The truth is out there: 21/11/2009

A weekly look at the world
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The Independent Online

*A convicted serial arsonist has been told he can keep his $50,000 firefighter's pension. Lieutenant Jeffrey "Matches" Boyle, who used to worked for the Chicago fire service, was sentenced to six years in prison in 2006 for eight counts of arson but released last year. The Firemen's Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago withdrew his pension but a judge overturned the decision after Boyle appealed, The Chicago Tribune reported.

*Mexican families are being forced to send money to relatives in the US in a dramatic reversal of the traditional model, reports The New York Times reported this week. The "startling new phenomenon," said the paper, shows that the recession has taken the heaviest toll on America's most vulnerable people – its illegal immigrant communities.

*A deformed goat was granted a stay of execution after its owner decided that the animal's six legs, four testicles and three penises were a gift from God and he therefore wouldn't want it sacrificed. The animal was likely to be offered up at Id-ul-Juha, the feast of sacrifice, in Varanasi in a few weeks' time, according to The Times of India.

*A website has asked readers to help it to catalogue all the lies in the former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin's memoir Going Rogue, which was published this week. The Huffington Post has so far published 18 favourites including the former Alaskan governor's claim that the McCain campaign sabotaged her reputation and charged her for the cost of her own vetting by the Republican Party.

*Football "experts" are better at predicting results when they don't think about them, according to a study by Dutch scientists. Researchers took 352 undergraduates and divided them according to their self-rated expertise – expert or amateur. When asked to predict the results of matches, the accuracy of the amateurs was unaffected by the amount of time they had to pick a winner. But those who considered themselves experts were 10 per cent more accurate when forced to decide on the spot.

*Five adult white tigers at Chongqing Wild Animal Park in China have become so tame that they are afraid of the live chickens their keepers have been feeding them. The tigers were given live fowl in an attempt to encourage their natural killer instincts, but when the birds were dropped into their enclosure the tigers ran away, said the Chongqing Post.

*A father who spoke only Klingon to his son for three years claimed he was not a big fan of Star Trek. D'Armond Spears said he wanted to examine how children acquired language by addressing his son only in the guttural tones of the alien species featured on the sci-fi series. Spears, a doctor of computational linguistics, told The Minnesota Daily that although his son eventually did understand him and had learned to talk like the Vulcan Mr Spock, he abandoned the project after realising the boy did not enjoy it.