Singer James Blunt ‘stopped World War III’ [via the BBC]
English singer-songwriter James Blunt, perhaps best known for his 2005 hit “You’re Beautiful,” revealed that during his military service he risked a court martial by ignoring an order to attack Russian troops in Kosovo. Blunt was referring to the 1999 taking of an airfield in that wartorn nation that had already been co-opted by Russian forces. When a NATO general, Wesley Clark of the United States, ordered Blunt and the 30,000 troops in his unit to get a foothold at the airfield, potentially triggering fire between NATO forces and Russia, a British general refused. “”There are things that you do along the way that you know are right, and those that you absolutely feel are wrong, that I think it’s morally important to stand up against, and that sense of moral judgement is drilled into us as soldiers in the British army.”
Bill Clinton Joins the Cast of “The Hangover 2” [via People]
Former President Bill Clinton will cameo in “The Hangover 2,” the forthcoming sequel to the popular 2009 comedy about a group of friends and their Las Vegas adventures. Clinton took time from delivering a speech on clean energy in Bangkok, where some of the movie is being filmed, for his part, in which he plays himself. Heavyweight champion Mike Tyson provided a cameo in the original film.
Chocolate industry avoids collapse as genome published [via the BBC]
The entire genome of the cacao tree, from which chocolate is developed, has scientists hoping higher-yield plants can be engineered to help increase supply for a rapidly growing worldwide demand. The project, which was supported by candy maker Mars, IBM, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a number of universities, aims to help foster research into producing higher yield cacao plants, both helping produce more of the in-demand cacao and freeing up other land for crops such as plantains, yams and sorghum.
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Many chilly to idea of topless rights for women [via The Berkshire Eagle]
Voters in Pittsfield, Mass. Tuesday voted down a non-binding referendum urging their state representative to introduce legislation to allow “females of any age may be unclothed from the waist up in public anywhere males may be, including in print and on film.” “I think the intent was to have areas, to have beaches, where people could do it if they wished,” resident Linda Rost said. “But that’s not the way [the question] was worded.” The referendum’s backer has worked previously to designate areas of a local park legal for topless sunbathing, a measure that was defeated by the city council.
1920s chocolate box model deemed to risqué [via The Daily Telegraph]
Betty’s Tea Room is launching a new line of vintage chocolates and wanted to use the woman modeling on the original tin from 90 years ago. What was appropriate in the ’20s, however, is apparently no longer appropriate today, and the company toned down the image for sale. The woman, a brunette, has received extra buttons on her top, smoothed-down hair and what once was a suggestively raised eyebrow is now lowered to normal height.
Coconuts removed in India ahead of Obama visit [via the BBC]
In order to provide maximum security during his visit tomorrow, Mumbai officials have reportedly removed all coconuts from trees around Mani Bhavan, a Gandhi museum, where President Barack Obama will appear. “We told the authorities to remove the dry coconuts from trees near the building. Why take a chance?” Mani Bhavan’s executive secretary, Meghshyam Ajgaonkar, told the BBC.
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Sex, the Saudis and selling out [via Foreign Policy]
Dov Zakheim provides an interesting take on the recent request by a Saudi diplomat for asylum in the U.S. He claimed he would face certain execution because the authorities had discovered he is gay and has Jewish friends. Zakheim argues that, unlike when Churchill sided with Stalin against Hitler, this is not a simple case of choosing the lesser of two evils. “If it sends Asseri home, and he is killed, there will be outrage, not only in the United States but especially in Western Europe. On the other hand, if it grants him asylum, it will be opening the door for diplomats representing the majority of the world’s states who may declare themselves gay and then seek asylum in America. That may not be a precedent that the United States wishes to set for itself, especially in light of the strong feelings over an issue that continues to divide the American electorate.”
Video Games Lead to Faster Decisions That Are No Less Accurate [via ScienceDaily]
Bad news for mothers out there: cognitive scientists at the University of Rochester have found that playing video games helps people process and execute decisions faster. “People make decisions based on probabilities that they are constantly calculating and refining in their heads, researcher Daphne Bavelier explains. The process is called probabilistic inference. The brain continuously accumulates small pieces of visual or auditory information as a person surveys a scene, eventually gathering enough for the person to make what they perceive to be an accurate decision.”
Armenia Produces World’s Biggest Chocolate Bar [via the AP via NPR]
Today in Things That Look Delicious: a 9,702-pound chocolate bar. Certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, the bar was created by an Armenian candy company to celebrate its tenth anniversary. Most companies just throw a crappy party with gift bags; these guys felt a flatbed-sized chocolate bar was appropriate. To each his own.
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