Best of the web: Bruni prays for a son...

Carla Bruni seeks blessings for son in India

President Nicolas Sarkozy's wife, Carla Bruni, asked for a son in blessing at Sheikh Salim Chishti dargah, a famed 16th century shrine in India.

(GETTY IMAGES)

Bruni was apparently moved by the story of Emperor Akbar visiting the historic shrine to pray for a son, with the pir telling her through the interpreter that owing to Chishti's blessings he fathered not one but four children, reports The Times of India.

Thereupon, Bruni, too, made a wish for a son. "Inshallah, her wish will come true," the old man prophesied.

Live TV stunt goes wrong

Germany's most popular TV show, Wetten, dass? - which translates as You want to bet? - was abruptly pulled off air after a participant was seriously injured as millions of people watched live, reports The Sun.

 

A participant's attempt to leap lengthways over a moving car wearing spring-loaded stilts went haywire and he lost consciousness upon hitting the car even as 10 million viewers watched in horror .

The show was taken off the air for the first time in its 29-year history, the newspaper said.

The participant was rushed to the hospital immediately but doctors have not revealed the seriousness of his condition.

 

Birthday cake for polar bear

Knut, Germany's favorite polar bear, has celebrated his 4th birthday with a lavish party at his zoo attended by about 250 people.

(AP)

Fish and meat were served in the polar bear's snow-covered, outdoor enclosure at the Berlin Zoo on Sunday, followed by a birthday cake shaped like the number 4.

As Knut gobbled up his cake, the spectators sang 'Happy Birthday' to him, the German news agency DAPD reported.

The visitors also were given the rare opportunity to feed Knut, and he seemed to enjoy the bread, fruit and fish they brought for him.

Knut has been a star in Germany since he was hand-raised by zoo keepers after his mother rejected him at birth.  

 

Babies can't 'catch' yawns

Babies and young children are immune to "catching" yawns, scientists have discovered in new research that is shedding light on how the human brain develops as we grow up.

 

However, babies are immune only till they are five years old.

It is common knowledge that yawning can be infectious, leaving adults unable to stile a one if they see someone else opening their mouths wide in a yawning action. However, little is known about why we yawn and why it appears to be so infectious.

Research has also revealed that chimpanzees and even dogs can catch yawns from those around them, including from humans.

However, psychologists at the University of Stirling have now discovered that infants and young children only ever yawn spontaneously.

 

Changing climate alters age-old habits

Members of the Mayan community of Tabi, around 200 (120 miles) kilometers southwest of Cancun on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, say changes in the weather are forcing them to change their lives.

The dusty streets and modest homes of the community of some 400 people do not suggest wealth, but the land's bounty of corn, squash, beans and fruit made it a perfect place to raise a family.

(AFP)

That has changed since Eunice Be Chuc moved here, 28 years ago.

These days rain is increasingly unpredictable in a region where the wet season has come like clockwork since the times of the ancient Maya.

Now drought, floods and hurricanes alternate - extreme conditions that devastate crops.

"Even if you plant crops, the soil only gets drier with all the sun and if there is no water, how do we water it? So even if we are doing our part, if the soil doesn't produce, what else can we do?" Be Chuc told AFP, looking across a parched field.

Corn is to Mexico what rice and bread are to much of the rest of the world.

The tortilla is a staple, and without it, many would go hungry, in a country where around 40 percent live in poverty.

But agricultural officials say climate change and poor farming practices have cut Mexico's corn yields up to 60 percent over the past 15 years.

Last year, Mexico suffered the worst drought in 60 years; this year it saw record flooding in parts of the country.

"When it doesn't rain, the entire crop is lost. When it does rain, the entire crop grows," said community leader and farmer Saulo Chuc Moo.

Locals are beginning to adapt in order to survive - turning away from old slash and burn techniques that left fields barren after just a few seasons.

Now they clear rocks and other debris from the soil and mix in organic fertilizer to create sustainable fields.

Anti-poverty campaigners say rural communities around the world are feeling the same strain - and being forced to adapt.

