Headlines Dec 8th, 2010 The Day After! Over half of adults living in the European Union countries are now overweight or obese according to a report. The rate of obesity has more than doubled over the past 20 years in most EU member states, international experts say. The UK comes out worst, shortly followed by Ireland and Malta, where a quarter of the population is obese. World experts meet this week to discuss how to reverse the "worrying trend". The European Commission and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) who compiled the Health at a Glance Europe 2010 report believe the key to success is encouraging children to adopt healthy habits. Currently, one in seven children in the EU is overweight or obese - and the figures are set to rise even further. Note: Haven’t seen the numbers for the USA – but a good bet is they are pretty close to the same. A coded manuscript by Leonardo da Vinci has been discovered in a public library in the French city of Nantes. The document was found after a journalist came across a reference to it in a Leonardo biography, the library said. It was among 5,000 manuscripts donated by wealthy collector Pierre-Antoine Labouchere in 1872 and then forgotten. The text is written from right to left in Leonardo's trademark mirror-writing and has yet to be deciphered. "He was most probably writing in 15th-century Italian, and possibly in other languages," the head of the Nantes library, Agnes Marcetteau said. The fragment of paper with brown scrawls is the second rare item uncovered in the Labouchere collection, after a score by composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was found among the documents in 2008. Note: Other “texts” that have been analyzed of the Great Leonardo puzzle over the fact that our civilization has become so fractured. The United States is abandoning efforts to persuade Israel to renew a freeze on settlement-building as part of efforts to revive Middle East peace talks. Washington had been negotiating with Israel to try to meet Palestinian conditions for restarting direct talks. The Palestinians suspended talks in September after a 10-month freeze on Israeli building in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem, expired. The US says it will continue to explore ways to bring the two sides together. A senior US official told the BBC that attempts to get Israel to renew a partial freeze on settlement construction in occupied territory had failed. Note: About time, talking to a wall can get pretty sad – and in truth, how much land did the guys back east give back to the Native Americans once they steamrolled over them? Elizabeth Edwards, who as the wife of former Senator John Edwards gave America an intimate look at a candidate’s marriage by sharing his quest for the 2008 presidential nomination as she struggled with incurable cancer and, secretly, with his infidelity, died Tuesday at her home in Chapel Hill, N.C. She was 61. Her family confirmed the death. A family friend said Mrs. Edwards was surrounded by family and friends when she died shortly after 10:15 a.m. On Monday, two family friends said that her cancer had spread to her liver and that doctors had advised against further medical treatment. Mrs. Edwards posted a Facebook message to friends on Monday, saying, “I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces — my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope.” She added: “The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that.” Note: God Speed Elizabeth – may the light of infinity be with you in eternity. Thirteen miners have been killed after a gas explosion at a coal mine in central China, state media says. The blast happened in Minchin County, Henan Province, about 300km (186 miles) from the provincial capital Zhengzhou, Xinhua news agency said. An official said 33 miners had been underground when the explosion happened on Tuesday and 20 had survived. A printing error has forced the US to stockpile $110bn (£69.78bn) in new $100 notes until officials can sort and destroy the flawed bills. A snag in the printing process left up to 30% of the notes with a blank patch on the face, US network CNBC reported. Officials are working to devise a mechanical process to sort the flawed bills. Doing so by hand would take up to 30 years, officials said. The new, high-security notes were to begin circulating in February 2011. Note: I sent them an e-mail offering to assist in sorting them out for a small “turn your back” fee once in a while – still waiting for a reply! University officials in Bangladesh have ordered a major rat extermination drive after rodent meat found its way into chicken curry served to students. The incident happened at Rajshahi University in western Bangladesh. "One student detected the head of the rat while eating his lunch. That student instantly suffered a stomach upset," a spokesman told the BBC. Soon after the incident hundreds of angry students staged a demonstration demanding action against the chef. The chef has now been suspended and handed over to police who have been called in to investigate the incident. Note: “stomach upset” in other words he brought his lunch back into the land of the living – yikes! I’ve heard of being “rattin on” but rat curry is a new one! Tests have so far failed to identify an illness that has killed at least 38 people in northern Uganda, officials say. The Ugandan Ministry of Health said the preliminary tests had ruled out Ebola, typhoid and several other diseases. It said some test results suggested it might be plague, but that further tests were being carried out. Patients complain of a severe headache and dizziness, which eventually give way to diarrhea and vomiting. The ministry said that a full recovery was possible if people sought medical help in the illness's early stages. It said the results suggesting it was plague were not consistent with findings by medical workers on the ground. Note: Crossed Uganda off my list as a place to visit in 2011! U.S. crude oil futures prices rose sharply on Tuesday, pushing above $90 a barrel for the first time in 26 months as cold weather boosting fuel demand and the dollar's weakness kept oil lifted. