Airline Passengers Insulted

 A Twin Cities man (above) is upset about the way his family was treated on a Southwest Airlines flight because of a tweet.

Duff Watson says he was asked to disembark a flight from Denver to Minneapolis with his two kids on Sunday after an agent did not like a tweet he wrote about her service.

Watson and the agent had a disagreement before boarding initially.

“I was left, you know, very upset, very embarrassed, very humiliated,” Watson said.

He’s an “A-List” passenger, which means he gets priority boarding. But a gate agent would not let his 6-year-old and 9-year-old board with him — so they’d all have to wait to board later.

“In leaving I said, you know, ‘Real nice way to treat an A-list. I’ll be sure to tweet about it,’” he said.

And that’s just what Watson did.

Soon after getting to their seats, the family of three was asked to leave the plane.

“[She said] her safety feels threatened at this point because of what I tweeted,” Watson said.

Watson’s daughter, Lucy, said she feared for her father.

“She said ‘I’m going to call the cops,’” Lucy said. “I like thought something bad was going to happen, like my dad being in jail.”

Watson says at that point, his children started to cry. He does not understand why his family was targeted.

“There was no use of profanity, there were no threats made. There was nothing other than, you know, a terse exchange between a customer service agent and a customer,” he said.

Watson says he was forced to delete the tweet.

“She said, ‘You can’t board the plane unless you delete that tweet,’” Watson said.

Southwest Airlines sent a statement which confirmed that a customer was removed for a short time and continued on to Minneapolis. They also said the incident is under review.

In an email to Watson, Southwest apologized for the incident. Because of confidentiality concerns, they could not disclose any disciplinary actions taken.

Watson says he’s not satisfied with their response. All three received $50 vouchers, but Watson says he won’t fly Southwest Airlines again.

Throwing Her Out

Dutch frustration with Russia in the wake of the MH17 crash is taking on an increasingly personal note, as some called for Vladimir Putin's daughter to be deported from the Netherlands.

Almost nothing is known about his daughters, Mariya, 27 (above) and Yekaterina, 25 (not shown).

As adults, they have never been photographed by the Russian media and it's said that the Russian public would not recognize the women if they ran into them on the street. 

The girls have always been carefully guarded by the Russian government and were even pulled out of school once their father became well known.

Most recently, In 2010, it was rumored that Yekaterina, the younger daughter, was to wed her longtime boyfriend, the son of a South Korean admiral. But those rumors were flat-out denied by the Kremlin and in April, when the rumors resurfaced, the father of the man again denied that the reports were true, according to The Wall Street Journal

The pair did, however, meet at a dance in Moscow and supposedly dated for a decade.

Pieter Broertjes, the mayor of the city of Hilversum, used a radio interview on Wednesday morning to call for 29-year-old Maria Putin, who is said to live in Voorschoten with her Dutch boyfriend, to be thrown out of the country.

More than half of the 298 people killed when the Malaysia Airlines plane crashed in eastern Ukraine last week were Dutch.

Broertjes later apologized for his remarks via Twitter, saying they were "not wise", but adding that "they stemmed from a feeling of helplessness that many will recognize".

A plane carrying the first 50 victims of the crash is expected to arrive this afternoon at Eindhoven airport, from where they will be transported to army barracks in Hilversum. The Dutch government has declared Wednesday a day of national mourning and will mark the bodies' arrival with a minute's silence across the country.

Ukrainians living in Holland have also called for a peaceful protest outside Putin's daughter's flat, according to De Telegraaf newspaper. It published a photograph of the apartment complex where Maria is said to live alongside the article on Monday.

Very little is known about the Russian president's two daughters, Maria and Yekaterina, who are completely sheltered from media attention and have never been officially photographed as adults.

But there have been persistent rumors linking Maria with Dutch citizen Jorrit Faassen. Dutch media claimed that Putin visited the couple last year, something his spokesman denied.



Which one below
do you prefer Slick, 
ask the Pallas cat?
This one...  or,

this one?


T. G. I. F. Solitude

Can you guess 
where these relaxing 
scenes are from?

Printing Private Parts

Last month it took more than 20 firefighters to free a US student who had become trapped inside a giant sculpture of a vagina in Germany. But genital art elicited a very different response in Japan this week, when police arrested an artist for distributing data that enables recipients to make 3D prints of her vagina.

The artist, who works under the pseudonym Rokudenashiko – which roughly translates as “good-for-nothing girl” – was arrested after emailing the data to 30 people who had answered a crowd-funding request for her recent artistic venture: a kayak inspired on her own genitalia she calls “pussy boat”, according to Brian Ashcraft at the gaming website Kotaku.

