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Thursday, June 28, 2007Time-Out
An out-of-shape thief asked for a ‘time-out’ while being chased by police in the Philippines yesterday. He ran out of breath after sprinting for 500 yards and stopped to make the universal time-out hand gesture.
The man had broken into a house and stolen two mobile phones and a local police patrol heard the owner’s screams and gave chase. If the police had played fair, they should have stopped where they were until the thief had a chance to catch his breath and continue running, but the bastards ignored the man’s hand signal and grabbed him. They claim they thought he was trying to make the sign of the cross to ward off vampires and would have stopped if they’d realized he was actually signaling a timeout. Yeah, right.
Agnes Munyiva has never thought of herself as a lucky woman. Desperately poor, she works as a prostitute out of her home, a tiny tin-roofed hut on the outskirts of Nairobi. To feed her family of five she entertains as many as 10 clients a day on her children's bed, charging the going rate of 25 cents a trick. Her latest boyfriend just landed in jail, and her kids -- forced to play outside in the mud while their mama "has a guest" -- often go hungry on a skimpy diet of corn mash.
Yet in a way, Munyiva is a fortunate woman -- extraordinarily fortunate to be free of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Since the disease emerged in Nairobi in the early 1980s, the sexually transmitted virus has infected 90% of the city's lower-class prostitutes; but somehow Munyiva, 42, has avoided the scourge during her 13 years in that grim line of work. "Perhaps God knows that if he takes me away, my children would suffer," she says.
Munyiva is one of a remarkable group of 25 Nairobi prostitutes who are the subjects of intensive scientific study. The fact that they have no symptoms of AIDS is not so amazing, since HIV can lie dormant in the body for many years before it begins its deadly work. What is surprising is that the virus cannot be found in these women at all; it apparently cannot establish itself in their cells.
A small number of people in other high-risk groups, including some homosexuals and spouses of infected hemophiliacs, have shown resistance to infection. But the Nairobi prostitutes, so frequently exposed to the virus for so many years, provide the strongest evidence yet that people can have a natural immunity to AIDS. If the cause of that protection can be identified, it could spur efforts to develop a vaccine.
A team of Kenyan and Canadian researchers has monitored every one of the prostitutes monthly for at least six years. Each of the women has had sex with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of HIV-positive men. There is nothing unusual about the way they go about their business; they don't use condoms more frequently than other prostitutes do, for example. Significantly, they have suffered from other sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis and gonorrhea.
What keeps HIV at bay? Lead researcher Dr. Francis Plummer of the University of Manitoba thinks the answer may lie in protein molecules called human leukocyte group A antigens. Arrayed along the surface of cells, these molecules help identify foreign invaders such as viruses. Plummer's preliminary research suggests that the HIV-free women have HLAs markedly different from the more typical ones found in Nairobi's other prostitutes. Exactly how these unusual HLAs can repel HIV is a mystery. Other experts are cautious about drawing any conclusions until Plummer's team completes and publishes its research.
There are many precedents for studying people with natural immunity in order to devise vaccines. In fact, the famous vaccine developed by England's Edward Jenner in 1796 resulted from his observation that milkmaids who had gone through bouts of cowpox enjoyed natural protection against the much deadlier smallpox. Plummer hopes his HIV-free prostitutes can play the same role today that Jenner's clear-skinned milkmaids did nearly two centuries ago.
Also known as "chuttuval," which means "coiled sword," this flexible weapon is used in the South Indian Martial Art of Kalaripayatt.
The blade (or multiple blades, as in the urumi pictured here) is flexible enough to be rolled up and stored when not used, or even worn as a belt and whipped out on demand.
The blade or blades are typically razor-sharp and bad news for anyone standing in the vicinity of the person wielding the urumi.
2. The Tekko-kagi ("hand claws")
Predating X-Men's Wolverine by hundreds of years, ninjas would use the tekko-kagi claws to guard against sword attacks, allowing them to swipe and potentially knock the sword from an assailant's hands.
Or, ninjas could use claws the claws offensively against their opponents with devastating results.
Typically made from aluminum, steel, iron or wood, tekko weapons are believed by martial arts historians to have originated when the Bushi in Okinawa, Japan began weilding the steel shoes of their horses as a means of self-defense against assailants.
3. The Kusari-gama
A combination sickle and mace, the Kusari-gama was used by traditional Japanese warriors, swinging the sickle at opponents to either slice them with the sharp blade or bludgeon them with the heavy iron weight attached by chain.
The Kusarigama was popular in fuedal Japan from around the 12th through the 17th centuries, and was taught in martial arts schools with its own form of fighting style, known as Kusarigamajutsu.
4. The Trebuchet
A much more powerful and accurate evolution of the medieval catapult, the trebuchet used counterweights to increase the velocity of the objects it hurled. It was used primarily by Christian and Muslim forces throughout the Mediterranean region during the 12th century.
The trebuchet is also believed to be an early biological weapon, as armies would load the trebuchet with corpses riddled with diseases like the Black Plague and hurl them into areas under seige in the hopes of infecting large numbers of their enemies.
