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Monday, July 18, 2011

World's Biggest Dog

Hercules: The World's Biggest Dog Ever According to Guinness World Records

Hercules was recently awarded the honorable distinction of Worlds Biggest Dog by Guinness World Records. Hercules is an English Mastiff and has a 38 inch neck and weighs 282 pounds.

With "paws the size of softballs" (reports the Boston Herald), the three-year-old monster is far larger and heavier than his breed's standard 200lb. limit. Hercules owner Mr. Flynn says that Hercules weight is natural and not induced by a bizarre diet: "I fed him normal food and he just grew".... and grew. and grew

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Most Prolific Mother (69 babies)

Feodor Vassilyev (1707-1782), was a peasant from Shuya, Russia. Though not noteworthy himself, his first wife, Valentina Vassilyeva, set the record for most children birthed by a single woman. She gave birth to total of 69 children; however, few other details are known of her life, such as her date of birth or death. She gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, 7 sets of triplets and 4 sets of quadruplets between 1725 and 1765, in a total of 27 births. 67 of the 69 children born survived infancy. The modern world record for giving birth is held by Leontina Albina from San Antonio, Chile. Now in her mid-sixties, she claims to be the mother of 64 children. Of these, 55 are documented. The mother with the greatest number of kids that are not tiwns is Livia Ionce. This Romanian woman, 44, gave birth to her 18th child in Canada in 2008

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


In the cold, dark waters north of the Farallon Islands, nearly a mile beneath the surface, scientists have discovered a new species of huge jellyfish with a striking red bell that grows more than a yard wide and has a cluster of wrinkled, fleshy arms instead of streaming tentacles.

They call it Big Red, and its entire life is a mystery. The researchers don't know whether the ones they have observed are males or females, they don't know how they reproduce, and they don't know what they eat or what eats them.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Big Dance: Record Showing Expected By Big East

The Big East conference will be well represented at this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament. The Big East could send a record 11 teams to March Madness. NPR's Mike Pesca tells us what makes this conference so good.
MIKE PESCA: Every league except the Ivy plays a conference tournament and every conference except the Great West automatically earns its winner an invitation to the big dance. This means that 37 teams must appeal to the good will of committee members to qualify for an at-large bid. They may qualify by dint of their records or glint of their coach's smiles - whatever little bit helps.
This year, 10 non-automatic qualifiers could come from one conference: the Big East. Some are questioning how one conference can supply more than a quarter of the at-large teams. Oliver Purnell, who coached at ACC school Clemson before becoming a head coach in the Big East, says no one should look askance at the quality throughout his new league.
Mr. OLIVER PURNELL (Basketball Coach): I don't think there's much of a question that the Big East, you know, should have 11 teams in. As I've observed, college basketball, the last 25 years or so, it's the deepest league that, you know, I've ever seen.
PESCA: Purnell should know. His DePaul Blue Demons lost to every team in the league except one. They were last, but even the Big East's second-worst team, the University of South Florida, was pretty good. They won't make the NCAA tournament...

PESCA: ...but they set off this celebration when they staged an upset in the first round of the Big East tournament by defeating Villanova, a team ranked in the top 10 as recently as a month ago. The University of Connecticut's Jim Calhoun has won 300 Big East games in his career. He says this season has been among his toughest.
Mr. JIM CALHOUN (Head Coach, University of Connecticut): I've never seen it where every team can beat you. I truly believe every team in this league can be you. And that's - we may not ever see that again. I mean, we have really, really good teams, but everybody's had to work for every win, every point, everything they've done. No, I've never seen that in 25 years.
PESCA: Calhoun calls the Big East a meat grinder. Marquette coach Buzz Williams might add tenderizer, pulverizer and pressure cooker.
Mr. BUZZ WILLIAMS (Head Coach, Marquette): It's in addition to the depth of the league. It's the depth of the talent on each of those teams in the league. And that's what grinds you up and that's what wears you out. And you age and you gain bad weight and you have trouble sleeping as a coach.
PESCA: And Williams is a coach who will be making the NCAA tournament. But Ken Pomeroy, perhaps the premier college basketball statistical researcher in America, points out that while every Big East game is a battle, it's also an opportunity.
Mr. KEN POMEROY (College Basketball Statistical Researcher): Just to say that a team in the Big East, you know, had six or seven quality wins, you can't look at that in a vacuum. You know, you have 15, 20 chances maybe to get a quality win.
PESCA: Pomeroy does think the Big East should get 10 and maybe even 11 teams into the NCAA tournament. And while that might seem like a questionable concentration of wealth, consider this: The Big East is the only major conference that was designed with basketball in mind. As the Big 10, for instance, has expanded to 11 and soon 12 teams, they do so for the sake of football. But the Big East has bulked up to 16 teams with additions like DePaul and Marquette, which don't even play Division 1 football. And, by the way, 16 teams.
Mr. POMEROY: They have more darts to throw at the dartboard and hit the bull's-eye with.
PESCA: I told you Ken Pomeroy was a statistical genius.
The Big East will set the record for most teams invited from one conference. It should be noted that the teams currently in the Big East sent 10 teams in 1989. Those teams did well, winning a combined 16 games, a record that will be hard to surpass, if only because with so many teams in the tournament, if they do well, they'll eventually have to play each othe

