Friday, June 30, 2006

Cheating lawyer to sue website

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A city attorney is suing the creator of a website that lets women dish dirt on men they claim have wronged them, saying they made defamatory statements about him.

Todd Hollis sued because he contends two Pittsburgh-area women and other anonymous users posted items about him on in which they claim he is unfaithful, among other things, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Thursday.

Hollis filed the lawsuit Thursday in Allegheny County against Tasha Joseph, who created the site, which bills itself as a "cost-effective weapon in the war on cheating men."

Joseph, 33, a former columnist for the Miami Herald, said any man can post a rebuttal on the site.

Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, a lawyer representing Joseph, said the site is no different than the "proverbial coffee shop where people go and chitchat."

"You would never think of holding the coffee shop owner liable because other people went in and defamed other people," Rodriguez-Taseff said.

Hollis' suit contends Joseph "conspired with disingenuous people whose only agenda is to attack the character of those individuals who have been identified on the site."

Hollis, 38, a criminal lawyer for 12 years, also said the site does not have safeguards in place to ensure the truthfulness of items posted on it.

Scaredy - Cat burglars

Western Australian detectives are piecing together the details of a bizarre confrontation in which it appears two burglars called police for assistance during an attempted break-in.

Exactly what happened at the Legend boat building shed in the suburb of Naval Base is still something of a mystery.

Early this morning, police received a call from one of two men believed to be breaking into the building.

The man complained to police that he and another man had been confronted inside the building by a third man, possibly a security guard.

He also claimed shots had been fired during the altercation.

Police rushed to the scene and are continuing their investigation.

Three men have been detained and are currently being questioned by detectives.

Just why the burglar felt compelled to seek police assistance in the first place is still unclear.

Fuel rustlers

An investigation has begun into the theft of 15,000 litres of petrol from a service station at Croydon in Sydney's inner-west.

The owner of the Elizabeth Street service station had no idea he had been robbed until yesterday morning when a customer complained that a pump was not working.

When he checked the underground tank, its padlock and latch were missing.

Also missing were 15,000 litres of unleaded petrol worth about Aus$20,000.

Police believe the petrol was stolen sometime after Wednesday night, when the owner last checked it.

Their only clue is that a nearby resident heard a truck idling about 2:00am AEST yesterday morning.

Wooly hat festival in Australia

A four-metre tall (13 ft) woollen beanie (wooly hat ) will be raised in Alice Springs tonight as the central Australian town's 10th annual Beanie Festival gets under way.

The festival runs across the weekend with workshops and a national competition for the best beanie.

The director of the festival, Jo Nixon, says people from all over Australia are paying homage to the humble head warmer.

"Its a huge community, I really noticed that this year we've had women arrive over the last three days from all over Australia who have been ringing me," she said.

"There was a huge bus that came up from Melbourne, all together these women drove up the Stuart Highway in a bus making beanies, knitting and crocheting and laughing all the way."

Dust to dust ,ashes to vase

A potter is using human ashes to create hand-made memorial vases for people who have cremated their loved ones. Neil Richardson, from Carmarthen, mixes a small amount of the remains into a glaze to decorate the commemorative containers.

It is based on an ancient Japanese technique called raku and he first had the idea when looking for a way to remember his father when he died. He and his business partner have started a company offering the service.

While there are businesses that use human remains to create glassware and even jewellery, Mr Richardson and his partner Peter Coates say their company Here In Spirit is different.

"We will send you out a little package for you to put the ash in and return," he explained.

"I hand grind the ash to a very fine consistency and then carefully it is mixed in with the glaze and then it is applied to the pot."
The effect is created by using a process called copper fuming.

"One of the things that I loved about it were the swirls and flame like distortions you get on the outside of the pot that give a kind of spiritual effect," he said. "With my father's ashes I made a cylinder because it typifies my father - he was a very tall, upright man. When it came out I really loved it and there were certain parts of the swirls that really reminded me of him. It means that you have a piece of art that also doubles up as something to commemorate someone by."

He appreciated the idea would not appeal to all, but said many people he spoke to thought it a better way to remember their loved ones than keeping their ashes in an urn.

"I find urns quite morbid in many respects because they are usually very Victorian looking, so I wanted something that you could put on your mantlepiece, but you don't have to tell anyone what it is unless they ask. Peter was actually my first customer. His mother had passed away and he is so pleased with it. It's in his house, he sees it everyday and it does exactly what he wants. It reminds him of his mum but it in a nice way. People's views in this country are changing. When researching it we found a lot of people were looking for alternative styles of burial and alternative styles of bereavement. Attitudes are changing - people are more open about it."

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Beam me up Scots Trek nutters

The latest Star Trek movie is now being filmed ... in a Dundee tenement.

A group of Trekkies have donned pointy ears to shoot their own tribute to the long-running science fiction series.

The kitchen and front room of Nick Cook's city centre flat have been turned into an intergalactic flight deck and engine room. The legendary captain's chair is from MFI and the designer costumes from the local Remnant Kings.

And consoles, gadgets, transporters and a makeshift lift have been constructed from old kitchen units, camping equipment and a generous helping of spray paint.
The filming of Star Trek Intrepid: Heavy Lies The Crown has already been going on for four years.

Now the crew are putting the final touches to the 50 minute "epic".

Last night senior Star Fleet Officer Nick, 36, said: "The flat is covered in pieces of the set and parts of phasers but my wife Lucie and I have got used to it over the years. I won the missus over by giving her a part in the film and she's been happy ever since."

The 15-man production team filmed spectacular phaser battles on location in the hills.

They dealt with curious hill-walkers, torrential rain and bad tempered farm animals, while on location in Glen Doll, Angus,

Nick, an anaesthetic nurse who stars as Commander Hunter, said: "Sheep kept going mahhhhh! just as we were about to film which was a major problem because you shouldn't really find livestock on an unpopulated, alien planet. It's been a great laugh putting the film together. We've had input from across the world and even roped in a cop from Texas who filmed himself and emailed us his walk-on part."

USS Intrepid's crew met through Dundee's Star Trek club, Sector 001 and founder Steve Hammond, 37, suggested they make a film.

He said: "There might be a few bumps on the way, but we'll get there."

So far, the film has cost about £5000 to put together - with most of the budget going on computer generated effects.

Because of legal issues the Trekkies can't make any money from their enterprise, so it will be posted on the internet for free download later this year.

It's not the first Star Trek epic from Dundee - comedy team Chewin' The Fat had a memorable sketch entitled Taysiders In Space.

Moby Dick II

Migaloo, above, a white humpback whale, was sighted yesterday as he made his annual migration along the East Coast of Australia. Named after the Aboriginal word for “white fella”, he has been eagerly awaited each year since he was first spotted in 1991. He is the only white specimen recorded in 100 years, and has drawn comparisons to the fictional white whale Moby-Dick.

Migaloo is reportedly a 16 year old male and there are strict regulations on how close boats and planes can come near him. The regulations were enforced in 2004 ,following concerns that Migaloo's celebrity status was causing him stress. The conditions ,designed to ensure safe migration, means boats and jet skis will have to stay at least 500m (1650ft) from the whale and planes can fly no closer than 2000ft . Breaching the conditions will attract fines of more than A$12,000.

The Aussie government even has a website dedicated to him here

Amnesty unveils rocket launcher

An amnesty programme designed to reduce the number of illegal and unwanted guns in British Columbia, Canada has also turned up an unexpected weapon -- a rocket launcher.

An elderly Vancouver-area woman turned in the weapon that she and her husband had kept hidden in their attic after discovering it while renovating their house in 1973, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said on Wednesday.

The couple had been too afraid to tell anyone about the weapon earlier, police said.

The month-long programme in Canada's westernmost province allows people to give police unregistered or prohibited guns without threat of prosecution. It has produced more than 1,000 firearms in its first three weeks.

Serious footy fans

A Beijing football fan refused to let the small matter of his house burning down disturb his enjoyment of Tuesday's World Cup match between France and Spain.

A fire broke out in a hutong in the centre of the Chinese capital at 3am local time on Wednesday -- kickoff time in Hanover -- and gutted the traditional courtyard dwelling, the Beijing Daily Messenger reported.

"When the neighbours shouted 'fire!', I took my little baby and ran out in my nightclothes," the man's wife told the paper. My husband paid no attention to the danger, just grabbed the television and put it under his arm. After getting out of the house, he then set about finding an electric socket to plug in and continue watching his game."

The anti-social timing of the matches broadcast from Germany, which is six hours behind China, has forced some Chinese fans to go to great lengths to follow the action.

One man quit his job in Beijing to return to his hometown Chongqing so he could watch the whole tournament uninterrupted.

State news agency Xinhua reported that the 23-year-old's boss at the IT company had offered him a pay rise, but he turned it down flat, saying the World Cup was more important than his job.

The Guangzhou Daily reported that local police were forced to release a thief arrested for stealing a mobile phone when the victim refused to press charges because he did not want to miss the start of a match.

