Thursday, August 25, 2011

Knowledge Quiz, No. 17

I dislike the term trivia. No knowledge is trivial. All information contributes to the whole of an intelligent human being. And, it is an essential part of critical thinking. That is why I did not call this a Trivia Quiz. Instead, I am calling it a Knowledge Quiz.

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Knowledge Quiz, No. 17

The answers are at the bottom

1. What is a denouement?

2. Who said, "The quality of mercy is not strained"?

3. What is the Apocrypha?

4. What is the modern name of the city Constantinople?

5. What was Andersonville prison?

6. From 1305 to 1378, in what city did The Pope live?

7. What communist nation had an anti-communist revolt in 1956?

8. Who are the Amish?

9. What is a chameleon?

10. What was PT109?

11. What was the previous name of the nation of Sri Lanka?

12. In addition to being an inventor, what other occupation did Samuel F. B. Morse have?

13. What are the metatarsal bones?

14. How many moons does the planet Venus have?

15. What is a Catch 22?

16. Who wrote the novel upon which the film The Wizard of Oz is based?

17. Who are the Zoroastrianism?

18. What was the original use of The Louvre Museum in Paris?

19. What are the three types of clouds?

20. Who composed Happy Birthday to You ?

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1. A dénouement (pronounced: deinu:'mon) is a theatrical term referring to the events after the climax of the play. It occurs between the falling action and the actual ending of the play and serves as the conclusion of the story. In the dénouement, any remaining questions are answered and remaining conflicts are resolved . The word dénouement is French word derived from the Old French word denoer, "to untie". In other words, a dénouement is the unraveling or untying of the complexities of a plot.

2. The character Portia says it in William Shakespeare's play, The Merchant of Venice (Act 4, scene 1). The entire quote is:

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

3. The term apocrypha means "disputed", "hidden", "esoteric", "spurious", and "of questionable authenticity". With reference to The Bible, The Apocrypha is a collection of writing written at the same time as The New Testament of The Bible but rejected by Christian Churches as not divinely inspired. These non-canonical books are texts of uncertain authenticity or the content of the works are questioned. Given that different Christian denominations have different beliefs about what constitutes sacred scripture, there are several different versions of The Apocrypha. Among the disputed texts are, The Gospel According to the Hebrews, The Gospel of Judas (not the same person who betrayed Christ), The Infancy Gospel of James, The Shepherd of Hermas, 1 and 2 Clement, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, and The Gospel According to Thomas.

4. Since the 10th Century, the Greek city of Constantinople has been know as Istanbul. The name derives from the Greek phrase "istimbolin" meaning "in the city" or "to the city. It is the capital of Turkey and has a population of 8,803,468.

5. Andersonville prison, officially known as Camp Sumter, served as a Confederate Prisoner-of War camp for Union soldiers during the America Civil War. Located at on the east side of Andersonville in Macon County, Georgia, the prison was started in 1864. In all, 12,913 of the approximately 45,000 Union soldiers died in Andersonville because of starvation, malnutrition, diarrhea, and disease. After the war, Henry Wirz, the commandant at Camp Sumter, was court-martialed on charges of conspiracy and murder. Wirz was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to death. On November 10, 1865, he was hanged, thus becoming the only Confederate official to be tried and convicted of war crimes resulting from the Civil War. The cemetery at Andersonville is the final resting place for the Union prisoners who perished while being held at Camp Sumter as POW's. The prisoners' burial ground has been made a National Cemetery . It contains 13,714 graves, of which 921 are marked "unknown".

6. From 1305 to 1378, seven Popes resided in Avignon, France. It is known as the Avignon Papacy and it was the result of a conflict between the Papacy and the French crown. It was the result of strife between Pope Boniface VIII and King Philip IV, and the death after only eight months of BonifaceVIII's successor Pope Benedict XI. A deadlocked conclave in 1305 resulted in the election of Pope Clement V, a Frenchman. Clement refused to move to Rome and remained in France. In 1309, he moved his court and the Papacy to the papal enclave in Avignon. It remained there for the next 68 years. This absence from Rome is sometimes referred to as the "Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy". A total of seven popes reigned at Avignon. All were French, and all were increasingly under the influence of the French crown. Finally, in 1377 Pope Gregory XI moved his court to Rome, officially ending the Avignon papacy. However, in 1378 the breakdown in relations between the cardinals and Gregory's successor, Urban VI, gave rise to the what would be called The Western Schism during which time there were 2 Popes. The schism started a second line of Avignon popes, though these are not now regarded as legitimate. The schism ended in 1417 after only two popes had reigned in opposition to the papacy in Rome. The last Avignon pope was Benedict XIII who had fled from Avignon to Perpignan in 1403.

