Sunday, April 30, 2006

Bra chain record

Women in Cyprus have set a new record by forming the longest chain of bras in the world, organisers say.

The stunt was part of a campaign to raise awareness of breast cancer and encourage more regular check-ups.

Dutch, British and Cypriot organisers formed a 111km (70 miles)-long chain, eclipsing a 60km record which was held by Singapore.

The chain consisted of nearly 115,00 bras, with contributions from as far afield as Alaska.

It took volunteers almost a year to collect the underwear, and over eight hours to clip them together, eventually forming over 200 lines of bras up and down the length of Paphos pier.

George Doubleya Bush

US President George W Bush was twice the man at the White House Correspondents' Association annual dinner on Saturday.

Playing up to his public persona, Mr Bush sent himself up alongside impersonator, Steve Bridges.

"Let's [get] things going," said Mr Bridges imitating Mr Bush, "or I'll never get to bed".

The real Mr Bush spoke of spreading his agenda "globally and around the world, as well as internationally".

Steve Bridges, who lampoons Mr Bush on television, was invited by the president to mimic him at the dinner.

"All right. Maintain. Be cool. Let's give this a try," said Mr Bridges as Mr Bush.

"We must enhance non-compliance protocols sanctioned not only at IAEA formal sessions, but through intercessional contact."

Mr Bush repeated: "We must enhance non-compliance protocols sanctioned not only at E-I-E-I-O sessions, but through intersexual conduct," eliciting howls of laughter from the audience.

Adopting the president's poise and mannerisms, Mr Bridges told the guests: "Some of my critics in the international community call me arrogant.

"I will not even honour that with a response. Screw them!", with Mr Bush smirking beside him.

The president told the audience he was "absolutely delighted to be here, as is [wife] Laura," to which Mr Bridges quipped: "She's hot!"

Mr Bush's appearance at the dinner, which is attended by media personalities, celebrities and politicians, continues a tradition begun by President Calvin Coolidge in 1924.

Comedian Stephen Colbert - well-known for his jibes at the Washington establishment in his show The Colbert Report - was the evening's featured entertainer.

He paid a mock tribute to the president as a man who, "believes Wednesday what he believed Monday, despite what happened Tuesday".

"I believe that the government that governs best is a government that governs least," he told the audience, "and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq".

Stunt junkie idiot

A US TV host has been arrested after a dramatic struggle 1,000ft above the streets of New York after allegedly trying to parachute from the Empire State Building.

Tourists on the skyscraper's 86th-floor observation deck watched in shock on Thursday afternoon as officials fought to stop Jeb Ray Corliss IV from carrying out his stunt.

Authorities said Corliss, 30, the host of the US Discovery Channel's Stunt Junkies show, had got past security at the tower's entrance by wearing a foam fat suit concealing his parachute. The slim, bald man's disguise also included a rubber mask with tufts of greyish hair.

Once on the 86th floor, he allegedly went into the toilets and took off the fat suit to reveal a parachute, jumping gear and a helmet with a video camera attached, before attempting to jump.

Police said Corliss climbed over a security fence on the side of the tower, but building staff had been tipped off and a guard grabbed his leg before he could leap. The TV host, from Malibu, California, was then handcuffed to the railing as he protested loudly. A piece of the fence had to be removed to take him into custody.

A British tourist, Dennis Hook, 68, told the New York Post he initially thought the spectacle was a joke. He said: "There was also someone in a King Kong suit walking around, so it looked like a show. It was unbelievable."

Timothy Donahue, a member of staff, said: "He was fighting with us to get off. He wanted to jump off in the worst way." He added: "It's New York City. It's rush hour. It's not the time to be jumping off buildings."

Police Inspector James McCarthy said that Corliss told authorities he was trying to pull off a stunt and had done similar things in the past. Corliss is being charged with assault, reckless endangerment and other offences.

Stunt Junkies is dedicated to adventures in extreme sports such as skydiving.

Fency that !

It's a problem which has plagued council officials for months and ended up costing almost £13,000 in public money.

But despite their best endeavours - and the high cost - there is still no peace for the people who live next to Edinburgh's "whistling" fence.

The trouble centres on a 5ft-high metal fence that was put up around Gracemount's Fala Court more than a year ago as part of "environmental improvements" to the area.

Weary residents complained last January that the fence gave a high-pitched whine during strong winds, keeping them awake at night.

Since then, the council has made two attempts to stop the whistling, by fixing metal bars and rubber strips to the fence. But residents say they are still being kept awake at night.

Fala Court resident Mary Anne McMillan, 20, said: "I am on the 11th floor - well away from the fence - and it is still loud enough to keep me awake at night.

"They have put something through the metal of the fence to stop it from vibrating and making a noise, but it is still just as bad.

"It is only really bad when it is windy, but living where we do, next to Gracemount Park, it is windy a lot of the time. Everyone is really badly disturbed by it."

Another resident, who lives a quarter of a mile away, on Carnbee Dell, said he and his neighbours were also disturbed by the whistling.

He said: "I can hear this piercing whistling noise - it's unbelievable. I have said right from the start of all this that the fence should come down. Sometimes it can go on a few nights in a row, which is just awful - you get no sleep."

The cost of the work has left opposition politicians astounded.

Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, housing spokesman for the council's Liberal Democrats, said: "This has to be the craziest thing I have ever heard.

"If you held a competition to think of ways of wasting £13,000, you couldn't come up with anything better - apart from perhaps burning it."

Councillor Jason Rust, the city's Tory housing spokesman, added: "It seems ludicrous that they have spent such a huge amount of money on it and the problem still hasn't been resolved."

A council spokeswoman said: "After initial work to rectify the problem, further work was carried out last week. Two strengthening metal bars with rubber strips have been strapped to the railings to cut the reverberations. We will continue to monitor the area around the fence, in particular during high winds, to ensure that the problem has been resolved. We are confident that the additional measures will bring a lasting solution to the problems local residents have faced regarding the fence."

She added: "Almost 300 metres of fence were affected by the problem and the total cost of the work, including manufacturing and installation (of the metal bars and rubber strips), was £12,801.49.

Council leader Donald Anderson said: "It is one of the most bizarre things I think I have ever come across in my time on the council. The same type of fence has been put up in other places and there hasn't been a problem. It must be something strange with the wind in that particular area.

"We will be considering the future of the flats in the capital budget, so we may have to wait a month or two to see what happens to them generally before we take any action to replace the fence."

Online golfers tee up marriage

A MOTHER of two who met an American while playing a golf game online is to marry him.

Claire Wilcox, 31, hit it off with 30-year-old Missouri resident Shane Nelson while playing Links 2004 on the Xbox at her home in Cardiff.

After Ms Wilcox flew to America for a romantic break, the pair arranged to marry at a Cardiff register office in July.

Osama on the run

A chimpanzee named Osama bin Laden is still on the run in the jungles of Sierra Leone after escaping from a wildlife sanctuary.

Osama fled with 20 other chimpanzees from the sanctuary where they killed a taxi driver.

Another of the escaped apes is called Charles Taylor, after the former Liberian leader.

Brazilian army goes low-tech

Brazil's army has started drafting a low-tech but effective transporter for its Amazon operations to complement its modern military arsenal -- water buffalo.

The sturdy horned animals can easily carry supplies and munitions in remote areas where there are no roads, fuel is scarce, or rivers are too shallow to navigate, officers say.

"The buffalo have had excellent operational results and increased the distances we can cover," General Eduardo Dias da Costa Villas Boas, the chief of the Brazilian Army in the Amazon, said on Friday.

They weigh about 500 kg (1,100 pounds) and can carry the same amount, he added.

Brazil has some 27 military bases securing its rugged Amazon border, a dangerous frontier abutting seven nations that stretches 11,200 km (6,800 miles) -- three times the length of the U.S. border with Mexico.

The army has to contend with diamond smugglers, cocaine traffickers, clashes between loggers and Indians, and Colombian guerrillas who sometimes hide out in Brazilian territory.

Supplies arrive at the bases by plane or boat, but to reach outlying training and patrol operations, they must be moved along narrow trails through thick jungle.

Other pack animals, such as mules, were considered but they would have needed special food and been more prone to disease.

Each base along the border was sent three water buffalo last year. The program will be expanded once tests of newly designed cargo packs are completed.

The Army gets the docile and disease-resistant animals from Marajo Island, a land mass the size of Switzerland at the mouth of the Amazon River. Portuguese settlers brought them to Brazil from Asia centuries ago.

"They don't require gasoline or special food. Buffalo eat anything," Villas Boas said.

Titanic auction

A locket that went down with the Titanic and a survivor's handwritten account of the 1912 disaster fetched tens of thousands dollars at auction Saturday.

U.S. passenger Helen Churchill Candee's 36-page description of the ship's sinking, which fetched £46,500 in the sale, describes how she gave her locket to Edward Kent, a friend on board the ship, for safekeeping after the Titanic hit the iceberg that destroyed it.

