Whee!: You Can Now Take Hogwarts Magic Classes Online

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HogwartsIsHere is a website offering free online classes in magic and potions and all that other fun stuff that make-believe witches and wizards want to learn.

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Though it is similar to the franchise’s interactive ebook website Pottermore, this version doesn’t seem to follow directly in Potter’s footsteps. The immersive website was made by members of the fandom to bring together anyone who has been seeking “magical experiences” since the series’ conclusion.
It also takes its course work very seriously — starting out as first year students, users are expected to complete homework assignments, essays, quizzes and tests for classes such as “Charms” and “Potions,” and progress through all seven years of wizard academics.

Chinese Man Has A Horn Growing Out of His Neck

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A man who has lived with a thick horn growing from his neck for over 30 years said his greatest wish is to know what caused it, the Chutian Metropolis Daily reported.

Li Zhibing, 62-year-old resident of Shiyan, Hubei Province, explained friends use a saw to help him cut the horn to a nub twice a year, or else his neck becomes swollen and runs a fever if it grows too long.

Li said he discovered the beginnings of the unusual growth in 1980. After attempting to treating it with herbs from the mountains near his home, the horn grew an astonishing 15 centimeters perpendicularly from the nape of his neck.

For the past 35 years, Li has suspected it was the home remedy he used that caused the horn to grow.

Li said the horn is not an inconvenience – except for when he washes his hair and gets dressed. And his shocking appearance.

Although it is unclear what is causing Li’s growth, it resembles a cutaneous horn.

These horn-shaped protrusions are in fact concentrated deposits of keratin, or the protein that promotes hair and nail growth. Though they usually develop in adults over 55 years old, large protrusions such as Li’s are rare.

Cutaneous horns can be surgically removed.

Unfortunately named town of ‘Kill Jews’ to vote on name change

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ee3052356ee55f5bee9f19d9d6926067a001b31aIt is a name that locals admit is not really fit for the modern age.

And now the mayor of the small Spanish town of Castrillo Matajudios — which means Castrillo Kill Jews in English — has said residents will get the opportunity to vote on a name change.

The 56 residents of the town, which lies near the northern city of Burgos, will vote May 25 on whether to change the name and instead celebrate the location’s Jewish heritage, mayor Lorenzo Rodriguez said Monday.

If they agree to the change, locals will be able to choose between the rather less offensive Mota Judios and Mota de Judios, which both mean Mound of the Jews.

“Those of us who have lived all our lives in Castrillo Matajudios don’t give it a second thought. But the moment you go elsewhere it sounds bad,” the mayor told AFP in an interview.

“Nowadays when people hear Castrillo Matajudios they go, ‘What a village. They kill Jews there. You have killed Jews’,” he said.

“There are some villagers, business people who travel to Israel, and they try not to show their identity card. It is a name that we know today is not very correct,” the mayor explained.

Rodriguez said the town hall wanted to change the name as long as it could convince the residents.

He said the town was born in 1035 when Jews who had been stripped of their possessions and exiled from their homes decided to settled on a mound, or mota, in the area.

They remained there until 1492 when the Catholic Monarchs, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, expelled the Jews from Spain, allowing only those who converted to the Roman Catholic faith to remain.

Now the town hall wants to commission an archaeological study and excavations to unearth the Jewish history of the site and even to attract visitors to the area, Rodriguez said.

Archaeologist Angel Palomino said an initial study of historical documents carried out for the town revealed that the first mention of the name Castrillo Matajudios appeared in 1623.

“The documents show that there were several killings of Jews by outsiders as happened in many other Jewish settlements in Spain and other parts of Europe,” Palomino said, although he said he suspects the name had a different origin.

Descendants of Jews who had converted to Roman Catholicism likely decided to change the town’s name during the Counter-Reformation to prove the purity of their faith, he said.

The archaeologist said there were likely 300 to 400 households, or up to 1,500 people, living in the Jewish settlement at one time.

Although estimates vary, historians believe at least 200,000 Jews lived in Spain before the 1492 expulsion. Many who refused to convert or leave were burned at the stake.

Spain now offers citizenship to Sephardic Jews descended from those who were expelled — who can prove their heritage.

In February, the government approved a draft citizenship law that would make it easier for such Jews to gain Spanish nationality, notably by allowing them to keep their existing citizenship as well.

Cuba condom shortage leads to selling expired condoms

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VRy9i_Em_56Hoping to resolve a shortage of condoms that has sparked complaints around Cuba, the island’s public health system has approved the sale of more than one million prophylactics with apparently expired dates.

Pharmacy sales personnel must explain to the buyers that the condoms are good and simply have the wrong expiration dates, said a report Saturday in Vanguardia, the newspaper of the Communist Party in the central province of Villa Clara.

A Vanguardia report April 3 on the shortage said that the government agency in charge of certifying medical items in 2012 had noticed erroneous expiration dates on the “Moments” prophylactics imported from China.

The agency ordered the condoms be repackaged with the correct dates, the newspaper added. But the state-run enterprise repackaging the more than one million condoms in stock does not have enough workers to process the 5,000 condoms a day required just in Villa Clara province.

Vanguardia did not publish the “wrong” dates, but its report hinted that they showed the prophylactics had expired or would soon expire. The shelf life of condoms is very long, it said.

“Although the lots are in optimal conditions, under the certificate of the Center for the State Control of Medicines and Medical Equipment the condoms could not be sold without the new expiration date, December of 2014,” Vanguardia reported Saturday.

“Due to the irregularities in the repackaging, which has provoked prolonged absences of the prophylactics throughout the country, the Public Health Ministry authorized the sale of the ‘Moments’ condoms in their current packages,” on April 4, the newspaper said.

Several Cuban bloggers commented acridly on the shortage long after April 4, with some noting that it could lead to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases as well as unwanted pregnancies and abortions. The story was picked up in el Nuevo Herald and The Guardian in London.

The Cuban government, meanwhile, also published a list of companies around the world that are authorized to ship packages to the island, a business hit routinely with complaints of lost packages, high prices and outright fraud.

The list “will allow those who send these types of shipments from abroad to confirm that the agency they plan to use is among those authorized to carry out those operations with Cuba,” said a report in the government-controlled Cubadebate website.

The U.S. companies listed: Wilson Intl.; Service Inc.; Machi Community Services; Va Cuba; Caribe Express; Vía Cuba; Flor Caribe Inc.; Caribbean Family and Travel Services Inc.; Aztec Worldwide Airlines Inc.; Procurements Systems Inc.; Crowley Logistics Inc.; Frontline Cargo Logistic; International Port Corp; Ez Shipping LLC; Centrotrading LLC; and V.I.P INTL INC.

The list, compiled by Cuba’s customs agency, also included Cugranca, a Spanish firm approved to provide delivery and currency exchange services for people in the United States.