Saturday, June 30, 2007

11-year-old charged with driving drunk in Alabama

MIAMI (Reuters) - An 11-year-old girl was charged with drunken driving after leading police on a chase at speeds of up to 100 mph that ended when she flipped the car in an Alabama beach town.

A video camera in the police car captured the look of surprise on the officer's face when he approached the wrecked car and got a look at the motorist.

The Mobile Press-Register newspaper said the patrolman saw the Chevrolet Monte Carlo speeding and flashed his lights to signal the driver to stop. Instead, the car sped faster, travelling at up to 100 mph (160 kph) before sideswiping another vehicle and flipping over in the Gulf Coast town of Orange Beach, Alabama, on Tuesday night.

The young driver, who lived nearby in Perdido Key, Florida, was treated at a hospital for scrapes and bruises and released to relatives. Police also charged her with speeding, leaving the scene of an accident and reckless endangerment.

The car belonged to a relative and police were still trying to find out where she got the alcohol. There was none in the vehicle but her blood alcohol level was over the limit for adult motorists, police told the newspaper.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Man sues after plane hits Lamborghini

An Oregon man has sued over a traffic accident that involved an unlikely pair of vehicles - his Lamborghini and a small plane piloted by FBI agents. The propeller from the Cessna airplane mangled the driver's side of the black Lamborghini that Marlowe Treit had given himself as a 60th birthday present in 1998.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hacker claims Harry Potter's alleged ending on Web

By Jim Finkle

BOSTON (Reuters) - The mystery surrounding the end to fictional British boy wizard Harry Potter's saga deepened on Wednesday with a computer hacker posting what he said were key plot details and a publisher warned the details could be fake.

The hacker, who goes by the name "Gabriel," claims to have taken a digital copy of author J.K. Rowling's seventh and final book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," by breaking into a computer at London-based Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

For months now, leading up to the book's July 21 release, legions of "Harry Potter" fans have debated whether Rowling killed Harry or one of his best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, in the final book.

Gabriel has posted information at Web site that, if true, would answer that question.

"We make this spoiler to make reading of the upcoming book useless and boring," Gabriel said in the posting.

"Harry Potter" publishers have taken great pains to keep the conclusion a secret and preserve the multibillion-dollar entertainment enterprise surrounding the boy wizard.

A Bloomsbury spokesman declined comment on the hacker's claims.

Kyle Good, a spokesman for U.S. distributor Scholastic Corp., would not say whether the posting was accurate, but did warn readers to be skeptical about anything on the Web that claims to have inside information on the book's plot.

"There is a whole lot of junk flying around," she said. "Consider this one more theory."

David Perry, a spokesman for computer security company Trend Micro, said there was a good chance Gabriel's claim could be a hoax.

"We've had hypes like this on the last couple of Harry Potter books," he said. "There is a very high level of spurious information in the hacker world."

But if true, it could be a problem for Bloomsbury. The "Harry Potter" books have been global best-sellers with fans buying some 320 million versions worldwide, and anticipation for "Deathly Hallows" is high.

In April, U.S. retailer Barnes & Noble said advance orders for the book had already topped 500,000 copies, setting a chain record. Scholastic plans to release a record 12 million copies of "Deathly Hallows" to meet demand.

A stolen copy of the sixth Harry Potter novel, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" surfaced in Britain about a month before its official release in July 2005. Two people were charged after reportedly trying to sell a copy to the London tabloid the Sun.

Four "Potter" movies made by Warner Bros. film studio, a division of Time Warner Inc., have brought in $3.5 billion in global ticket sales, and a fifth film is due in theaters in early July.

(Additional reporting by Bob Tourtellotte in Los Angeles and Kate Holton in London.)

Canadian students could soon be graduating from "Taco Bell High"

OTTAWA (AFP) - Canadian students could soon be graduating from "Taco Bell High" or "Wal-Mart Public School" if trustees here go ahead with a scheme to sell school naming rights to corporations to raise extra funds.

The proposal has pitted members of the cash-strapped Ottawa-Carleton District School Board with public education advocacy groups who fear it would jeopardize universal education.

"No one wants to go to Taco Bell High," Ellen Dickson, chair of the Ottawa Carleton Assembly of School Councils, told the daily Ottawa Citizen.

But proponents say it would help eliminate growing budget deficits at many of Canada's school boards, hit by rising enrolment and cuts in provincial funding.

The Ottawa school board, for example, passed a 634.8-million dollar (595-million US) budget last week, but even after deep cuts, was left with a deficit of 6.2 million dollars (5.8 million US).

Ottawa trustee Riley Brockington told the Citizen in support of the plan: "I have no problem with the Loeb Library or the Cognos Centre of Performing Arts," invoking the names of a grocery chain and a software firm, respectively.

But Annie Kidder of the parents group People for Education countered: "The minute you end up with a Wal-Mart Public School ... you are taking away the notion of the importance of public education, which is to provide every child, no matter where they live or the income of their parents, with an equal chance at success."

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Skulls Smuggled for Monks' Chalices

No bones about it—this collection of skulls and femurs was part of an international smuggling operation, Indian officials announced Tuesday.

The skeleton stash was headed to Buddhist monasteries in Bhutan, a neighboring Himalayan kingdom.

"During interrogation [the gang] confessed that the hollow human thigh bones were in great demand in monasteries and were used as blow-horns, and the skulls as vessels to drink from at religious ceremonies," investigating officer Ravinder Nalwa told the Reuters news service Tuesday.

Police officers found the bones in Jaigaon, India, on the border with Bhutan.

In April police in Jaigaon had uncovered a human-bones factory and arrested six people. The factory's bones had come from cremation centers on the Ganges River in Varanasi, a Hindu holy city. They were being sold to students of traditional medicine.

Eastern India was once a flourishing center for the export of human skeletons. The government banned the trade in the late 1980s after human rights groups questioned bone-collection practices.

Today, as evidence surrounding the bones continues to surface, police suspect the region could be the center of an expansive underground industry.

—Cori Sue Morris