7. The anti-communist revolt in 1956 took place in Hungary. It was a spontaneous nationwide revolution against the government of the People's Republic of Hungary and its Soviet Union imposed policies. The uprising lasted from October 23 until November 10 when Russian tanks and military invaded Hungary. 722 Soviets and 2,500 Hungarians died in the revolt.

8. The Amish are a group of Christian churches that form a subgroup of the Mennonite church. The Amish are known for simple living, plain dress and an unwillingness to accept modern technology. The Amish church began with a schism led by the followers of Jakob Ammann. The split occurred in Switzerland in 1693. Those who followed Ammann became known as Amish.

The rules of the church must be observed by every member. These rules include prohibitions or limitations on the use of power-line electricity, telephones, and automobiles, as well as regulations on clothing. Many Amish church members may not buy insurance or accept government assistance. The Amish church members practice non-resistance and will not perform any type of military service.

There are about 249,000 Amish world-wide. In the U.S.. they are concentrated in the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and Indiana. In Canada, they are found primarily in the province of Ontario.

9. A chameleon is a distinctive type of lizard. It is distinguished by its parrot-like feet, rapid mobility, stereoscopic eyes, very long, rapidly moving tongues, swaying gait, possession of a prehensile tails, horns on their heads, and the ability to change color. Uniquely adapted for climbing and visual hunting, the approximately 160 species of chameleon range in Africa, Asia, Madagascar, Spain, Portugal, and Sri Lanka. They have also been introduced to Hawai'i, California, and Florida in the U. S.

10. PT-109 was a PT boat (Patrol Torpedo boat) last commanded by Lieutenant, junior grade John F. Kennedy, who later became President of The United States, The PT boat operated in the Pacific during World War II. Kennedy's actions to save his surviving crew after the sinking of the PT-109 made him a war hero. However, the incident contributed to his life-long back problems. After he became President, PT 109 inspired a 1964 movie and a 1963 song.

11. Sri Lanka was previously known as Ceylon until 1972. Sri Lanka is officially known as The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. It is an island nation off the southern coast of India in the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka's name derives from the Sanskrit language and means "venerable island".

12. The inventor of the single wire telegraph and the co-inventor of Morse Code, Samuel. F. B. Morse, (1791-1872) was also an accomplished painter. Among his works are portraits of the second President of the U.S. John Adams and the Marquis de Lafayette; The Chapel of The Virgin at Subiaco; and The Gallery of the Louvre.

13. The metatarsal bones or metatarsus are a group of five long bones in the human foot. They are located between the phalanges bones of the upper toes and the tarsal bones of the hind-foot and mid-foot. The five metatarsal bones lack individual names so the bones are identified by numbers from 1 to 5 starting from the medial (big toe) side of the foot.

14. Venus has no moons.

15. A Catch 22 is a logical paradox that arises from a situation in which an individual needs something that can only be acquired by not being in that very situation. Therefore, the acquiring of this thing becomes impossible. The term Catch-22 was first coined by Joseph Heller in his novel by the same name. In the novel, a U.S. bombardier pilot wishes to be grounded from combat flight. This will only happen if he is evaluated by the squadron's flight surgeon and he is found unfit to fly. To be deemed unfit, a pilot who is willing to fly such dangerous missions would have to be declared insane. However, to be evaluated the pilot must request an evaluation- act that is considered sufficient proof for being declared sane. These conditions make it impossible to be declared crazy. So, the "Catch-22" is that anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn't really crazy.

16. The book upon which the famous film The Wizard of Oz is based is the children's book by L. Frank Baum entitled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It was originally published by the George M. Hill Company of Chicago on May 17, 1900. The book is in the public domain (the copyright has run out) since 1956. Baum wrote 13 more Oz books after his first one.

17. Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster who is also known as Zarathustra. It is the world's first monotheistic religion and was formerly among the world's largest religions. The date of the founding of the religion is uncertain, but it certain that it was founded some time before the 6th Century BC in Persia (Iran). The Zoroastrians are also called Parsis. There are still between 145,000 and 210,000 Zoroastrians worldwide the majority of whom are in India, Pakistan, Iran, Australia and America.

