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Iran plans to launch Persian cat into space, report says


The Persian cat is a long-haired, flat-faced breed named after Iran’s former name of Persia. (REUTERS)

Iran’s hunt for its next animal astronaut may turn to the distinctive and locally named Persian cat, an official said Monday, in another possible step by the country’s ambitious aerospace program that has also raised Western concerns about spillover military applications.

The report by the official IRNA news agency comes seven months after Iran claimed it launched a monkey out of earth’s atmosphere and successfully returned it home. The account, however, faced international questions after photos appeared to show different monkeys in pre- and post-launch images.

A senior space program official, Mohammad Ebrahimi, said at the time that state media mistakenly sent a photo of an alternate monkey that was not used in the February launch. He insisted just one monkey, Pishgam or Pioneer, was sent on the 20-minute flight to a height of 120 kilometers (72 miles) and returned safely.

In 2010, Iranian officials said it sent a mouse, a turtle and some worms on a space flight — part of the country’s goals of sending a human into space by 2018 and becoming a leading tech centre for the Islamic world.

Ebrahimi said Iran’s next space capsule could carry the Persian cat, a long-haired, flat-faced breed named after Iran’s former name of Persia. He said the launch will happen by the end of Iran’s current year, which ends March 21. The report said a mouse and rabbit also are under consideration.

Ebrahimi said the next launch would be with a larger, liquid-fuelled rocket. Past launches were done with solid-fuelled boosters whose technology can be used in long-range missiles. He said it will be launched to a 120-kilometre level, too.

He did not elaborate on the rocket change, but it could be viewed as an attempt to ease international concerns at a time when Iran’s new moderate-leaning president, Hasan Rouhani, is seeking to revive nuclear talks with world powers.

Iran says it wants to put its own satellites into orbit to monitor natural disasters in the earthquake-prone nation, improve telecommunications and expand military surveillance in the region.

Earlier this year, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he wanted to be Iran’s first astronaut.

Glowing “moon” created from recycled water bottles

About Reuters TV

Hard-edged reporting, insight and analysis, Reuters TV breaks ground creating informative news and financial videos. Showcasing Reuters™ 3000 award-winning journalists, Reuters TV delivers high-energy investigative journalism with concise explanations. Check it out and let us know what you think.

Angry Birds Playground kindergarten curriculum to debut in China

Angry Birds Playground kindergarten curriculum debuts in China, based on the Finnish national curriculum.

Angry Birds plush toys based on the best-selling mobile game. (CC/Oran Viriyincy)

Rovio is bringing its best-selling mobile game to the classroom with Angry Birds Playground, aimed at kindergarten-age students.

Developed in partnership with the University of Helsinki and based on the Finnish national curriculum, Angry Birds Playground will cover math, science and language as well as arts, physical education and social skills.

“It’s not just games we’re talking about here: it’s a full 360-degree approach to learning, where games are just one part of it,” Sanna Lukander, Rovio’s vice president of learning and book publishing told the Guardian. “It’s not learning by sitting down and playing with a digital device.”

“There’s a real substance to it, and a healthy balance between rest, play and work,” Lukander said. “We feel it’s necessary to talk about healthy nutrition and physical exercise, as part of this approach to learning, balance and wellbeing.”

Angry Birds Playground materials will include books, posters, physical games, interactive whiteboards and even a digital five-string instrument. But Lukander stresses the program is meant to be used alongside traditional tools like pen and paper.

Rovio has partnered with Chinese firm 123 Education Development to bring the concept to students in Shanghai, where the new program was unveiled last week.

The University of Helsinki will remain involved, training teachers at an early learning center in Shanghai where the program is launching.

“We’re not just putting a sticker on something, We’re combining two brands. One is Angry Birds with its global reach and people recognising the characters and being motivated to learn more,” Lukander said.

“But the other brand is a long legacy of work done in Finland by educational experts, and beautiful co-operation between the authorities, schools and book publishers.”

In response to criticism that the educational content is tied to paid games and merchandise, Lukander said the brand’s reach was a benefit to its educational arm.

“I could understand the concern if people thought we had the wrong people working on education content, but we have educational specialists working on this,” Lukander said. “What’s most interesting is to promote the very open and wonderful dialogue that the Finnish authorities have with schools and textbook publishers.”