The locket, which sold for £54,000 , was found in the drowned Kent's jacket pocket when his body was recovered soon after his death.

Candee survived the disaster in a lifeboat. It is not clear exactly when she wrote her account, the auction house said.

The items, all purchased by collectors who asked to remain anonymous, were among about 300 Titanic-related lots auctioned by Henry Aldridge and Son house in western England, said Andrew Aldridge, head of Titanic and maritime memorabilia.

Before boarding a lifeboat, Candee handed a silver flask and the gilt locket containing a picture of her mother to Kent, saying: "Take these for me, you know we women have no pockets," she wrote in her manuscript.

"But Kent drew back his hands; angered I commanded: 'Take them,"' she wrote.

"His eyes appealed to mine. I (knew then) read them (what he meant)...But he took my treasures (though silently) against his (prophetic) soul's prophecy and slipped out of the cabin (and disappeared). We never saw him again."

Candee, a travel correspondent heading home to see her injured son, also described passengers wearing life-jackets over their evening gowns and bathrobes as they climbed a staircase to the ship's deck.

"The crowd looked strangely like dancers in a (costume) ball," she wrote.


Animal activists bit off more than they could chew this morning when they chained themselves to the killing area of an abattoir at Ipswich in south-east Queensland.

The 12 protesters got a fright when meatworkers took matters into their own hands and used angle grinders to cut the chains off the activists so they could get back to work.

The group had hoped their actions would disrupt the World Meat Congress, which is under way in Brisbane.

Protester Angie Stephenson says it was terrifying.

"The workers, they were standing around cheering and whooping and yelling and making lewd comments so we had to call the police and tell them to get out here straight away," she said.

Police escorted the group off the site and no arrests have been made.

Abattoir management has declined to comment.

Croc - o - saw

A 15 foot crocodile has chased a man up a tree in the Northern Territory while the man was cleaning-up debris left by cyclone Monica.

The owner of the Corroboree Park Tavern, Peter Shappert, says the man was trying to remove a tree that had fallen against the saltwater crocodile pen.

Mr Shappert says the crocodile, named Brutus, managed to take possession of the chainsaw the man was using.

"He's been a bit upset with the noise, so he's come shooting out of the pond, run up the tree and tried to grab Freddy the chainsaw man," he said.

"So he's missed Freddy and grabbed his chainsaw instead ... he's swimming around with a large steel chainsaw hanging out of his mouth."

The clean-up effort was delayed while staff tried to win back the necessary machinery.

"I was going to drain the pen and then ask him politely to let go of the chainsaw," Mr Shappert said.

Although staff have now retrieved the chainsaw, Mr Buckland says it has been written-off.

He says his relationship with the crocodile is also on the rocks.

"We're not seeing eye to eye at the moment," he said.

Mr Buckland says Brutus lost a few teeth during the ordeal , but was otherwise unharmed.

Mr Shappert says he is thinking of changing the crocodile's name from Brutus to two-stroke.

Text a crime

Crime pays in new ways in south-east England where police are rewarding informants with £10 in mobile phone credits for useful tip-offs via text messaging.

Sussex Police have set up a special number to take information on crimes from members of the public via SMS massaging, under a pilot scheme called "Textme" that is aimed at young people.

"We log the information from each text we receive and subject them to proper investigation," said inspector Mark Piper, who thought up the idea.

"If the information proves useful, we respond with a thank you and tell them we would like to give them £10 credit."

That is worth about 100 text messages on the typical pay-as-you-go mobile phone.

"The great thing about this scheme is that you could be walking down the street and text in about a crime without anyone knowing."

Nine text messages were received on the first day of Textme this week, including information on car crime and possible drug dealing.

Police will only try to trace informants in case of serious crime such as murder.

Kon-Tiki reborn

Fifty-nine years after legendary Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl crossed the Pacific on the balsa raft Kon-Tiki, his grandson has set sail on a new raft to recreate his forebear's bold voyage.

With Olav Heyerdahl and five others on board, the Tangaroa - a sort of 2006 model of the Kon-Tiki - set off from the Peruvian port of Callao, on a journey to cross the Pacific and reach the atolls of Polynesia.

After 16 naval officers rowed the balsa-log vessel 200 metres off the shore, the 16-metre-by-eight-metre Tangaroa was picked up by a tugboat, which pulled it eight kilometres out to sea, where it could catch the ocean currents.

A massive square sail was lifted, and the vessel set off on its three-month voyage.

A visibly excited "Thor Junior," the son of the Kon-Tiki captain, bid his son Olav a safe journey while expressing some nervousness over the 28-year-old's first big sea excursion.

A construction engineer, Olav Heyerdahl will serve the vessel as a combination carpenter and diver.

Tangaroa is a larger-scale version of the Kon-Tiki, which Thor Heyerdahl built on a model of ancient rafts to demonstrate that prehistoric South Americans could have crossed the Pacific to Polynesia.

A documentary of the original Kon-Tiki voyage won an Academy Award in 1951.

But Thor Heyerdahl's theory that pre-Incan South Americans may have populated the South Pacific has since been dismissed by anthropologists, who say Polynesia was settled from Indonesia.

The newer raft has a 90 square metre sail and nine rudders capable of turning and holding the vessel's course to avoid the drifting that turned the original 1947 Kon-Tiki trip into an arduous 101-day journey.

The six crewmen - four Norwegians, one Swede and one Peruvian, believe the modernised raft will help them make the 8,500-kilometre passage within three months.

The Tangaroa - named after a Polynesian god of the sea - carries with it a wind-driven power system, a global positioning system and an Internet link, none of which its predecessor enjoyed.

"We want to test the navigation system of the indigenous people of the Peruvian coast, to survey for environmental damage and to follow the path of Thor Heyerdahl," Olav Heyerdahl said.

There was one objection to the voyage, from Peruvian adventurer Carlos Caravedo, who in 1965 set sail in his own hand-built raft, also baptised Tangaroa, making the crossing to Polynesia in 115 days.

The 90-year-old navigator only wished that the newest vessel used a different name.

"It is time for them to change the craft's name," he told the newspaper La Republica.

Happy Birthday Empire State Building

The Empire State Building, once the tallest building in the world and again the tallest in New York City, is turning 75 years old on Monday.

A yearlong celebration is planned for the building, consisting mainly of monthly light shows, according to Lydia Ruth, spokeswoman for the corporation that runs the building.

Like London's Crystal Palace and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Empire State Building represented in its time "what we were capable of," says Carol Willis, an architectural historian and founder-director of lower Manhattan's Skyscraper Museum.

Construction of the Empire State Building was one of the most remarkable feats of the 20th century. It took only 410 days to build -- by 3,400 workers, many of them desperate for work at the height of the Depression. The work force was made up largely of immigrants, along with hundreds of Mohawk Indian iron workers.

The 1,453-foot tower opened on May 1, 1931, with President Herbert Hoover pressing a button in Washington to turn on its lights. Architect William Lamb, the chief designer, messaged former New York Gov. Al Smith from a ship at sea: "One day out and I can still see the building."

Built of steel and aluminum and faced with granite and Indiana limestone, it was for 40 years the world's tallest edifice until surpassed in 1972 by the World Trade Center. It again became the city's tallest after airliners flown by terrorist hijackers destroyed the 110-story twin towers on September 11, 2001. It now ranks ninth in the world, and second in the United States behind Chicago's Sears Tower.

Its 102 floors are topped by a 200-foot tower designed as a mooring mast for dirigibles. The mast was never used because of dangerous updrafts , but it did serve movie "King Kongs" as a perch for swatting fighter planes.

Some tub !

SOUTHAMPTON, England -- The world's largest cruise ship docked in England on Saturday ahead of its inaugural trip -- a floating behemoth four times the size of the Titanic, with facilities never imagined at the dawn of the liner age.

At 158,000 tons, the Freedom of the Seas offers a pool with artificial waves for surfers, an ice rink and cantilevered whirlpools that extend out from the sides of the ship, 112 feet above the sea.

The vessel, which will sail next Wednesday for New York before heading to its Miami base from where it will ply the Caribbean trade, wrested the crown as the world's biggest liner from the 151,000-tonne Queen Mary 2 launched over two years ago.

The ship can hold over 3,600 guests, is 15 decks high and is the length of 37 buses.

The gleaming white vessel edged into Southampton port, southern England on a sunny morning on Saturday and will be welcomed with a fireworks display in the evening.

The vessel will entertain guests including VIPs and travel journalists in Southampton before traveling to New York, where a naming ceremony will take place.

But Freedom's time at the top may be short-lived amid talk of even larger ships. A vessel code named Project Genesis is already set to make an appearance in 2009 at 220,000 tonnes.

The U.S.-Norwegian owners Royal Caribbean say Freedom of the Seas was designed to appeal to the broadest consumer base possible.