Although there are also many female World Cup fans in China, one man in the southeastern city had to sign a contract with his wife agreeing to do all the housework during the month of the finals so he could watch the matches at night.

Another from Putian, Fujian province, took a less diplomatic approach, Xinhua reported.

When his cheers during the Argentina-Ivory Coast match woke his wife and she switched off the television, he locked her in their bedroom and settled back down to watch the game ignoring her loud protests.

Likely story !

Fateh Mohammad, a prison inmate in Pakistan, says he woke up last weekend with a glass light bulb in his anus.

On Wednesday night, doctors brought Mohammad's misery to an end after a one-and-a-half hour operation to remove the object.

"Thanks Allah, now I feel comfort. Today, I had my breakfast. I was just drinking water, nothing else," Mohammad, a grey-beared man in his mid-40s, told Reuters from a hospital bed in the southern central city of Multan.

"We had to take it out intact," said Dr. Farrukh Aftab at Nishtar Hospital. "Had it been broken inside, it would be a very very complicated situation."

Mohammad, who is serving a four-year sentence for making liquor, prohibited for Muslims, said he was shocked when he was first told the cause of his discomfort. He swears he didn't know the bulb was there.

"When I woke up I felt a pain in my lower abdomen, but later in hospital, they told me this," Mohammad said.

"I don't know who did this to me. Police or other prisoners."

The doctor treating Mohammad said he'd never encountered anything like it before, and doubted the felon's story that someone had drugged him and inserted the bulb while he was comatose.

Bass-turds !

A pair of fishing buddies were charged with 10 felonies after being accused of cheating in fishing tournaments on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley on the Kentucky-Tennessee border.

An investigation of the pair started April 30, when the men allegedly stashed five live bass in a fish basket in the water, then picked them up to weigh in at the Relay for Life Buddy Bass Tournament at the Lake Barkley State Resort Park, state police said.

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Sgt. Bill Snow said someone reported the bass, which were marked with clippings in their fins.

Nesmith and Thomas were witnessed picking up the fish early on the morning of April 30, then putting their catch in the boat, Snow said. Snow said the men allegedly entered three of the stashed fish in the tournament's weigh-in at the end of the day.

That sparked an investigation into tournaments the pair had previously won, Snow said.

Kentucky State Police Sgt. Brent White said Nesmith and Thomas won several thousand dollars and a bass boat worth $30,000 by allegedly catching fish before a tournament, then submitting the fish as being caught during the competition.

The two men were arrested Tuesday after the grand juries handed up the indictments.

Coin fetches a mint

A rare Edward III double florin, also known as a double leopard,which was in circulation for just seven months has smashed the world record for a British coin at auction, fetching £460,000 today.

The medieval coin, which dates back to the mid-14th century, was bought by dealer Ian Goldbart, Managing Director of a global coin fund.

He said: "It is magnificent. I am holding it in my hand – but I won’t have it for much longer! The last two coins were found 150 years ago, so I doubt I will live long enough to buy the next one."

The double florin, which features a full-length portrait of Edward III was found last month by a metal-detecting enthusiast in the south of England. Authorised in 1343, it would have been one of the first gold coins used in this country. Its face value would have been around six shillings.

The highest price for a coin sale before this was an Anglo-Saxon penny which went under the hammer for £230,000 two years ago.

Jeremy Cheek, head of Spink Coin Auctions said: "We knew that there would be a huge interest, but this surpassed all of our expectations."

Fingered !

A man dumped by his girlfriend is sent her one of his fingers in a gift box. Robert Hanna, of Corpus Christi, Texas, hacked off his finger in a final plea to his girlfriend.

With the package, he left a note saying: "This is my last attempt to reach out and touch you." According to a local news station he added: "I want to let you know, this is how much pain I’m going through because of the pain I’ve caused you."

Police Captain John Houston said officers were uncertain which finger was removed or how, but said it looked as though it had been washed before it was sent on Friday.

He said: "It was a clean cut. It wasn’t mangled."

The 32-year-old woman filed for an emergency protective order from Hanna last week. The Police said that a previous incident of family violence was reported between the couple this month.

Mr Hanna may now face charges over this incident and additional charges because of the threatening nature of the letter. Detectives looking for Hanna said they were worried about his physical and mental condition. They said they hoped he did not bleed to death after cutting his finger off.

Bad bad Japanese "Bicyclists"

Police issued 33 "red tickets" to bicyclists during May, in a bid to punish traffic violations after the National Police Agency (NPA) decided in the previous month to step up measures against bicyclists' bad manners.

Violations during May included one for a 70-year-old man who rode a bicycle while drunk and scraped a parked vehicle in Yuzawa, Akita Prefecture.

Another violator was a 16-year-old high school boy, who continued to ride double on a bicycle despite being warned by a police officer in Shijonawate, Osaka Prefecture.

Police issued a total of 146,877 warning tickets of various types in that month, for bad bicycling manners such as double riding and riding without lights at night.

Meanwhile, the number of traffic accidents involving bicycles reached 15,181 in May, 859 less compared to the same month last year. But the number of bicyclists' deaths was 65, nine more than May 2005.

"Bicyclists' bad manners are a social problem. We will regulate them severely," an NPA official said.

Mozart soothes elephant's grief

Suma, a 45-year-old elephant and long-time resident of the Zagreb Zoo in Croatia, was bereaved and inconsolable after her pachyderm partner of 10 years died of cancer, until she heard Mozart.

"Suma became very depressed after her roomie Patna died in early May," head of Zagreb Zoo Mladen Anic said.

"She was refusing to eat, became uncommunicative, showed all the signs of a serious depression."

Then, by sheer accident, Suma's keepers discovered that the healing power of Mozart extends to the animal kingdom too. Earlier this month, the zoo organised a concert of classical music just opposite Suma's dwelling, Mr Anic said.

At the sight of five musicians preparing themselves to start a concert, Suma became very nervous and aggressive, peppering the intruders with little stones that she blew out of her trunk.

"But as soon as the concert started what we saw was really fascinating. Suma leaned against the fence, closed her eyes and listened without moving the entire concert," he said. Besides Mozart, she took in pieces by Vivaldi and Schubert too.

When zoo authorities realised that classical music seemed to help Suma cope with her grief, they bought a stereo and installed it so she could get a daily dose of music therapy.

The elephant especially adores Mozart, Anic said, but is also partial to the strains of Vivaldi and Bach.

"We are so glad that we can provide - at what is a rather advanced age for elephants - things that Suma really enjoys," Mr Anic said.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Signing for KFC

KARACHI: What's chicken wings in sign language? The staff at a new Karachi KFC know the answer.

Sign language is needed to place an order at this Pakistani franchise of the American fast food restaurant, where 27 of the staff suffer from impaired speech and hearing.

Branch manager Amjad Ghani calls his staff "special".

"It is only the third KFC restaurant in the world that employs special persons," said Ghani, adding that franchise owners Cupola Pakistan Ltd planned to open another restaurant in the city of Lahore.

The branch has several posters for customers that outline normal sign language as well as specially designed signs denoting the dishes on KFC's menu.

For extra cheese put the index finger of your left hand flat under your lips, and for a spicy "zinger burger" place the index finger of one hand between the second and third fingers on the other hand.

Communication between kitchen and counter staff is down to pressing buttons, as lights flash on the tills when an order is ready for serving.

Ghani said the specially trained employees were all picked from educational institutions.

"Our move has been welcomed by customers which shows these people can lead a normal life and contribute to society," he said.

Because of their American links, KFC restaurants have often been targeted in the past by protesters and militants in this volatile southern city.

The newly opened branch is near the site of another where six KFC workers were killed last year when protesters set it on fire following a bomb blast at a mosque.

Waiter Nasir Nawaz was unperturbed, and glad to be earning.

"I enjoy this work and feel good doing something for my family," he said, using sign language.

Funny trial

Bristow , Oklahoma - Serving on the jury in an indecent-exposure trial unfolding in this conservative Oklahoma town has been a giggle-inducing experience.

Former Judge Donald D. Thompson, a veteran of 23 years on the bench, is on trial on charges he used a penis pump on himself in the courtroom while sitting in judgment of others.

Over the past few days, the jurors have watched a defense attorney and a prosecutor pantomime masturbation. A doctor has lectured on the lengths the defendant was willing to go to enhance his sexual performance.

The white-handled sexual device sits before the jury box for hours at a time. Occasionally an attorney picks it up and squeezes the handle, demonstrating the "sh-sh" sound of air rushing through the contraption's plastic tubing.

The jurors sometimes exchange awkward looks and break into nervous laughter when the testimony takes a lurid turn.

Thompson, 59, is charged with four counts of indecent exposure, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison. If convicted, he would also have to register as a sex offender, and his $7,489.91-a-month pension would be in jeopardy.

