Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Animated Leornardo Da Vinci drawings

Someone went to a lot of time and trouble to animate some of Leornardo Da Vinci's drawings, click on a thumbnail to view here

Fake bill

BATESVILLE, Ark. -- Police knew this Bill wasn't authentic. A man has been arrested for trying to use a $100 bill with no president's face and the name of former President Clinton.

The man, who has not been identified, was arrested Friday after trying to use the bill to buy cigarettes at a Batesville gas station.

"The bill was unmistakably fake due to the fact that the ink was running on the bill, the president's face was missing and for the president's name, it had the name Clinton on it," said Deputy Nathan Stephens.

The sheriff's office expects to file counterfeiting charges against the suspect, authorities said.

"Of all the cases I've worked with phony money, this is the sorriest bill I've ever seen," Lt. Brenda Bittle said.

Man pays child support to dead wife

NEWARK -- A proposal from the Licking County Prosecutor's Office might put an end to an Upper Arlington man making child support payments to his ex-wife -- even though she died in April, and he has custody of their three children.

Joe Randolph, 44, has been instructed by Licking County Child Support Enforcement Agency officials that he must continue the payments until a court tells him he can stop. Thus, he has been paying more than $1,300 per month to nobody in particular.
Sharon Buckingham, a Newark woman who had custody of the couple's children, died April 25 at age 40.
"I ask the burning question, 'Who are they going to send the money to?'" said Randolph's attorney, Jerry Swank. "I think it's just pure silliness. We have a court date in January. I hope it will be resolved before then."

Assistant Prosecutor Ken Oswalt said Friday a proposal, if approved by Swank and Randolph, would end the child support payments and return to Randolph payments held in escrow.

"We might have a resolution early next week," Oswalt said. "This proposal is something child support has signed off on already."

Nancy Johnson, director of the Licking County CSEA, said the situation is unusual but can't be resolved through an administrative order.

"When a custodial parent dies, we really don't have the statutory authority to terminate child support," Johnson said. "The CSEA doesn't terminate child support; the court order does. It's certainly a very unfortunate situation and something we've done everything we can to rectify."

The case was set for court, but with 2,000 cases per year in Domestic Relations Court, the earliest date was six months away.

"I'm not sure they knew what to do," Randolph said. "I got the impression that they were going to terminate the order and they had the authority to do that."

Randolph said the combination of making the payments and having custody of the children seriously has stretched his finances.

"We've tried to make sure (the children) didn't have to cut back in anything they do," Randolph said. "We don't have stores of cash to draw on. Month to month, we have to look at some other sources of cash, borrowing from relatives or home equity loans."

Randolph said he's also been forced to borrow from his ex-wife's investment funds.

In the future, a parent in Randolph's situation may not have to wait as long to get a resolution. The prosecutor's office, as well as the Ohio General Assembly, are addressing such situations.

Oswalt said CSEA officials will notify the prosecutor's office sooner if a similar situation arises, cutting the time before a possible resolution can be proposed.

Kim Newsom Bridges, director of the Ohio CSEA Director's Association, said a bill sponsored by State Sen. Steve Stivers, R-Columbus, would prevent a repeat of the Randolph case.

The bill could provide two solutions: CSEA notifies the court immediately, a 60- to 90-day process; or CSEA takes care of it themselves without going to court, a 30- to 60-day process.

"We've been working with Sen. Stivers for quite a while," Newsom Bridges said. "We're exploring if there is a way to help counties clear up a situation like this as expeditiously as we can. Child support agencies could notify the court of a custody change until a state law took that power away from the agencies about five years ago," Newsom Bridges said. "Since the statute was revised, we've talked about it. We were not in favor of that language being removed."

Sword mystery

LAMBERTVILLE, NJ -- The owner of Heath's Exxon gasoline station found that a Jeep he owns was broken into while parked at his station, at Main and Bridge streets.

But it was not something stolen but what was left behind that caught Robert Heath's eye Saturday morning. When he looked in his vehicle after noticing the hard top had been moved, he saw two swords had been pushed clear through the driver's seat.

The swords were still lodged in the seat when Patrolman Michael Miloszar responded to take the report.

The investigation into the impaling damage was ongoing yesterday, police said.