But although the industry appears committed to building ever-larger ships, there is disquiet among some operators that vessels are becoming too big and the market too crowded.

Earlier this month, the head of rival Carnival said it was shifting away from the dominant Caribbean market which has been weakened recently by hurricane fears and lower demand. Carnival said it would shift focus towards the Alaskan and European markets.

Body Parts Infected

Assistant D.A. Josh Hanshaft shows an X-ray of a person's pelvic area with PVC plumbing pipe where bones should be.

Read the gruesome story here

Friday, April 28, 2006

Some Dime !

COLUMBUS, Ohio (April 28) - It cost a lot more than a nickel to buy this half dime.

A 1792 half dime, believed to be one of the first coins minted by the United States, was sold at auction for more than $1.3 million Thursday night at the Central States Numismatic Society convention, officials said.

The winning bidder was a private collector who wants to remain anonymous, said James Halperin, co-chairman of Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas, which was selling the coin.

The bidding began at $750,000 and advanced to $1.15 million. With a 15 percent buyer's premium added on, the coin sold for $1,322,500.

The coin, mottled blue, gray and gold with time but still considered to be in excellent condition, was thought to have been struck on silver provided by George Washington, officials said.

It depicts a female Liberty figure with flowing hair on the front and an eagle on the back.

The Professional Coin Grading Service designated it a "specimen strike," meaning it likely was made as a presentation piece. The auction catalog description speculates the coin was "perhaps a special gift to a friend of the U.S. or even to George Washington himself."

Two worn 1792 half dimes, or "disme" as it was originally spelled, also were sold at the convention for $14,950 and $69,000, respectively.

El himno nacional de los Estados Unidos

The national anthem should be sung in English -- not Spanish -- President Bush declared Friday, amid growing restlessness over the millions of immigrants here illegally.

"One of the things that's very important is, when we debate this issue, that we not lose our national soul," the president exclaimed. "One of the great things about America is that we've been able to take people from all walks of life bound as one nation under God. And that's the challenge ahead of us."

A Spanish language version of the national anthem was released Friday by a British music producer, Adam Kidron, who said he wanted to honor America's immigrants.

Pray to the metal Gods

RED DEER - The metal gods were smiling on Jesse Maggrah.

The 20-year-old man was walking beside railway tracks on Sunday, the Norwegian heavy metal band Gorgoroth cranked on his portable CD player, when he was hit by a freight train.

Maggrah said he did hear the blast of the train horn just before he was hit.

"I tried to jump out of the way, but I guess not in time," he said Monday from his bed at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. "It was just instant. I was just walking and then I was on the ground. I wasn't sure what happened. Then I saw the train stopping up ahead. I thought, 'Holy crap, dude, you just got hit by a train.' "

Police say the engineer and conductor on the northbound Canadian Pacific Railway train saw the man on the tracks several kilometres south of Red Deer. The crew blew the whistle and attempted to stop, but they were only able to slow the train to about 50 kilometres per hour before hitting him.

Maggrah was thrown four to five metres from the tracks. Stunned, he moved his arms and legs to check for damage.

"I knew I was alive, so that was good."

He has several broken ribs, one of which is poking into a lung, his doctors have told him. Maggrah is also sore and stiff, and is having trouble walking.

Maggrah said he remembers the train engineer checking him to see if he was OK. "He seemed kind of scared. He didn't know if I was dead or not."

Maggrah was walking into Red Deer to watch a band jam night at a local club.

He said he didn't hear the train over his music and he didn't feel anything through the ground.

"Maybe the metal gods above were smiling on me and they didn't want one of their true warriors to die on them. Otherwise, I'd be up there in the kingdom of steel."

Video cop sues

Click here
A Drug Enforcement Administration agent who stars in a popular online video that shows him shooting himself in the foot during a weapons demonstration for Florida children is suing over the tape's release, claiming that his career has been crippled and he's become a laughingstock due to the embarrassing clip's distribution.

Lee Paige, 45, blames the video's release on DEA officials in an April 7 federal lawsuit filed against the U.S. government. A copy of the pro se complaint by Paige, a DEA agent since 1990, can be found below. According to the lawsuit, Paige was making a "drug education presentation" in April 2004 to a Florida youth group when his firearm (a Glock .40) accidentally discharged. The shooting occurred moments after Paige told the children that he was the only person in the room professional enough to carry the weapon.

The accident was filmed by an audience member, and the tape, Paige claims, was turned over to the DEA. The drug agency subsequently "improperly, illegally, willfully and/or intentionally" allowed the tape to be disseminated.

As a result, Paige--pictured above in a still from the video--has been the "target of jokes, derision, ridicule, and disparaging comments" directed at him in restaurants, grocery stores, and airports. Paige, who writes that he was "once regarded as one of the best undercover agents, if not the best, in the DEA," points to the clip's recent airing on popular television shows and via the Internet as the reason he can no longer work undercover. He also notes that he is no longer "permitted or able to give educational motivational speeches and presentations."

Parable pays off

A clergyman invested in the "talents" of his congregation who raised more than £5,000 for a church refurbishment.

The Rev Michael Eden of St Peter and St Mary's Church, Stowmarket, handed out £900 to parishioners hoping it would be doubled as in the biblical parable.

In the story a master gave his servants talents to invest and two doubled their money while the third buried the cash.

But his congregation proved more than equal to the task, raising more than £5,000 for the 14th Century church.

One woman in her 70s raised more than £400 by selling jams, cakes, scones and conserves.

Even children got into the act by holding a party and selling sweets to raise £125.

Rev Eden said: "We are very pleased - everyone increased the money.

"We handed out £900 which had been donated to us for this project in good faith and no one let us down.

"I challenged the congregation to use their God-given talents and they responded accordingly."

Keys save have- a- go hero

A brave shopper shot at by an armed robber has been saved by his front door key.

Brian Woodham, 64, refused to back down when a balaclava-clad man pointed a gun at him during a cash raid at the Asda supermarket in Ashford, Kent, on Wednesday.

He was shot at twice but the bullet pinged off the set of keys in his trouser pocket.

Mr Woodham told The Sun: "He pointed it at my waist and fired. I felt a blast on my leg, like I'd been smacked.

"I picked up a rock and tried to hit him, then heard the gun go off again. It hit the same leg but this time really hurt.

"I saw two of my front door keys were bent by about 45 degrees. They were in my jeans pocket and it looks like they saved me. A bullet-head was embedded in the lining."

Police believe three men were involved in the armed robbery at around 9.20am.

Two of the men, each armed with handguns and wearing fluorescent jackets, confronted and threatened two Securitas staff as they refilled a cash machine.

The robbers then grabbed a holdall containing what was believed to be several thousand pounds in cash.

Detective Chief Inspector Tony Kofkin said: "The actions of the member of the public who intervened was extremely brave but these robbers are armed and dangerous and should not be approached."

An Asda spokeswoman said: "We are very shocked by what's happened and we have offered counselling to a customer and our own colleagues that were involved in the incident."

She added that Asda had given Mr Woodham a £200 voucher because his clothes had been damaged by the shooting.

That's some over !

It was an over Jonathan Hughes will always remember – and one Craig Hobson will always try to forget.
In only his second knock for North Leeds, Hughes, a 29-year-old right-hander from Cookridge, Leeds, smashed six sixes, a four and a two off an over from Hall Park medium-pace bowler Craig Hobson, 41, which included two no-balls, in the Airedale and Wharfedale League's Waddilove Cup.
He totalled 42 for the over and the two no-balls brought his team an extra two runs, making 44 in all.
A delighted Hughes, who smashed his way to an unbeaten 126 at The Homestead ground in Roundhay, said: "The first three balls went for six but I didn't realise the first was a no-ball. The scoreboard then showed I was on 98 so I pushed the next delivery, which was also a no-ball, to midwicket for two to reach my hundred. That left four balls to go and the next three went for six and the last for a four. It seemed to take forever because of the time spent looking for the ball."
But spare a thought for Hobson, whose anguish was made complete by one of his colleagues dropping Hughes on the first ball of the over as it just carried over the boundary rope.
"It's the kind of record you don't want. I wanted the ground to open up but you've just got to carry on with the game and put it behind you," he said.
As for playing this weekend, he added: "If selected, but bowling is a no-no. I think I'll just bat."

My bare lady

A new television reality show invites porn stars to test their serious acting abilities in London's theater district, raising the question: Debbie can do Dallas, but can she take on Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard"?

"My Bare Lady" will cast four leading ladies from U.S. porn studios in a classic piece of drama to be performed in London's West End. Their experiences undergoing a crash course in acting and appearing before a discerning British audience will air in three episodes on the Fox Reality cable and satellite channels this fall.

"It's a wonderful tale of redemption," said David Lyle, general manager of Fox Reality. "Do they want lines that are a little more challenging than 'Oh, here's the pool guy ...'?"