Thompson's former court reporter, Lisa Foster, wiped away tears as she described tracing an unfamiliar "sh-sh" in the courtroom to her boss. She testified that between 2001 and 2003 she saw Thompson expose himself at least 15 times.

"I was really shocked and I was kind of scared because it was so bizarre," said Foster.

She testified that during a trial in 2002, she heard the pump during the emotional testimony of a murdered toddler's grandfather.

The grandfather "was getting real teary-eyed, and the judge was up there pumping on that pump," she said. "It was sickening."

The allegations came to light after a police officer who was in Thompson's court heard pumping sounds and took photos of the device during a break in the proceedings.

Thompson took the stand in his own defense, saying the device was a gag gift from a longtime friend with whom he had joked about erectile dysfunction. He said he kept the pump under the bench or in his office but didn't use it.

"In 20-20 hindsight, I should have thrown it away," he said.

The R-rated testimony has produced occasional outbursts of laughter and surreal scenes. A man who once served as a juror in Thompson's court testified that he never saw the device, but figured out what it was based on movies he had seen.

The comment sent sidelong glances through the courtroom.

"It sounded like a penis pump to me," Daniel Greenwood testified. He said he had seen such devices in "Austin Powers" and "Dead Man on Campus."

Dr. S. Edward Dakil, a urologist called as an expert witness, repeatedly prompted laughter from the jury when discussion turned to the penis pump. Dakil defended use of the device after defense attorney Clark Brewster said it was an out-of-date treatment for erectile dysfunction.

"I still use those," Dakil testified.

Brewster paused.

"Not you, personally?" he asked.

"No," Dakil responded as jurors laughed. "I recommend those as a urologist."

Eddie dies :(

Eddie, the dog loved by millions in the hit TV series Frasier, has died aged 16.

The Jack Russell Terrier, real name Moose, was the pet of Frazier’s dad Martin, played by John Mahoney. He would famously sit in a chair with Martin and make psychiatrist Frazier (Kelsey Grammer) uncomfortable by staring at him.

Moose died at his trainer Mathilde Halberg’s home in Los Angeles.

She said: “He had incredible charisma and was a free spirit. He’ll never be forgotten.” Moose’s life was a rags to riches story after he was nearly sent to a dog pound in the early 1990s. His owners called me as a last resort. He was always chewing things, running off — and killed a neighbour’s cat.”

Moose was in the show ten years, earning £1.8million, and also appeared in movies. Frazier ended in 2004.

In later episodes Eddie was played by Moose’s son Enzo.

England fans drinking Germany dry

England World Cup fans are drinking Germany dry.

Breweries warned yesterday that beer could run out before the final because of huge demand from English supporters.

In Nuremberg, World Cup chiefs revealed the 70,000 England fans who flooded the city for the Trinidad game drank 1.2million pints of beer — 17 pints each. A city official said: “The English proved themselves world champions.”

Stuttgart bar chiefs said an extra 900,000 pints were sunk last weekend as 60,000 fans partied before our 1-0 win over Ecuador. And in Cologne — where Sweden held us to a draw — the local brewery ran out of bottles and barrels.

Nutter flattens house

A digger driver calmly destroyed a couple's home, smashed up their luxury cars and wrecked a police vehicle in a row over an unpaid bill.

Janice Gledhill, 52, awoke at 7:15am yesterday to discover the digger outside her home and was forced to flee for her life as it tore into her bedroom. The man then went on to rip down three of the house's walls.

It is thought the orgy of destruction related to a dispute over payments for a caravan the man had bought from Ms Gledhill and her partner.

Vincent Frostick, an accountant who lives opposite the house, said: "I saw the digger driving up the road. A police woman turned up and tried to stop him, but he just smashed through the car. She was just yards away when the bucket came down.

Read more

Long trip bet

A Frenchman made a 686-kilometre (426-mile) round-trip from Paris to London and then back again purely to place a 10,000-euro (6,900-pound, 12,600-dollar) bet on Brazil to win the World Cup, bookmaker William Hill has said.

The mystery punter is said to have been "hopping up and down" outside the chain's branch at Waterloo station, where Eurostar trains linking London and Paris start and terminate, waiting for staff to open up.

He then handed over a stash of Euros before rushing off to catch the train back to France, leaving the manager to chase him with the betting slip.

"The man was clearly in a hurry to catch the train back. He told us that he would be back on July 10 (when the World Cup final is held) to collect the winnings," said William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams Tuesday.

"We didn't have the heart to tell him that he could have placed the bet on either the telephone or on the Internet."

The man staked 10,000 euros at odds of 11 to four and will collect 37,500 euros if Brazil lift the trophy.

Unlike Britain, where wagers can be placed at a number of privately-owned chains, betting in France is more tightly controlled with two franchises, one running bets on horseracing, the other lottery and scratchcard games.

Woman Auctions herself with Ferrari

A woman living in Germany is auctioning off her red Ferrari Enzo sports car and including a little extra in the package -- herself.

The 26-year-old has invited bids on Internet auction site ebay starting at 1.25 million euros (860 thousand pounds). She said she was rich herself, liked her car and was looking for a man who could foot the bill for such a luxury.

"Only a millionaire could afford such a car," said the woman, who gave her name as Leila and said she once worked as a singer in Syria. "I want a man who doesn't like me just for my money."

Leila said she would meet with interested bidders but would need to see the bidder's passport and proof of capital. No bids have been made yet in the auction which ends in a week.

You are bidding on one of the most beautiful cars in
the world, an Enzo Ferrari, a car that needs no
introduction it has been the dream automobile of many

Bidders from abroad are welcome.

Serious bidders only! All bidders must be prepared to
provide a passport copy and proof of sufficient cash
as soon as the bid is made. Meetings with accepted
bidders can be arranged.
After the auction you have to give the money to a notary and you will get within 10 days the Enzo Ferrari.

Metal detector phone

The Finnish phone maker Nokia has devised a mobile handset that can also double as a metal detector, enabling the owner to look for concealed guns, hidden electrical cables and lost car keys, the British weekly New Scientist reports.

The US patent application filed by Nokia says the phone is fitted with an induction coil whose main use is to get a clear audio signal for people with hearing difficulties.

But it can also be used to detect metal at short distances, says the report, carried in next Saturday's issue of the British science weekly.

Baseball fan to the grave

Die-hard baseball fans in the US will soon have a way to be close to their favourite teams in the afterlife, after a company was given permission to reproduce the names and logos of all 30 league teams on a new line of caskets and urns.

The company says it has signed a multi-year licensing agreement with Major League Baseball in the US.

"Fans incorporate baseball in nearly every aspect of life," Eternal Image chief executive Clint Mytych said, adding the caskets could appeal to "a market that is just waiting for a way to make team loyalty a final statement of a great passion in their lives".

He says the urns and caskets will go on sale next year at prices from about $US600 to $US3,500.

"Our clubs receive these requests with some frequency - we have really passionate fans," Major League Baseball spokeswoman Susan Goodenow said, adding the deal gives the sport's governing body control of the tastefulness of the product.

The Not- so -swift arm of the Law

A judge at Swansea Crown Court heard how it took 32 years to bring a man to court over alleged gross indecency. Roger Gerald Hawkins was initially detained in 1974 and had been expected to appear at Cardiff Crown Court.

He failed to show and an arrest warrant was issued. Mr Hawkins heard nothing and presumed the case had petered out. When arrested 32 years later at his home, he was so shocked that he suffered an angina attack and spent the night in Singleton Hospital.

Mr Hawkins, who lives just 300 yards from the court, appeared before Judge Michael Burr on Monday. He was granted bail and ordered to appear at Cardiff Crown Court on July 7. Judge Michael Burr asked Hawkins, of Brynymor Crescent, Swansea, where he had been "all this time."

Mr Hawkins, who retired recently due to ill health, said as no-one had told him about the warrant, he had simply got on with his life. He said that apart from a stint working as a carer in London, he had always lived in the Swansea area.

"I had no reason to think anyone was looking for me," he told the court. "I have never hidden from them (the police). I never heard anymore, and thought the whole matter had been dropped years ago."

Judge Burr told Mr Hawkins: "Get some legal advice and don't fail to attend, it's been 30 years since we last saw you."

The court heard that the original case was so old the Crown Prosecution Service may not have any papers relating to it. No-one in court was able to say what the case was about. A court official said it was possible the arrest warrant had simply gone missing, only to be found recently.

South Wales Police said they were investigating how the warrant suddenly came to light.

Some Internet cafe

An internet cafe offering connections 50 times faster than typical broadband services has opened in Cornwall.

Computers at Goonhilly satellite station, on the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall, are connected to BT's global internet protocol network. That means users can download data at speeds of up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps).

It is thought to be the first time such high speeds have been seen at a UK internet cafe. The service will be free to visitors.

Adrian Hosford of BT said: "It would be possible to use the cafe's computers to download in less than 15 minutes a file the equivalent size of the DVD version of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, with its 19,000 illustrations, 629 audio and video clips and 100,000 articles. A standard broadband connection would typically take in excess of five hours."

