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The Globe and Mail

Earthquakes hit when Hillary Rodham Clinton visits

Mover and shaker

"What is it about Hillary Rodham Clinton and earthquakes? Seems the U.S. secretary of state rarely takes an overseas trip that is not in some way affected by a tremblor," Associated Press reports. "She may not have felt the Earth move under her feet, but as her plane landed Friday in Christchurch, N.Z., the city was hit by an aftershock from a 7-magnitude quake that struck in September. Two days earlier, as she wrapped up a visit to Papua New Guinea, a 6.0-magnitude quake rattled villages there. These seismic events were at least the third and fourth to have hit countries while Ms. Clinton was visiting. On her first trip abroad as America's top diplomat in February, 2009, she was shaken awake by a minor quake in Japan. Four months later, she felt a 5.0 quake in Honduras. Then, in October, 2009, tremors struck Pakistan while Ms. Clinton was there."

Talismans today

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While old-fashioned superstitions continue to resonate, "people today also find meaning in less-traditional talismans," Jeffrey Zaslow writes for The Wall Street Journal. "San Francisco Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff has gotten attention for wearing a red, rhinestone-trimmed thong under his uniform, which he believes helped his team make it to the 2010 World Series. Thirteen California women made news a few years ago when they purchased a $37,000 [U.S.]diamond necklace together and took turns wearing it. Each agreed to make love at least once with it on. The women said the necklace bonded them and helped change their lives."


"Most hospitals have their share of weird cases," the Los Angeles Times reports, "but Rhode Island Hospital may win some kind of prize for having an abundance of instances of treating people who have intentionally swallowed foreign objects." A study in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology analyzed 305 cases of 33 people intentionally ingesting foreign objects over about eight years in that hospital. "The most common items swallowed were pens (whole or in parts), followed by batteries, knives, razor blades, other metal objects, pencils, toothbrushes, spoons and coins. Despite the number of sharp objects ingested, there were no deaths or perforations reported in any of the cases."

The singing policeman?

In Britain, "A Metropolitan Police firearms officer has been suspended while an inquiry considers claims he included song lyrics in his testimony at an inquest," BBC News reports. "The officer, known only as 'AZ8,' gave evidence to the inquest into the shooting of barrister Mark Saunders in an armed siege in west London in 2008. The officer is accused of littering his testimony with song titles by acts such as George Michael and Duran Duran."

His first pair

"A central Pennsylvania man faces shoplifting charges after police said he tried to steal a pair of women's high-heel shoes by wearing them out of a department store," Associated Press reports. Lancaster police said the 22-year-old man went into a dressing room and put on a pair of size-10 heels, then walked out without paying. He was stopped outside the store with his own shoes inside the shoebox in a shopping bag.

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So you drink? Dolt

"We all know alcohol impairs a person's reasoning abilities," Scientific American Mind reports. "But in a study presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management in August, researchers reported that booze also diminishes how smart others perceive us to be. … The 'imbibing idiot bias,' as the researchers call it, persisted even when participants drank fake alcoholic beverages that did not interfere with their cognitive functioning. Most strikingly, in mock interviews, volunteers judged job candidates as less intelligent when they ordered an alcoholic drink - even when the person interviewing them had done so first."

Sniffer bees

"The Red Cross estimates that between 80 million and 120 million land mines exist in 70 countries, maiming 22,000 people (mostly children) each year," The Daily Telegraph reports. "A system devised by the University of Montana counters this by fitting honey bees with miniature microchips. As the bees fly around, the electrostatic charge from their bodies attracts TNT residue, the explosive component from land mines. Once they return to the hive, this can be detected, and a scan of the chip will reveal the appropriate location. … Honey bees are already being used as early detectors of lung and skin cancers, diabetes and TB, as well as to monitor fertility cycles and confirm pregnancies. Patients breathe into a glass diagnostic tool; when the trained bees detect any of the diseases or hormones, they move toward the tubes that lead closer to the breath."

A twist in a knifing

"A 63-year-old man who told authorities that he was stabbed in the back by an intruder [last week]actually stabbed himself, according to the Boulder County Sheriff's Office," The (Boulder, Colo.) Daily Camera reports.

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Thought du jour

"We carry within us the wonders we seek [outside]us."

Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682), English physician and author

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