"Debbie Does Dallas" was a 1978 porn film about the misadventures of a young woman who becomes a cheerleader for a Texas football team.

The show's concept is rooted in the bankable plot conflict of many television "reality" shows: taking people out of their accustomed element to see how they fare.

"If they can move a London theater audience to applaud, they have done pretty well," Lyle said.

The show will be co-produced with the UK's Zig Zag Productions. Fox Reality is a division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

How ta tawk in Wiskinzin

There are just some Wisconsin-related words that people butcher: Chequamegon forest, Lake Butte des Morts, Lac Courte Oreilles tribe and even Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz.

So radio reporter Jackie Johnson decided she was tired of it and wanted to give newcomers, tourists and even natives a resource to find the correct pronunciation. She recently started the Web site

"They can't be expected to know. It's not their fault," said Johnson, a capitol reporter for Wisconsin Radio Network. "But there is nowhere to go."

By the way, it's shee-WAM'-eh-gehn forest, Lake BEWD'-eh-moore, lak-COOT-o-ray tribe and Madison Mayor Dave ches-LEV'-ich.

Johnson, who has lived in Wisconsin most of her life, said she has worked in radio for years and was embarrassed when she mispronounced words and didn't know where to go to get it right.

The site has recordings of her pronouncing Wisconsin's 190 cities, 400 villages, and 1,260 towns. She also pronounces names of judges, famous Wisconsin people, like Brett Favre, state officials and legislators. She even recorded some of them pronouncing their own names.

"If they tell me the wrong pronunciation, it's not my fault," she said.

Brew your own gas

Some people have become so desperate to find cheaper fuel for their cars they've begun making ethanol at home.

There are dozens of Web sites explaining how to make ethanol from homemade stills. One being Ethanol stills.

Bill Sasher, owner of a Tennessee company that sells ethanol stills and kits, said that once you're set up it costs about 75 cents a gallon to brew your own fuel.

Sasher said that with gas prices nationally closing in on $3 a gallon, his business is booming

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Erm , yeah, well done

At his birthday party, a paratrooper from St. Petersburg, fresh home from his 2 years of military service, broke 24 bottles against his head before sinking to the floor in a drunken stupor.

The young man had served in the Russian Air Force, considered the army elite, the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily said Wednesday. He was having a birthday party with friends, when one of the guests asked whether he thought he could break a brick over his head.

The young man, annoyed by the doubt thrown on his abilities, made a bet for a box of vodka that he could, before setting off to look for a brick. However, finding no there were bricks in his apartment, he went for the next best thing — empty beer bottles.

He was breaking the 24th bottle, much to the delight of the guests, when he suddenly fell to the floor unconscious. The guests, afraid that he had killed himself, left the apartment, leaving the unconscious paratrooper on the floor where he was discovered the next morning by his parents.

The parents took the young man to hospital, where doctors said he was deep in a drunken sleep. Apart from alcoholic intoxication, the doctors found a number of bruises to the head and a concussion.

When the man regained consciousness, he refused to stay in hospital for further treatment and left as soon as he could.

Fartless beans

A method of creating super-nutritious but flatulence-free beans has been developed by scientists. Beans are a cheap and key source of nutrition especially in the developing world, but many people are thought to be put off by anti-social side-effects.

A Venezuelan team says fermenting beans with certain friendly bacteria can cut the amount of wind-causing compounds, and boost beans' nutritional value. The research appears in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Flatulence is caused by bacteria that live in the large intestine breaking down parts of food - such as soluble fibre - that have not been digested higher in the gut

Beans, such as the black bean commonly eaten across Central and Southern America and tested by the team, contain many of these compounds.

Researchers from the Simon Bolivar University in Caracas found that by boosting the natural fermentation process by adding a particular type of bacteria , called Lactobacillus casei (L casei), the amount of these indigestible wind-causing compounds were reduced.

Soluble fibre was reduced by two thirds and the amount of raffinose, another flatulence-causing substance, by 88.6%.

But the amount of insoluble fibre, which is thought to have a beneficial effect on the gut and help the digestive system get rid of toxins, increased by 97.5%.

The team concludes that fermentation involving L casei could decrease flatulence compounds and increase nutritional quality.

They suggest the bacteria is used by the food industry to create better bean products.

The team led by Marisela Granito said: "Given that flatulence is one of the main limiting factors for the consumption of this important foodstuff, the implementation of processes which allow for nutritious and non-flatulence-producing beans to be obtained would be interesting."

Biker funeral

More than 100 bikers joined a funeral procession on Thursday for the murdered leader of the Bandidos gang in Sydney.

The body of Rodney Monk, 32, was taken to church and then to the cemetery in a flower-decked sidecar.

The stately convoy of motorbikes followed, many of the riders spurning helmets. Members of rival gangs were among the mourners, said reports.

Police have named a Bandidos member, Russell Oldham, as their chief suspect in last week's East Sydney murder.

Outside St Gerard Majella Catholic Church in north-west Sydney, another Bandidos biker appealed for an end to biker violence.

Arthur Loveday said Mr Monk was "a sensitive new-age biker with a touch of royalty".

"I was his protege," he said. "We need to put an end to this violence or it will destroy our future. We are all destroyed by his death."

Reports said 14 men wearing the colours of rival biker group the Nomads joined the church service.

As the song He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother was played, Mr Monk's body was carried from the church to a hearse. But by the time the coffin arrived at the cemetery, it was back in the sidecar.

After a brief burial service attended by hundreds of mourners, Mr Monk was buried, this time to the sounds of My Way, played on a hand-held ghetto blaster.

Unmagical mystery tour

RENO — Four bus loads of students from O'Brien Middle School made the four-hour trip to Six Flags Marine World in Vallejo, Calif., only to find the amusement park's gates locked Monday. The school-sponsored trip was supposed to reward top students.

"It was pretty much a fiasco," said Washoe County School District spokesman Steve Mulvenon. "They ended up wasting a day that those kids could have better spent in class or doing what they were going to do at the park."

School officials said the $50 fee will be refunded, and the tour company that arranged the trip has agreed to pay for the next one. "The tour company neglected to check the schedule," Mulvenon said.

"It is just a bummer for the kids," said parent Jeff Wood. "Now, they will have to wait another month to go and a lot of the kids might not be able to go then."

Principal Scott Grange said the school was even given printed tickets with Monday's date on them.

"But shame on us for not checking," he said.


ROME - A Polish shoplifter took a very wrong turn -- towards Rome's police headquarters -- while fleeing a supermarket with two stolen bottles of alcohol.

Hearing screams of "Stop thief!", heavily armed police just outside the building cooly grabbed the 19-year-old, a police spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Stunned, the crook immediately confessed and handed over the liquor.

"Yes, I stole the bottles. But not this chocolate," he said, pointing to a candybar he had purchased earlier, according to Il Messaggero newspaper.

Three of his friends, spectators to the event, were arrested as accomplices, the spokeswoman said.

Driver gets a shock

ST. PETERS, Mo. - A driver who suffered a heart attack and crashed into a guardrail was saved by a defibrillator salesman and two nurses who happened to be passing by.

The salesman, Steve Earle, was transporting an automated external defibrillator, a device used to shock the heart into a normal rhythm.

"When I saw what was happening, I jumped out and instinctively grabbed the AED, just in case," Earle told KSDK-TV of St. Louis.

Two nurses who also stopped when they saw the wreck Friday evening began performing CPR on the driver, Carolyn Holt. The defibrillator restored her pulse, and Holt was recovering in a hospital this week.

"Two RNs, a man that was able to get her out of the vehicle, the man with the AED - that just doesn't happen," said Mary Blome, one of the nurses.

Some database

A massive language research database responsible for bringing words such as “podcast” and “celebutante” to the pages of the Oxford dictionaries has officially hit a total of 1 billion words, researchers said Wednesday.

Drawing on sources such as weblogs, chatrooms, newspapers, magazines and fiction, the Oxford English Corpus spots emerging trends in language usage to help guide lexicographers when composing the most recent editions of dictionaries.

The press publishes the Oxford English Dictionary, considered the most comprehensive dictionary of the language, which in its most recent August 2005 edition added words such as “supersize,” “wiki” and “retail politics” to its pages.

Oxford University Press lexicographer Catherine Soanes said the database is not a collection of 1 billion different words, but of sentences and other examples of the usage and spelling.

“The corpus is purely 21st century English,” said Judy Pearsall, publishing manager of English dictionaries. “You’re looking at current English and seeing what’s happening right now. That’s language at the cutting edge.”

As hybrid words such as “geek-chic,” “inner-child” or “gabfest” increase in usage, Pearsall said part of the research project’s goal is to identify words that have lasting power.

“English gets really creative, really fun. What we’re putting in dictionaries is words that will stick around,” she said.

Launched in January 2000, the Oxford English Corpus is part of the world’s largest-funded language research project, costing £45-53,000 per year.