18. The Louvre Museum was originally built as a palace for the King of France in Paris (Palais du Louvre). In 1682,Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles as his official residence leaving the Louvre Palace as a place to display the royal art and sculpture collections. During the French Revolution , the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum.

19. Clouds can be divided into three main categories. Their names based on Latin words that indicate physical structure and process of formation. Clouds of the cirriform category are generally thin and occur mostly in the form of filaments. The other two categories are stratiform, clouds that are mostly sheet-like in structure, and cumuliform that appear heaped, rolled, and/or rippled. In English they are simply referred to as cirrus, stratus, and cumulus clouds.

20. The melody of "Happy Birthday to You" was written in 1893 by Americans Patty and Mildred Hill for a song entitled Good Morning to All. The combination of melody and lyrics in "Happy Birthday to You" based on the Hill melody first appeared in print in 1912 but may have existed earlier. The Summy Company registered for copyright in 1935, crediting authors as Preston Ware Orem and Mrs. R.R. Forman. In 1990, Warner Chappell purchased the company owning the copyright for $15 million, with the value of "Happy Birthday" estimated at $5 million. The copyright still exists for it use. Happy Birthday to You is the most recognized song and one of the most often sung songs in the English language. It has been also translated into 18 different languages.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Political Humor No. 2

The English language has some wonderful collective nouns for the various groups of animals such as a herd of cows, a flock of chickens, a pride of lions, a school of fish and a gaggle of geese. However, less widely known is a murder of crows (as well as their cousins the rooks and ravens), an exaltation of doves and, presumably, because they look so wise, a parliament of owls.

Now consider a group of baboons. They are the loudest, most dangerous, most obnoxious, most viciously aggressive of all primates. And, what is the proper collective noun for a group of baboons?

Believe it or not, it is a CONGRESS!

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Italian Experience in America

About 5.5 million Italians immigrated to the U.S from 1820 to 2004. Today, over 17.8 million Americans can claim to have Italian ancestry making them the fourth largest European ethnic group and the seventh largest minority in the United States. The experiences of immigrant Italians and their descendents have helped shape America and were, in turn, shaped by it.

No common identity is shared by all Italian-Americans. Instead, they are as diverse as the American population itself. And, from the founding of the nation they have excelled in all fields of endeavor and have gained prominence in politics, business, law, medicine, literature, the arts, science, the military, sports, music, and entertainment. Yet, most Americans know little about the Italian-American contributions to American history and culture.

The popular media has gotten away from stereo-typing Native-Americans, African-Americans, Irish-Americans, and Hispanic-Americans. But, the media still plays up the Italian-American Mafia stereo-type. And, the popular media boosts the pride of ethnic minorities by playing up the achievements of minorities particularly during months dedicated to their cultural awareness. But, when was the was the last time you heard that a person was the first Italian-American to do or be anything. A case in point: When Geraldine Ferraro ran for Vice-President in 1984, the media often said that she was the first woman of a major party to run for that high office. But, virtually overlooked was that she was also the first Italian-American to run for that office. Instead, after she got the nomination, the media immediately launch an investigation to find out whether there was a connection between either her or her husband and the Mafia. That "investigation" was in fact a subtle smear campaign and left the impression that where there is smoke, the is fire.

Here are some facts about Italians and Italian-Americans virtually ignored by schools, history textbooks and popular culture:

· The Italian Cristoforo Columbo sailing under the Spanish flag discovers North America in 1492. The name Christopher Columbus is an English version of the Italian name he was given, Cristoforo Colombo.

· Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian explorer, navigator and cartographer sailing under the Portuguese flag, discovered South America between 1497 and 1502. The word "America" is derived from his first name, Amerigo.

· Giovanni Caboto (aka. John Cabot), an Italian navigator and explorer who sailed under the English flag discover the Hudson River in 1497.

· The Italian explorer Giovanni Da Verrazzano was the first European to enter New York Bay. The bridge from Brooklyn to Staten Island bears his name.

· The Italian presence in what would be the US started in 1635 when the Venetian seaman, Pietro Cesare Alberti, took up residence in what would eventually become New York City.