Man shot in Russia in argument over Kant

MOSCOW | Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:12am EDT

(Reuters) – An argument over the theories of 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant ended in a man being shot in a grocery store in southern Russia.

RIA news agency quoted police in the city of Rostov-on-Don as saying a fight broke out between two men as they argued over Kant, the German author of “Critique of Pure Reason”, without giving details of their debate.

“In the course of the fight, the suspect took out a pistol firing rubber bullets and fired several shots at his opponent,” it said, adding that one man was detained and the victim was taken to hospital. His life was not in danger.

Kant lived in Koenigsberg, which is now the Russian city of Kaliningrad, and is a central figure of modern philosophy. Many Russians love to discuss philosophy and history, often over a drink, but such discussions rarely end in shootings.

(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; Editing by Alison Williams)

DeLoreans getting ‘Back to the Future’ makeovers

It may not time travel, but the DeLorean sports car is finding its way into the future.

People are spending thousands of dollars to have DeLoreans outfitted to resemble the one that starred in the 1985 movie Back to the Future starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd.

‘Back to the Future has been a huge part of the business. The car is so well known from a 90-year-old person to a 4-year-old because of that movie.’– Cameron Wynne, DeLorean Motor Co. general manager

About 9,000 DeLorean DMC-12 cars were produced from 1981-82 before the original company went bust. About 6,500 are believed to still exist, easily recognizable with their boxy, stainless steel bodies and gullwing doors.

The current brand owner, DeLorean Motor Co. of Huntington Beach, CA., handles everything from oil changes to full reconstructions. But as the 30th anniversary of Back to the Future approaches in 2015, there’s been an increase in requests to recreate the movie’s iconic car, according to the Orange County Register.

“I’ve grown up around DeLoreans my entire life. I was dropped off to kindergarten in the actual Back to the Future car. A DeLorean was my first car at age 16,” said Cameron Wynne, DeLorean Motor Co. general manager. “Back to the Future has been a huge part of the business. The car is so well known from a 90-year-old person to a 4-year-old because of that movie. That shows how timeless the car and the brand is.”

Some replicas have been ordered for movie cameos, corporate appearances and even as the ride for a newlywed couple.

DeLorean Motor Co. mechanic Danny Botkin has built six movie replica cars so far, relying on photos he took when he helped restored the original Back to the Future car.

“Back to the Future is getting bigger and bigger, especially among kids who watched the movie in 1985 and now have enough money to own a piece of it,” Botkin said.

Each replica costs about $45,000. Passengers can punch in a “destination time” on the control panel and pull a lever to activate the pulsing lights of the time circuit. The parts are recreated using military surplus and other equipment, such as a jet engine oil cooler.

“We’ve never advertised that we build these,” Botkin said. “It’s just been a side thing we do. If people ask us to do it, we’ll do it.”

The current DeLorean Motor Co. was started by Wynne’s father, Stephen Wynne.

Timeless DeLorean

The inside of a refurbished DeLorean vehicle is designed to replicate the car used in the film, ‘Back to the Future.’ (Paul Bersebach/The Associated Press)

He bought the original company’s remaining parts. The parts, including 1,000 gullwing doors, fill 40,000 square feet of warehouse space in Houston, Cameron Wynne said.

Seven years ago, DeLorean began re-manufacturing the sports car using donor cars that are stripped and fitted with remaining or remanufactured parts.

“We constantly have customers calling us that have had their cars in storage for 10, 20, 30 years, and they want to get rid of it,” Cameron Wynne said.

But the DeLorean isn’t resting on its laurels. The company, which has a handful of locations nationwide and one in the Netherlands, is working on an all-electric version. The company wants it to travel 160 kilometres on a charge and accelerate from 0 to 96 km/h in under 5 seconds.

However, it won’t need the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity required by Doc Brown’s version.

UK government tax adviser quits after giving avoidance tips

LONDON | Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:21am EDT

(Reuters) – A tax adviser to the British government has been forced to resign after he was recorded giving tips at a conference on how to pay less tax and “keep money out of the Chancellor’s grubby mitts”, a Treasury minister said.

The BBC Panorama investigative program filmed David Heaton – before he joined the government as an adviser on how to clamp down on aggressive tax avoidance – telling delegates at a conference how they could exploit tax loopholes.