It has helped identify how the spellings of common phrases have changed, such as “fazed by” to “phased by” or “free rein” to “free reign.”

“Buck naked” increasingly has evolved to “butt naked.”

The corpus collects evidence from all the places where English is spoken, whether from North America, Britain, the Caribbean, Australia or India, to reflect the most current and common usage of the English language.

Plum pickings

Thieves stole 150 plum trees from an orchard in eastern Hungary, police said Thursday.

The trees - estimated to be worth the equivalent of almost £5,440 - were uprooted and taken from an orchard in Patyod, a village about 280 kilometres northeast of Budapest, police said.

Police from Szabolcs-Szatmar-Bereg County were unable to determine when the theft took place, saying it was discovered only after the orchard's owner returned from a winter break.

Looney halfway round London marathon

Lloyd Scott, the lunatic who is pulling a 10ft high 200lb dragon in the Flora London Marathon, today reached the halfway point.

And if the dragon isn't enough, he's also wearing a 100lb suit of armour.

The 44-year old former Leukaemia sufferer is raising money for Team Redgrave - Olympic rower Sir Steve's charity organisation.

Sir Steve is aiming to break the fundraising record by collecting £1.2million for the Richard House, a hospice that cares for children that are not expected to live into adulthood.

Lloyd was tired but determined as he crossed the half way point.

He said: "Sometimes I get individual pains, sometimes it hurts my whole body, sometimes I just go into spasm."

It's not the first time Lloyd has come up with a crazy plan to raise money for charity.

Four years ago he completed the marathon in a deep sea divers suit complete with lead boots. He has also run an underwater marathon in Loch Ness, and ridden across Australia on a penny-farthing bicycle.

This year's idea came when he realised the Marathon was on April 23 - St George's Day.

Smoke on water II

Deep Purple, whose 1970s hit "Smoke on the Water" describes a concert fire raging in Montreux, is returning to the Swiss lakeside resort to close the 40th annual jazz festival, organisers announced on Thursday.

Some 100 groups are performing at the June 30-July 15 event, whose line-up includes Santana, Sting, Black Eyed Peas, Diana Krall and BB King on his last European tour.

The two-week festival, which draws about 250,000 people each summer to the shores of Lake Geneva, is celebrating its 40th anniversary and the 70th birthday of its founder Claude Nobs.

Deep Purple wrote the song, whose opening four-note riff became one of the most famous in hard rock history after watching a December 1971 fire at the Montreux Casino where they were to record their album "Machine Head" the next day.

The fire, which broke out during a concert by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention after a fan shot a flare gun to the ceiling, destroyed the complex as members of Deep Purple watched from their hotel. Nobs helped some in the audience to escape.

The song's world famous refrain is: "Smoke on the Water -- A Fire in the Sky".

The Deep Purple concert, on the night of July 15, is billed as "We all came down to Montreux", the song's opening line.


A German policeman was nabbed for a bank robbery after he used his girlfriend's car for the heist, authorities said on Thursday.

By using his girlfriend's car, he "might as well have left his business card, it was really stupid," said Horst Roos, spokesman for state prosecutors in the western city of Trier.

Police quickly discovered the boyfriend of the car's owner was on the Trier police force, and recognised their colleague's likeness in video footage of the masked robber.

When the 52-year-old heard he had fallen under suspicion, he confessed -- just a day after the armed raid.

He said he stole the money -- more than 10,000 euros (6,958 pounds) -- because he was in financial trouble, Roos said. Armed robbery carries a minimum jail sentence of five years in Germany.

Tranny wins pension fight

A British transsexual woman should have her pension paid from her 60th birthday instead of her 65th as a man would, Europe's highest court ruled on Thursday.

The Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice found in favour of Sarah Richards, who was refused a pension at the age of 60 as Britain does not allow a change of sex on a birth certificate.

Richards was born a man in 1942 but had a sex change operation in 2001 after being diagnosed with gender dysphoria -- a condition identified by doctors and psychologists when a person feels a persistent aversion to their own gender.

According to the court ruling, "the right not to be discriminated against is one of the fundamental human rights" and "the court finds the unequal treatment" of Richards is based "on her inability to have a new gender following surgery".

Last December, the advocate general who advises Europe's top court, also found in favour of the British woman. The ECJ's rulings often follow the advice given to it by him.

Such a case is unlikely to come up again -- not only can transsexuals now get a gender recognition certificate, but Britain will gradually raise the pensionable age for women to 65 between 2010 and 2015.

Ice palace

Two businessmen have shipped 200 tonnes of frozen deoxygenated water from Canada to London to build an ice palace that will go on show in the British capital before making a European tour.

The IceSpace, which opens to the public on Monday, will stand for two months on the banks of the River Thames next to the city's landmark Tower Bridge.

It will then travel to Barcelona and Berlin at the height of the European summer.

At 21.3 metres high and about 91 metres long, the palace contains ice bars and an ice rink, and will host performance artists and display ice sculptures.

"Something like this has never been seen here in Europe before," British co-owner Philip Hughes said.

"There is a 'wow' factor both visually and from the temperature change."

Fresh ice will be shipped in from Canada to replace the palace and the sculptures as they melt in their progress from city to city.

By deoxygenating water before freezing it, the suppliers produce an unusually pure, clear ice.

"All the carving blocks of ice come from Canada where the water is purer and they know how to produce the quality and clarity of ice that we need in ice sculpting," Mr Hughes said.

He says he and his partner Peter Pallai had been planning the $3.5 million project for several years.

"We will dispose of the water in consultation with the local authorities," Mr Hughes said.

For each ticket sold, the partners will make a contribution to WaterAid, an international charity dedicated to providing clean water and sanitation.

Each visitor will be provided with a thermally insulated coat and gloves to protect them from the minus 5 degree Celsius temperature inside the structure, and will be told to leave after one hour because of the intense cold.

The structure will be cloaked in special insulating material and chilled by constantly running refrigeration units to protect it from summer temperatures.

Man found nude up chimney

Police in California, who had thought they had a botched burglary on their hands, have instead found a naked man wedged in his chimney.

"He didn't have a stitch on," Lieutenant Gary Branson of the Hayward police department said.

Michael Urbano, 23, came home early Saturday morning and finding himself locked out and without his keys, tried to enter the single-story house through its chimney.

"He told us he took off his clothes because as he was going down the chimney - the clothes would rub up against it and slow him down," Lt Branson said.

"If it was skin on cement he felt he would go down easier."

Mr Urbano's effort ended disastrously when a cable television wire he used to lower himself snapped.

He fell and was wedged in a section of the chimney tapering into the home's fireplace.

For the next four hours he cried out for help.

A neighbour called police and firefighters who dislodged Mr Urbano.

Lt Branson says officers charged Mr Urbano for being under the influence of drugs.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Pay up or the trolley gets it

A get-tough council has started taking rogue shopping trolleys hostage and holding them to ransom in a bid to clean up the streets.

Supermarkets in Colchester are being warned stray trolleys will be rounded up and kept under lock and key until they pay to get them back.

Stores which refuse to stump up the £35 will still be out of pocket as Colchester Council says it will charge them rent for storage.

Hosepipe ban for Chelsea

For 84 years the blooms at the Chelsea Flower Show have been a royal favourite and drawn thousands from across the world. But this year its fate lies in the hands of a small family firm from Dereham - to ensure the world's greatest gardening extravaganza does not wilt.

Dereham Water Supplies is pulling out all the stops to drill a 100-metre borehole in time for the Royal Horticultural Society show. It has just three weeks to tap into the water table and supply the 4,400 gallons a day to quench the thirst of 11 acres of displays.

Every May the world's finest garden designers transform the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea into a breathtaking spectacle of horticultural art, combining explosions of flora and foliage with radical design to produce works that challenge convention and provoke ideas.

The five-day show provides an escape into a world heavy with perfume and riotous colour, as amateur and professional designers paint their views using nature's canvas.

It is a plant breeders' favourite place to unveil new exotic specimens from across the globe.

But with the South East in the grip of severe drought and a regional hosepipe ban in place, this year's show organisers turned to the firm - headed by husband and wife team Henry and Wendy Hewson - to drill a borehole for the first time in the event's history.

Started in 1977 and run from the offices next to their home, the firm is more used to drilling holes for farmers' fields and private gardens.

But Mrs Hewson said failure was not an option and that their team of four men was working from dusk to dawn with daily deliveries on site to get the £45,000 job done in time.

Club sponsorship for sale on ebay

A Welsh football club is auctioning a new sponsorship deal on eBay.

Welsh Premier League team TNS FC, which has qualified for next year's UEFA Champions League, is using the internet site to find a new backer.

The club, based in Llansantffraid in mid-Wales, grabbed the headlines last year after it was drawn to play against Liverpool FC in the early rounds of the European championship.

The sponsorship deal includes the chance to re-name the club which is currently named after sponsors Total Network Solutions.

