Federal scientists see big increase in bird beak deformities in Alaska, Northwest [via the AP]
A U.S. Geological Survey study has found “the highest rate of beak abnormalities ever recorded in wild bird populations in Alaska and the Northwest,” topping the previous statistics tenfold. The specific deformity recorded, avian keratin disorder, occurs when part of the beak becomes overgrown and can be caused by environmental factors, poor nutrition or even foreign infections. Overgrown beaks make feeding difficult and also discourage preening, leaving affected birds with dirty feathers that make them more susceptible to the cold.
Cricket testicle size clue to promiscuous mating [via the BBC]
A University of Derby study has determined that the bushcricket has the largest testicle-to-body-weight ratio in nature, sporting gonads totaling up to 14 percent of an individual’s weight. According to scientists, testicle size has generally been found to correlate with promiscuity, allowing the male to copulate with a greater number of females and increasing his chances of successful reproduction.
Woman denied alimony because she had talked about open marriage [via The Guardian]
An Italian court has denied a recent divorcee alimony payments because she allegedly discussed the idea of an open marriage with her ex-husband prior to their wedding. The court, upholding a lower court’s ruling, held that her theorization of infidelity, though never evidenced to have actually occurred, was enough to constitute infidelity in the marriage. “I find it shocking and very perplexing that the court should rule on what is a virtual betrayal when real betrayals frequently go unpunished,” Gian Ettore Gassani, the chairman of the Italian association of matrimonial lawyers, said.
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British spy found dead in bath was padlocked into sports bag [via The Telegraph]
The strange case of Britain’s dead spy continues to reveal new twists. MI6 agent Gareth Williams, 31, was found dead in his apartment August 23. New details recently emerged during an inquiry that Williams’ body was discovered by police padlocked inside a large sports bag in the bathtub. Two autopsies have not yet discovered the cause of death, and police say the situation is “suspicious and unexplained” (duh).
Man sued for drunkenly losing $1.35M painting [via The New York Daily News]
Manhattanite James Haggerty is being sued by some (presumably former) friends after he drunkenly lost their $1.35 million painting. Haggerty was supposed to transport the painting, “Portrait of a Girl” by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, to a potential buyer at a hotel. Security footage shows that, after the buyer turned down the offer, Haggerty sloshed out of the hotel, painting in tow, and had lost it the next morning.
Battle Brews Over Michelangelo’s ‘David’ [via The New York Times]
A report commissioned by Italy’s federal government says that Michelangelo’s classic sculpture ‘David’ is owned by the nation, not the city of Florence, where it resides. Proceeds from tourists viewing ‘David’ topped $7 million last year and went to the federal Culture Ministry. The report concluded the sculpture, which was commissioned by the Florentine Republic in 1501, belongs to Italy because the nation legally succeeded the republic.
Dorothy Sucher, Reporter in Press-Freedom Case, Dies at 77 [via The New York Times]
Reporter Dorothy Sucher died August 22 at the age of 77. Sucher was deeply involved in a landmark freedom of the press Supreme Court case, 1970’s Greenbelt Cooperative Publishing Assn. v. Bresler. Sucher had reported on city residents accusing developer Charles Bresler of “blackmail” during a public meeting. Bresler sued for libel, but ultimate the court found that “when accusations that technically amount to a criminal charge are made during heated public debate, they cannot constitutionally be the basis of a libel or slander judgment if it is clear that there was no intention to accuse anyone of criminal conduct.”
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