Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Boy, 11, who was deaf for 9 yrs regains hearing

For nine years, Jerome Bartens had to cope with the handicap of being half deaf.

Ever since he was a toddler, the 11-year-old had been unable to hear anything on his right side and doctors said they were unable to help.

Then suddenly the reason for his problems became clear - when the end of a cotton bud popped out of his ear.

His family believe that he must have poked the bud in the ear at the age of two and the tip must have broken off the plastic stem.

The result was that he has always struggled at school, was constantly forced to turn up the volume of the television and music, and became used to everyone shouting at him.

But now he is waking up to a whole world of noise - while his father Carsten is demanding to know why medical experts failed to identify the problem for so long.

Cured: Jerome Barten can now hear perfectly

Yesterday Mr Bartens, 45, told how Jerome was playing with his friends in a church hall when he heard a popping sound in his right ear.

He put his finger in and found the tip of a cotton wool bud.

"It was just incredible - his hearing returned to normal in an instant.

"He was cured as suddenly as he became deaf. I had always suspected Jerome had stuck something in his ear when he was little and that was causing the problem.

"But the doctors and hearing specialists said it was wax and he would probably grow out of it.

"I am amazed they didn't spot something as obvious as a cotton wool bud."

Mr Bartens, an HGV driver from Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, has now complained to his GP and hearing specialists who examined Jerome over the years.

He said: "It has held Jerome back in school and caused him problems in communicating with his friends."

Mr Bartens - who also has two daughters Takita, 16, and Tiffany, 14 - says he is "thrilled" that Jerome's hearing has come back.

He said: "If he was playing in the garden I would have to shout for him eight or nine times before he would respond.

"But now he has 100 per cent hearing and he's just a normal boy again."

Jerome is due to be examined by hearing experts this week - and his father is taking along the cotton wool bud as proof of his "miracle cure".

"I can hear much better now and I think I'll be much happier at school now my ear does not ache all the time," said Jerome.

"I was just playing pool in the church hall when my ear made a popping noise. It was very strange at first to be able to hear everything.

"But now I'm getting used to it - it's great that people don't have to shout to me and that I don't have to turn my head all the time."

Friday, January 25, 2008

I decided to die like a man

A millionaire yesterday told how he fought off three armed burglars who were holding a knife to his daughter's throat, saying he "would rather die like a man than a dog".

Bernard Dwyer, 51, was convinced he and his family were about to be killed so he chose to take on the men - hours after they had allegedly killed a restaurant owner, a court heard.

Mr Dwyer came to his 13-year-old daughter Aisling's rescue after hearing her piercing screams for help, the Old Bailey was told.

Despite being threatened with a gun, stabbed three times in the head and beaten unconscious with a knuckle-duster, Mr Dwyer fought back as one of his attackers screamed "kill the b******".

He managed to wrestle a gun from one of the masked raiders and chased them from his luxury home in Uxbridge, West London, in November 2006, the jury heard.

Yesterday, Irish-raised Mr Dwyer, a construction boss, faced two of the three men accused of the burglary.

Brothers Michael and Dean Atkins are also on trial for the murder of restaurant owner Helen Chung, 65, the day before the break-in.

A third man, Joseph Carty, committed suicide in his cell last year while on remand for both offences.

The court heard Mr Dwyer, Aisling, now 14, and his son Danny, 19, were asleep when three men burst in.

He said: "I heard people running up the stairs and Aisling screaming 'Dad'. I had never heard screaming like that before. I knew something was clearly wrong."

Mr Dwyer said he jumped from his bed and ran towards Aisling's room but was confronted at the doorway. "There were three guys coming towards me," he said.

"All masked, all covered with balaclavas, gloves, padded out, forensically aware.

"One man was holding a gun, waving it about, screaming menacingly."

He said they attacked him after he agreed to show them where his safe was, one with a knuckle-duster.

Mr Dwyer said: "I took quite a few blows at that point.

"I have seen things on television and I have seen violent stuff but I have never seen this level of violence.

"I was being compliant and they were smashing and bashing me."

Mr Dwyer was knocked unconscious for a few minutes and when he came round one man was holding a knife to Aisling's throat and screaming: "I am going to cut your f****** daughter".

Mr Dwyer said: "We were going to die anyway, that's what I thought. I thought, if I am going to die then I would rather die like a man than a dog."