The auction went live on Monday and has so far attracted a top bid of almost £70,100.

Where's me lawn ?

A pensioner woke to find bare earth in place of her front lawn which had been stolen by opportunistic thieves.

Ivy Mizen, 92, from Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, said she believed the thieves had carted the turf away in a neighbour's wheelie bin.

The new lawn had been laid just days before the theft leaving her bungalow fronted by a bare patch of dirt.

Managers at the sheltered housing scheme where she lives replaced the stolen turf on Wednesday.

As the new turf was laid Mrs Mizen said she was more annoyed than angry.

"They can't be in their right minds to do that sort of thing. No-one in their right minds would steal a lawn - I wouldn't have thought so anyway."

Katie Savage, from Cross Keys Homes which runs the sheltered housing scheme where the pensioner lives, said: "We can't believe this has happened. They'd literally taken it all. She had nothing left.

"But I'm glad to say Cross Keys have gone round and we've re-laid the turf for her so she's happy again.

"She's 92 years old and she's the oldest tenant on the scheme as well so it was disappointing for her. She was saddened by it but, you know, these things do happen."

Police have begun an investigation and are trying to track down the thieves.

Nelson's broken arm to be x-rayed

Admiral Nelson is to have his broken arm X-rayed as part of a £420,000 restoration of the famous Trafalgar Square statue. Modern radar equipment will be used to see the damage caused to his left arm when lightning struck in the 1880s.

Bronze straps were fitted to the arm after it was hit but now restorers want to complete a more sympathetic repair. The first major restoration of the grade I listed Nelson's Column since 1986, is due to be finished in July.

Experts will also install "pigeon proofing" measures and remove droppings.

The 185ft high column was completed in 1843 to commemorate Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. It has been cleaned several times but the whole monument has only undergone restoration twice, in 1968 and in 1986.

It was designed by William Railton and cost £47,500. The top is decorated with bronze acanthus leaves.

The square pedestal has four bronze panels, cast from captured French guns, depicting Nelson's four great victories.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Still running the London marathon

Courage and sheer determination - and a pack of oxygen - are carrying a woman with debilitating lung disease round the London Marathon course. Lynne Ashton's lungs were damaged in a fire at her home in Huntingdon, Cambs, on Christmas Day six years ago.

On Tuesday she passed London Bridge - halfway round the 26.2-mile course which she aims to complete on Thursday.

Mrs Ashton, 45, took up the five miles a day challenge to draw attention to the plight of people with lung disease. Her lungs were damaged when a candle set light to a plastic table cloth and she inhaled the fumes.

She cannot go anywhere without a portable oxygen pack, which she is pushing round the course on a trolley.

"It is a big but very worthwhile challenge - if I manage to complete what I want to do," she said.

"Six years ago I didn't have a very good prognosis but I feel I am doing fairly well now and I wanted to do something to raise the profile of lung disease and the British Lung Foundation."

She is hoping to raise £5,000. The London Marathon started at 9am on Sunday.

Bombed off

Flowerbomb, a perfume sold in a bottle the shape of a hand grenade, has been withdrawn from duty free shops at Oslo airport so that extremists will not be tempted to use it as a prop.

"We told the duty free operator that this kind of product was not wanted inside the airport," airport spokesman Jo Kobro said.

"The current regulations prohibit products in the shape of weapons and we think that this bottle could be used to scare passengers, just like a water gun could," he said Tuesday.

The decision came after a Norwegian passenger who was carrying a bottle of the perfume in her carry-on luggage was stopped by security officials at Beauvais airport, north of Paris.

The perfume is made by French cosmetics group L'Oreal.

"I'm surprised," a L'Oreal official in Oslo, Mathieu Spies, said. "The product has been on sale everywhere in the world for at least two years and we've never heard of this kind of a reaction," he said. I can understand that the bottle's design resembles a grenade but you only have to ask a question to find out what it contains."

Some keeper !

Looking for a goalkeeper who can keep a clean sheet AND score up the other end? Well, here's your man.

Steve Shergold netted four for his team in a 17-0 thrashing - after feeling left out of the match. The 24-year-old said: "I got bored and started going up for corners.

"I have no ball control and my team-mates were amazed I scored four, but I will absolutely not be changing position. The other team saw the funny side at the end, but one or two stormed off." Investment banker Steve turned striker in a game for Sunday league team JS Bournemouth Sports A against Priory Quays reserves.

The goals brought his tally to six. The other two were from penalties.

1841 Census now online

1841 census for England and Wales has been published online.

Documenting the population on June 6, it records Queen Victoria in Buckingham Palace and Charles Dickens in Devonshire Terrace, London.

It was the only census available to the public that had not been put on the web. Now, records from 1841 to 1901 taking in about 165 million names are available online.

But family historians may be disappointed - the 1841 census rounds ages up and down to the nearest five years and does not give places of birth.

It also took four years to digitise as it was done in pencil rather than pen.

Josh Hanna, of website Ancestry, said: "Around six per cent of the pages needed special scanning."

The UK has a census every 10 years.

Inn of the scary ghoul

British police responding to a call about a possible break-in at a pub in northern England Monday found themselves in the middle of a ghoulish riddle.

Officers arrived at the Low Valley Arms pub near Barnsley in South Yorkshire, 400 kilometres north of London, after being told the alarm had been set off, but instead of finding any signs of a robbery, they were faced with a shaken landlord convinced he had encountered a ghost with half a face missing in the ladies washroom.

Although they saw no ghoul-described as a woman in flowing white gown-officers were shocked to find toilets flushing themselves, said Insp. John Bowler of South Yorkshire Police.

Pub landlord Roger Froggat, 55, and his wife Kathryn, 49, moved in a year ago and said they had seen nothing before, despite rumours of a resident spectre.

"I heard the alarm go off for a second time, went into the pub and all the television screens had turned on," the pub owner said.

"I went to check the rest of the pub and standing in the women's lavatories was a woman with half her face missing. I was petrified."

Officers found no signs of forced entry and were left quite scared, Bowler added.

Since the ghost story became public, the pub has become the talk of the town, attracting everyone from mediums to a national television film crew determined to catch a glimpse of the mystery woman should she appear again.

Despite their shock, the Froggats said they have no plans to leave their village pub.

Record breaking Norwegian

Norwegian adventurer Cecilie Skog has reached the North Pole, making her the first woman to both climb the highest mountains on seven continents and ski to the so-called "three poles," her team said Tuesday.

The 31-year-old Norwegian set off from Ward Hunt Island in Nunavut, with two male teammates, Rolf Bae and Per-Henry Borch, on March 6 to ski to the North Pole with no outside assistance or supplies.

Late Monday, after just under 49 days in the icy whiteness of the frozen north, they reached the Pole, having to ski, walk and even swim across openings in the ice.

"This feels wonderful. . . . Reaching the goal was very emotional," she told the Norwegian news agency NTB by satellite telephone.

According to the Internet site, which closely follows polar records, Skog is the second woman in history to ski to the North Pole from land. The first was Tina Sjogren in 2002.

Skog's spokesman in Oslo, Bjoern Sekkesaeter, told The Associated Press that Skog's trek also makes her the first woman to have completed what adventurers call "The Seven Summits" as well as "The Three Poles," which refers to the North and South Poles plus climbing Mount Everest.

Skog has climbed the highest mountains in South America, North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, the Antarctic and Oceania.

In December 2005, she skied with the same team of Bae and Borch to the South Pole.

For the North Pole trek, Skog, who weighs about 120 pounds, had to pull everything she needed on a sled that started off weighting 125 kilograms(275 lbs).

The team endured temperatures down to - 40 C and blinding whiteouts sometimes while soaking wet when their waterproof suits leaked in open water.

"It's not easy to dry clothes out on the ice," she was quoted as telling NTB about the 775-kilometre(485 miles) trek.

The team hopes to fly out of the area by helicopter, and reach Norway on Friday.

Gum shame

A local leader of Turkey's ruling party was charged with insulting the country's founding leader for chewing gum during a wreath laying ceremony, the official news agency said.

Veysel Dalci, the head of the Justice and Development Party in the Black Sea coastal town of Fatsa, chewed gum Sunday as he walked toward a statue of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern, secular Turkey. He was laying a wreath to commemorate the 86th anniversary of the founding of the republic's parliament.

A military official accused Dalci of insulting Ataturk, the Anatolia news agency said. Dalci was charged and summoned to appear in court.

Dalci said he had no intention of insulting Ataturk, but was chewing gum to freshen his breath after eating garlic, CNN-Turk television reported.

Chimp attack

Freetown - A group of chimpanzees attacked and killed a Sierra Leonean driver on Sunday and injured two American visitors and one Canadian at a wildlife sanctuary in the West African nation, a police spokesperson said.

Paramilitary police and forest rangers were searching dense jungle to see if they could capture the chimpanzees after the attack at the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary on the outskirts of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown.

