Anthology

Stray cat is prime suspect in attempted murder

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Mayuko Matsumoto, 82, was found by her daughter with about 20 cuts to her face at her home in Mifune, southern Japan.

Police launched an attempted murder investigation after seeing her wounds, some of them severe, according to broadcaster RKK.

Her daughter told RKK: “When we found her, blood covered everything above her chin. Her face was soaked in blood.

“I didn’t know what happened.”

Ms Matsumoto, who is bedridden and reportedly unable to speak about the attack, had to receive emergency care, Kyodo News reported.

Investigators found no sign of forced entry into the house, but suspected the elderly woman’s wounds had been caused by a cat, NTV network said.

Police found traces of what could be human blood on one of a number of stray cats found around Ms Matsumoto’s home, according to Nishinippon Shimbun newspaper.

Tests are being carried out on a sample of the blood.

A spokesman told AFP news agency that investigators were not disputing the media reports.

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Boy’s life saved after doctors grow new skin

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The nine-year-old Syrian boy was dying from a severe condition called junctional epidermolysis bullosa, which caused him to lose the majority of his skin’s outer layer.

It left him with constant blisters and open sores and he was taken to hospital in June 2015, with doctors placing him in an induced coma to ease his suffering.

Doctors grew sheets of healthy skin to cover the boy's body

Video:How doctors saved boy dying from skin disease

Doctors at the children’s hospital at Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, tried using skin grafts from his father and donors, but they all failed.

The child was being prepared for palliative care, but after his desperate parents asked about experimental treatments, Dr Michele De Luca, of the University of Modena in Italy, was called in to help.

He and his colleagues had previously used gene therapy to produce a small piece of skin in a similar case.

The boy’s parents were told their son may not survive the complicated surgeries.

“It was a tough decision for us. But we wanted to try for our son,” his father said.

“We were forced to do something dramatic because this kid was dying,” said Dr De Luca.

Doctors took a small piece of the boy’s limited healthy skin and added those cells to the diseased gene to genetically modify them in a laboratory.

They then grew sheets of the modified skin, totalling a square metre.

Eighty per cent of the boy's skin was replaced
Image:The child has had some 80% of the skin on his body replaced

It took three operations for the doctors to transplant the lab-grown skin onto the boy, eventually covering 80% of his body.

Just 10 days later, his new skin was already beginning to grow, Dr De Luca said.

Eight months on, doctors say nearly all of the boy’s skin has been generated by the modified skin cells.

He is now able to play football, and does not even have to take medication.

Dr Tobias Rothoeft, one of the doctors originally looking after the boy, said: “This kid is back to his normal life again.

“That’s what we dreamed of doing and it was possible.”

The science behind the case was published on Wednesday in the journal, Nature.

“This takes us a huge step forward,” said Dr Peter Marinkovich, of Stanford University School of Medicine, who has carried out related work.

He said it was impressive the doctors were able to make such large amounts of viable skin after correcting the genetic defect.

But he said in more serious cases complications, such as skin blistering in the lungs, the procedure may not work.

He said many patients do not survive beyond age two and using the treatment for babies could be even riskier.

Dr Holm Schneider, of the University Hospital Erlangen in Germany, warned some severely ill patients might have an extreme reaction to skin transplants with an added gene.

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Mystery over gigantic ‘LFC’ carving on Shropshire hill

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The letters, which are almost as long as a football pitch, were spotted by an airborne camera on the north side of Titterstone Clee Hill, east of Ludlow – 100 miles from Anfield.

Measuring somewhere between 85 metres and 100 metres in length, the letters were captured by national mapping agency Ordnance Survey.

They can be seen from at least six kilometres away at the southern end of Brown Clee Hill.

Ordnance Survey’s Danny Hyam said: “It is one of the most unusual ways of showing support for a team I’ve ever seen.

“Perhaps there is someone living in this area who supports Everton and has a back garden or bedroom window with a view of the hill and has a Liverpool supporting friend with an extreme sense of humour?”

The agency’s flying unit sports a number of 196 megapixel cameras – more than 15 times the resolution of the camera on the new iPhone X – and takes more than 140,000 aerial images across the country every year.