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, January crude CLF1 rose $1.33, or 1.5 percent, to $90.71 a barrel at 8:53 a.m. EST (1353 GMT), trading from $88.80 to $90.76. Note: Guzzle, guzzle love that crude “stuff”. South Floridians woke up Tuesday morning to temperatures hovering around the very low 40s that sometimes felt like the mid-30s because of the wind chill factor. In Fort Lauderdale, a low temperature record of 42 degrees for Dec. 7 that had been in place for 169 years was broken, said Dan Gregoria, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami. "It was at 7:24 a.m. when the temperature reached 40 degrees," Gregoria said. While the details of what areas will get smacked by a major snowstorm this weekend are still being sorted out, one thing is certain, the storm has the potential bring a travel nightmare to many areas. AccuWeather.com meteorologists are predicting a storm will move from the northern Plains into the Ohio Valley, then redevelop off the mid-Atlantic coast. On that path, the storm will produce a swath of plowable snow from the Dakotas through the Midwest and Great Lakes and into the Northeast. The storm has the potential to explode into a major snowstorm that could produce in excess of 6 inches of snow over a large area of the Northeast states and eastern Canada. Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said The New York Times may have committed a crime by publishing classified documents provided by WikiLeaks, and called for the Justice Department to investigate. "To me, New York Times has committed at least an act of bad citizenship. And whether they've committed a crime, I think that bears very intensive inquiry by the Justice Department," Lieberman said when asked whether the Times could be charged for publishing the documents. During the interview with Fox News, Lieberman also questioned why WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has not been charged with treason by the Justice Department. “I don’t understand why that hasn’t happened yet. It sure looks to me on the facts that Mr. Assange and Wikileaks have. He ought to be indicted and then we can ask the authorities in England to extradite him to the United States," Lieberman said, adding that he doesn't think politics are the reason. Note: The lap-dog of Israel is worried that the leaked documents will mention his skid-marked underclothing. Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has rejected requests to increase the rates of three Regence-sponsored individual health insurance plans, his office said Tuesday. Regence BlueShield and Asuris Northwest Health, a Regence subsidiary, had each requested a rate hike of 3.7 percent in November. Regence BlueShield of Oregon, which offers plans in Clark County, had requested a rate hike of 4.9 percent. The proposed rates were scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1. "Regence failed to make its case," Kreidler said in a statement. "I'm disappointed and frustrated that I've had to take this step, but Regence's policyholders are my top priority. They're counting on me to review the rates and make sure they're justified." Kreidler's action affects an estimated 149,000 people who have individual plans with Regence. If those customers stay with Regence in January, they will pay the rate approved in October, not the requested 2011 rate, he said. A Boeing 747 took off with passengers for the first time on Jan. 21, 1970, flying from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to London. Four decades later, that very same former Pan American World Airways 747 sits rusting in South Korea, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday. The "Juan T. Trippe," named for the Pan Am founder, was in a California airplane graveyard with South Korean investors bought it in 2000, moved it across the Pacific and turned it into a restaurant 25 miles northeast of Seoul, the Times reported. That venture failed in 2005, but the plane remains. The airplane has drawn interest from aviation buffs, including some Japanese businessmen who might want to display it at Tokyo's Haneda Airport, the Times reported. See much more in the story. Seattle's Museum of Flight, by the way, has Boeing's first flight-test 747. Santa Claus has been canned from Macy's, and he's anything but jolly about it. His fans aren't happy, either. And there are many. John Toomey, known for 20 years at the Union Square Macy's in San Francisco as "Santa John," was told Saturday he'll have to take his "ho, ho, hos" elsewhere because an adult couple complained about a joke he cracked. The joke has been in his Santa bag for decades. But after thousands of tellings, the 68-year-old retired caretaker for the elderly finally hit the wrong recipients - apparently an older woman and her husband, who considered it inappropriate. Toomey -- who stays in Oroville most summers and winters in San Francisco while he does the kiddie-on-the-knee gig -- said he'd never had complaints before about the joke, which he saves for the occasional grown-up who visits him. "When I ask the older people who sit on my lap if they've been good and they say, 'Yes,' I say, 'Gee, that's too bad,' " Toomey said Monday. "Then, if they ask why Santa is so jolly, I joke that it's because I know where all the naughty boys and girls live." Note: Some people “just can’t take a joke!” If it was me I’d print the name of the “dead-heads prudes” on the front page of the Chronicle – CNN and FOX and give their address – and request everyone mail them Christmas Cards inserted with the worst jokes available to man.