Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hong Kong's Edison Chen quits after sex scandal

Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:51pm IST

By James Pomfret

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong singer and actor Edison Chen said on Thursday he would step away from the Hong Kong entertainment industry to "heal himself", in his first public appearance since a sex scandal broke.

Hong Kong police said some 1,300 private shots of Chen in bed with at least half a dozen female celebrities had been copied by the staff of a computer repair shop from a faulty laptop believed to belong to Chen, sparking off a media frenzy.

The Canada-born Chen, a hip hop artist and Asian film star who has appeared in films such as Infernal Affairs, the Hong Kong triad film which inspired Martin Scorsese's Oscar-winning film "The Departed", admitted for the first time that most of the pictures circulating on the Internet had been taken by him.

"These photos were very private and have not been shown to people and were never intended to be shown to anyone," the 27-year-old said in a calm voice amid a flood of camera flashes from the hundreds of reporters gathered.

"I have failed as a role model. However I wish that this matter will teach everyone a lesson."

He said in a brief statement he would fulfil existing commitments before stepping down "indefinitely". He added that he would dedicate himself to charity and community work.

"I've decided to do this to give myself an opportunity to heal myself and to search my soul."

Hong Kong police have so far made 10 arrests in connection with the scandal.

The Geek Squad's ongoing porn problem

The Geek Squad's ongoing porn problem

Bloggers catch the tech service pilfering porn and it turns into a local PR disaster, while Violet Blue wonders 'Is nothing sacred?'

Thursday, February 21, 2008

If you took your car in to have that mysterious noise diagnosed and fixed, would you expect the mechanics to rifle through your glove box and make copies of your Penthouse? Perhaps the more paranoid among us would make sure there was nothing naughty in our car before we brought it in for service — but what if we're talking about the repair people we give access to our personal computers, or to our homes?

As I reported back in December, members of the Geek Squad (possibly the best-known corporate computer repair service in the nation) got caught not only stealing porn off customers' hard drives (thanks to a three-month sting operation conducted by the Consumerist blog), but openly shared the porn with other Geek Squad employees. One such hard drive belonged to adult performer Jasmine Grey, whose elaborate victimization was only discovered when she died in a car crash and a guilt-racked Best Buy employee 'fessed up to the porn harvesting, divulging details in a confession to the Consumerist.

Earlier this month, Geek Squad employees in Palm Beach discovered porn on a customers' hard drive and handed the evidence over to the police, resulting in the arrest of a man for possession of child pornography (the second such Geek Squad instance within a month — another man in West Palm Beach was arrested for 76 counts of "possessing a photograph of sexual performance by a child."

No public statements have been made from the Geek Squad's PR department about the porn theft exposed by Consumerist, their exploitation of Jasmine Grey, or the Geek Squad's practice of examining their customers' files during the process of equipment repair.

That is, until the Customer Service is the New Marketing summit and conference here in San Francisco two weeks ago. The Geek Squad came with a team who hovered on a balcony over the conference while Geek Squad founder Robert Stephens took the stage for his talk, entitled "Marketing is a Tax You Pay for Being Unremarkable." Little did he realize that while he was onstage, there were full-on back-channel conversations on various social networking instant message sites about Geek Squad's nonconsensual "customer service."

So when it came time for Q & A, local blogger, respected social community management expert, professional social media insights consultant, Engadget columnist, and community manager for Pownce Ariel Waldman spoke up.

Rather than drop off Stephens at for a lesson in respect at the (feminist-identified) boot heels of Princess Donna, Waldman asked Stephens for a statement in front of his peers, asking what kind of outreach the Geek Squad plans on doing to make their customers feel safe from exploitation like this in the future.

You can watch their exchange here at the 46:10 mark (the session was recorded by local GETV vlogger Eddie Codel). You can also see Waldman's take on his response to her question here:

"Robert's response immediately jumped into a cringe-worthy response, by saying first and foremost that bloggers are not journalists and don't ever hold themselves to the same standards as journalists. He then called out Ben Popken from Consumerist for asking for his response to these issues, but having already published the story. He said if bloggers publish the story first without waiting for his response that it's not a 2-way conversation and he just won't respond to it at all. He said bloggers will need to someday need to hold themselves to journalist standards because they have far too much competition to not to.

So, he didn't answer AT ALL about things they're trying to do to make people or their customers feel better about these issues. He was defensive about the question, instead of being sensitive to the issue, which was disappointing. If you're for enabling conversation within your company, you should be for enabling positive conversation online as well, instead of writing it off as bloggers only being a form of disrespectful trolls."