"The driver was killed on the spot while the three surviving victims, the Americans and the Canadian, sustained serious wounds," Sergeant John Kamara, an officer at the Regent Police Post near the Tacugama reserve, told reporters.

No immediate reason for the attack was given but police said the large group of chimpanzees suddenly turned on the visitors to the sanctuary, biting and tearing at their clothes.

The driver killed was employed by the Tacugama reserve. The injured survivors, who worked for a construction company in Sierra Leone, were taken to a hospital in Freetown.

The Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary was set up in 1995 to give shelter to orphaned and abandoned chimpanzees. It houses nearly 70 apes living in a semi-wild environment in which they have access to fenced enclosures of rainforest as well as large cages where they spend the night.

Police said they were anxious to capture the chimpanzees to stop them attacking local villagers or motorists using the nearby Regent-Hasting road.

Surfing at work is ok says Judge

Surfing the Web at work is equivalent to reading a newspaper or talking on the phone, an administrative law judge said in recommending the lightest possible punishment for a city worker accused of disregarding warnings to stay off the Internet.

The case involved Toquir Choudhri, a 14-year veteran of the Department of Education, whose office computer had been used to visit news and travel Web sites.

"It should be observed that the Internet has become the modern equivalent of a telephone or a daily newspaper, providing a combination of communication and information that most employees use as frequently in their personal lives as for their work," Administrative Law Judge John Spooner said in recommending only a reprimand for Choudhri.

The judge noted that city agencies allow workers to make personal calls if it doesn't interfere with their work performance.

Choudhri's lawyer, Martin Druyan, called the ruling "very reasonable."

Super soldiers to use tongue sensors

In their quest to create the super warrior of the future, some military researchers aren't focusing on organs like muscles or hearts. They're looking at tongues.

By routing signals from helmet-mounted cameras, sonar and other equipment through the tongue to the brain, they hope to give elite soldiers superhuman senses similar to owls, snakes and fish.

Researchers at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition envision their work giving Army Rangers 360-degree unobstructed vision at night and allowing Navy SEALs to sense sonar in their heads while maintaining normal vision underwater -- turning sci-fi into reality.

The device, known as "Brain Port," was pioneered more than 30 years ago by Dr. Paul Bach-y-Rita, a University of Wisconsin neuroscientist. Bach-y-Rita began routing images from a camera through electrodes taped to people's backs and later discovered the tongue was a superior transmitter.

A narrow strip of red plastic connects the Brain Port to the tongue where 144 microelectrodes transmit information through nerve fibers to the brain.

Instead of holding and looking at compasses and bulky-hand-held sonar devices, the divers can process the information through their tongues, said Dr. Anil Raj, the project's lead scientist.

In testing, blind people found doorways, noticed people walking in front of them and caught balls. A version of the device, expected to be commercially marketed soon, has restored balance to those whose vestibular systems in the inner ear were destroyed by antibiotics.

Bush gets No satisfaction

George Bush can’t get no satisfaction — after Mick Jagger grabbed his hotel room. The Rolling Stone splashed out £3,600 a night for the suite days before the US leader tried to book it.

Now Mick, 62, who has been a fierce critic of the Bush-led war in Iraq, is refusing to give it up.
The veteran rocker hired the luxury Royal Suite at the five-star Imperial Hotel in Vienna, Austria, for June when the Stones are due to play a gig in the city.

Bush’s aides then tried to book it to tie in with a summit meeting. But Mick put his foot down and insisted he was keeping the booking.

A source close to the millionaire singer said last night: “White House officials had wanted to reserve the suite and all the other rooms on the first floor. But Mick and the Stones had already booked every one of them. Bush’s people seemed to be under the impression that they would just hand over the suites but there was no way Mick was going to do that.”

The classically-designed suite is said to be among the top 100 hotel rooms in the world. It boasts a 7ft 4in bed, chandeliers and oil paintings.

Former presidents Ronald Reagan, John Kennedy and George Bush Snr all stayed there while they were in office.

The hotel last night admitted US secret service agents vetted the accommodation — and confirmed that Bush would no longer be staying there. An American Embassy official refused to say where he was now staying for “security reasons”.

Mick takes a swipe at Bush, 59, on the latest Stones album A Bigger Bang, savaging his Iraq War policy.

School cancelled due to "nice weather"

Instead of enduring a day of inattention and spring fever, Bellingham Christian School declared a "sun day" and gave everyone the day off.

School administrators had told the students there would be no school on the first sunny day that hit at least 63°. After Monday's forecast called for a high of 65, school was closed. The mercury actually hit 68, the National Weather Service reported.

Students were told to return on Tuesday when the forecast called for rain.

No one answered the phone at the school on Monday, although the recorded message said school had been canceled due to the nice weather. Messages left at the school and on the administrator's home phone were not returned.

Thief with a heart

A thief in South Africa safely returned a seven-week-old baby he discovered in a car he had stolen, in a real-life incident that could have come out of the local Oscar-winning movie Tsotsi.

The man sped off in Olga Botha's car with baby son JP in the back seat after she had stepped out of the vehicle to open the gate to their Johannesburg home.

Ms Botha alerted the police, who reached the thief by phoning the cell phone that was inside her handbag in the car.

"The suspect answered the phone and said he had been waiting for a call so he could say where the baby could be found," police spokesman Paul Ramaloko said.

The man told the police that he would leave the baby at a primary school, where his parents later found him fast asleep in a classroom.

"A thief with half a heart," is how the Botha parents described the man.

South Africa scored an Oscar for best foreign film in March for Tsotsi, a story of a 16-year-old thug who finds a baby in the back seat of a car he hijacked.

After first taking care of the baby himself and becoming attached to him, he decides to take the baby back to his parents and face the wrath of the law.

Underwater Magic ?

Having starved himself and been frozen in ice, US magician David Blaine now plans to spend seven days submerged in a water-filled container in New York.

The latest stunt by the renowned illusionist will seem him enter a 2.5 metre high acrylic sphere on May 1 and remain submerged for a week.

A mask and air line will keep him alive, while food will be provided in the form of liquid nutrition through a tube.

At the end of the seven days, Blaine, 33, will remove his air supply and attempt to hold his breath longer than the current world record of eight minutes and 58 seconds, before finally climbing out of the human aquarium.

During the stunt, fans will be able "to visit, touch the sphere and offer words of support".

Blaine will be hoping for a better public reaction than he received for his last major 'performance' - a 44-day fast during which he was suspended above London's River Thames in a glass box.

Detractors came up with increasingly inventive ways to taunt or unsettle Blaine such as using a remote control model helicopter to dangle a cheeseburger in front of the starving magician.

Others drove golf balls off Tower Bridge, threw eggs, used a home-made catapult to shoot paint bombs at the box, banged drums to keep him awake at night or merely shouted abuse.

The human aquarium stunt will take place at the Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts on Manhattan's upper west side.

Organisers say Blaine will have a two-way audio link, allowing media to interview him during the challenge.

Previous stunts have included being encased in ice for nearly 62 hours and spending 35 hours on a 30-metre high pillar that was only 56 centimetres wide.

Beer Belt ( I want one !)

The Beer Belt. What can I say? It answers so many of life's great questions. Why do I spend my whole life waiting to be served at the bar, having people spill drinks on me, tread on my toes and push me around? Why do I always miss every goal, red card, penalty, try, wicket, hole in one, 180 and potted black whenever I pop to get a drink from the fridge?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Freaky hens sex change

Jo Richards from Bristol found herself in that situation when she awoke one morning to find that her prize hen had suddenly become a cockerel.

Rather than the egg-laying hen that the 42-year-old Ms Richards had become used to, she actually discovered a cockerel with a scarlet comb and very loud wake up call.

But the bird keeper decided to tackle the issue head on and opted to tactfully name him Freaky – perhaps as revenge for his early morning squawking.

She told the Mirror: "One morning out of the blue she just started crowing. I've never heard of such a thing."

And it seems Freaky is really getting into his new role, fighting with other males and even trying to bed down with his former female cage mates.

The reason for Freaky's sex change is down to a rare condition affecting bird's hormone levels, according to Victoria Roberts of the Great Britain Poultry Club.

Adrian Keep, National Federation of Poultry Clubs spokesman, said: "It does happen but the odds are very, very rare. I've only see it once in 55 years."

Rowie ! some price for lard

An Aberdeen delicacy made of lard, butter and sugar has been auctioned for more than £600 in aid of charity. The humble rowie, also known as an Aberdeen roll or buttery, which usually sells for about 25p, was put up for sale on the internet site eBay.

A last minute rush of bids before Monday's deadline saw £620 raised for the Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital. Offshore industry inspection engineer Darren Topp, 32, of Aberdeen, said he received bids from all over the world.