Mr Dwyer pushed the weapon away before striking the attacker.

"I hit him several times, I hit him plenty. The man with the knuckleduster screamed 'He's fighting back the b******, kill the b******, he's fighting back.'"

Mr Dwyer said he was stabbed three times in the head but managed to fight the raiders off and shut the bedroom door. But the men tried to push back in and they fought again, he said. "I have never used a weapon in my life and it was a great feeling.

"I grabbed the gun and bashed it across the knuckle-duster guy. Next thing is they took off and I chased them down the stairs."

The raiders fled empty-handed, leaving Mr Dwyer with broken ribs and 30 cuts to his body and head.

The court has heard the blood of Mr Dwyer and the restaurant owner were found on the gun at his home.

Michael Atkins, 25, and Dean Atkins, 26, both of no fixed address, deny murder, two counts of aggravated burglary, wounding with intent and possession of an imitation firearm with intent.

It is claimed the two also murdered Mrs Chung the previous night after she refused to reveal the hiding place of her £218,000 life savings when they broke into her home.

The court has heard the blood of both the businessman and the restaurant owner were found on the gun when it recovered from Mr Dwyer's home.

A DNA sample matching Joseph Carty, 21, - who later hanged himself in his cell at Belmarsh prison last February - was also discovered on the handle and on swabs taken from the face of Mrs Chung.

Dean Atkins had escaped from Stanford Open Prison in on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, just two days before the attack in Cowley, west London, on November 5, 2006. He was allegedly picked up by his brother and Carty.

Kam Fum Chung, known by all as Helen, was grabbed as she returned home at Meadow View, Cowley, after finishing work at the Chinese Mandarin restaurant in West Drayton.

Within minutes of arriving home she was repeatedly kicked and stamped and died from multiple fractures to her skull, face, neck and ribs.

Michael Atkins was arrested six weeks after the attack on December 21 in the Southwick area of Brighton, East Sussex.

Dean Atkins was arrested in the early hours of November 18, 2006, when a car was stopped in the area of Langley, Berkshire, near West Drayton, west London.

The trial continues.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Last moments of Flight BA38's dramatic descent into Heathrow

These are the dramatic moments when disaster stalked Heathrow.

In a few seconds of terror, flight BA38 skims rooftops, clears the airport perimeter fence by inches and bellyflops on to the grass hurling lumps of broken metal into the air.

The pictures were taken by flight dispatcher David Spalton, who was taking photos of aircraft landing from a perimeter road.

He has handed them to investigators in the hope they will provide clues as to what caused the Boeing 777 to lose power two miles from touchdown at 600ft last Thursday.

He said yesterday: "It was a frightening experience. I'm not what you would describe as a plane spotter but I work in the industry so I have an interest.

"You could tell instantly that this aircraft was in trouble. It was obviously way too low. It was about 250ft lower than the other ones that had been coming in.

"The nose was up too far as well. It just didn't look right and there wasn't much noise.

"I thought to myself, 'that plane will not make the runway'."


As the jet hit the damp ground, he witnessed the undercarriage being torn apart and saw bits of metal flying off. An engine cover was ripped off on impact and thrown 60ft into the air.

Seconds later, the plane reached a halt at the edge of the runway. Mr Spalton continued to photograph as the emergency chutes came down and fire engines arrived.

Thanks to the heroics of First Officer John Coward, all 152 passengers and crew were evacuated with just 18 suffering minor injuries. A detailed investigation report is due within 30 days.

"When it hit the ground I was convinced there would be serious injuries," said Mr Spalton.

"It was remarkable nobody was in a worse state."

Monday, January 21, 2008

100-year-old monster fish

Anglers hook 100-year-old monster fish weighing over 35 stone

fishNick Calleya and George Carstairs with their 10-foot catch in the Fraser River in Chilliwack, Canada. Locals say there are even bigger fish in there

Two British anglers waded waist deep into a river to land a 100-year-old monster fish weighing over 35 stone - after battling with it for over an hour.

Nick Calleya, 36, from Cubert in Cornwall and George Carstairs from Scotland landed the 500lb white Sturgeon while angling from a boat in the Fraser River in British Columbia in Canada.

The 10ft-long giant was snared using a rod and line with salmon eggs as bait.