Personally, my reaction would have been to get on the Ocean with Princess Donna for an emergency takedown, followed by a trip to the Armory for some serious blogosphere discipline and knee-pad-needed lessons in sexual privacy. Followed by a dog-collar-and-leash march over to the Electronic Frontier Foundation for more sexual identity and privacy deprogramming.

According to Consumerist in the breakout post "Geek Squad Hatched Plot To Harvest Porn From Pornstar Jasmine Grey's Hard Drive, Days Before She Died In Car Crash," it wasn't an isolated employee (or 'one luggage handler,' as Stephens might say): An entire team passed Jasmine Grey's pictures around. The Geek Squad whistle-blower told Consumerist:

"I left for the day and came back the next day to find that one of our fellow employees had copied all of the files to a few DVD's and shared them with management, as well as most of the other techs.

Her webcam was still locking up her machine when she took her computer home that night, so she returned again in the morning. She still wouldn't provide us with her site (not that we needed it anyway at that point), but she did want to look into purchasing a new machine. At this point I handed her off to a PCHO rep who proceeded to convince her that instead of buying a new machine ... she should just have an Agent come out to fix it at her house (that way she 'could rest easy that her privacy would be assured'). The manager on duty at the time was involved in the scam, so he offered to send an Agent out for free to 'go the extra mile and insure she only shop at Best Buy in the future.' Of course, the Agent that came out to her house was none other than the same person who copied all her files to DVD. He fixed the webcam in a few minutes then spent the entire remainder of the appointment scouring her network for more porn, which he saved to a portable hard drive. Those files were then shared across the store."

Stephens' response would suggest that since mainstream media failed to cover any of this scandal, violation of sexual privacy — which seems to be an ongoing practice for both evil and good results — doesn't even merit a response.

Actually it deserves more than a response. Just because it's sex doesn't mean people's privacy can be violated or degraded for sport and without accountability. Just because we need to have some tech help doesn't mean we should be worried that our entire private lives — especially the sex parts — are going to get passed around for company amusement. Nor should we have to worry about what else the Geek Squad might do with the contents of our computers, whether it's laughing at my sex toy collection photos or turning my laptop over to a federal government agency because they interpret my last Survival Research Labs art show photos as "terrorist activity."

Porn is a sex toy; it's generally really lame and disappointing, but adult use of visual stimulation for personal erotic enjoyment is no less shameful than any other form of sexual expression, enjoyment or sexual self-reliance. Corporations need to send a message that they do not believe that sex is such an embarrassment that the mere mention of "sex" or "porn" automatically gives a free pass to their employees to steal from, degrade, exploit or humiliate a person daring to exhibit sexual interest. Good thing we have blogs to expose sexual douchebaggery — and to tell us how to make our computers catch people stealing our porn.

And stealing porn off computers when there's a whole Internet? Is nothing sacred!? Like, duh. I am so calling Princess Donna right now.

Violet Blue

Violet Blue is author and editor of nearly two dozen sexual health books and erotica collections. She is a professional sex educator, lecturer, podcaster, blogger, vlogger, porn/erotica reviewer and machine artist. She has written for outlets ranging from to O, The Oprah Magazine.

Violet is also a fetish model, a member of Survival Research Labs, an author at Metblogs San Francisco; girl friday contributor at, a San Francisco native and a Forbes Web Celeb. Her tech site is Techyum; her audio and e-books are at Digita Publications.

For more information and links to Web sites discussed in Open Source Sex, go to Violet Blue's Web site,

Monday, February 18, 2008

BabyDog Kobe & Mooch

Moochie had been trapped in an empty bank owned house for five days. We saw her sitting in a window & a neighbor liberated her.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sense of Disaster Over Lost Monument Sweeps Nation

A woman cries at the ruins of the Sungnyemun, the nation's no.1 national treasure, which was destroyed in a fire Sunday night.

Fire Destroys Historic Seoul Landmark
Shock at Destruction of Historic Seoul Landmark
Gate That Survived 600 Years Consumed by Fire in Hours
Koreans were reaching for the superlatives on Monday. "The Korean equivalent of the 9/11 attacks happened while the whole country was watching." "The Republic of Korea's no. 1 National Treasure or no. 1 national pride turned to ashes in an instant."