"There are only a few issues that have been consistently increasing in awareness for the past few years and one of them is climate change," said Antonio Hill, from Oxfam.

"And among others, part of the reason is ... the fact that around the world people are convinced that something is changing."

Farmers in Tabi struggle to keep up with the pace of that change, seeking alternatives to feed their families, such as apiculture and selling firewood, while women are doing crafts to earn extra money.

They receive some government help to finance new agriculture techniques, but last year's severe droughts, which destroyed their harvests, led to big protests in the region, and calls for more aid.

Those still relying exclusively on agriculture to make a living are becoming poorer, and some even fear agriculture will disappear completely.

"Many people are leaving to find other places to work, many go to the hotel zone, where they become slaves for others," said local resident Eunice Be Chuc, referring to the massive tourist developments along the coast, such as Cancun.

As negotiators from more than 190 countries arrived at the Caribbean resort Sunday for a final week of UN-backed climate talks, Tabi residents looked to global leaders to bring help to keep their crops growing.

 

Addictive, free iPhone apps
 
If you’re an iPhone user, you probably already know that these little devices are marvelous time-wasters. With a wide range of apps and games of every imaginable type, there are plenty of downloadable goodies that are perfect for killing time. And the best part? Many of them are free.

1. Paper Toss

Like all great addictive games, Paper Toss is simple and easy to play. The game is literally you just trying to toss pieces of paper into a trash can. The only catch? There’s a fan that blows at various speeds with each toss. You have to read the wind speed and adjust your throwing angle to make it land in the can. There are several different levels. See how many shots you can make in a row!

 

(AP)

2. Angry Birds Lite

Angry Birds Lite is the free version of this fun, highly addictive game. Again, it’s a simple concept. With each level, there are some pigs pr Ztected by a structure, usually made up of blocks of ice and wood. You have a slingshot with a certain number of birds. You need to strategically shoot these birds to break through the structure and kill the pigs.

3. Words With Friends

The only downside of the free version of Words With Friends is that you have to deal with ads after every play you make, but it’s simple enough to skip through them. Anyway, this Scrabble knockoff is always a fun way to kill time. You can start up a game with your friends or choose to connect with random opponents all across the world. I always have several games going at any given time.

4. Facebook

I couldn’t help but include this app on the list. The free Facebook app lets you do everything you can do on the regular Facebook website. And because friends are always updating, adding new photos, and commenting, there’s always something new to look at, making it the perfect time-waster.

5. Echofon for Twitter

If we’re going to put a Facebook app on the list, we have to include one for Twitter too, right? Twitter is the hottest social media tool of the moment, and Echofon for Twitter makes it easy to keep tabs on your followers, Tweet your latest updates, view your direct messages, upload photos, and so much more.

6. Tap Tap Revenge 3

Think of it as Guitar Hero or Rock Band for your iPhone. Tap Tap Revenge 3 puts your rhythmic skills to the test as you have to tap your way through over 100 free songs from artists such as AFI, Black Eyed Peas, and Smashing Pumpkins. Rock out!

7. Zombie Farm

With over 6 million users, it’s clear that Zombie Farm qualifies as a highly addictive iPhone game. In this game, you farm, grow, and harvest your own crop of zombies. Then, unleash your team of zombies on the neighboring populations. It’s a quirky game that’s perfect for wasting tons of time.

8. Netflix

If you have Netflix, download the new Netflix app right now! With this app, you can watch anything that’s in your instant queue right there on your iPhone. This is perfect for people who ride the bus to work or are riding along in the car on a road trip.

9. TapDefense

This strategy game can keep you entertained all day long. Defend the tower against your enemies in 42 levels. Whether you want to play for hours at a time or just a few minutes here and there, TapDefense is perfect for all gaming situations.

10. Armado Lite

From the App Store description “Guide Armado as he rolls, jumps, and crashes his way through this action packed journey. Armado is a young armadillo who becomes an unsuspecting hero in an adventure that takes him from sunny woodlands and snowy peaks, to fiery volcanoes.”

 

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