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Gates: Extremism Biggest Threat to Pakistan, India

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Jan. 21, 2010 – The most pressing threat to Pakistan and India -- and the region, as well as the United States -- is violent extremism, not each other, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said here today, reiterating the message he delivered in his last stop in India. 

Click photo for screen-resolution image
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, right, attends a wreath-laying ceremony with Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani at the Army's General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Jan. 21, 2010. Gates met with country's top military leaders and his Pakistani counterpart to discuss Washington's new Afghan policy and other issues of mutual interests. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jerry Morrison

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“This was a theme that I basically sounded while I was in India: that Afghanistan, Pakistan and India all share a common enemy, as do we in the United States,” Gates said during interviews with Pakistan’s Express TV cable station and the state-owned Pakistan TV at U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson’s official residence.

Gates cited a terror syndicate that threatens the region, noting that the various organizations all operate under the same umbrella. “You can’t say one is good and one is not good,” he said. “They are all insidious, and safe havens for all of them need to be eliminated.”

The secretary emphasized the need for Pakistan and India to work cooperatively, and with the United States and coalition, to face this threat, rather than pointing fingers at each other.

He worked to allay concerns about India’s activities in Afghanistan, emphasizing that Indian officials assured him during his visit to New Delhi that they are limited to economic development programs.

“[Indian] Prime Minister [Manmohan] Singh was very explicit in saying that either in Afghanistan or more generally, that Pakistan has nothing to fear from India,” he said.

Gates congratulated the Pakistanis today on the success of the operations they have conducted in confronting violent extremists.

Gates declined to discuss drone activities directly, but offered, “I will say that these unmanned aerial vehicles have been extremely useful to us, both in Iraq and in Afghanistan.”

The United States is working to provide the Pakistanis their own intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, he said, and considering providing tactical UAVs – 12 unarmed RQ-7 Shadows funded through the Pakistan counterinsurgency fund.

These capabilities would help the Pakistani military better monitor activities along the country’s porous border with Afghanistan, he said.

Asked about the July 2011 timeline to begin troop withdrawals in Afghanistan under President Barack Obama’s new Afghanistan strategy, Gates emphasized that it marks only the beginning of a process of drawing down. “There is no deadline,” he said, and the drawdown pace is to be determined by conditions on the ground.

Gates said he’s confident in the new strategy, and believes that with Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal overseeing its implementation and 30,000 additional U.S. troops on the ground, “we have the right leader and the right troops soon to be in place to be successful in this conflict.”

Gates acknowledged during the interviews the United States’ past mistake in abandoning Pakistan, and promised not to repeat it. “We are determined to be a reliable and long-term ally,” he said.

“We are focused on the way ahead.”

The secretary acknowledged “conspiracy theories” within Pakistan and elsewhere about U.S. intentions, and countered them head-on.

“We have no intention or desire to take over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons,” he said. “We have no desire to occupy any part of Pakistan or split up any part of Pakistan. We have no intent to split the Islamic world.

“And I can keep going, because we are aware of these conspiracy theories as much as anyone,” he continued. “And they are all nonsense.”

Gates expressed admiration for the way Pakistan’s military has stepped up to face extremism, and recognized the sacrifices it has taken in the process.

“We are prepared to provide whatever help they want to make them more effective,” he said.

Gates met today with Pakistani Defense Minister Ahmad Mukhtar, Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Gen. Tariq Majid, chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, and Intelligence Chief Gen. Ahmad Shujaa Pasha.