· The route to the source of the Mississippi River was discovered by the explorer Giacomo Beltrami while exploring the territory that was later became Minnesota.

· Filippo Mazzei was a physician and a close friend and confidant of Thomas Jefferson. He published a pamphlet containing the phrase: "All men are by nature equally free and independent", a statement which Jefferson incorporated virtually intact in The Declaration of Independance. Italian-Americans served in both the Revolution and the Civil War, both as soldiers and officers. Six Italian Americans received the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Civil War.

· One Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor winner, Colonel Luigi di Cesnola, became the first director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in 1879. He was also a famous archeologist.

· Francis Spinola was the first Italian-American to serve in Congress. He was elected in 1887 as a Congressional Representative from New York.

· Francesca Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917), who is also known as Mother Cabrini was the first American citizen to be canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church in 1946.

· Amadeo Giannini originated the concept of branch banking to serve the Italian American community in San Francisco. He founded the Bank of Italy, which later became the Bank of America. His bank was also instrumental in the rebuilding of San Francisco after the 1917 earthquake that destroyed the city and provided financing to the film industry developing in California.

· Companies founded by Italian-Americans include Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, Progresso, Planters Peanuts, Del Monte Foods, Contadina, Chef Boyardee, Italian Swiss Colony wines, Castro Convertibles (sofas), Pope Foods and Jacuzzi.

· Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina D'Antonguolla (1895- 1926) was one of the greatest stars of the silent motion picture era. Known as Rudolph Valentino by his adoring fans, the Italian-American film star died suddenly in New York City. An estimated 100,000 people lined New York streets to pay their respects at his funeral which also caused mass hysteria on the part of his female fans.

· Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia was the first Italian-American Mayor of New York City. He was elected three times from 1934 to 1945 as a liberal Republican. Previously he was elected to Congress in 1916 and 1918, and again from 1922 through 1930

A young Italian-American woman who had three degrees from Yale, was an author, and was an Episcopalian priest became engaged to be married to a young man from the mid-West. When the young man told his parents about the engagement, they asked whether her parents were in the Mafia. It is clear that the parents were trying to avoid their son from making a serious mistake. But, the incident clearly indicates that many people fail to understand the fact that Mafia-connected Italian-Americans are a tiny percent of the Italian-American population. They also don't understand the history of Italian-Americans in the U.S, nor do they understand the tremendous contributions that Italian-Americans have made to the culture of America.

By the way, it is not I-talian; it is It-alian.

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Other noted Italian-Americans include:


Rudolph Giuliani (Mayor of New York during the 9/11 terrorist attack);

Mario Cuomo (Governor of New York);

Congressman Peter Rodino and Judge John Sirica (instrumental in the President Nixon impeachment proceedings);

Anonin Scalia (first Italian-American to be on The Supreme Court);

Samuel Alito (Supreme Court justice);

Geraldine Ferraro (Congresswoman from New York, first Italian-American to run for Vice-President) ;

Leon Panetta (first Italian-American Secretary of Defense);

Janet Napolitano (former Governor of Arizona, first Italian-American to be Homeland Security Secretary),

Andrew Cuomo (Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Governor of New York);

George Mosconi (Mayor of San Francisco, assassinated),

Nancy Pelosi (congresswoman, first Italian-American Speaker of The House of Representatives);

Ella Grasso (Governor of Connecticut, first woman to be elected a governor without

succeeding her husband)


Frank Sinatra (singer, actor)

Dean Martin (singer)

Tony Bennett (singer)

Perry Como (singer)

Lady Gaga (aka. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, singer)

Bruce Springsteen (singer, song-writer)

Madonna (singer, actress)

Sonny Bono (singer, congressman)

Connie Francis (singer)

Mario Lanza (operatic tenor)


Sylvester Stallone (film actor)

Robert DeNero (film actor)

Al Pacino (film actor)

Marisa Tomei (film actress)

Stanley Tucci (film actor)

Ray Romano (television actor)

Valerie Bertanelli (television actress)

Danny DeVito (television and film actor)

Joe Pesci (film actor)

Bernadette Peters (aka. Bernadette Lazzara, singer and actress)

Tony Danza (actor; talk show host)

Alan Alda (television, film and stage actor)

Sonny Bono (singer, congressman)

Jack Scalia (television actor)

Giada De Laurentiis (television chef)


Henry Mancini (composer)

Frank Zappa (composer, guitarist)

film directors:

