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Study: 'Auras' in mind of beholder

LONDON, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Those who claim to be able to see auras around people are more likely experiencing a rare brain malfunction themselves, a British study has found.


In a University College London study, Dr. Jamie Ward of the psychology department documented a woman known as GW who could see colors like purple and blue in response to people she knew or their names when read to her. Words triggered a color that spread across her whole field of vision, while people themselves appeared to have colored auras projected around them.

Ward concluded GW had a rare form of synaesthesia, a condition found in 1 in 2,000 people, in which stimulation of one sense produces a response in one or more of the other senses. For example, people with synaesthesia may experience shapes with tastes or smells with sounds.


Some scientists believe it might be caused by a cross-wiring in the brain, for example between centers involved in emotional processing and smell perception. Synaesthesia is known to run in families.

The case study is reported in the October issue of Cognitive Neuropsychology.

Couple cleared of letting guest drive drunk

NANCY, France, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- A French court has acquitted a couple of all criminal charges for allowing a dinner guest to drive home drunk.

The dinner guest, Frederic Colin, was subsequently involved in an accident that killed four people.

If found guilty, Angelique and Jean-Sebastian Fraisse of Nancy, France, could have faced a fine and prison sentence, the BBC reported Tuesday.

The couple said they tried to keep Colin from driving, but he became aggressive and insisted upon leaving. He drove the wrong way on a road and crashed into another car carrying a family of five. Only a five-year-old girl in the other car survived.

The prosecution said because the accused couple met after both had been the victims of drunken drivers, both should have been more aware of the risks of allowing their friend to drive after a long night of drinking.

Angelique Fraisse has been paralyzed from her waist down since she was struck by a car at age 16.


The BBC said the case had divided France, where drunken driving is becoming socially unacceptable. French bar owners can already be held legally responsible if they allow a drunken customer to drive.

Stewart's 'Crossfire' segment tops on Web

NEW YORK, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Jon Stewart's "Crossfire" interview, during which he blasted the co-hosts, is causing an Internet frenzy with the segment ranking as a top-viewed Web clip.

Stewart appeared on the CNN talk show Friday, criticizing Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala for "doing theater, when you should be doing debate," an exchange that grew tense and included the comedian calling Carlson "a big (expletive)."

The "Crossfire" segment reportedly struck a nerve as a hot Internet topic during the weekend and transcripts of the interview and clips from the show were all over the Web, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday.

One site,, said the interview segment was its most viewed clip Monday.

Comedy Central, where Stewart hosts "The Daily Show," reportedly received more than 1,000 supportive e-mails after the program aired, the Tribune said.

Carlson and Begala defended their show Monday, but played down Stewart's outburst.

"I didn't care. That's not the worst thing I've been called," Carlson said, adding Stewart was an intelligent, bright person who was "having this cathartic experience."


Begala said he enjoyed Stewart's show.

Hip-hop and rap music favorite of youth

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- A U.S. study conducted for Interep Research found that hip-hop and rap music are the favorite types of music among 12 to 24 year olds.

The study also found that hip hop has also evolved into its own lifestyle -- involving clothing, athletic shoes, electronics and entertainment, Radio & Records, Inc., reported Tuesday.

The data, developed by Edison Media Research, showed hip-hop as a powerful force in the youth market, crossing ethnic, economic, suburban and urban borders.

"Rap is the music. Hip-hop is the lifestyle. Urban is the mindset," said Sherman Kizart, Interep Research vice president and director of urban marketing. "With the help of this comprehensive study, we will help advertisers to understand that advertising on hip-hop oriented radio stations transcends the music played."

Does absentee voting hurt the election?

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- With early and absentee voting playing a major part in the 2004 U.S. presidential election there's a debate on whether it's good or bad for the election.

At a forum Tuesday at the conservative Washington think tank American Enterprise Institute, Curtis Gans, director of the Committee for Study of the American Electorate, said he believes absentee voting hinders voter turnout and devalues the electoral process.


The tradition of going to the polls on Election Day may be at risk and voters may be subjected to coercion, he said.

Pressures one may find easy to resist behind a curtain may be difficult to ignore in front of family, friends or co-workers, when filling out an absentee ballot, Gans said.

"We're undermining the secret ballot," Gans said. "We're undermining the communal act of voting and it's not worth it."

But New Mexico Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron, a Democrat, disagreed.

She said polling officials haven't provided Native Americans or the 42 percent of the Hispanic community in New Mexico with polling places in rural areas. It is impossible for those living as far as 80 to 100 miles away, to exercise their right without absentee voting.

"We're going into a new era," Vigil-Giron said. "We're not going to go backwards anymore. I don't see us going back to the old way."

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