The sighting comes just a few days after the National Police Air Service tweeted a picture of the letters ‘SUE x’ etched into a field in Tetsworth, near Thame in Oxfordshire.

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Otterly scary: Wolf-sized ancestors revealed

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A far cry from the cute-looking animals shared on social media today, Siamogale melilutra weighed about 50kg and had an unusually powerful bite – allowing it to crush bird bones and small mammals.

The University of Buffalo’s Dr Jack Tseng, who led a study of the prehistoric otter’s fossilised skull, said: “We don’t know for sure, but we think that this otter was more of a top predator than living species of otters are.

“Our findings imply that Siamogale could crush much harder and larger prey than any living otter can.”

Today's otters are much smaller compared to their ancient ancestors
Image:Today’s otters are much smaller compared to their ancient ancestors

The scientists compared computed tomography (CT) scans on the skulls of the ancestor specimen and 10 of its modern relatives.

They then created 3D computer models which showed how jaw stiffness correlated with the animals’ size.

The study, published in the Scientific Reports journal, showed the ancient animal’s jaw was six times sturdier than expected.

The experts said the powerful jaws combined with its size would have made it a formidable hunter.

The experts said the ancient animal's jaw was six times sturdier
Image:The experts said the ancient animal’s jaw was six times sturdier

Co-author Dr Denise Su, of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, said the Siamogale melilutra lived in a swamp-like habitat in Shuitangba, southern China.

She said: “At the time that the otter lived, the area where its remains were found included a swamp or a shallow lake surrounded by evergreen forest or dense woodland.

“There was a diverse aquatic fauna at Shuitangba, including fish, crab, molluscs, turtles and frogs, as well as many different species of water birds, all of which could have been potential prey for Siamogale melilutra.”

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Driverless bus in crash just hours after launch

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Police said a lorry driver who reversed into the electric vehicle was responsible for the prang, which did not cause any injuries.

City spokesman Jace Radke said the shuttle stopped when it sensed the lorry was approaching, but the larger vehicle kept moving.

Passengers on the driverless bus before the accident
Image:Passengers on the driverless bus before the accident

The lorry hit the front bumper of the bus, but there was no visible damage and the shuttle did two more circuits of its route after the accident.

The collision happened soon after an unveiling ceremony to promote what officials described as the first self-driving shuttle pilot project aimed at the US public.

A sign in the back window reads "Look ma no driver"
Image:A sign in the back window reads: ‘Look ma, no driver’

The bus, which can hold up to 12 passengers, has an attendant and computer monitor but no steering wheel or brake pedals.

It uses GPS and electronic kerb sensors to navigate the roads.

Before the crash near the Fremont Street entertainment district, dozens of people had queued up for a free journey in downtown Las Vegas.

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Woolly memory? Sheep can recognise celebrities

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Although it has long been known that sheep are able to recognise the faces of their human handlers, scientists have now shown the farm animals can be trained to recognise images of famous people.

Professor Jenny Morton, the lead scientist in the Cambridge University study, said it showed sheep have face-recognition abilities comparable with those of humans or monkeys.

Her team trained eight sheep to recognise the faces of four celebrities – journalist Fiona Bruce, actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Emma Watson, and former US president Barack Obama.

In the tests, each animal was shown two faces, one of which was the target celebrity, and given an award of a cereal pellet if it approached the correct image.

They were then put in a pen and tested on whether they recognised the celebrities without the cereal rewards – and eight times out of ten they did.

It was also discovered that the sheep distinguished photographs of their handlers – people that the animals spend two hours a day in the company of – ahead of those of celebrities. They picked the real-life familiar faces over famous people seven times out of ten.

The sheep’s facial recognition abilities could be used to investigate Huntington’s disease, which can cause people to lose those very abilities, scientists said.

The team has now begun studying sheep genetically modified to carry the mutation that causes the disease.

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School asks permission for kids to eat KitKats

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Hopton Primary School in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, is teaching pupils about instruction writing during this half-term’s classes – and on Monday focused on one of life’s eternal questions: how to eat a KitKat.

The Year 1 group was tasked with writing a step-by-step guide to enjoying the chocolate wafer bar, but only after head teacher Andy Blakely had made sure their parents and guardians were alright with them eating one in class.

Letters were sent home last week to ask parents to phone the school if they did not want their child to take part.