The new internet cafe was officially declared open by Helston Community College pupils Chloe Smith and James Evans, both aged 17.

Goonhilly has 61 antenna dishes and handles thousands of international phone calls, TV broadcasts and data.

The first antenna, known as Arthur, was built to track the Telstar satellite and received the first live transatlantic television broadcasts from the United States in 1962.

Moscow ,most expensive city

Moscow has overtaken Tokyo to become the most expensive city in the world, according to a new study.

According to Mercer Human Resource Consulting's annual report, an expat's money stretches three times further in Asuncion, Paraguay - the cheapest city.

Mercer said it ranked 144 cities on transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment costs.

After Moscow the world's next most expensive cities are Seoul, Tokyo, Hong Kong and London.

The main cause of Moscow's ascent was a surge in property values, Mercer said in its annual report.

"Steep accommodation costs have contributed to Moscow's high ranking, as the recent property boom has driven up rental prices for expatriates," Mercer said in its report.

Ten most expensive cities

Moscow, Russia
Seoul, South Korea
Tokyo, Japan
Hong Kong, China
London, UK
Osaka, Japan
Geneva, Switzerland
Copenhagen, Denmark
Zurich, Switzerland
Oslo, Norway
New York, US

We are ready for take-off ,please light up

A German entrepreneur plans to launch the world's first smokers' airline next year, promising a return to the times before planes became smoke-free zones.

Alexander Schoppmann, a former stockbroker, is seeking the start-up cash for Smintair - Smoker's International Airways. On its website Smintair promises to "bring back the exclusivity in flying encountered in the 1960s".

The plan is to fly two leased Boeing 747s on the Duesseldorf-Tokyo route.

The airline will not offer economy-class tickets, but will target business people who enjoy smoking - and who are willing to pay for some extra pampering. Smoking will be allowed in all 138 seats on board - and there will be extra leg room, because jumbo jets normally accommodate more passengers.

"The upper deck will be the passengers' lounge and not be jammed with seats, as you can sadly find everywhere, nowadays," the website says. "Allergics against tobacco smoke or militant anti-smokers are asked to not apply," Smintair says on its jobs page.

On the website Mr Schoppmann writes nostalgically about the old times when Lufthansa offered its passengers a vast selection of Montecristo cigars. He says airline smoking bans were prompted by a desire to economise on air conditioning systems. He promises to restore the old-fashioned system of pumping fresh air through the cabin.

Before it can launch, Smintair needs to find at least 40 million euros (£27.6m) for an operating licence from the German federal aviation authority.

Mr Schoppmann is optimistic his airline will take off next summer.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

It's a film , DON'T copy me !

Bollywood's new flying superhero has asked fans, especially children, not to imitate his onscreen death-defying stunts after a man leapt off a cinema balcony in central India, breaking his leg.

"The action scenes are meant to be enjoyed, not imitated. Please do not indulge in these stunts," Hrithik Roshan, who plays Krrish, a Superman-style hero who saves the world from a mad scientist, wrote in a newspaper.

Newspapers said at least two people had hurt themselves trying to imitate the stunts from the film that opened last week.

A 24-year-old man was in a hospital with a fractured leg in the central city of Bhopal after he leapt from a cinema balcony and landed on the audience below.

An 11-year-old boy also suffered injuries in a separate accident, newspapers said, but no details were given.

"Those action scenes are dangerous. I did the action scenes with full safety precaution," Roshan said. ...stop scaring me by trying to do my stunts in Krrish."

The $10 million Krrish opened to huge box-office collections, as children and adults made a beeline to watch Bollywood's own superhero leap from tall buildings, beat up the baddies and woo his lady love with song and dance.

Why are they flashing me ?

A villager drove his vintage car against the flow of traffic on Malaysia's main freeway for 30 kilometres, apparently unaware he was on the wrong side of the road, a news report said Tuesday.

When stopped by police, the 80-year-old man had two questions: why there are so many cars on the road these days, and why were they all flashing their headlights at him, the New Straits Times newspaper said.

It said the man, identified as Ah Pee, had made a wrong turn on his way home in the northern state of Kedah and got into the North-South Expressway - the first time he'd ever been on the six-lane road running the length of the country.

When he realized he was going in the wrong direction, he made a U-turn but stayed on his side of the road divider, putting him in the fast lane and heading into oncoming traffic, the newspaper said.

It said police stopped Ah Pee about 30 kilometres after he made the U-turn, and his vintage Morris Minor car was steered into the emergency lane.

"He was driving between 60 and 70 kilometres an hour and I could see the befuddled look in his eyes as the oncoming vehicles flashed their headlights at him," the Times quoted an unidentified policeman as saying.

Highway officials decided it was a "genuine mistake," since he had never used the freeway, and escorted him back to his house, the report said.

"I told him to ask for a lift from his children the next time he went for a drive," one official was quoted as saying.

Farty neighbour jailed

Evil neighbour, Brian Pemberton was jailed for tormenting his neighbour with a Fart machine for almost 2 years.
Pemberton, 59, set off the £12.99 joke shop device to blow a raspberry or make a vomiting or a burping noise every time Kathryn McKay went out.

It was part of a campaign of harassment he launched after taking an irrational dislike to her. The ex-fireman also taped notices to his house and caravan urging her to “Try WeightWatchers” and mooned at her from a window. He hosed her Bonfire Night fireworks and also sprayed weedkiller on her plants.

To cap it all, he set up a security system to alert him when she went out, setting off the battery-operated farting machine by remote.
Fed-up Kathryn, 51, finally called the police and the father-of-two Pemberton, of Baildon, West Yorks, was arrested.

He was jailed for five months after being convicted of harassment at Bradford magistrates’ court.

District Judge David Thomas told him: “You are obsessive, combative and controlling.”

Giles Bridge, defending, said Pemberton — released pending appeal — took a dislike to Kathryn and was “not able to help himself”.

Pemberton was moving home to avoid the risk of a repeat, he said. Kathryn, who has a daughter, 13, said: “It was mental GBH, day after day.”

Chameleon snake

Scientists have discovered the world’s first colour-changing snake.

The reptile was discovered by researchers in the heart of Borneo, the World Wildlife Fund said today.

Other reptiles such as chameleons are known for their ability to change the colour of their skin, but scientists say this is the first snake to be found with this quality.

“I put the reddish-brown snake in a dark bucket,” explained German reptile expert Dr Mark Auliya. “When I retrieved it a few minutes later, it was almost entirely white.”

The poisonous snake measures half a metre long and was discovered in the wetlands and swamps around the Kapaus river in the Betung Kerihun National Park, on the Indonesian part of Borneo.

Scientists have named the snake “Kapaus Mud Snake”.

Dingo pee repels roos

A new study in Western Australia has found the urine of a wild Australian dog may play an important role in the rehabilitation of mine sites.

The Curtin University study has revealed the urine of dingos can effectively repel wild kangaroos from some areas of new-growth vegetation.

Dr Michael Parsons says once an appropriate delivery mechanism is refined, the repellent can be used in newly restored areas of mine sites to ensure plant life can be re-established without being grazed by kangaroos.

Dr Parsons says a chemical in the urine scares the kangaroos.

"After trying a series of essential oils and scary sounds, optical illusions, we actually presented dingo urine to a group of 10 kangaroos and the response pretty well startled us because the owner of Roo Gully has hand-reared many of these joeys and she hasn't had a response like this in 10 years, so we thought 'well maybe we've serendipitously arrived at some conclusion'," he said

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Two holes in one on same round

It's something every golfer dreams of achieving at least once in a lifetime.

But Chris Tugwell ended a ten-year wait to score his first hole-in-one by hitting two in the same round.

The 25-year-old IT worker stunned himself and opponent Derek Miller by achieving the feat twice at Bruntsfield Golf Course, near Barnton.

The odds of hitting two in one game are estimated to be around 67 million to one.

Mr Tugwell, from Longstone, Edinburgh, was representing Lothianburn Golf Club in a club match when he hit a seven-iron shot into the hole at the 157-yard seventh.

Despite other players gesturing excitedly to him as he walked up the fairway, he refused to believe it had gone straight until he reached the green.

"I didn't believe it until I actually saw the ball inside the cup, and it put me on such a high," he said.

Amazingly he repeated the feat just five holes later by acing the 168-yard 12th, this time with a five iron.

"Even after I'd taken my swing and hit the ball really sweetly towards the green, I never thought it had a chance of going in. It was only when the guy I was playing said 'good shot' and told me it was going in that I realised I might have done it again. To his credit, he took it really well because you don't really expect your opponent to get one hole in one, let alone two. I was absolutely gobsmacked, but I didn't want to believe it until I'd actually seen the ball in the hole. All the time I was walking down the fairway, I was really nervous and excited but just tried to laugh it off because I really didn't think it had gone in. When I saw that it had, I was just so amazed. You expect to have a bit of luck from time to time when you play golf, but to get two holes-in-one is just something else. All the rest of my team were shocked when they found out."