The artist, whose real name is Megumi Igarashi, was held in custody in Tokyo on suspicion of breaking Japanese obscenity laws. Media reports said Igarashi, 42, denied the allegations. She pointed out that had not sent images of her vagina in return for money and did not recognise the scanned 3D data as obscene.

Kyodo quoted unnamed police sources as saying Igarashi had collected about 1m yen in exchange for the data.

While Igarashi's art has a fun-loving and cheeky theme, her situation is serious as far as the law is concerned: if convicted she could receive up to two years in jail or a fine of as much as 2.5 million yen (£14,300/US$24,500), according to her lawyer.

Commentators have pointed out the hypocrisy of her arrest, which comes soon after Japanese authorities resisted pressure to ban pornographic images of children in manga comics and animated films.

The activist Minori Kitahara said police raided Igarashi's office and seized 20 of her artworks. "Japan is still a society where those who try to express women's sexuality are suppressed, while men's sexuality is overly tolerated," she said.

Igarashi has made a name for herself with her
Decoman “Decorated Vagina” sculptures. The titles of the works incorporate the word “man”, from manko, the Japanese for vagina. Igarashi said she was once asked not to use the word Decoman during a TV appearance.

Because female genitalia were “overly hidden” in Japanese society, “I did not know what a pussy should look like,” she said in an online post. “I thought it was just funny to decorate my [moulded] pussy and make it a diorama, but I was very surprised to see how people get upset to see my works or even to hear me say manko.”

One of the works, described as a “vaginal battle scene”, shows a group of toy soldiers taking cover in an unmistakeably pubic crevice.

Another diorama titled Fukushiman – a “taboo on top of taboo” – shows workers at the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in similar surroundings.


Pros on Drugs

When hundreds of former NFL players sued the league in May, alleging that teams illegally supplied them with prescription drugs to keep them on the field, the federal government took notice.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has opened an investigation that will explore how teams obtain and distribute prescription drugs, including narcotics like Vicodin, Percodan and Percocet as well as anti-inflammatories such as Toradol, according to the New York Daily News.

“The allegations in our lawsuit, that the NFL has violated state and federal drug laws, have been confirmed by over 1,300 former NFL players,” Steve Silverman, an attorney for the former players, told the New York Daily News. “We are pleased to learn that the DEA and United States Department of Justice are also taking our clients’ allegations seriously and are actively protecting the welfare of NFL players.”

“They want to find out who provided and distributed the drugs to football players,” one source told the newspaper.

The 1995 book “You’re OK, It’s Just A Bruise” exposed the ugly shoot-’em-up, send-’em-out medical culture of the Oakland Raiders almost two decades ago, but former players say cavalier distribution of painkillers has been a league-wide problem.

“It was pretty free and loose,” said former Detroit Lion wide receiver J.D. Hill (above), who played from 1971 to 1977. “It was pretty free and loose.”

One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the NFL, Hill recalled going on the team plane after games and accepting pain medication that was offered with no more formality than a question about whether he was hurting. Hill said team personnel never told players about possible side effects of medications.

Hill said players were not warned that they should drive after taking certain pills, that they should not share their medication with teammates and that they needed to be careful which medications they took simultaneously.

“I didn’t have a prescription,” Hill said. “It was just, I was in pain, and so therefore I was given pills to kill the pain.”

Not Alone No More

NASA predicts that 100 million worlds in our own Milky Way galaxy may host alien life, and space program scientists estimate that humans will be able to find life within two decades.

NASA predicts that 100 million worlds in our own Milky Way galaxy may host alien life, and space program scientists estimate that humans will be able to find life within two decades.

Speaking at NASA’s Washington headquarters recently, the space agency outlined a plan to search for alien life using current telescope technology, and announced the launch of the Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite in 2017. 

The NASA administrators and scientists estimate that humans will be able to locate alien life within the next 20 years.

“Just imagine the moment, when we find potential signatures of life. Imagine the moment when the world wakes up and the human race realizes that its long loneliness in time and space may be over the possibility we’re no longer alone in the universe,” said Matt Mountain, director and Webb telescope scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which plans to launch the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018.

“What we didn’t know five years ago is that perhaps 10 to 20 per cent of stars around us have Earth-size planets in the habitable zone,” added Mountain. “It’s within our grasp to pull off a discovery that will change the world forever.”

Describing their own estimates as “conservative,” the NASA planet hunters calculate that 100 million worlds within the Milky Way galaxy are able to sustain complex alien life forms. 

The estimate accounts for the 17 billion Earth-sized worlds scientists believe to be orbiting the galaxy’s 100 billion stars.

The NASA panel says that ground-based and space-based technology – including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Kepler Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope – will be able to determine the presence of liquid water, an essential sign of potential alien life.

“I think in the next 20 years we will find out we are not alone in the universe,” said NASA astronomer Kevin Hand, who suggested that alien life may exist on Jupiter’s Europa moon.