Enlarge the image

Mr Calleya said: "We hooked on to it and it shot off.

"The boat was anchored so we quickly pulled it up and sped after it.

"George is quite a small guy so I had to grab him and hold him down because the fish was lifting him off his seat."

The pair grappled with the massive fish for over an hour, taking turns to hold the rod when their tired arms threatened to let their prey escape.

All the time, their fishing guide was at the controls of their jet boat trying to keep pace with the fish.

fishThe 100-year-old was caught using salmon eggs as bait

"We were constantly going up and down the river for half a mile or so," Mr Calleya said.

"Every now and then, the line would go dead and the fish would come back and zoom upstream.

"We managed to take it into a shallow spot further down stream and George jumped out and lassoed its tail and held it."

With the giant finally tamed, the two friends took pictures and captured their catch on video.

Their guide then microchipped the fish as part of a conservation research project before releasing it back into the river.

Mr Calleya said: "The guide said it was the best part of 100 years old.

"Although there are much bigger monsters in the river, he said it was the biggest one he had seen for more than a year."

The two friends spent a week fishing on the Fraser River, at Chilliwack, south of Vancouver.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pupils at private school discover their teacher in 'shocking soft-porn'

When pupils at a private school found their English teacher starring in a raunchy video on the Internet, they paid attention like never before.

The footage - from a short promotional film for a firm which makes clothing for construction workers - features Sarah Green as a secretary who is seduced by a builder.

With the slogan "It's gonna get dirty", the clip shows Miss Green simulating sex with the builder on a desk while demonstrating the safety features of his clothing
pornThe raunchy, two-minute internet ad featuring English teacher, Sarah Green, top, has attracted more than 35,000 viewers

pornThe film shows three building site workers' explicit sexual encounters with three women

The teacher took part in the commercial - called Hardcore, A Dirty Movie - as a trainee, two years before taking up her first post at £7,000-a-year Stockport Grammar School.

Although never shown on TV, the advert for Scruffs clothing was sent out to construction firms. In 2005, it won two prizes at the world's top advertising awards in Cannes.

A copy was later posted on the videosharing website YouTube, where it was discovered by Miss Green's pupils earlier this month.

Predictably, it wasn't long before the clip of the teacher, who is in her 20s, was being circulated around the school. And yesterday her career was hanging in the balance after she was suspended.

Some parents want Miss Green to be sacked from the mixed-sex school, where she has taught since 2006.

"It is absolutely awful, morally," said one, "especially given the type of school she teaches in. It will kill her."

Another added: "It appears her character is possibly not best suited to such a highly regarded school.

"It is possibly not suitable for this person to be teaching young, impressionable students."

Many pupils have left comments on YouTube about the film, which has so far been watched more than 40,000 times.

One wrote on the website: "Aagh Miss Green, how many teenage boys have you just sent crashing into puberty? Perhaps you could sign autographs at the bag racks."

Another posted: "She is never gonna live down our next lesson."

Headmaster Andrew Chicken said he was still trying to verify that the actress in the footage was indeed Miss Green.

He has written to parents, saying: "In the light of the sensitivity of the inquiries, I've taken the decision to suspend the teacher from her duties pending the conclusion of the investigation. This suspension implies neither guilt nor innocence. It is an entirely neutral action."

Chris Mellor-Dolman, marketing head of Nottingham-based Scruffs, said the video was "tongue-in-cheek" and Miss Green had merely been doing her job as an actress, adding: "Now it has come back to haunt her and it's very unfortunate. It's not as though it's hard porn."

Miss Green was not available for comment last night.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Top 5 Most Amazing Tree Houses

5. This amazing treehouse above was designed by Takashi Kobayashi, one of japan’s leading treehouse creators. This house was designed after an advertising agency in Tokyo, hired him to design a treehouse for a Nescafé commercial now running on Japanese television. Mr. Kobayashi built an oval bird’s nest of a house, 12 feet high and 9 feet in diameter, reached by a circular staircase, and the final price for this tree house was about $38,000. The house is located on a field there owned by the town of Kamishihoro, where it remains an enticing, if off-limits, gift from Nestlé, the makers of Nescafé, to the people of Hokkaido.