Mr Tugwell, who has a handicap of five, was playing a singles match in a league encounter against top-of-the-table Bruntsfield when he pulled off the feat last Thursday.

His achievements on the course inspired him to buy a lottery ticket - but his luck had run out and he didn't pick up a penny.

The odds of hitting 2 holes-in-one is 67,000,000 - 1

Enormous Ears Bandit

Santa Barbara , Calif. - Bank robbers apparently don't have an advocacy group protesting such insulting law enforcement monickers as the "Overweight Bandit,""Big Nose Bandit" and "Oldtimer Bandit."

The latest is the so-called "Enormous Ears Bandit," who is targeting banks as far away as San Diego and has apparently struck the Central Coast area for a third time.

The bandit got away with about $3,000 from a Bank of America branch in Montecito on Wednesday morning. After looking at surveillance video, investigators said it was the work of the crook the FBI dubbed "The Enormous Ears Bandit." He's wanted for six other robberies.

"He almost exclusively hits in the mornings and uses the same M.O. And (besides big ears) he likes the dark sunglasses and lowered cap," police Lt. Paul McCaffrey said.

Wednesday's robber handed a demand note to a teller and ordered the cash to be in $50s and $100s, police said. No weapon was seen.

Duck thief

Extra security had to be drafted in to an historic royal palace after people said their food was being stolen.
Concert-goers who were at Hampton Court Palace, south-west London, to see the likes of Eric Clapton, complained of cakes and sandwiches going missing.

Eventually a duck was identified as the culprit after being caught on camera taking the food for her ducklings.

Organisers are now urging people to bring secure hampers and cool bags to "be on the safe side".

Hampton Court Palace east front manager Mark Howarth said: "Robin the Duck, as we've nicknamed her, lives in the East Front gardens.

"As soon as everyone has gone into the show and the music starts she appears by the picnics to see what she can raid."

One guest added: "I thought I was losing my marbles when I couldn't find the rest of our sandwiches. I was amazed that anyone here would steal food. It's such a relief to discover that it was only the palace duck. She obviously has very expensive tastes because she took all my smoked salmon sandwiches. I suppose it also explains why the duck pate was left!"

Gluttony , the National sport

With sweat pouring down his face, a 42-year-old courier from Moonachie methodically gobbled 22 hot dogs in 12 minutes Friday to win a regional hot-eating competition and a slot at Nathan's Famous Fourth of July eating contest in Coney Island, N.Y.

Pat Philbin, known in the competitive eating circuit as "Pat from Moonachie," beat 12 veterans and newcomers to competitive eating to be crowned the New Jersey Turnpike Regional Hot-Dog Eating Champion at a highway rest area.

"Eating is a natural thing," said Philbin, who stands 6-feet-2 and weighs 310 pounds. "People want to see how fast you can run, how high you can jump, how much you can eat. It's the evolution of sport."

Philbin, ranked 20th by the International Federation of Competitive Eaters, which sanctioned the competition, used a simple technique to win: dunking his hot dogs in water before bites.

While other competitors shoved entire buns into their mouths or swung their heads back to help them swallow, Philbin kept his head down and one fist on the table as he steadily bit into the dogs.

"It's called hungry and focused. Think, 'Don't puke, don't puke!'" Philbin said of his strategy, which came in handy when a competitor next to him got sick during the contest.

To train, Philbin said he drinks a gallon of water in three minutes.

"It expands your stomach and it has a memory of that," said Philbin, who didn't eat for a day before the competition. He planned to eat a light dinner Friday.

Philbin said the summer heat was tough to overcome during the chow-down, but it didn't slow him enough to let second place winner Allen Goldstein, of Plainview, N.Y., catch up.

Goldstein, 42, who works in the medical field, ate 20 hot dogs as his wife and coach, Greta, cheered him the whole way.

"Competitive eating is basically 25 percent stomach capacity, 75 percent mental," said Goldstein, who danced along to pop music while eating.

A crowd gathered to watch the contestants, including people who made a special trip to watch the contest and travelers who happened to wander by.

"Gluttony has now become a national sport," said Russ Dodge, a 68-year-old from Salem County who was manning a table for the state Division of Fish and Wildlife during a sidewalk fair at the rest stop. "It's a sign of the times."

Philbin, who joined the competitive eating circuit last year after winning a radio show's egg nog drinking contest, won a trophy, a year's supply of Nathan's hot dogs and his second trip to the Coney Island finals. He ate 20 hot dogs at that competition last year.

The finals will feature 15 participants representing the United States and four international competitors.

Bend it like Beckham

David Beckham became the first England player to score at three World Cups as his free-kick earned a quarter-final tie against Portugal or Holland.

Beckham beautifully curled home from 30 yards on the hour mark, but England made hard work of Ecuador in a dreary game.

The South Americans could have gone in front early on, Carlos Tenorio's shot deflecting off Ashley Cole and on to the bar after John Terry's mistake.

Frank Lampard missed two fine chances but England had done enough to win.

Sven-Goran Eriksson's side will now play Portugal after a very strange game of 16 yellow cards and 4 reds ( sending offs). Shame Figo wasn't carded for his heatbutt , hopefully FIFA will ban him, fkin 2 faced cheat shouldn't have been off the pitch before Van Bronkhurst was sent off.

WTG Valentin Ivanov , you useless ref! but thanks for the fun

queens over Queen

A Council plans to fly a flag for a gay festival — despite refusing to do so for the Queen’s birthday.

Bournemouth Council claimed they had no one to run up the Union Flag last Saturday.

But they agreed, when approached by homosexuals and lesbians, to put the Gay Pride flag on the town hall on July 8 — a SATURDAY.

The decision of the Lib Dem authority to put old queens before Our Queen angered locals.

Tory councillor David Clutterbuck said: “This is political correctness gone mad.”

The council claimed it would have breached etiquette had they left the Union Flag flying over the weekend — but flag specialists deny this.

Council chief exec Pam Donnellan said: “There was no snub intended — we were strictly following historical protocol.”

Theif "pays" for sneakers

A man has stolen a pair of shoes and then left his victim money during an armed robbery in Melbourne's central business district early this morning.

A 20-year-old Docklands man was using a public phone in Collins Street when he was approached by another man who asked him for his trainers.

After the Docklands man repeatedly refused to hand over his shoes, the second man produced a knife and forced him to take the trainers off.

The thief then left behind his own shoes and A$50 in the phone box before running off.

Police say the trainers are worth more than A$300.

Drunk pelican

Four pelicans suspected of being drunk on sea algae were being tested at a southern California wildlife centre after one of them crashed headlong into a car.

Three of the California brown pelicans were found wandering dazed in the streets of Laguna Beach after another pelican struck a vehicle's windshield on a nearby coast road.

It suffered internal injuries and a long gash in its pouch.

It is undergoing toxicology tests.

Officials at the Wildlife Care Centre says the seabirds may have been under the influence of algae in the ocean that can produce domoic acid poisoning when eaten.

The other pelicans were rounded up after assistant wildlife director Lisa Birkle warned the public to be on the lookout for birds acting "drunk", disoriented or being in an unusual place.

Shellfish tainted with domoic acid was thought to be the culprit behind a 1961 attack of seabirds on people and cars in the oceanside California town of Capitola that inspired Alfred Hitchcock's horror movie The Birds.

Porcupine on the run

People in north-west England are being warned not to approach a porcupine which burrowed out of a farm visitors centre and is now on the loose, BBC Online reports.

Twinkle, a 0.9 metre ( 3 foot) long female, escaped from her enclosure at Eden Ostrich World near Penrith on Saturday, prompting warnings because her detachable, poison-filled quills can become embedded in skin.

Jim Peet, from the centre, was quoted as saying that Twinkle was normally "cool" but was classed as a dangerous wild animal because of her spiky appearance.

"She could make a real mess of someone's garden and she should not be approached as her quills contain poison and she could become flustered if backed into a corner," he added.

Twinkle's disappearance came after some British newspapers said police had received reports of a tiger on the loose in Yorkshire, northern England.

Scaredy cow

A man and his dog had to be rescued from a bog by helicopter after being chased by a herd of cows, police have said. The drama began when Tony Faye, 45, from Paignton, Devon, took his nine-year-old collie cross, Bailey, for a walk in fields close to the Double Locks hotel, near Exeter Canal.

At some point during their stroll, a herd of cows apparently took a dislike to the pair and began pursuing them, forcing the man and his pet into a muddy bog.

"I hit the mud and the cows were still following, so I walked out even further," Mr Faye said.

"It was getting deeper and deeper - I thought I was going to die," he told the BBC. He rang the police on his mobile phone and said he had been chased into the swamp by some cows," said Baxter Provan, Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman.

"He said he was hanging on to a branch and was sinking in the mud."