They were reacting to the Sungnyemun -- commonly known as Namdaemun or South Gate, a symbol of the Korean nation for 610 years -- being reduced to ashes on live TV. This historic monument had survived the Japanese invasions (1592-1598), the Manchurian invasions (1627-1637), and the Korean War. But early Monday morning there was grief, shock and disbelief: many felt a great sin against history had been committed in what may have been the act of a lone arsonist and the failure of the authorities to bring the flames under control.

The former castle gate, now a detached monument, had stood imposingly on Namdaemunro Street in Jung-gu, Seoul until Sunday night. On Monday, traders in the nearby Namdaemun Market, who used to regard the gate as part of their life, had to look at the ashes. Kim Hee-chul (62) was furious. "What did the National Emergency Management Agency and the Cultural Heritage Administration do when the no. 1 National Treasure was being reduced to ashes in the center of the capital of the Republic of Korea?" He said he wept when he saw the roof tiles fall off.

Oh Ji-hye (25), an elementary school teacher, said, "As a teacher, I feel ashamed to tell my children that our country is still experiencing a disaster that would occur in an underdeveloped country."

The websites of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the CHA were inundated with messages criticizing the government for negligent management of cultural assets. The CHA's website was down from 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Monday due to overload.

Chrysanthemums are placed on Monday at the gate of the Sungnyemun, which was destroyed in a fire Sunday night.

One netizen posted a message on the Culture Ministry's website which read, "The main gate of the Unhyeon Palace was broken by a speeding car (in 2007). The Sungnyemun was reduced to ashes by a fire on Sunday night. The Jangan Gate, the north gate of Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province was partly burned. Sueojangdae, the two-story building in the Mt. Namhan Fortress in Seoul, was destroyed by fire. The Naksan Temple in Yangyang, Gangwon Province was burned down (in 2005). Can't you take care of our cultural assets?"

Baek Sang-bin, a professor of psychiatry at Gangneung Asan Hospital of the University of Ulsan said, "Just as Americans were thrown into a panic after watching on TV the World Trade Center buildings, the symbol of the U.S., collapse in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Koreans now feel a great sense of loss and frustration at the sight of the Namdaemun collapse. The disaster in Seoul didn't pose any threat to their lives. But they psychologically felt the equivalent of feelings the American had in the wake of the 9/11 attacks." If they happen to watch the scene of a disaster with their own eyes, people regard its consequences as happening to them personally and feel great unease and panic, Baek added.

Ha Ji-hyun, a professor of psychiatry at Konkuk University Hospital, said Namdaemun was one of two national symbols that “protected us psychologically” alongside the statue of Admiral Yi Sun-shin, who destroyed the Japanese Navy during the Japanese invasions of Korea in the 16th century. “People's sense of panic and frustration over their loss of Namdaemun will linger on for a long time."

Park Hwan-young, a professor of the Folklore Department at ChoongAng University, said, "It is the national pain to have lost the time-honored national treasure. It was not the mere loss of an old building, but a total loss of important folklore materials that preserved the wisdom of our ancestors."

Shin Young-chul, a professor of psychiatry at Kangbuk Samsung Hospital, called for calm. "A collective expression of anger might turn into a movement to make somebody a scapegoat. We have to calm down and discuss carefully what to do."

( )

Audience fading for repertory movie theaters

Monday, February 11, 2008

On Thursday, when an estimated thousand people pack the Castro Theatre to see a 40-year-old movie - Franco Zeffirelli's "Romeo & Juliet" - it will seem like classic repertory programming is alive and well in San Francisco. Olivia Hussey, the film's star, will be interviewed on stage. There will be photos snapped and autographs signed, and in all likelihood, one of those only-in-San-Francisco feelings will pervade the air.

But when it's all over, producer Marc Huestis - after three months of work leading up to the big night - will net only a modest profit. And that's if he's lucky.

For more than two decades, ever since the arrival of VHS tape, San Francisco exhibitors have been scrambling to find a business model that supports classic repertory programming. Exhibitors have devised and revised workable survival strategies, but time after time, those strategies have been undercut by new threats - such as the advent of DVD, Netflix and now downloadable movies. They've tried longer runs, shorter runs, themed festivals, celebrity guests, relatives of deceased celebrities, autograph signing parties and live entertainment, all to less and less effect. Some look ahead to digital projection as a possible panacea, but that's a few years away.

All exhibitors concur that the prospects for repertory in San Francisco have become downright bleak, and that just within the past year business has gotten even worse. In movie-loving, cineast San Francisco, the repertory audience seems to be drying up.

"Last year everything changed," Huestis said. "There was a drop everywhere, whether due to the economy or just the culmination of the new technology that exists right now. The old models are losing audiences. It's really scary."