“Do we believe there is life beyond Earth?” asked former astronaut and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “I would venture to say that most of my colleagues here today say it is improbable that in the limitless vastness of the universe we humans stand alone.”

Milky Way Galaxy - Inside Out

The NASA panel said efforts are focused on finding signs of alien life on planets on other stars outside of our solar system.

“Sometime in the near future, people will be able to point to a star and say, ‘that star has a planet like Earth’,” said Sara Seager, professor of planetary science and physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. “Astronomers think it is very likely that every single star in our Milky Way galaxy has at least one planet.”


Hump Day Art

Robert McGinnis (left) was born in 1926 in
Cincinnati, Ohio and was raised in Wyoming. He studied art at Ohio State University

After a brief career in Merchant Marine and advertising, he apprenticed at Walt Disney Studios. 

He then went to work for Dell publishing in 1958 at the peak of paperback boom and never looked back.

His work has appeared in diverse publications such as Playboy, Argosy, Saturday Evening Post, Time, Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal and Woman’s Home companion.

He has painted over 1400 paperback covers- a stunning achievement. His contributions for the sale of these pulp novels should not be underestimated. 

Produced at a rate of one a month, often sold from magazine outlets and petrol stations, candy shops the attraction of the beautifully rendered female form to the young teen audience and adult readers must have had a significant impact on the sales.

China Island Romance

Located in the tropical area at the southern end of China, Hainan is warm all year round and has no winter. Besides, it boasts soft beaches and beautiful tropical scenery, which make it a famous holiday resort in China. 

Its administrative regions are Hainan Island, Xisha archipelago, Zhongsha archipelago and Nansha archipelago. The whole province occupies a land area of 35,000 square kilometers (13,510 square miles) and a sea area of 2,000,000 square kilometers (772,000 square miles). 

The main island, Hainan Island, which is shaped like a giant elliptical pear, is China's largest island after Taiwan. The capital Haikou City is situated in northern part of the island. It is the political, economic, cultural and transportation center of the whole province. The other prefecture-level city of the province is Sanya, which is a hot destination for tourism.

Belonging to the northern part of the tropics and virtually at the same latitude as Hawaii, Hainan has a tropical monsoon climate and is known as the 'Eastern Hawaii'. Its average annual temperature is 23-25°C while the average temperature of the coldest February ranges between 16-20°C and the hottest August between 35-39°C. 

When northern China is full of snow, local people are able to swim in the sea and enjoy the warm sunshine on the beach. In addition, the island has beautiful soft beaches and tropical scenery such as Holiday Beach, Dongzhai Harbor Mangrove Natural Reserve Area, Dongjiao Coconut Plantation, Asian Dragon Bay and Wuzhizhou Island.

 All these help to make the island a holiday hot spot in China, especially in winters and for newly-married couples. A special mention must be made here of the fact that since 2008, the government has been making a great effort to develop this tropical island province into an international tourism destination. 

On December 30, 2010, the first high-speed rail of the area, Hainan Eastern Ring Rail was put into service. Now people can travel easily between the northern point of the island (Haikou) and its southern point (Sanya) in just 1.5 hours. Another effort made by the government is the tax rebate program for tourists introduced from January 1, 2011.

Foreign Drivers to Pay

Germany has announced plans to tax the millions of foreign motorists who use its roads, including the famous autobahn motorway, from 2016 forwards.

The Autobahn is the federal controlled-access highway system in Germany.

The official German term is Bundesautobahn, which translates as "federal motorway". The system started to be constructed and started in 1925-26 under the Weimar Government and began to be highly developed by the Nazi regime under Adolf Hitler.

German autobahns have no federally mandated speed limit, although limits are posted (and enforced) in areas that are urbanized, substandard, accident-prone, or under construction. In case of bad weather, speed limits come into play and are frequently enforced. On speed-unrestricted stretches, an advisory speed limit (Richtgeschwindigkeit) of 130 kilometres per hour (81 mph) applies.

In 2008, an estimated 52% of the autobahn network had only the recommended speed limit; 15% had temporary speed limits due to weather or traffic conditions and 33% had permanent speed limits. 

In 2014, the ruling coalition of Saxony confirmed its rejection of a general speed limit on autobahns, instead advocating dynamic traffic controls where appropriate.

Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said the levy should raise 2.5bn euros (£1.98bn) over four years.

Vehicles will be issued with badges, costing between 10 euros for 10 days and about 100 euros for a year-long permit.

Critics of the planned toll say it violates EU anti-discrimination laws.

While vehicles registered in Germany will also have to pay the charge, their owners will be compensated by an equivalent reduction in a separate car tax.