He attended a dinner hosted by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, where he also met with Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

While in Islamabad, Gates laid a floral wreath at the Pakistan army’s Martyrs Monument honoring those lost for Pakistan’s security.

Gates characterized today’s sessions as highly productive, touching on a wide range of important issues, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Long Road Trip

Three men traversed the contiguous 48 states in 97 hours and 7 minutes to break the Guinness World Record.

Their trip, which started at Lookout Pass on Tuesday, ended today in Vermont. It’s an event where 100,000 things can go wrong. The Lord was good, we got here,” said Jay Lowe of Texas. Lowe, his son-in-law Andrew Shull, of Texas, and Ted Jacobs, of Tennessee, comprised the team.

They encountered highway construction in Minneapolis that delayed them for an hour-and-a-half. They thought the construction would destroy their chance of breaking the former record, set by Lowe and a different team in 104 hours, 57 minutes, in 1999.

Their gas station breaks averaged three-and-a-half minutes, and the men did not eat from Mobile, Ala., to Vermont to make the record. They completed the trip without a single speeding ticket, and followed all World Record stipulations, Lowe said.

“The biggest relief is having the record. If you don’t have the record, it’s all for naught,” he said.

Tonight in Vermont they celebrated with a victory steak, and will fly to their respective home

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jackson in Biggest

Jackson in Biggest-Ever Record Deal

LOS ANGELES -- The estate of Michael Jackson has landed the late King of Pop the biggest recording deal in history: a $200 million guaranteed contract with Sony Music Entertainment for 10 projects over seven years, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The record-breaking contract through 2017 could be worth up to $250 million if certain conditions are met. One of the albums will be of never-before-released Jackson recordings that will come out in November, the person said.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the official announcement is expected Tuesday.

Future projects may also include a video game, a DVD compilation of videos and a re-release of "Off the Wall," Jackson's fifth studio album, which first came out in 1979, accompanied by some unreleased material. Before his sudden death in June at age 50, the pop star had wanted to re-issue the album, people familiar with the deal said.

One of the projects already counted in the contract was the two-disc album that accompanied "This Is It," the film based on footage of concert rehearsals for what was to have been Jackson's comeback at London's O2 arena.

Including the more than 5 million copies of that special release, Jackson has sold some 31 million albums since his death in June, about two-thirds of them outside the United States.

"During his life, Michael's contracts set the standard for the industry," said John Branca, the co-administrator of the Jackson estate, in a statement prepared for release Tuesday. "By all objective criteria, this agreement with Sony Music demonstrates the lasting power of Michael's music by exceeding all previous industry benchmarks."

Rob Stringer, chairman of Sony Music's Columbia Epic Label Group, said in prepared remarks, "We're dedicated to protecting this icon's legacy and we're thrilled that we can continue to bring his music to the world for the foreseeable future."

The landmark deal is worth more than all other benchmarks, such as the all-encompassing rights deals that concert promoter and ticket-seller Live Nation Entertainment Inc. had previously signed with Madonna at $120 million and Jay-Z for $150 million.

The deal with Jackson's estate is even more remarkable because it does not include royalties from merchandise.

The contract shows the value of legacy artists. It also comes at a time of decline for the music industry, with sales down about half from their peak in 2000 mainly due to free file-swapping.

The money will go a long way to settling Jackson's debts, estimated at around $400 million at the time of his death.

The singer whose life was plagued with scandal has had a resurgence in popularity in death.

Distribution rights for "This Is It" were sold to Sony Pictures, another unit of Sony Corp., for $60 million and the movie went on to gross $252 million worldwide, the most of any concert film ever.

Revenue from that, song sales and merchandising agreements brought into the estate revenues of about $100 million, lawyers for the estate's administrators told a Los Angeles Superior Court judge in December, when they sought a percentage as an administration fee.

The Walt Disney Co. even brought back the 17-minute Jackson movie "Captain EO" to its Disneyland theme park in Anaheim last month. The original began running at the park in 1986 but was pulled in 1997.
Jackson's most lasting and valuable asset is the 50 percent stake in Sony/ATV 

Music Publishing, a company that owns publishing rights to music by The Beatles and numerous other artists, including Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. The copyright catalog itself is estimated to be worth $2 billion.

The new financial windfall comes even as circumstances around his death remain in legal limbo.

Dr. Conrad Murray faces an involuntary manslaughter charge for allegedly giving Jackson a lethal combination of sedatives. He is due back in a Los Angeles court April 5.
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