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How bizarre! How bizarre!
by Thanos Kalamidas
2012-09-22 09:44:24
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Obese elephants in Tamil Nadu given slimming help

biiiii01_400Authorities in India are being presented with a massive task - managing the weight of obese elephants kept in temples. In parts of India, elephants are kept in temples for religious reasons - taking part in ceremonies and festivals. Efforts are on in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu to get these over-pampered tusked animals to slim down. Almost all the elephants kept in temples in the state have been found to be obese.

Accordingly, temple officials are reconfiguring the diets of their elephants on the advice of veterinary surgeons. "The female temple elephant - 15 year-old Parvathi - is overweight by 500kg (80 stone) and efforts are on to reduce it," said Pon Jayaraman, executive officer of the Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple said. Another elephant in the Kallazagar Temple weighs 700kg more than the optimum for its age, according to Ravindran, the "Mahout" - or custodian - of the 48-year-old female elephant, Madhuravalli.

But veterinary surgeons point out that obesity and captivity go hand in hand. Elephants eat up to 200 different varieties of food in the jungle, including fruits, flowers, roots and branches, but in captivity their diets often lack variety. The experts also point out that the elephants in the wilderness are never exposed to foods such as rice, millets, salt and jaggery (an unrefined sugar set into blocks).


Baby Needs Surgery After Swallowing Expanding Ball

Little kids have been in the news for swallowing magnetic "Bucky Balls" and detergent pods. And now there's a case report of an 8-month-old baby girl named Aunraya, who was brought to Texas Children's Hospital because she biiiii02_400swallowed a new toy: a superabsorbent polymer ball. Her great grandmother and legal guardian, Freida Deweese, thought Aunraya had swallowed a "piece of candy." But it was actually a Water Balz toy, which starts out the size of a marble and is advertised to grow to 400 times its original size when put in water.

This little girl swallowed it, it absorbed moisture inside her, and it completely blocked her digestive system so that nothing could get through. She was vomiting bile, had a distended belly, and severe painful constipation by the time she went to the operating room. Her X-ray shows that many loops of her digestive tract are far wider than normal.
Why does this happen? It's similar to plumbing. When there is a complete blockage, things back up behind it and pile up, causing the bowel to get bigger. Because nothing can get through, the areas after the blockage are smaller than usual.  Aunraya was lucky enough to go into surgery to have it removed before it poked a hole in her gut and caused serious complications.

"There is a tendency to wait and wait," said Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, a pediatric surgeon at Texas Children's Hospital and associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "We were fortunate enough that we did [surgery] early enough. If the treatment is delayed, there could be perforation with peritonitis" -- a life-threatening illness.  When the surgeons operated, they found a 3.5 centimetre intact gel ball that was blocking part of her small intestines. Because they caught it early, she didn't have any complications.


Mom calls on principal, superintendent, to step down

Now that a federal probe has found that the kindergartners at Central Elementary School were assigned along racial lines for two consecutive years, the mother who filed the complaint wants the schools superintendent and the principal biiiii03_400to step down. An investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights found that the school district was “inconsistent” and “subjective” in the assignment of students to kindergarten classes, resulting in a “racially disproportionate impact.”

Rina Jimenez, along with the high-profile attorney and former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, Norman Siegel, are also planning to file a second complaint with the Office of Civil Rights to investigate all the grades in the school, going back at least five years. Jimenez blames Central Principal Carol Priore for the “segregated” class assignments, and Superintendent of Schools Robert Shaps for failing to thoroughly investigate the issue when she first complained to the school board last year.

District officials did not immediately respond to calls for comment. “He stood by her and said everything was done following district guidelines,” said Jimenez. “The OCR has found that this was clearly not the case for the two years they looked at the data.” Jimenez said the district, after having signed a resolution agreement with OCR on Aug. 14, failed to inform the community of the action until Wednesday.


Sorry, no entry for hipsters

Berlin suddenly got popular. And the locals don't like it. Not one little bit. In fact, some Berliners are so sick of tourists biiiii04_400that they have begun to hang signs up in the street telling “hipsters” to go home. Which is a bit silly since Berlin is actually home to the Hipster Olympics held in July. Stickers plastered all around Kreuzberg read, “Berlin doesn’t love you.” While on Friedrichshain signs sticking out of windows read, “Noisy tourists go home!”

A gallery in a trendy neighbourhood displayed a sign in the window for months that read: "Sorry, no entry for hipsters from the US". Hipsters from Australia? We’re not sure if you are allowed either. "We've seen people insulted for looking like tourists or get disparaging looks," David Schuster, an activist for a local leftist group that has launched a tourist-friendly awareness drive told Reuters. "There's some resentment that tourists party loudly or throw up on the streets," Mr Schuster said. "I think many Berliners do too, but they feel entitled to act that way."

So every nationality gets drunk and throws up on the street in Berlin, but it’s just German’s who are allowed to do it. Tourism generated an estimated 10.3 billion Euros for the Berlin in 2011, which is about 10 per cent of the city’s budget. Considering the woes of the Euro at the moment, that’s quite a few billion Germany can ill afford to lose.

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