4. Three MIT designers - Mitchell Joachim, Lara Greden and Javier Arbona - created this living treehouse in which the dwelling itself merges with its environment and nourishes its inhabitants. This home concept is intended to replace the outdated design solutions at Habitat for Humanity. Until now this house is just a concept, an a really cool one. Despite its odd exterior, the house will look normal on the inside. The walls, packed with clay and plastered over, will keep out the rain, and modern technology will be welcome.

3. Sybarite is one of the most exciting architectual practices in London. The conceptual treehouse pictured above is one of the projects from UK-based Sybarite design. This treehouse is a modular system which capitalises on the beauty of its setting whilst minimising its impact upon it. The layout, along with panoramic windows, maximise benefit of the sun path, orientated so the kitchen enjoys morning light whilst the living and bedroom spaces have the pleasure of the sunset and twilight. The flexible form, comprised of modular prefabricated sections, enables configurations ranging from one to five bedrooms. The company’s site reports, “The prefabricated design can be installed on site within two weeks and is extremely lightweight, uses many recycled products, is part self-sustainable and low on maintenance.”

2. The 4TreeHouse was designed by Lukasz Kos a masters student at the University of Toronto’s School of Architecture & Design. Posing as a Japanese lantern on stilts, Kos’ creation floats within the fir trees on Lake Muskoka, Ontario, an elegant slatted structure that scales the trees and lets light radiate down it’s core.

1. These incredible looking tree houses are called ‘Free Spirit Spheres’ and are designed by Tom Chudleigh, and is an eco-friendly living quarter that was created to co-exist unobtrusively with its forest environment. Wooden spheres are built much like a cedar strip canoe or kayak, suspension points are similar to the chain plate attachments on a sailboat and the stairways hang from a tree much like a sailboats shrouds hang from the mast.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Diamond glows red when exposed to UV light

The Hope Diamond is seen in this undated handout photo provided by Smithsonian Institution in Washington. The famed diamond glows a mysterious red when exposed to ultraviolet light, a finding that scientists say can help them "fingerprint" diamonds and tell the real ones from artificial.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

World's Most Unusual Hotels

Unusual Hotels
The Pitcher Inn
Warren, Vt.

The nine rooms and two suites at The Pitcher Inn are designed on themes such as "School," "Trout" and "Calvin Coolidge." We're not just talking variations in wallpaper--the "Stable" suite has a hay chute opening into it. Guests don't rough it, however. The inn is a Relais and Chateaux property, and it includes a spa and dining room that uses fresh local and regional ingredients.

Unusual Hotels
Library Hotel
New York City

Appropriately located near the New York Public Library, the hotel has 60 rooms on 10 floors. Each floor is designed after one of the 10 categories of the Dewey Decimal System, such as Math and Science and Religion, and each room houses part of the hotel's collection of 6,000 books.

Unusual Hotels
Propeller Island City Lodge
Berlin, Germany

Would you rather sleep in a coffin or in a bed atop a castle? These are just a couple of options available when visiting the Propeller Island City Lodge, where each of the 31 rooms embrace a different theme. From the orange room to the symbol room--tiled entirely with wooden blocks painted with 300 different symbols--this gallery-esque spot gets those creative juices pumping.

Unusual Hotels
Ice Hotel
Quebec, Canada

The Ice Hotel is created anew each year out of 15,000 pounds of snow and 500 pounds of ice. The 34-room hotel features an ice chapel, two art galleries and a host of outdoor activities. The temperature inside the hotel ranges from 23 to 28 degrees Fahrenheit, and the beds are carved from ice. You don't sleep directly on the ice, though--there's a wooden plank between the ice and a comfy mattress, plus you're insulated with a special sleeping bag that can withstand the harshest climes (-40 degrees Fahrenheit). Happily, the bathrooms are not frigid--the heated facilities are in the adjacent hotel.

Unusual Hotels
Qingdao, China

Scheduled to open in 2009, the Hydropalace in Qingdao, China, will be anchored in the Yellow Sea in water that is 16 to 20 meters deep at low tide. Guests will arrive at the hotel by yacht, which will also stop at a planned land-based hydrotower, scheduled to open for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Unusual Hotels
Casablanca Hotel
New York City

Ever wanted to live like Bogey? The 48-room Casablanca Hotel in Times Square features a Moroccan décor complemented by Rick's Café, named for the restaurant in the classic 1942 film featuring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
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