If any of the five and six-year-olds were not allowed to participate, the head teacher said they would be able to watch their friends enjoy the treat instead.

Mr Blakely told The Huddersfield Daily Examiner that while no parents had turned down the opportunity for their child to have a KitKat, he felt it was important to keep them informed about what their kids were getting up to at school.

He said: “It’s not about penalising a child if a parent says no. No parents have contacted us to say no.

“But we do activities in food technology or art and design and we may ask parents for permission.

“It was done as a courtesy and out of respect for a parent’s choice.”

Schools have been under pressure to encourage healthy eating, especially when it comes to packed lunches.

According to a study released last year, just 1.6% of packed lunches in England’s primary schools meet nutritional standards, with only one in five including any vegetables or salad.

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Seaside parking space sells for up to £40,000

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The modestly sized 4.4m (14ft 5in) by 2.1m (6ft 11in) space in the private Tregenna Hill car park in St Ives, Cornwall, attracted the huge bid on 3 November after an auction was arranged by land and property auctioneers Clive Emson.

Space 19, which is conveniently located near the town centre, beach and harbour, was bought for the guide price of between £30,000 and £40,000, with the remainder of a 999-year lease from January 1988.

According to Clive Emson’s senior auction valuer Katie Semmens, there was plenty of interest in the space despite the hefty price tag.

She said: “The new owner was very keen to secure the spot and made a bid which was accepted prior to the auction.

“They now have easy year-round and secure parking with access to the town centre, and thereby its picturesque beach and harbour.”

Three parking spaces in Barnoon Terrace, near the Tate St Ives gallery, were auctioned for £160,000 in 2012
Image:Three parking spaces near the Tate St Ives gallery were auctioned for £160,000

Space 19’s eye-catching sale comes five years after three other spaces in nearby Barnoon Terrace were sold at auction for more than £160,000 combined.

Land and property owners in St Ives are used to commanding lofty fees, with a former council house there having sold at an auction in London in September for more than £1.4m.

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Nut for us: Fans’ fury as Nutella changes colour

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The confirmation by Ferrero comes after the changes were noted by German consumer group Hamburg Consumer Protection Centre on its Facebook page.

It means the spread will be lighter – and will also contain more sugar, according to the group.

It says the new recipe contains 8.7% powdered skimmed milk, compared with the previous quantity of 7.5%, and that sugar content has risen from 55.9% to 56.3%.

Popular spread Nutella has had a makeover, to the dismay of some
Image:The hazelnut chocolate spread may soon have a new appearance

Ferrero issued a statement confirming that an “adjustment” had been made, but said that many brands regularly make changes.

“The quality… and all other aspects of Nutella remain the same,” the company said.

If the rumors of #Nutella changing their recipe are true, I am boycotting them. pic.twitter.com/583I7virnR

— Gian WHAAAAAA..? (@Talchy) November 6, 2017

Predictably, social media was awash with reaction and opinions – some good, some… not so.

One angry ex-Nutella fan wrote on Twitter: “If the rumors of #Nutella changing their recipe are true… I am boycotting them.”

Another said: “Why did u change the nutella formula. how could u do this.”

Popular confectionery makers frequently draw the ire of the consumer when their favourite treats’ recipes, packaging or appearance are tinkered with, with Toblerone, Maltesers, Walnut Whipand Jaffa Cakes coming under fire in the past year.

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Fleeing suspect drove into lake in escape bid

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The suspect, who has been named by local media as 40-year-old Daniel Basham, had been involved in a hit-and-run.

Arlington Police Department pursued the suspect, who was in an SUV, and captured footage of him driving into a lake.

He was then seen throwing himself out of the car window and attempting to swim away.

Bad guy was involved in a hit and run before running from us. Please don’t drive impaired. He’s facing evading arrest, DWI & drug charges pic.twitter.com/YwGPPx6j5Q

— Will Johnson (@ArlingtonChief) November 4, 2017

He reportedly tried to reach the other side, but got tired and turned back to the jetty where officers were waiting to arrest him.

Basham has been charged with evading arrest, driving while intoxicated and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson tweeted: “Bad guy was involved in a hit and run before running from us. Please don’t drive impaired. He’s facing evading arrest, DWI & drug charges.”

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