Just look around. The Roxie Cinema, which in the 1990s had the best retrospectives of any commercial theater in the entire country, has all but given up repertory programming. The Castro Theatre's calendar was once wall-to-wall classics and foreign masterpieces, during the reign of its nationally respected programmer, Anita Monga. Then Monga was let go in 2004, and today the theater relies mostly on its outside festivals and nonfilm events to maintain its profit margin.

Perhaps the most telling example is the most recent. Gary Meyer, a co-founder of Landmark Theatres and one of the savviest and most energetic exhibitors in the area, did his best to make a go of repertory at his Balboa Theater. He gave the Balboa a gorgeous renovation and programmed it with adventurous retrospectives, such as a Paramount pre-Code series in 2005 and a Boris Karloff tribute in 2006. The theater had everything going for it but audiences, and Meyer had to abandon repertory programming by the second half of 2006.

"To have Boris Karloff's daughter there, at the biggest Karloff retrospective in history, with an audience of just 50 people," Meyer said, "that's pretty disconcerting."

Fifteen years ago, that Karloff tribute might have been a success, and 30 years ago, there would have been lines around the block. And that has been the story everywhere. For every "Sing-Along Sound of Music," there are a dozen disaster stories, sometimes involving formulas that were once surefire. For example, in 1993, director James Toback came to the Roxie Cinema and talked to a sold-out crowd following a screening of his 1978 classic, "Fingers." The energy was electric and continued out onto the sidewalk. But in 2006, when Toback came to the Roxie for an ambitious retrospective of his films, the spectacle was downright embarrassing. He stood in front of the house talking to no more than 20 to 25 people.

"In the mid- to late '70s," said Bill Longen, events producer at the Castro, "you could run a Bette Davis double feature and pack the theater - and they didn't even have to be good Bette Davis pictures."

In those pre-VHS days, the business was pretty straightforward. Repertory theaters would show a different double feature every day. Movie lovers kept track by pasting programming schedules of the various theaters on their walls, and these schedules were consulted often: Aside from the Late Show, rep houses were the only means by which people got to see old movies.

This golden era wasn't entirely golden. As Bruce Goldstein, who programs repertory for New York's Film Forum, points out, "Repertory then was bad 16 millimeter prints, beaten to death, with scratches and splices. Studios didn't have classics divisions in those days, and so there were no new prints." But there were audiences, then - made up to a large extent of young people, who'd been exposed to cinema societies in college and were reveling in the buried treasure of classic American film.

The rise of VHS tape exerted the first culling effect. Locally, the Richelieu disappeared and the Gateway converted into a first-run art house. But as Bill Banning, owner of the Roxie Cinema, has said, exhibitors could survive if they were willing to innovate. By the time he took over the Roxie in 1984, Banning knew "you couldn't show straight repertory and make it. You had to show top-notch films, and you had to have a strong theme - film noir, pre-Code. That worked into the '90s."

Another innovation of the late '80s and '90s was the "long-run revival," the creation of Bruce Goldstein, head of repertory programming at New York's Film Forum since 1986. "If you change the bill every day," he said, "the studios have no incentive at all to make a print. So what we did is we'd go to them and say, 'If you make a print, we'll give you a run, and we'll publicize it.' That's our standard for a long-run revival - it has to be a brand new print."

Goldstein's standard became the standard nationally, and following Goldstein's lead, it became common in the '80s and '90s for exhibitors, when advertising a "long run" or "premiere" revival, to talk up the newness of the print. The promise of a fresh print inspired audiences to flock to films they'd seen before - even TV staples, such as "Casablanca" or "The Wizard of Oz" - for the chance to see them projected in pristine condition onto the big screen.

The combination of long runs and inventive festivals made the Roxie Cinema a haven for movie lovers in the mid-1990s. Under the programming of Elliot Lavine, the theater had a Norma Shearer tribute, the U.S. premiere of the Hong Kong exploitation film, "Naked Killer," and a retrospective of the films of Tod Browning and Lon Chaney - and that's just a sampling from one program calendar, from the fall of 1994.

"In the 1990s, you could still do things," Lavine said. "We still had an audience composed of people who'd grown up seeing movies in theaters. VHS was always a consideration. If a movie we wanted to show was on video, we'd pair it up with something not available. But the bad quality of video made theaters in contention."