He told the BBC Scotland news website: "The auction had thousands of hits from all over the world, including Australia.
"I thought we might raise about £100 but it took off like a rocket. "The money is going to the Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital Archie Fund as it's a good local charity. We have also had donations from businesses so we could make over £1,000. I was just talking about rowies one day and thought we could have some fun with it."

The rowie was bought by Aberdeen firm Enterprise Engineering Services Ltd as the auction was for charity.

Managing director Gordon Mitchell said: "It was for a good cause so we are delighted. We have just celebrated our 40th anniversary, a lot has changed in that time but the Aberdeen rowie has not."

Archie's head of fundraising Carolyn Donaldson said: "We are absolutely delighted Archie was chosen and it shows how well loved this Aberdeen produce of the rowie is. It showed great imagination."

Stags freed

Two stags had to be freed after getting entangled in a length of dumped rope while they were rutting. The stags' antlers were caught up in the rope leaving them both trapped in headlocks. They were exhausted by their attempts to get free.

Five men had to hold the powerful animals down while they cut them free in Lawley, near Telford, Shropshire. The RSPCA warned the public about the dangers of dumping in the countryside saying the stags were lucky to survive.

A passer-by saw what animal welfare officers described as "a life-threatening predicament" and called for help.

An RSPCA inspector, the local deer warden and his underkeeper, a gamekeeper at a nearby castle and his beatkeeper took half-an-hour to free the Roe deer stags.

Inspector Nayman Dunderdale, from the RSPCA, said: "Stags are extremely strong animals that are known to fight. They were exhausted from trying to free themselves which they would never have managed on their own. It is lucky that someone spotted them and sought help, or they could have died. He said both stags ran off unharmed once they had been freed on Thursday.

"Every day RSPCA inspectors rescue pet and wild animals trapped or hurt by litter. Litter causes unnecessary suffering to so many animals and kills others. We urge people to always put their rubbish in a bin. On this occasion, a discarded piece of rope nearly resulted in the painful death of two beautiful stags."

Clever car

A tiny, three-wheeled car that could help solve city congestion has been demonstrated at the University of Bath.

The prototype Clever (Compact Low Emission Vehicle for Urban Transport) (Even though that spells CLEVFUT) car is one metre wide and less polluting than normal vehicles.

It has a top speed of 100 km/h (60mph) and uses a novel tilting chassis to make it safe and manoeuvrable.

The traffic-busting two-seater is the result of a 40-month project by researchers in nine European countries. The three-year, £1.5m EU-funded research project aimed to produce a totally different class of private-motor vehicle specifically designed for the urban environment.

"The only solutions at the moment are motorbikes or cars" said Ben Drew, a research officer at the University of Bath, one of the institutions involved in the project. The idea is to try to marry the small size and efficiency of a motorcycle but with the comfort and safety of a standard car," he said.

The result looks like the big brother of the ill-conceived Sinclair C5. However, the Clever car may drive the field of alternative vehicles further forward than Clive Sinclair's invention.

The plastic prototype has a roof that protects both the driver, and the passenger sitting behind, in the event of a crash. It also protects them from the elements. It stands at the same height of a normal car and is fully enclosed by gull-wing doors. At just over one metre wide it is even narrower than Daimler Chrysler's original Smart car.

The micro-mini is able to park efficiently and opens up the possibility of an increased number of lanes on jam-packed city streets.
However, more cars should not mean more fumes, because the Clever car uses compressed natural gas.

"It costs less to run, is quieter and is less polluting," said Dr Jos Darling, a senior lecturer in charge of the Clever project at Bath University. It would also allow the car to get around London's congestion charge.

The team from Bath also had to design a novel chassis that keeps the narrow vehicle from rolling over when it turns corners. The hydraulic system is electronically controlled and automatically tilts the vehicle as it goes round a corner, in a similar way to a motorcyclist tilts a bike.

"The control system takes measurements from the driver, such as the steering angle and speed, and tilts the vehicle to the required angle to go round the corner," explained Mr Drew. "It takes a little while to get used to, but once you do it feels bizarre to get back into a normal car."

The car on display in Bath is one of five built buy the EU consortium.

Three were destroyed in crash testing and the other is in Germany with car manufacturer BMW, one of the organisations involved in Clever's development. Although the vehicle is packed with new innovations, it is unlikely replace SUVs in urban dwellers affections just yet.

The prototype is purely a research project and is unlikely to ever come to market in its present form. But the researchers hope that car companies may build on the ideas and that the design may even pave the way for a new class of city vehicles, between motorbikes and cars.

"You can imagine that they could re-jig the congestion charge to just allow motorcycles and clever vehicles, but not cars," said Mr Drew. "The idea is to showcase the vehicle and start the process of laying down the groundwork for this third way."

Cops cop corpse

Berlin - A 53-year-old German woman who was driving her dead mother across country to save on mortuary transportation costs was fined by police for disturbing a dead person's peace.

"You're not allowed to transport dead people in your private car," said Ralf Schomisch, police spokesman in Koblenz, where the car was found after a tip-off from a mortuary.

"The corpse was on the back seat without a seat belt, which in this case didn't really matter. But it was covered up with clothing. It is a misdemeanour."

He said the woman, who was not identified, was charged with violating burial laws and disturbing a dead person's peace. She would face a modest fine, Schomisch said.

The woman had already driven 450 km (280 miles) after picking up the body from a mortuary in the northern city of Bremerhaven. She wanted to bury her mother, who died of natural causes aged 90, in her hometown Daun.

Ve haff a sense of humour

Germany's soccer-mad new ambassador to Britain yesterday declared all-out war on his countrymen’s dour image — by promising a fun-filled World Cup. Wolfgang Ischinger insisted the tournament was the ideal opportunity for Germans to prove they DO have a sense of humour.

And he said the nation also loved nothing better than a good knees-up. The envoy explained: “Germans love to have parties and they have parties more than most people. There are beer festivals all over the country. They are celebrated with vigour and also with quite a bit of alcoholic beverage, which is not much different from the British.”

Herr Ischinger, 60, went on: “The tournament gives us the perfect opportunity to present a new image of our country. This is the year for us to show that the clich├ęs and stereotypes of the old days are no longer relevant. No country likes to see itself presented in such a negative way. It’s going to be my mission to do our best to change that and show a different image of Germany.”

The dad of three, who arrived in Britain just days ago, launched his crusade after replacing controversial ambassador Thomas Matussek. Herr Matussek sparked fury by accusing British schools of failing to teach kids about post-war Germany. The new envoy’s arrival has already seen a bid by the German embassy to show the nation in a fresh light.

Last week it launched a student essay competition titled: “Don’t mention the War”. The contest — fronted by comedian John Cleese who made the saying famous when he played TV’s Basil Fawlty — features summer courses in Berlin as prizes.

Herr Ischinger showed his own sense of humour by laughing off the outcry over plans for British fans to sing World Cup songs in German.

He said: “I will not be provoked into an angry reaction.”

Beefed up !

The price of British beef will soar when exports to Europe resume next week, it was warned today. The National Beef Association said prices could rise by up to 20 per cent by the summer.

The price hike would put British prices in line with European costs. The NBA warned the wholesale price increases could be passed on to consumers. Exports will resume from May 3, finally ending the ban brought in a decade ago to stem the spread of mad cow disease (BSE).

NBA chairman Duff Burrell warned: “The supermarkets won’t take a loss on that product for very long. They won’t be able to stand it. “The price will have to rise on the shop shelf or the supermarkets will have to cut their margin which they don’t like doing.”

Prime British beef currently commands prices of around £2 per kilo compared to an average £2.31 for the French equivalent and £2.35 for Spanish and Portuguese, according to the NBA.

About time !

The photos of on-the-run paedophiles could be posted on the web to warn the public, it was revealed today. Home Office minister Paul Goggins this morning launched the Child exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) centre in London

The £1million unit will bring together police, computer industry experts and children's charities to combat images of child sex abuse and online grooming.

Jim Gamble, the head of the new body said: "The CEOP centre is the most significant development in child protection in recent years.

"Our message is clear: If you’re a sex offender, get help or get caught."

Mr Gamble said he had written to police forces to ask their views on posting mugshots of abusers who had run away from supervision by Multi-Agency Public Protection Panels.

"If the risk is high, we need to consider new and perhaps constructively aggressive measures before they harm a child in the community," said Mr Gamble.

He had begun discussions with the Association of Chief Police Officers to allow the move, he said, adding: “Our negotiations are well advanced.”

Sources said about three per cent of the 30,000 people on the Sex Offenders’ Register have lost touch with the authorities at any one time.

About 100 of those are considered to be high-risk offenders, including dozens convicted of offences on children.

Internet safety adviser at children’s charity NCH, John Carr, said: "NCH welcomes this important initiative that promises to help keep children safe online both in the UK and across the world.

"We are particularly pleased to see industry, law enforcement, and children’s charities working together in this highly innovative way to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place to help protect our children from harm."