“Mr Heaton’s statements are directly at odds with the government’s approach to tackling tax avoidance,” Treasury minister David Gauke said in a statement. “Therefore, it is right that Mr Heaton resigned from his position.”

How much tax is paid by corporations and wealthy individuals has become a hot issue in Britain in recent years after it emerged that several well-known companies did not pay corporation tax.

(Reporting by Kate Holton)

Hawaii can’t fit woman’s long last name on licence

A Hawaii woman’s last name is a real mouthful, containing 36 letters and 19 syllables in all. And it’s so long that she couldn’t get a driver’s licence with her correct name.

Janice (Lokelani) Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele is in the midst of a fight with state and local officials to ensure that her full name gets listed on a licence or ID card.

‘I’ve had this name for over 20 years. I had to grow into this name. It’s a very deep spiritual path.’—Janice Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele

The documents only have room for 35 characters, so Hawaii County instead issued her driver’s licence and her state ID with the last letter of her name chopped off. And it omitted her first name.

The 54-year-old Big Island resident wrote her mayor and city councilwoman for help, but the county said the state of Hawaii computer system they used wouldn’t allow names longer than 35 characters.

Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele got the name when she married her Hawaiian husband in 1992.

He used only the one name, which his grandfather gave him. The name came to his grandfather in a dream that also told him he would have a grandson.

Her husband died in 2008, but he had similar problems when he was alive, she told The Associated Press.

Hawaii to increase space on IDs

The name has layers of meanings. One, she said, is “When there is chaos and confusion, you are one that will stand up and get people to focus in one direction and come out of the chaos.” It also references the origins of her and her husband’s family.

Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele was compelled to bring attention to the issue after a policeman last month gave her a hard time about her driver’s licence when he pulled her over for a traffic stop. She wrote Honolulu television station KHON for help, and her story started getting more attention.

“I said wait a minute, this is not my fault. This is the county’s fault that I don’t have an ID that has my name correctly,” she said.

The police officer suggested she could use her maiden name.

“I said, how disrespectful to the Hawaiian people because there’s a lot of meaning behind this name. I’ve had this name for over 20 years. I had to grow into this name. It’s a very deep spiritual path,” she said.

Caroline Sluyter, state Department of Transportation spokeswoman, said Thursday the state is working to increase space for names on driving licences and ID cards.

By the end of the year, the cards will allow 40 characters for first and last names and 35 characters for middle names, she said.

Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele, who practices shoreline fishing in the Hawaiian tradition as a profession, said she’s happy the publicity about her situation has prompted many people to have badly needed discussions.

“If you’re going to require people to have picture IDs to identify them, they have to be correct,” she said.

Student’s thigh doodles lead to internet fame

[View the story “Student’s thigh doodles lead to internet fame” on Storify]

Storified by CBC News Community· Fri, Sep 13 2013 17:18:45

Most girls can remember a time when boredom in class lead to doodling on your knee or painting your fingernails with Wite-Out, but most were never more prolific than a one dimensional heart or a daisy. 

Jody Steel’s imagination came alive as doodles on her thigh during her college lectures and captured the attention of the internet.

This picture of fictional character Walter White from the HBO series Breaking Bad garnered the most attention.


The film student’s works of art were noticed have made her a bit of an internet sensation. Steel uploaded pictures of her thigh canvasses on where some images received rave reviews. She is also a top result on Google image searches for the subjects she brings to life on her skin.


One of Steel’s professors at Emerson College in Boston noticed the covert dermal drawings and recruited her student to draw the illustrations for a ‘steam punk’ book called Steaming into a Victorian Future: A Steampunk Anthology.



This gruesome image of Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street was picked up by many tattoo bloggers.


Jody SteelArtist- Jody Steel

Since achieving internet recognition, the amateur illustrator, who comes from Hollywood, Florida, has had job offers for companies around the world. 


Still, Steel doesn’t work full time as an illustrator. Her dream is to do concept art for film and to paint on the side.


Her skin art, which is done with marker and pen, is often mistaken for tattoos.



As much as she likens her thigh to a paper canvas, Steel still has time for traditional sketching.



As impressive as the detail is in her sketches, the aspiring artist has never had formal training.


She attributes her skill to practicing relentlessly, despite what her professors may think.




What do you think of this unique form of body art? Feel free to leave your comments below.