Frank Capra (film director)

Brian De Palma (film director)

Francis Ford Coppola (film director)

Martin Scorsese (film director)


Gay Talese (novelist)

Mario Puso (novelist)

Dom DeLillo (novelist)

Ken Auletta (journalist)

Gregory Corso (poet)

John Ciardi (poet)

Lawrence Ferlinghetti (poet, essayist, painter)

visual artists:

Frank Stella (painter)

Joseph Stella (painter)

Severo Antonelli (photographer)

Walter Lantz (cartoon animator, creator of Woody Woodpecker)

Joseph Barbera (cartoon animator)

John DeAndrea (sculptor)


Yogi Berra (baseball)

Joe DiMaggio (baseball)

Joe Garagiola (baseball)

Phil Rizzoto (aka. Fiero Francis Rizzuto, baseball)

Angelo Dundee (boxing trainer)

Tommy Lasorta (baseball player and manager)

Joe Torre (baseball manager)

Lou Carnesecca (basketball)

Rocky Graziano (boxer)

Jake LaMotta (boxer)

Rocky Marciano (boxer)

Brian Boitano (figure skater)

Gino and John Cappellitto (football)

Daryl Lamonica (football)

Gino Marchetti (football)

Joe Montana (football)

Dan Marino (football)

Bill Parcells (football coach)

Mary Lou Retton (gymnastics)

Eddie Arcaro (jockey)

Marco ,Mario, Michael, and John Andretti (car racing)

Matt Bioni (swimmer)

Jennifer Capriatti (tennis)


Jack Valenti (President, Motion Picture Association of America, 1966-2007)

Lee Iacocca (businessman, previous head of Ford and Chrysler automakers)

Michael Viscardi (mathematician)

Caesar Cardini (creator of the Caesar Salad)

Emilio Segre (Nobel Prize-winning physicist)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

News You May Have Missed, No. 22

1. China has more smokers than any other country. It is home to a third of the world's smokers. Nevertheless, China has banned smoking in all public places. The move is aimed at curbing the number of deaths from smoking-related diseases, running at a million a year. The new rules prohibit smoking in places like restaurants, hotels, railway stations or theatres, but not at the office. Employers will be obliged to warn staff of the dangers of smoking but not to forbid them from lighting up at their desks. But the new rules have been criticized because they do not include punishments for those who choose to ignore them. The city of Shanghai imposed similar rules a year ago, but people do not seem to take much notice of them. Often you can find people smoking at the next table while you are eating your meal or having a drink in a bar. It appears that many Chinese people are unaware of the dangers of smoking. Research suggests only one in four knows the harm cigarettes or second-hand smoke can cause. Officials say they have to try to persuade people not to smoke to try to reduce the numbers dying from smoking related diseases. However, the government makes a lot of money from the sales of cigarettes by the state-owned firm that makes and sells all tobacco products throughout the country.

2. Six major US tobacco companies have defeated a lawsuit by hospitals seeking compensation for treating patients with smoking-related illnesses. Thirty-seven hospitals in the state of Missouri had claimed cigarette companies delivered an "unreasonably dangerous" product. They sought more than 455 million dollar reimbursement for treating uninsured smokers who had not paid for care. The hospitals treat many destitute, non-paying patients. They said medical ethics required them to treat people in need, regardless of their ability to pay. In this case, the hospitals claimed that tobacco companies manipulated the nicotine content in cigarettes and misrepresented the health effects of smoking. But, a jury in St Louis rejected their claim. An official from Lorillard, another company in the case, said: "Compelling evidence was presented to the jury, including testimony from hospital witnesses, that confirmed the hospitals were not financially damaged as they asserted."

3. Hong Kong has introduced a minimum wage that is expected to benefit 270,000 low-paid workers, or around 10% of the working population. Workers will now earn a minimum of $28 Hong Kong dollars ($3.60 in US dollars) per hour. The legislation was passed in response to public pressure to narrow the territory's wealth gap. But, the minimum wage has been resisted by the business community who say it is too costly. Critics also say the legislation is a departure from Hong Kong's free-market roots. With the exception of Singapore, most Asian countries now have a minimum wage or are considering one. The move is expected to boost the pay of Hong Kong's legions of street sweepers, security guards and restaurant workers. However, the legislation does not cover Hong Kong's almost 300,000 domestic helpers, who mainly come from the Philippines and Indonesia.

