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Pot-growing Robin Hoods

"A [British] couple who ran a cannabis factory have been jailed despite using most of the proceeds of their illicit activities to help a Kenyan village where they were regular visitors," reports The Guardian. "Michael Foster, 62, and Susan Cooper, 63, made hundreds of thousands of pounds from a sophisticated cannabis-growing operation at their Lincolnshire farmhouse, which was only discovered when a police officer chasing a burglar recognized the distinctive smell. … The couple paid for life-saving surgery for a villager near Mombasa, Kenya, purchased computers for an eye hospital and paid for schooling for children, the court heard. But their philanthropic activity was funded by growing cannabis." They were jailed for three years.

Veteran's weighty secret

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"Ronald Brown stepped on a landmine while on a mission to France in August, 1944," The Telegraph reports. "[B]ecause of medical conditions of the day it was thought safer to leave shrapnel in his body. He survived the war but only ever told his family the basic story and said the accident had left him with a 'bad knee.' Brown told loved ones he still had a 'bullet' in his leg and asked his grandchildren not to sit on his knee because of the pain it caused. But when he died [this month] aged 94, his family had him cremated and were stunned when staff handed them back a big bag of shrapnel. The bag contained a whopping 6 ounces [170 grams] of bomb shrapnel that he had been carrying around for 60 years."

'Housework' shortens lives

"Female Komodo dragons live half as long as their male counterparts – 31 years on average, compared with the guys' 62," reports. "A new study suggests the physical demands of lizard 'housework,' which includes building nests and protecting eggs, cuts the females' lifespans short. A team of researchers studied 400 individual Komodo dragons from 2002 to 2010 in eastern Indonesia, the only native home of the giant predatory lizards. The scientists found that males and females are about the same size until they reach sexual maturity at around age seven. From then on, the females grow slower. … 'The sex-based difference in size appears to be linked to the enormous amounts of energy females invest in producing eggs, building and guarding their nests,' Tim Jessop, a zoologist from the University of Melbourne, said in a statement. 'The process can take up to six months during which they essentially fast, losing a lot of weight and body condition.'"

Empathy may save life

"A thoughtful gesture pays off in a big way," says "When a Georgia woman was diagnosed with breast cancer, her husband shaved his head to support her through chemotherapy. And that was how Bud Stringer discovered he had stage 3 melanoma on top of his head, reports … Bud, 48, and his wife Dolly, 47, are now undergoing treatment, but each has a good prognosis."

Faster, higher, stronger

Snails can move a lot faster than their reputation would suggest, according to Mary Stewart, a California snail rancher, "especially when they pick up the lure of food," reports The New York Times. "Spray them with mist, give them some crisp lettuce and 'here they come, just like cows at feeding time,' she said. 'You can hear them munching and crunching just like cattle. I'm serious. They're fascinating. "

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Thought du jour

Many people today don't want honest answers insofar as honest means unpleasant or disturbing. They want a soft answer that turneth away anxiety. They want answers that are, in effect, escapes.

Louis Kronenberger

U.S. writer and critic (1904-80

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