Devon Fire and Rescue personnel, using specialist rescue equipment brought from Plymouth, 40 miles away, were taken to the scene by the helicopter.

The police in the helicopter spotted man and dog at 9.26pm waist deep in mud and clinging to a tree.

The man was examined by ambulance personnel at the scene, but did not need hospital treatment. The dog did not require veterinary treatment, said the fire service.

The will of the ex power

Saddam Hussein ended a hunger strike after missing just one meal, a U.S. official said Friday.

The former Iraqi leader announced the hunger strike through his lawyer Wednesday in protest over the killing of one of his lawyers by gunmen.

"He has resumed eating after skipping one meal," Lt. Kevin Curry told FOXNews.

Other members of the ex-president regime who joined the hunger strike have also resumed eating, Curry said.

Silly Billy

A British army regiment's ceremonial pet goat was demoted in disgrace after it marched out of line before a host of international dignitaries during a parade to mark Queen's Elizabeth II's birthday, a military spokesman said Saturday.

The military mascot, a 6-year-old male goat called Billy, was downgraded from the rank of lance corporal to fusilier -- the same status as a private -- after army chiefs ruled his poor display had ruined the ceremony June 16 at a British army base in Episkopi, western Cyprus.

Lance Cpl. Dai Davies, 22, the goat's handler, was unable to keep control during the march earlier this month, as the mascot darted from side to side, throwing soldiers off their stride, spokesman Captain Crispian Coates said by telephone from Episkopi -- one of two British bases on the island.

"The goat, which has been the regiment's mascot since 2001, was supposed to be leading the march, but would not stay in line," said Coates. "He was reported for subordination and after consideration, the commanding officer decided he had no option but to demote Billy."

Since his demotion, soldiers of a lower rank are no longer expected to salute Billy as a sign of respect, Coates said.

Captain William Rose, a soldier present at the parade, said the goat "was trying to headbutt the waist and nether regions of the drummers."

The regiment, the 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh, has traveled with a pet goat since soldiers adopted one of the animals during the Crimean War, awarding it ceremonial status as a lance corporal.

A total of 11 ceremonial pets -- including a ferret, an Indian black buck and a ram -- are kept by the British Army, but regiments do not take the mascots on tours to combat zones. British legislators were told last month that keeping the pets costs £30,000 ($55,000; €44,000) per year.

The Welsh regiment was presented with a goat from the Royal herd in 1746, and Billy is a descendant from the same bloodline, said a spokeswoman for Britain's Ministry of Defense, on customary condition of anonymity in line with policy.

"He is not a grazing goat and has food flown in from Wales. Billy also has an allowance of two cigarettes a day -- both of which he eats," said the spokeswoman.

Ambassadors from Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, a United Nations special representative and the head of U.N. forces in Cyprus all attended the march, Coates added.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Darwin's tortoise dies :(

A 176-year-old tortoise, believed by some to have been owned by Charles Darwin, has died in an Australian zoo.

The giant tortoise, known as Harriet, was long reputed to have been one of three tortoises taken from the Galapagos Islands by Darwin on his historic 1835 voyage aboard the HMS Beagle.

However, historical records, while suggestive, don't prove the claim, and some scientists have cast doubt on the story, with DNA tests confirming Harriet's age but showing she came from an island that Darwin never visited.

According to local legend, Harriet was just five years old and probably no bigger than a dinner plate when she was taken from the Galapagos to Britain.

She spent a few years in Britain before being moved to the Brisbane Botanic Gardens in Australia's tropical Queensland state in the mid-1800s, where she was mistaken for a male and nicknamed Harry, according to Australia Zoo, which later bought the 150-kilogram (330-pound) tortoise.

The Queensland-based zoo is owned by "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin and his wife Terri.

"Harriet sadly died last night after, thankfully, a very short illness," senior veterinarian Jon Hanger told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Friday.

"She'd been sick yesterday with, in effect, heart failure. She had a very fairly acute heart attack and thankfully passed away quietly overnight," Hangar said.

Irwin said he considered Harriet a member of the family.

"Harriet has been a huge chunk of the Irwin family's life," Irwin said Saturday.

"She is possibly one of the oldest living creatures on the planet and her passing today is not only a great loss for the world but a very sad day for my family. She was a grand old lady."

Harriet was believed to be the world's oldest living tortoise, and one of its oldest living creatures. Despite her longevity, however, Harriet is not the world's oldest known tortoise.

That title was awarded by the Guinness Book of World Records to Tui Malila, a Madagascar radiated tortoise that was presented to the royal family of Tonga by British explorer Captain James Cook in the 1770s. It died in 1965 at the ripe age of 188.

Scientist Paul Chambers cast doubt on Harriet's Darwin connection in an article in the New Scientist magazine and a book, "The Unexpected History of the Giant Tortoise."


A council has apologised to a woman who was fined £60 after workmen painted a disabled bay around her car. When Shirley Hatcher, 67, parked her car in North Road, Southampton, Hampshire, there were no parking restrictions in place.

Mrs Hatcher, of Priory Road, said: "I had just gone to the hairdressers and when I returned there was this disabled bay and the £60 fine."

A spokeswoman for Southampton City Council has apologised for the error.
Mrs Hatcher said: "I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it. My car was covered in polka dots from the paint they had used. I was fuming, absolutely fuming, all I could think was what sort of idiot did this. I saw the funny side of it the next day - you couldn't make it up."

A spokeswoman for Southampton City Council said the authority would cover the costs of repairs to her car.

She added: "Occasionally things go wrong no matter how hard we try to get things right. We were in error, as was our painting contractor, and we're very sorry. We are doing everything we can to put it right, and to examine our processes to prevent anything like this happening again."

World worm charming championships

This truly unique rural event is bound to raise a few eyebrows and smiles as a host of worm charmers come from around the world to the small village of Willaston near Nantwich in Cheshire's Upper Weaver Valley, to employ various methods of charming worms from the soil!

Regulalrly attended by several celebrity guests from fred the Weatherman, to Bob Carolgees and Spit the Dog, to Countryfile's ben Fogle in recent years, this is not one to be missed! Come and see how many worms you can charm, and even have a go at beating the exisitng Guiness World Record of 511 worms - using only vibrations in a maximum of 30 minutes!

Or just simply stand back and watch all the fun!

Visit their site here .

Who said romance was dead ?

A new website allows meanies to take a punt on how long its featured newly-weds will stay married.

Photographs of happy couples are put up and visitors to can cast a vote on their future.

Alongside their picture is a brief synopsis about them and the options for your prediction: barely past the altar, one year, five years, eight years, 15 years or happily ever after.

The site logs the number of votes on each partnership and then lists percentages on whether or not the couple will get divorced.

If there's a high chance of divorce, according to votes, then the site states the time period before they may end the marriage.

Thousands are logging on to the site to take part.

Say "I Quit" with a Tarantula

A British man admitted Wednesday to delivering a package containing a tarantula to a female co-worker on the same day he handed in his resignation.

Mahlon Hector pleaded guilty in Leicester Magistrates' Court to delivering a rare Mexican red-kneed tarantula in a box addressed to the colleague at a branch of the Marks & Spencer store in Leicester. At the same time, he handed store bosses his resignation.

The intended recipient, Susan Griffin, was not hurt.

Hector, 22, is to be sentenced later on the charge of sending a letter or other article conveying a threat on March 28. He did not reveal his motive in court.

When workers at the store discovered the tarantula, they alerted the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which took it away.

"It was a daft idea. They are not the most dangerous spider, but it could be fatal if it is given to someone who has an allergic reaction to it," a spokesman for the society said. "The woman who received it must have been terrified."

The Mexican red-kneed tarantula is commonly used in movies because of its scary appearance. With a leg span measuring up to 10 inches, it has a hairy dark brown body and reddish-orange leg joints. Each leg ends with two claws, which are used for climbing trees.

What's up Doc ?

A girl of six triggered a security scare at a Cape Town, South Africa, airport – with a pink Bugs Bunny water pistol rammed full of sweets.

Kelly Vinnicombe was bought the £2.50 toy in the departure lounge by her mother Sarah, and packed it in her bag but, as they went through the X-ray security machine, guards hauled them to one side.

Vinnicombe, 34, was told the toy was technically a "weapon" and would have to be registered at the firearms desk. She spent an hour explaining where the gun came from – just meters away in an airport shop – before the toy was tagged and packed in a separate part of the plane.

Vinnicombe, of Plymouth, Devon, in the U.K. said: "It's bright pink with Bugs Bunny on it."

The pair were reunited with their cargo at London's Heathrow Airport after an 11-hour flight.

"It's is better to be safe than sorry," insisted a Cape Town, South Africa, airport spokeswoman.

Inside job

New Zealand police said on Friday they had arrested a bank manager who had tried to rob his own bank with a gang of thieves that included his lover.

A gang of three armed bandits charged into a bank in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, on Tuesday dressed in balaclavas and overalls.