4. The recent study found no difference in the ethical behavior of believers and nonbelievers. But participants who saw God as compassionate were more likely to cheat than those who believed in an angry, punitive God. The study titled Mean Gods Make Good People: Different Views of God Predict Cheating Behavior was peer reviewed and published earlier this month in the International Journal for the Psychology of Religion. "The take-home message is not whether you believe in God, but what God you believe in," said Azim Shariff, a psychologist at the University of Oregon. Shariff conducted the study with psychologist Ara Norenzayan, who had been his doctoral advisor at the University of British Columbia. They administered a math test to 100 undergraduates, advising the students that a computer glitch meant the correct answers would pop up after a few seconds unless they quickly pressed the space bar. The test takers also answered a 14-question survey to determine whether they believed in God, and if so, what traits they ascribed to God. The experiment was done in two parts, on two different groups, to correct for the suggestive, or "priming," influence that taking the survey could have on behavior. Shariff said they also corrected for ethnicity, religious affiliation, and personality traits that could skew the results. In 2008, Shariff and Norenzayan published an experiment in Science magazine showing that when people were "unconsciously primed" toward religious belief they were more likely to be generous to strangers, suggesting that religion can be a motivator in cooperative behavior.

5. An Arab banquet waiter at the posh legendary New York City Waldorf-Astoria Hotel says he was forced to wear different name tags at work to prevent guests from being frightened by being served by someone named Mohamed. Mohamed Kotbi said the first time he was asked to do so was on Sept. 13, 2001, two days after the attacks on the Twin Towers. Kotbi, who has worked for the hotel since December 1984, said he was given a name tag that said John. “I put it on. I was in shock,” the Muslim man said. When he later went to complain to hotel management, he said he was told, “We don’t want to scare our guests.” He filed discrimination complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2005 and 2009, and was eventually given a name tag with his last name, Kotbi. This past November, however, he was given a name tag that said, “Edgar.” Kotbi said he complained and was told by a manager, “It’s better to be Edgar than Mohamed today.” Now he is suing the Waldorf for religious and racial discrimination, charging that hotel management has created a “hostile work environment” with the name-tag name-changes and its failure to stop a group of co-workers from tormenting him. The suit says co-workers have repeatedly called him “terrorist,” “al Qaeda boy,” and other names. “It’s like I’m guilty, like I did the attacks on September 11,” the Moroccan-born man said. “They won’t do anything to stop this,” said Kotbi’s lawyer, Jonathan Bell of Bell & Kilada. He said the taunts weigh on Kotbi heavily, but he is “a family man” and “can’t afford to just up and leave.” The hotel refuses to comment about the Kotbi or the suit.

6. Police in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, USA, said a naked man led them on a three-mile foot chase through several communities. Investigators said the man was first spotted near a busy intersection with a lot of traffic on April 20. A groundskeeper for a nearby cemetery said he was shocked when he saw the man without any clothes on roaming the streets. "We were working and I saw out of the corner of my eye this flash go by. I looked and I saw his naked butt go by. I didn't need to see anymore," said Mike Zorich. Zorich said the man ran past him and kept running through Beaver Falls Cemetery. "He went by in a flash and that was the end of it," Zorich said. Police estimate he made it through three townships and ran about three miles completely nude through several wooded areas before they were able to catch up with him. Investigators said they eventually were able to catch him while he was wading through a creek. Police said they have no idea why he was in the water. Carlos Noel Pena, 24, was charged with open lewdness.