Gradually other factors started taking a bite out of repertory. "At our westerns festival in 1996, we showed John Wayne in 'The Searchers,' and it did nothing, but other westerns not nearly as well-known drew four and five times that business. Then I looked back and saw Turner Classic Movies had shown it three times in the previous two months. So TCM hurt a little. But the biggest demon that would come down the road - DVD - made it almost impossible. DVD was the nail in the coffin."

Longen agrees. "DVDs have killed the rep business."

The arrival of DVD led to Netflix, which began business in 1999. Meanwhile, the technology for showing movies at home has improved exponentially. Video projectors have come into home use, as well as plasma screens. TVs are getting bigger, and the picture clarity keeps improving. High-definition televisions will soon become the norm, and eventually the DVD as we know it will give way completely to high-definition discs. Already we're seeing a battle for the future play out between two high-definition DVD formats, HDTV and Blu Ray. The latter appears to be winning.

With the home viewing experience suddenly reaching new heights of splendor, what conceivably could be the incentive for seeing classic films in a theater? The answer is simple and not what anyone consciously thought of during the repertory heyday: Other people. After all, in all our memories of transcendent theatergoing experiences, those other people - those strangers watching with you - were part of the experience, too. A big part.

"Movies are a group participation art form, to be in a room with 300 people laughing infectiously," Lavine said. "To see a movie at home, even with a group of friends, is like seeing it under a microscope. These were made to be seen by hundreds of people at the same time."

New Yorkers haven't forgotten this. Under Bruce Goldstein's brilliant programming, Film Forum's repertory is doing better than ever. "DVD hasn't hurt at all - DVD may have helped us," he said. "It has certainly jump-started studio restorations - there are great prints of just about everything now. And it's created a whole new generation of movie buffs."

But just by virtue of being in Manhattan, Film Forum has some advantages that San Francisco theaters don't have - a massive population, cheap and ubiquitous taxi service, a rapid subway system, a tremendous concentration of media, and a tradition for nightlife surpassing that of any other city in the country. If repertory is ever going to be reborn in San Francisco, exhibitors are going to find a formula that can work here.

Longen doesn't see much hope. "I hate to say it, but as the years go on, it's going to die a very slow death, and I love classic films," he said. "I think Gary Meyer proved it (at the Balboa). The audience isn't there."

But Meyer doesn't agree. "It's very difficult at this time," Meyer said. "But I have hope that in a couple of years, when digital becomes more available, we might be able to do it. With film, there are $150 shipping costs, and I have to pay a projectionist $16 an hour to work from noon to 11. Digital would reduce the cost and make it feasible."

"With digital," Lavine said, "the studio could send you a transmission - or a DVD for 41 cents shipping instead of $150. You want a business model? Throw out your projectors and invest in the best video projection you can get. You could even play store-bought DVDs, if you contact the right holder. You could charge five or six dollars admission instead of 10. And you might be able, if you're personable enough, to play this stuff at a very reduced rate. Run the Universal logo on-screen as people come in. Sell DVDs in the lobby. There are creative ways. Exhibitors can either go to bed angry or wake up and change, because this is what it is."

In the meantime, Huestis is preparing for his "Romeo & Juliet" show on Thursday, putting everything he's got into it. "I'm going to hotels, giving postcards to concierges, doing clip reels, arranging ground transportation for the star, answering phones, accumulating the Will Call list, stuffing Will Call envelopes, and making the signage for Will Call and reserve seats," Huestis said. "This one's make or break."

E-mail Mick LaSalle at

This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

'Mongol' actor Tadanobu Asano has high hopes for Academy Award

Tadanobu Asano, center, meets the press in Tokyo after the film,
Tadanobu Asano, center, meets the press in Tokyo after the film, "Mongol," was nominated for an Academy Award.

Leading Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano, whose latest film, "Mongol," was nominated for an Academy Award in the best foreign language film category, said he hopes the flick will win an Oscar later this month.

During a recent press conference in Tokyo, Asano, who plays the main role of Genghis Khan in the film, told reporters, "I'm happy that the film was rewarded with an Academy Award nomination because the shooting was very tough and took a tremendous amount of time. I'm praying that the film will win an award."

The film traces the life of Genghis Khan from his childhood days as a nomad through to the days when he established the Mongolian Empire.

The film was directed by Russian director Sergei Bodrov, who is known for such works as "Bear's Kiss" (2002) and "Prisoner of the Mountains" (1996). The shooting took place in China, taking seven months in 2005 and 2006 and cost about 5 billion yen.

Negotiations are still underway for the release of the film in Japan. The winners of the Academy Awards will be announced on Feb. 25 Japan Time (Feb. 24 U.S. Time).