5. The Paris Gun
The German military used its mammoth Paris Gun (also known as the Emperor William Gun) in 1918 to terrorize the French public during World War I.
The Paris Gun had an approximately 92-foot-long barrel that could fire 210-pound shells and reach distances up to 75 miles away. Since it could fire great distances, the residents of Paris heard and saw no warning of incoming blasts, and while the potential physical damage from the weapon wasn't catastrophic, the uncertainty of when and where attacks would come struck fear into the heart of all of Paris.
The German military is believed to have destroyed the Paris Gun as the Allied offensive began.
A woman was arrested Tuesday after her husband woke up in the middle of the night with a terrible headache and later learned he had a bullet lodged in his head.
St. Lucie County Sheriff's deputies initially thought Michael Eugene Moylan had been hit by a stray bullet, but later realized the couple's story did not match up, Sheriff Ken Mascara said.
April Moylan, 39, was arrested Tuesday and was in the process of being charged with attempted murder, Mascara said.
Moylan, 45, woke up at 4:30 a.m. and thought he had suffered an aneurism or that his wife had elbowed him in his sleep, authorities said.
His wife drove him to the hospital where doctors said a bullet had lodged behind his right ear. Authorities obtained a search warrant for the couple's home, located in an upscale gated community, and later arrested the wife, Mascara said.
Evidence indicated that Moylan had been shot at close range by someone in the house and it was clear there were inconsistencies with the couple's story, Mascara said.
April Moylan eventually told authorities she accidentally shot her husband. It was not immediately clear if she had an attorney.
"How can this guy be shot, not know that he was shot in bed and then walk into a hospital room. It was just amazing to all of us," Mascara said.
Michael Moylan did not undergo surgery, but was transferred to a trauma facility, authorities said. His condition as not known.
You already know yoga can give you greater flexibility, better muscle tone, a surefire way to release stress, and maybe even enlightenment. But better sex? Really? You betcha. Yoga offers myriad physical and emotional benefits that add up to more fun between the sheets and a more fulfilling, meaningful sexual relationship with your partner.
Whether heating up your sex life is the main goal of your yoga practice or just a happy side effect, chalk this information up as yet another great reason to roll out the mat. Here are the major ways it works:
“Yoga is sexy,” says Colleen Saidman, co-founder of Yoga Shanti in Sag Harbor, N.Y., and co-star of Gaiam yoga DVDs Advanced Yoga and Yoga Burn. “How often do you put on as few clothes as possible and stick your butt in the air?”
On a more subtle level, yoga helps you develop an awareness of sensations in your body. Learning to feel the weight rolling into the inside edges of your palms in downward dog, for example, teaches you to savor every sensation in your body — including the really delicious ones that happen during sex. It also helps keep you rooted in your body and out of your head, where your swirling thoughts can keep you from enjoying the experience at hand, whether it’s in class, out with friends or between the sheets.
A recent study shows that people who practice yoga gain less weight as they age than people who don’t do yoga at all. And while feeling more fit is an undeniable turn-on, a sustained yoga practice also encourages you to develop a reverence for your body. “In yoga class you learn all the amazing things your body is capable of — whether it’s handstand or a profound sense of relaxation,” Saidman says. “It helps you forge a loving relationship with yourself.”
Raise your hand if you’ve ever dozed off during sex, or felt the stirrings of arousal but were so tired you opted for bed instead. According to a recent survey by the National Sleep Foundation, a full third of women say tiredness causes them to cut back on sex. And a 2004 clinical study at Harvard Medical School showed that just eight weeks of a simple at-home yoga practice significantly improved sleep quality for the toughest audience — chronic insomniacs. It’s a simple exercise to connect the dots — practice yoga, sleep better, have more sex.
Yoga’s effects transcend the physical. It helps us become more comfortable in vulnerable positions — whether it’s a full backbend during class or a heart-to-heart conversation in bed at night. “Yoga helps us peel away layer after layer of our defense mechanisms to get back to our true nature, which is loving and compassionate,” Saidman explains. “When we peel away our protective armor, we can be much more connected to each other no matter where we are, including in the bedroom.”
On a purely physical level, many yoga poses — such as upavista konasana, or wide-legged straddle pose — increase blood flow to the pelvis. In our sedentary world, the muscles that run through the pelvis are chronically constricted. “The main arteries of the body run through the muscles of the pelvis,” Saidman explains. “If they are tight, blood, oxygen and energy aren’t getting to your reproductive organs as much as they should.” Another crucial aspect of yoga involves engaging and drawing up the muscles of the pelvic floor (known in Sanskrit as mula bandha, or root lock), which strengthens the muscles that play an integral role in orgasm.
Here are two of the many poses that can help boost your enjoyment in the boudoir:
Upavista Konasana (Wide Straddle Forward Bend)
How to do it: Sit on the floor with your legs wide. Leg muscles are activated and toes and kneecaps point straight up. Lean your torso forward as far as it goes comfortably. Hold for 5 to 10 deep breaths.