7. Steeples on churches in the US are in danger of disappearing. Atop the tiny, white-columned 1842 church where Glen Likens was baptized, where he married his wife, where their children were baptized, where they still worship on Sundays, the steeple is rotting. St. Mark's Episcopal in Wadsworth, Ohio, hasn't dared sound the 2,000-pound bell, which has a broken carriage and patched hammer, for a year. It may not sound again, unless a congregation numbering 58 souls in a good week can come up with $30,000. "It's no easy amount to raise. We absolutely considered taking it off and capping the roof, but voices within the congregation want their bell, their tower. It's symbolic. It's part of our church. We want it to be there for our children's future," says Likens, who volunteers as St. Mark's junior warden in charge of maintenance. Across the US, church steeples are taking a beating and the bell tolls for bell towers, too, as these landmarks of faith on the landscape are hard hit by economic, social and religious change. Steeplejacks, specialists in clambering up to build or repair the soaring structures, see weather-struck, maintenance-deprived steeples chipped, leaking, even tilting . Architects and church planners see today's new congregations meet in retooled sports arenas or shopping malls or modern buildings designed to appeal to contemporary believers turned off by the look of old-time religion. Steeples may have outlived their times as signposts. People hunting for a church don't scan the horizon, they search the Internet. Google reports searches for "churches" soar before Easter each year. St. Mark's, which has no website, has never needed to tell the 22,000 people in Wadsworth where it was because, Likens says, "everyone in town knows this is the church with the bell tower. But, everyone also knows the Episcopal church and congregations as a whole aren't growing," he says. "In fact, they are sliding and they are aging like St. Mark's. That adds to our decision dilemma: Where do you want to put your money as a congregation? Are we better off doing outreach programs? You want to keep your history, but you want to have a future, too." To Jim Phelan, a third-generation steeplejack in Pacifica, Calif., knocking off a steeple "just doesn't look right. You can just see something is missing."

8. Prosecutors will ask for the maximum sentence allowed by law in the case against James Moss, the 53 year-old Staten Island, New York City, man who has admitted he brutally abused his 9 year-old son, burning the child's hands because he placed him in an oven, The New York Post reports. The 2010 incident occurred when Moss accused his son, Christopher, of snatching $20 from his wallet. The 6'-2" 270-pound dad threatened to kill the boy on May 12, 2010, at their Graniteville, S.I., home, authorities said. Moss took Christopher to the basement and ripped off his clothes. Then he pulled the boy into the kitchen and used a spatula to beat him across his back. The father then heated up two burners on the stove and held the defenseless boy's hands on them until his skin began to peel. Prosecutors said Moss punched his son in the face and then forced him into the oven. "I'm going to burn you alive!" Moss screamed while his child begged to be freed. He eventually let Christopher out of the oven, only to then toss him naked outside the front door. Moss faces up to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to all seven counts of the indictment against him, including two counts of second-degree assault. "In over 15 years as a district attorney and an assistant district attorney, this was one of the most shocking and sadistic cases of child abuse I have ever prosecuted," said District Attorney Daniel Donovan.

9. An elephant said to have the longest tusks in Asia has died in Sri Lanka. The animal, named Millangoda Raja, was about 70 years old and had served in a ceremonial capacity for several decades in the city of Kandy. Many Asian elephants, smaller in stature than their African cousins, fail to grow tusks at all. But Millangoda Raja's tusks were so long that they reached to the ground. There are now plans to stuff the dead elephant and put him on public display. His owner, Appuhami Millangoda, recalled that Millangoda Raja had been among a batch of elephants he and his friends had captured in north-west Sri Lanka in 1945. "The elephant was small compared with the others when we caught him, just four or five feet tall , and very cute," Millangoda said. "I felt very sad losing him. It was like losing a family member." Buddhist monks performed funeral rites for the elephant.

10. A quick and cheap test could save the lives of babies born with congenital heart defects, doctors say. A study of 20,055 newborns published in the British medical journal, The Lancet, showed testing oxygen in the blood was more successful than other checks available.The researchers have called for the oxygen test to be used in hospitals across the UK. The British Heart Foundation said the test could "make a real difference" as cases go unnoticed. Congenital heart defects, such as holes between chambers in the heart and valve defects , affect around one in every 145 babies. They are detected by ultrasound during pregnancy or by listening to the heart after birth, however, the success rate is low. The new test takes less than five minutes and it found 75% of the most serious abnormalities. In combination with traditional methods, 92% of cases were detected. While some defects are inoperable, advances in surgery mean most can be corrected. Dr Andrew Ewer, the lead researcher at the University of Birmingham, called for the test to be adopted by hospitals across the UK. "It adds value to existing screening procedures and is likely to be useful for identification of cases of critical congenital heart defects," he said. Some states in the US have already introduced the oximeter test. Dr William Mahle from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta and Dr. Robert Koppel from Cohen Children's Medical Center in New York argued that, "The decision to introduce another screening assay for newborn babies is one that should be made after careful consideration. Health-care systems in the developed world are already heavily burdened. Yet the compelling data provided [here] support inclusion of pulse oximetry into the care of the newborn baby."