Leave your hard news at the door, please. This is the Latitude News Mishmash, three weird and wacky stories from around the world.
“My dear remaining fellow Australians”
“The end of the world is coming,” claims Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in a statement to her “dear remaining fellow Australians.”
“It wasn’t Y2K,” she continued, “it wasn’t even the carbon price. It turns out that the Mayan calendar was true . . . Whether the final blow comes from flesh-eating zombies, demonic hell-beasts or from the total triumph of K-Pop [Korean pop music], if you know one thing about me it is this — I will always fight for you to the very end.”
By now, you may have guessed that Gillard was having a laugh. South Korean pop hit “Gangnam Style” may have taken over the world, but it probably won’t destroy us. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Aussie PM flashed her acting chops for a local radio station, which plans to use the video as a promotion for its “end of the world” celebrations.
According to one interpretation, the ancient Mayan calendar predicts the world will end on December 21st, 2012, though scholars have debunked that theory.
In the U.S., we’re hoping President Barack Obama has time to address the imminent destruction of all mankind. It would make a nice change from the fiscal cliff or senators filibustering their own bills.
Here’s the clip:
Desperate fishermen may have cannibalized friends
In Siberia, a real life apocalypse, of sorts: four friends lost in the Russian province’s icy wilderness since August. After three months of desperate struggle, two of the men were discovered by a rescue helicopter, according to the Siberian Times. Another was missing. The fourth, police said, had been murdered, and cuts on his body bore all the hallmarks of cannibalism.
An unnamed investigator is quoted as saying, “What we found were chopped human bones, fragments of a skull and a bloodstained chunk of ice. It’s clear that this person did not die of his own accord.”
Another anonymous source adds, “We suspect the two survivors could have killed and eaten their friend just because of hunger.”
The four men — all from Russia’s Far East — left their Siberian village on August 8th for what was supposed to be a two or three week fishing expedition. After a flood washed away their pickup truck, the group attempted to walk almost 200 miles home, scavenging supplies from unoccupied hunters’ lodges or frying “animal skin and moss and sawdust” when they were starving.
There’s a lot that doesn’t make sense about this story, says the Times. What happened to the fourth man? Why were experienced fishermen not able to feed themselves by catching fish? And why did the two survivors escape from the hospital where they were being treated after a police interrogation?
French sperm losing their mojo
Their methodology is probably best left undescribed, but researchers say the sperm level of French men has declined significantly over the last 20 years, according to a report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
“To our knowledge,” the researchers wrote in the scientific journal Human Reproduction, “it is the first study concluding a severe and general decrease in sperm concentration and morphology at the scale of a whole country over a substantial period.”
“This constitutes a serious public health warning,” they added.
Well, okay, fine, we’ll give you just a brief glimpse of the workings behind the study. The CBC reports the subjects were male partners of women who visited fertility clinics because of problems with their fallopian tubes, noting that “fresh semen was analyzed twice for each man.”
Thirty-two percent of the men suffered “significant and general decrease in sperm concentration.”
So what’s causing this perilous decline in male virility?
The researchers aren’t sure, but they argue environmental factors like smoking and being overweight could have, ahem, spawned the trend. Reuters reports that laptops may be capable of “cooking sperm,” while a sedentary lifestyle or exposure to harmful chemicals could also contribute. And it’s possible we’re looking at a global trend, though this is a matter of bitter scientific debate.
To all you amorous boyfriends chafing at the use of condoms, maybe this is welcome news. “But, honey, French researchers found a significant decrease in the concentration of sperm in 26,609 men between 1989 and 2005!”
Ladies, don’t give in. All it takes is one determined swimmer.