Sexual Benefits: Increases blood flow (and thus sensation) in the pelvis. “I have students who have literally had orgasms in this pose,” Saidman reports.
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose, also known as Cobbler’s Pose)
How to do it: Sit with your knees bent and soles of the feet touching. Lightly hold your big toes and lean your torso forward over your legs (back is gently rounded). Hold for 5 to 10 deep breaths.
Sexual benefits: Alleviates urinary and uterine disorders. Strengthens the uterus. Eases irritability, anxiety and fatigue, three reasons we might choose not to have sex.
A single tooth and some DNA clues appear to have solved the mystery of the lost mummy of Hatshepsut, one of the great queens of ancient Egypt, who reigned in the 15th century B.C.
Archaeologists who conducted the research, to be announced formally today in Cairo, said this was the first mummy of an Egyptian ruler to be found and “positively identified” since King Tutankhamun’s tomb was opened in 1922.
Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo, said Monday in a telephone interview that the mummy was found in 1903 in an obscure, undecorated tomb in the Valley of the Kings, across the Nile from modern Luxor, and had been largely overlooked for more than a century.
Dr. Hawass said the identification of the well-preserved mummy as Hatshepsut (pronounced hat-shep-SOOT) was made a few weeks ago when a CT scan of a wooden box associated with the queen revealed a tooth. The tooth, he said, “fits exactly” into the jaw socket and broken root of the mummy of an obese woman originally found in Tomb 60 at the Valley of the Kings, the necropolis for royalty in the New Kingdom before and after Hatshepsut’s reign.
“We therefore have scientific proof that this is the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut,” Dr. Hawass concluded, citing primarily the tooth but also current DNA analysis suggesting a family relationship between the obese woman and Ahmose Nefertari, the matriarch of 18th dynasty royalty.
Other Egyptologists not involved in the project said that the finding was fascinating, but that they would reserve judgment until they had studied the results of the DNA analysis and had some of the evidence confirmed by other researchers.
“You have to be so careful in reaching conclusions from such data,” said Kathryn Bard, an Egyptologist at Boston University.
Dr. Bard said, however, that it was not surprising that Hatshepsut’s mummy would turn up in a humble tomb, not the more elaborate one presumably intended for her. She noted that the queen’s stepson Thutmose III, after he succeeded to the throne on her death, “tried to destroy every trace of her and her reign,” so it was likely that her preserved body was hidden in another burial chamber for safekeeping.
The search for Hatshepsut’s mummy by Egyptian archaeologists and medical scientists will be described in a television program, “Secrets of the Lost Queen of Egypt,” scheduled for July 15 on the Discovery Channel.
As Dr. Hawass tells the story, he was approached by the Discovery Channel to apply new scientific technology to the search for the lost mummy. He thought the odds of success were slim, but looked upon the project as an opportunity to investigate a collection of unidentified female mummies in tombs and in the Cairo Museum.
To the frustration of archaeologists, royal Egyptian mummies were often moved from their original tombs and hidden in less conspicuous ones to stymie would-be plunderers. Identifying marks were frequently lost in the transfer.
Dr. Hawass and his team began the search at Tomb 60. Howard Carter, the British archaeologist who discovered the King Tut tomb, had excavated these smaller chambers in 1903. He found two mummies there: one in a coffin inscribed for a royal nurse, the other stretched out on the floor.
On a recent visit to Tomb 60, Dr. Hawass examined the mummy that had been on the floor, the obese one. Her left arm was bent at the elbow, with the hand over her chest. Her right arm lay against her side. The fingernails of the left hand were painted red and outlined in black. She was bald in front, with long hair in back.
Seeing the arrangement of her arms, Dr. Hawass said, “I believed at once that she was royal, but had no real opinion as to who she might be.”
Other Egyptologists also saw the left arm on the chest as a royal characteristic. But Dr. Bard of Boston University said that royal mummies were usually laid out with both hands crossed at the chest.
In the search, Dr. Hawass had radiologists make CT scans of six unidentified female mummies as well as some objects associated with them. The last of these examined objects was a wooden box bearing the name Hatshepsut. The box had been recovered from yet another tomb.
The container held some of the viscera removed from the body during embalming. Everything associated with a royal body or its mummification was carefully and ritually preserved. Late one night recently, the box was subjected to the CT scan.
“It turned out that this box held the key to the riddle,” Dr. Hawass said.
The images revealed a well-preserved liver and the tooth. A dentist, Dr. Galal El-Beheri of Cairo University, was called in. He studied the images of the mummy collection, and the tooth seemed to belong to the obese mummy.
Further CT scans led physicians to conclude that the woman was about 50 when she died. She was overweight and had bad teeth. She probably had diabetes and died of bone cancer, which had spread through her body.
Dr. Hawass said the DNA research into the possible Hatshepsut mummy was continuing, and he was vague about when the results would be reported. But early tests of mitochondrial DNA, he said, showed a relationship between the mummy and the matriarch Ahmose Nefertari.