Sunday, February 10, 2008


The Velvet Underground-Sunday Morning

Oblivion Dust - CRAZY

Thin White Rope, Some Velvet Morning, 1991

Judy Mowatt "Black Warrior Queen"

LUNA SEA - Loveless

Iggy Pop/Ryuichi Sakamoto - Risky

Iggy Pop/Goran Bregovic - In the Death Car

Blondie - Call Me

Jimmy Cliff - The Harder They Come LIVE 1998


Machine - [Live] Invader Live

Shelly Thunder - Break Up

Jonathan Richman - I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar

Patra-Queen Of The Pack

Coven - One Tin Soldier

BUCK-TICK - Bran New Lover [Live]

Sister Carol " Dread Natty Congo"

REM - The One I Love

Cherry Filter - Head Up(100% live)

Jayne County ***The Real Freak***

Jayne/Wayne County & The Electric Chairs - Rockpop 1979

Jayne County - Are you a RepubliKKKan or a Democrat? (1983)

Former NIRVANA Bassist To Perform With FLIPPER At DVD-Release Party

Former NIRVANA bassist Krist Novaselic will be part of influential punk band FLIPPER's lineup during the group's appearance at the special DVD-release party for "Flipper - Live Target Video 1980-81". This all-ages event is free and will take place at Amoeba Music (1855 Haight St., San Francisco, CA 94117, 415.831.1200) on Monday, February 18 at 6:00 p.m. FLIPPER will play a 15-to-20-minute set in celebration of the release. Those who attend will have the opportunity to purchase a copy of the DVD at a special sale price one day before its official release. Attendees can also meet the band and get DVDs signed.

From the archives of San Francisco's famous Target Video comes this monster release from the classic original early '80s lineup of FLIPPER. Capturing extreme and scorching performances from 1980 and 1981, this DVD helps form a picture of the band that slowed down punk rock and made the kids suffer in the "louder-faster" days of hardcore. An intense blend of noise, punk and drone music coupled with an in-your-face attitude and performance style made FLIPPER one of most "out-there" bands of the early '80s scene. This DVD features stellar performances from Berkeley and the Kezar and is (mostly) unreleased and incredible snapshot into the other side of American hardcore.

Novoselic has been a FLIPPER member since 2006 — joining original members Bruce Loose (vocals), Ted Falconi (guitar), and DePace. After previous bassist Bruno DeSmartass gave notice in September 2006, FLIPPER needed a replacement in time to play an All Tomorrow's Parties show in London, curated by Thurtston Moore.

Keep tortoises in the fridge for winter

Wed Feb 6, 8:31 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - Warm winters may be rousing hibernating pet tortoises early and endangering their lives but there is a solution, experts say -- keep them through the winter in the fridge.

Tortoise experts say unseasonably warm weather has woken many of the reptiles early, leaving their owners needing to keep them warm through any new cold snaps that could kill them.

"The fridge is an ideal method and a proven way of being safe in a changing climate," said Joy Bloor, owner of one of country's largest sanctuaries, the Tortoise Garden in Cornwall, where dozens of tortoises have woken early this year.

"It is becoming a more popular method definitely."

Tortoises hibernate through the winter but need to keep their body temperature between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius. If it rises above that, they wake up, begin digesting food and will die if the temperature falls again.

Experts recommend using a new fridge with a reliable thermostat -- and without a freezer compartment as fridges containing integral freezers can malfunction, freezing the whole unit and any tortoises within.

"If you open the door every day they should get enough air," she said. "But you shouldn't go away on holiday and leave them."

Bloor says using a fridge is not an option for her -- she has some 400 animals, several more than 100 years old, and no refrigerator large enough.

In any case, once the tortoises have woken, they cannot simply be put a fridge -- once the hibernation has been broken, the fall in temperature would kill them.

(Reporting by Peter Apps; Editing by Steve Addison)

Actor Shinichi Chiba punches acquaintance at TV station

Actor Shinichi Chiba punched an acquaintance at a television station in Tokyo after getting into an argument over money, leaving the victim with slight injuries, police said.

Chiba also suffered injuries. Local police are poised to question the two over the incident after they recover from their wounds.

Chiba, 69, whose real name is Sadaho Maeda, punched a 49-year-old company employee on the premises of Nittele Tower that houses Nippon Television Network Corp. (NTV) on Wednesday night, leaving him with slight injuries to his jaw, investigators said. Chiba had got furious at the victim's remarks on his money problems.

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