Austria and the Netherlands have complained about the planned tax, the AFP news agency reports.
However, Mr. Dobrindt has insisted that the law - due to be passed this year - does not violate EU rules against discrimination.

His conservative Christian Social Union party campaigned for a toll in last year's elections.

The party's base is in the southern region of Bavaria, where residents have long complained of having to pay to use roads in neighbouring Austria and Switzerland, while motorists from those countries pay nothing to drive in Germany.


Between Oceans

The Nicaraguan government has plans to build a canal linking the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean.  

See below:

It would stretch 278km (173 miles) from Punta Gorda on the Caribbean through Lake Nicaragua to the mouth of the river Brito on the Pacific.
Environmentalists have expressed concerns about the plans to build a canal to rival that of Panama.

Nicaragua says it will break ground on the $40bn (£23bn) project this year.

Engineers for the Hong Kong-based HKND Group said the canal would be between 230m and 520m wide and 27.6m deep.

HKND Group is a Chinese-backed infrastructure development firm incorporated in the Cayman Island. In partnership with the government of Nicaragua, the group is focused on the development of the Nicaragua Canal and Development Project – a major infrastructure project with the potential to make Nicaragua a pivotal hub for transportation and logistics. 

HKND is fully owned by Hong Kong-based HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment, which traces back to Wang Jing, the president of Xinwei Telecom Enterprise Group, a telco group with interests in Nicaragua.

Nicaragua said it had chosen the route so it would avoid areas of great biodiversity, indigenous territories and environmentally protected lands.

But environmentalists are still concerned about the effects it may have on Lake Nicaragua, Central America's largest lake and an important source of fresh water.

The commission in charge of building the canal said environmental and social impact studies would be carried out on the route and changes would still be possible.

It said it expected construction to begin in December and to be finished within five years.

Sceptics point out that it took the United States 10 years to build the Panama Canal, which at 77km is less than a third of the length of the planned canal through Nicaragua.

But Nicaragua insists engineering and construction techniques have moved on since 1914, when the Panama Canal was completed.

Nicaraguan officials say their waterway would "complement" the Panama Canal rather than be in direct rivalry to it.

They say a bigger canal is essential to allow for increased global trade and ever larger tankers, many of which are too large for the Panama Canal, even after its current expansion.

They are confident the project will help lift the country out of poverty.

Vanishing Tunnel Trains

Eurostar passengers face further cancellations on Tuesday after a train broke down in the Channel Tunnel.

Eurostar is a high-speed railway service connecting London with Paris and Brussels. All its trains traverse the Channel Tunnel between the United Kingdom and France, owned and operated separately by Eurotunnel.

The London terminus is St Pancras International, with the other British calling points being Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International in Kent. Calling points in France are Calais-Fréthun and Lille-Europe, with trains to Paris terminating at Gare du Nord. Trains to Belgium terminate at Midi/Zuid station in Brussels. In addition, there are limited services from London to Disneyland Paris at Marne-la-Vallée – Chessy, and to seasonal destinations in southern France in summer and the Alps in winter.

The service is operated by eighteen-coach Class 373/1 trains which run at up to 300 kilometres per hour (186 mph) on a network of high-speed lines. The LGV Nord line in France opened before Eurostar services began in 1994, and newer lines enabling faster journeys were added later—HSL 1 in Belgium and High Speed 1 in southern England. 

The French and Belgian parts of the network are shared with Paris–Brussels Thalys services and also with TGV trains. In the United Kingdom the two-stage Channel Tunnel Rail Link project was completed on 14 November 2007 and renamed High Speed 1, when the London terminus of Eurostar transferred fromWaterloo International to St Pancras International.

Hundreds of passengers had to be evacuated from Monday's 06:20 BST Le Shuttle train from Folkestone, which stopped a quarter of the way to France.

Eurotunnel said a fault with the overhead power lines in the tunnel caused the problem.

Eurostar said four trains on Tuesday morning - two in each direction - have been cancelled
In a statement on Monday night, the firm said: "Eurotunnel engineers are working to resolve the issues and restore full power to the affected section of the tunnel.

"As a consequence of the ongoing loss of power, Eurotunnel has informed Eurostar that some further disruption should be expected to services tomorrow morning.

"In anticipation and in order to safeguard the majority of services for the remainder of the day, unfortunately it has become necessary to cancel four Eurostar trains."

The Le Shuttle train affected by the power supply fault had stopped about seven miles into the 30-mile journey. Passengers were evacuated into the middle service tunnel, which runs between the two main tunnels and is designed to allow people to escape from halted trains.

Another train was brought from France along the other main tunnel and parked alongside the stopped train to allow passengers to board it and be carried to France without their cars.

The affected train eventually reached France at 17:15 BST on Monday and passengers were reunited with their cars.