They held staff at gunpoint and tried to make off with NZ$65,000 (£22,000) but two of the robbers were arrested at the scene after passers-by reported the robbery to police.

The third bandit escaped but police said questioning of the robbers in custody soon revealed that their accomplice was in fact the bank manager's girlfriend. The New Zealand Herald reported on Friday that the pair were later arrested at the bank manager's home.

"There was never any doubt that it was an inside job," New Zealand police spokesman Jon Neilson said. All four have appeared in court on robbery charges.

Up a tree

Portland , Oregon - A man climbed a tree on Friday to save his cat, but ended up needing to be saved himself. Ken Sinclair's white kitten, Breather, got stuck 30 feet up in a fir tree.

Sinclair tried calling to him, but the cat wouldn't budge, so he climbed up the tree. He managed to coax the cat down, but then couldn't find a way back down the tree.

Sinclair's girlfriend called 991 and firefighters arrived with a 100-foot ladder in tow. The cat and owner are now safe.

Low speed chase

A 42-year-old Lake Crystal man led sheriff's deputies on a goose chase. His getaway vehicle: a 5-horsepower mini-motorcycle.

A call came in reporting that Douglas Lee Menne had wiped out at a downtown intersection. Sheriff's Deputy Jeff Wersal responded, suspecting it was a case of drunk driving.

By the time the deputy arrived at the intersection, Menne had recovered and driven off. After locating him, Wersal tried to get Menne to pull over. The bike had no tail light or license plate.

Wersal pursued Menne to a parking lot where he paused briefly, re-started the bike and zipped out the other side of the lot. The chase continued as Menne put-putted down a nearby street at about 25 mph.

Oh rats !

Petaluma: Animal control officers confiscated about 1,000 rats from the home of a 67-year-old man who they said was living in filthy conditions with the animals.

Some of the rats were running loose in the home, while others were caged, officials said.

Roger Dier, who lives at the Petaluma home, was issued a misdemeanor citation. The case is being investigated by the city's Animal Services department and the Sonoma County Environmental Health Division. The rats were transported to the city's animal shelter in cages acquired from local pet shops.

Sorry seems the hardest word

A descendent of an Elizabethan buccaneer has made a formal apology for slavery in an African country where many slaves were taken.

Andrew Hawkins, wearing chains, appeared in a stadium in Banjul, the capital of Gambia, The Independent reported. He knelt down to express his regret for the actions of Sir John Hawkins, who is believed to have been the first person to sell African slaves in the Caribbean.

Hawkins, a youth worker in Cornwall, went to Gambia with the Lifeline Expedition, a British group. His apology was part of the Roots Festival, which marks the events described in Alex Haley's book about his family.

"It was one of the most memorable things I've ever done," he said. "It was a learning experience. You see just how deep the wounds left by the slave trade are. As someone with family links to the slave traders, it was a very difficult thing to see the consequences of their actions."

Isatou Njie Saidy, Gambia's vice president, accepted Hawkins' apology and removed his chains.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The World Egg Throwing Championship

The World Egg Throwing Championship is going to be held on Sunday 25th June 2006 at the Swaton Vintage Day (Sponsored by NatWest Bank) as a part of the ring entertainment.

Two of the four WETF Disciplines will take place at the 2006 World Championships

  1. Egg throwing and catching. 2 person team. One member from each team will throw an egg to the other member. If this is caught, the team members will move further apart and the egg will be thrown back. This will continue until only one team have an unbroken egg. THIS team will be the 2006 WORLD Champions and will be presented with the WETF Egg Cup.
  2. Egg Relay. 11 person team. There will be a limited display of this discipline. Teams will be limited to the first 10 applications.
The World Egg Throwing Championship has already achieved notable international publicity with coverage in the Times and Guardian UK national newspapers, CNN and Sports Illustrated along with many local newspapers. An American TV crew will be recording the events and BBC radio is undertaking live broadcasts throughout

I wondered where I left my bulls sperm

A 14-Ft inflatable boat, a coffin, false limbs and a lawnmower were just some of unusual items of property people have left on public transport in London.

Breast implants, a jar of bull's sperm and three dead bats have also turned up at Transport for London's lost property office.

In the last year almost 150,000 items of property have been left on Tubes, buses and taxis, with mobile phones and books among the most-mislaid articles.

Compensation for 10 year hard-on

A former Rhode Island handyman won more than $400,000 in a lawsuit over a penile implant that gave him a 10-year erection.

Charles (Chick) Lennon, 68, received the steel-plastic implant in 1996, about two years before Viagra went on the market. The Dura-II is designed to allow impotent men to position the penis upward for sex, then lower it.

But Lennon could not position his penis downward. He said he could no longer hug people, ride a bike, swim or wear bathing trunks because of the pain and embarrassment. He has become a recluse and is uncomfortable being around his grandchildren, his lawyer said.

In 2004, a jury awarded him $750,000. A judge called that excessive and reduced it to $400,000. On Friday, the Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed that award in a ruling that turned on a procedural matter.

"I don't know any man who for any amount of money would want to trade and take my client's life," said Jules D'Allessandro, Lennon's lawyer."He's not a whole person."

A lawyer representing both Dura-II manufacturer Dacomed Corp. and the company's insurer declined comment. Dacomed maintained nothing was wrong with the implant. It filed for bankruptcy after the lawsuit was filed.

Lennon cannot have the implant removed because of health problems, including open-heart surgery, his lawyer said. Impotence drugs could not help Lennon even if he were able to have the device taken out, because tissue had be to removed for it to be implanted.

Anyone seen my hotel?

German police rescued an American soccer fan lost in Hanover and unable to find his hotel again after helplessly wandering around the city for more than six hours after a match, federal police said on Friday.

The 25-year-old Boston man had checked into his hotel in the afternoon before going to see a match between Poland and Costa Rica but could not remember his hotel's name, its address or anything else about it, police spokesman Holger Jureczko said.

"He came into the police station at 3 a.m. and asked for help," Jureczko said.

"The only thing he could remember was paying 10 euros (7 pounds) for a taxi ride to the city centre and that he went past a park and a Mercedes dealer. There are a lot of Mercedes dealers in Hanover but we were able to find the one in the vicinity of a park."

Police took the American to the area that matched his vague description in the city of 500,000 and spent an hour driving up and down streets in that quarter until he recognised his hotel just before dawn on Wednesday.

Garbage truck reef

Thailand dumped 189 old garbage trucks off its southern coast on Friday in a bid to build an artificial reef to lure fish for local fishermen. The trucks, once used to collect refuse in the sprawling Thai capital Bangkok, were dropped into the Gulf of Thailand, about 5.5 km (3.4 miles) from the southern province of Pattani.

Under a project initiated by Thailand's queen in 2002, everything from concrete pillars to old rail cars have been dumped at 47 sites in the waters off southern Thailand.

Fishery Department official Rangsan Chayakul said some 43 species of fish were now living around these artificial reefs, up from 15 species before.

"The reef will protect shallow-water fishermen from high waves and give them a good source of income," he told Reuters.

BBC's Bigscreen flop

Brazil's 4-1 World Cup thrashing of Japan might have sparked samba in the streets of Rio de Janeiro but the football folk of Preston were hardly going nuts, a British regional newspaper has said.

The Lancashire Evening Post reported that only 20 hardy souls turned up at the BBC's costly giant screen in the northwest English city on Thursday to watch the match, after just four people and a dog braved the miserable rain for the earlier Group E games.

The public service broadcaster was slammed by one member of parliament for wasting money on the 27-metre screens dotted across the country, which cost 500,000 pounds (910,000 dollars, 725,000 euros) each and 5,000 pounds a day to operate.

"It would have been cheaper, and probably gained more of an audience for the games on show, if they had bought five plasma screens and given them to the people there and told them to invite their friends along," said Nigel Evans.

Live screenings in Liverpool and London were scrapped after trouble flared during the transmission of England's opening World Cup game against Paraguay.

Former mill town Preston was once a hotbed of football and the city's big screen is outside the National Football Museum at English Championship club Preston North End's Deepdale ground.

Pounds from heaven

Pennies literally fell from heaven in the centre of the west Wales coastal town of Aberystwyth when a man threw 5,000 pounds up in the air, much to the bemusement and delight of passers-by.

"Who wants free money?" the man shouted as he threw bundles of 20 pound notes around the street.

The windfall caused traffic jams as motorists and pedestrians fought to fill their pockets with the cash.

The source of the rich pickings remains unknown.

Local police have asked anyone who has pocketed any of the money to get in touch, although they did acknowledge that it is not illegal to throw money away, nor pick it up.

As for the generous benefactor, a 40-year-old man, he was questioned on suspicion of speeding after the incident, which was filmed by a witness.

"I just couldn't believe my eyes. People were shocked and just couldn't believe it," the eyewitness said.

It is not known whether any honest beneficiaries who reported their windfall to the police will get it back if it turns out not to come from any criminal source.

