," said Cliff Kupchan, a former American diplomat in Russia.

President Putin is banned from seeking re-election, which created speculation regarding how he would bow out and who would replace him. Editor of the Nezavisimaya Gazeta and former adviser to the minister of economy, Konstantin V. Remchukov, said, "the new prime minister is likely not a presidential successor. Rather, he was a man who has Putin's confidence to help solidify the government and who will follow his instructions precisely during the months preceding the expected succession."

According to London's The Times, "President Putin deliberately left open the key question of who will succeed him in the presidential elections next March." He wanted to confirm to two First Deputy Prime Ministers, both presidential contenders, that his authority is still in tact.

Also, according to the article, sources said that "Putin was already thinking about what role he would play in Russia after his successor is chosen."