Warhol wig sale

His paintings sell for millions but fans of Andy Warhol picked up some bargains at an auction of memorabilia, including one of the artist's trademark silver wigs that sold for more than $14,700.

Auction house Christie's said the wig was part of sale of film and entertainment memorabilia that raised a total of $1.14 million, with 231 of the 283 lots on offer sold at the auction in New York.

A pair of the late artist's paint-splattered Ferragamo shoes went for more than $10,600 while a paintbrush raised more than $5,200.

A 1977 Polaroid of Muhammad Ali taken by Warhol and signed by the boxing legend raised more than $26,100 - more than twice the presale estimate.

The items were among gifts that the Pop Art icon bestowed on his nephews when they visited their famous uncle from the late 1960s until his death in 1987.

The market for Warhol art has been especially hot in recent years.

Just last month Christie's sold his 1962 Small Torn Campbell's Soup Can (Pepper Pot) at auction for more than $16 million - the highest price paid for one of the artist's seminal soup can works.

The memorabilia sale also drew high prices for items associated with other stars, notably Marilyn Monroe.

A cocktail dress she wore in The Misfits raised $90,000 and her personal address and telephone book from 1960-62 went for $42,500.

Two wristwatches owned by Clark Gable were sold for more than $36,000 and three photographs of Marlon Brando on the set of A Streetcar Named Desire raised more than $27,000.

Satire could mean jail

A Brit artist is facing up to three years’ jail in Turkey for exhibiting a collage that depicts its Prime Minister as a dog being awarded a rosette by President Bush in a pet show.

Police in Istanbul seized Michael Dickinson’s Best in Show — in which he superimposed the head of Recep Tayyip Erdogan on to a dog’s body — from his exhibition in the city.

He has been told that he is likely to be charged with “insulting the dignity of the Prime Minister”. The show’s organiser, Erkan Kara, will go on trial on September 12 on the same charge.

Mr Dickinson, 56, said: “It’s such an Alice in Wonderland feeling. The law is so absurd . . . This law exists in Turkey about insulting ‘Turkishness’ or the State. You’re not allowed to state your opinion.”

The case could greatly embarrass Turkey and Britain, for it raises questions about Turkey’s human rights record as it seeks EU membership, with Tony Blair’s backing.

Pledge rings banned

A school has banned Christian pupils from wearing rings that symbolise the teenagers' belief in chastity until marriage. Youngsters have been ordered to remove the 'purity rings' because they contravene the school's uniform policy.

Millais School, an all-girls' comprehensive in West Sussex, has a strict 'no jewellery' rule, allowing only small stud earrings. But the girls' families argue that that the rings - simple bands of silver given to youngsters who complete an evangelical church course preaching abstinence - hold genuine religious significance.

Parents also point out that the school allows Muslim and Sikh pupils to wear headscarves or kara bracelets as a means of religious expression.

Heather and Philip Playfoot have been in dispute with the school in Horsham over the issue for two years. Their 15-year-old daughter Lydia began wearing her ring to the school in June 2004.
The Playfoots claim Lydia and up to a dozen pupils have been punished for breaking the rules. Lydia recently stopped wearing the ring but feels 'betrayed' by the school.

She said: "My friends and I have had detentions and been taught in isolation for wearing the ring. I feel like I've been treated the same as someone who is caught bringing cannabis into school. My ring is a symbol of my religious faith. I think, as a Christian, it says we should keep ourselves pure from sexual sinfulness and wearing the ring is a good way of making a stand. I stopped wearing the ring because it was being made really difficult for me. I am sitting GCSE modules this year and I missed loads of drama lessons because the teachers would teach us in isolation."

Her parents Heather, 47, a housewife and Phil, 49, a minister in a nondenominational church, are considering taking legal action.
Mrs Playfoot said: "The ring is a reminder to them of the promise they have made, much the same as a wedding ring is an outward sign of an inward promise. There are Muslim girls at the school who are allowed to wear the headcovering, although that isn't part of the school uniform, and Sikh girls who are allowed to wear the bangle, although that isn't part of the uniform. It's a discriminatory policy. We don't want her education to be disrupted because of it but we do want her to feel free to wear something that is very significant."

Lydia's ring comes from Silver Ring Thing, an evangelical American Christian movement.

It has encouraged a growing number of teenagers to make a 'pledge of chastity'.

The silver ring demonstrates commitment to this pledge.

Karate kid beats mugger

A 12-year-old told how he turned the tables on a would-be mugger when he unleashed his martial arts skills on the yob.

Jake Oliver was walking back to his home in Hartcliffe, Bristol, on Saturday morning when he was confronted by the balaclava-clad thug. The stocky, 5ft 10ins, assailant had leapt out from behind a bush and demanded Jake's phone.

But the unruffled youngster - who won a gold medal at a national karate championships last year - refused and delivered a karate chop, which broke the man's nose.

The bleeding yob fled empty-handed and drove off after being given a lesson he will never forget by the junior crime fighter.

Jake, who has practised freestyle karate for four years, today described how he had used his martial arts to defend himself against the mugger.

"He said 'Give me your phone or you'll get hurt.' But I'd worked really hard doing lots of odd jobs to pay for the phone and I hated having to give it away," he told the Bristol Evening Post.

"Then he swung at me so I had no choice but to defend myself, or I knew I'd get a beating and lose my phone in the process. So I side-stepped his punch and delivered a right-hander in the face. It broke his nose and there was blood everywhere."

Jake then ran back to tell his mother, Sue, 39, and lorry-driver father Oly, 36, what had happened.

The youngster, who trains five days a week at his local club, won the 9-11 age category of the Cobra Martial Arts Association World Kickboxing and Karate Association Championship (WKA) in Manchester last year.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Is this CRAP worth £2.6m ?

One of British artist David Hockney's most famous works, The Splash, has been sold for £2.6m at Sotheby's in London.

The painting, dating from 1966, had been in a private collection in California for the past 20 years.

The piece, in Hockney's minimalist style, depicts the moment someone hits the water, diving into a swimming pool.

Paintings by two other British artists - Peter Doig and Bridget Riley - also fetched more than £1m each in an auction which raised just over £30m.

Baboon flag thieves

A safari park in Merseyside is urging patriotic football fans to remove England flags from their vehicles to stop gangs of baboons pinching them.

Bosses at Knowsley Safari Park say the 120-strong troop of baboons usually swipe windscreen wipers but have turned to stealing World Cup flags instead.

Safari Park general manager David Ross said: "Many people are wisely removing them before going on the safari drive.

"If they forget the baboons usually take them."

According to Mr Ross, the baboons have built up quite a stash.

He added: "Visitors are certainly enjoying their antics with the flags as it does look like they are showing their support for the efforts of the England team.

"The baboons have always been great fun but they are the vandals of the animal world.

"Our advice to England fans is to remove their flags before they arrive or to use the alternative car-friendly route around the outside of the monkey jungle."

Art or graffiti ?

Graffiti artist Banksy has returned to his home town and left his mark on a Bristol building with a stencil design. The painting, on the side of a building near Park Street, depicts a naked lover caught with his pants down, hanging from a window ledge.

The city council, whose offices overlook the artwork, said it will ask the public whether or not to clean off the mural or paint over it.

"We have to decide if it's public art or graffiti," said a spokeswoman. We are encouraging debate amongst residents and would like to hear people's views and comments about this latest addition to the Banksy collection."
Art student Chris Williamson, 20, said the stencil should stay.

"It's a well done, thoughtful and playful piece, and because of that it really adds to the building. The majority of graffiti is usually somebody spraying 'Dazzer woz 'ere' but this is in a completely different category and should be allowed to stay."

Bristolian Banksy is a controversial artist whose previous works have included murals on the West Bank Barrrier, and flocks of spray-painted farm animals.

He has also created spoof historical artefacts and planted them in some of the world's leading museums and galleries.

Football mad monks

Buddhist monks in Thailand are too tired to receive early morning alms because they are staying up late to watch the World Cup, a Thai newspaper reported.

The Nation quoted a woman in the northern city of Chiang Mai who said her birthday celebrations were ruined because monks at a city temple were not awake to receive her morning offering, a mandatory religious ritual in the predominately Buddhist country.

The woman, who declined to be identified, said she was told by a senior monk that most of his young colleagues were still asleep because they had stayed up to watch the games which can go on well past midnight.

The Sangha Council, which oversees the tens of thousands of Buddhist temples in Thailand, has not banned monks from watching the World Cup but said it should not interfere with religious activities.

Chiang Mai chief monk Phra Thep Wisuthikhun said he had received complaints about "inappropriate behaviour" at seven temples in the province.

"It is the duty of the abbot of each temple to supervise the behaviour of young monks, making sure that their religious activities will not be affected by the games," he told Reuters.

In neighbouring Cambodia, some 40,000 monks have been warned they could be defrocked if they became too excited while watching the games.

"If they make noise or cheer as they watch, they will lose their monkhood," Phnom Penh patriarch Non Nget told Reuters this month.