Nice one Cherokee

ATLANTA -- A simple online search of a Cherokee County government web site revealed social security numbers posted for all to see – and it turns out, this is happening across the state.

Channel 2’s Tom Regan logged on to the Cherokee County web site, entered a few common names and within a few clicks was able to obtain social security numbers for complete strangers, courtesy of the IRS and the county court web site.

“I’m required by law not to alter the document and by law I cannot alter the document,” said Cherokee County Clerk of Courts, Patty Baker.

It applies to all county courts in Georgia – not just Cherokee. The result? People who have federal tax liens against them – sometimes for years as they dispute unpaid taxes – have their entire social security sitting out on the world wide web for anyone to see.

“I mean, everybody is talking about identity theft and now they do this. Why don’t they get in the business,” asked one man who says his information has been posted. He did not wish to be identified.

Actually, Cherokee County is taking initiatives to remove social security numbers from the federal tax documents they post on their web site. Officials claim they are one of the few counties in Georgia that are doing that in an effort to keep such personal information private.

“My clerks are instructed to black it out on the web site. We cannot alter the original document, so we have to make a copy of it, black it out and put that on the web site.

“If somebody gets it, and takes my identity and causes me any kind of financial pain I’m going to sue them for it,” said the man.

No planning involved

Fort Worth -- Fort Worth police say a suspected burglar ended up locked in a liquor store he's accused of trying to rob.

They say 30-year-old Larry C. Bynum apparently entered the store through a rooftop ventilation hatch early Tuesday. Surveillance video showed a man falling through ceiling tiles and about 20 feet to the floor, where he lay stunned and nearly motionless for about five minutes.

Finally, he got up and broke into the store cash register, then took some cigarettes and tried to leave. He was stopped by a locked Plexiglas door. The video showed the man first trying to climb a display rack to the hole he'd just fallen through, but he fell again. He then tried to break the front door with a beer keg, then with a dolly -- but no luck.

Finally, the man just sat on beer keg, fired up a smoke, and waited for police to come and get him. They did.

Le non 'alloween

Halloween is said to be dying in France after a short-lived bonanza, according to media reports.
It seems the festival, which came to prominence in the late 1990s, is in decline because it is perceived as "too American".

An association called No to Halloween - which was set up to combat the trend - has now wound down as a result of the festival's waning appeal. It said Halloween was artificially inflated to serve commercial interests.

"There was no need for the group to exist any more," former president Arnaud Guyot-Jeannin told Reuters news agency. "Halloween was a marketing gimmick aimed mainly at children. It's a big festival of consumption selling outfits, masks, gadgets and it couldn't last forever," he added.
As a result, supermarkets are reported have lost interest in the festival this year.

"Apart from a few local celebrations, Halloween is no longer taken into account by our stores," Thierry Desouches of Systeme U supermarket told Catholic newspaper La Croix. "This lack of interest is real in all big-name supermarkets," he added. "Our Halloween sales have been falling by half every year since 2002," Franck Mathais of toy retailer La Grande Recre told Le Monde newspaper.

Benoit Pousset, head of costume company Cesar, attributed the festival's demise to "a cultural reaction linked to the rise of anti-Americanism". The company itself is thriving in the US where - through its division Disguise - it provides one-third of all the Halloween costumes sold in the country.

Opposition to the festival is especially strong in French religious quarters, with the Catholic church seeking to promote All Saints' Day as the celebration of choice at this time of year.
Halloween grew alongside other "Anglo-Saxon" imports such as Valentine's Day or the stag or hen party which have become increasingly popular in recent years, correspondents say

Adam who ?

The new £20 note featuring Scottish economist Adam smith was unveiled yesterday ... leaving critics furious. The choice of Smith - who died in 1790 - was branded too "obscure".

And they called for better known Brits, such as wartime Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, to be honoured instead.

Mark Field, Tory MP for Westminster, said: "While I recognise Adam Smith as a great supporter of capitalism and a world renowned economist, perhaps it would be better if he was on Scottish banknotes.

"The Bank of England note should have a great Englishman or woman on it.Someone like Winston Churchill would be more appropriate."

Sunder Katwala, of the Fabian Society, a leftwing think-tank, added: "Adam Smith is the first Scot on an English banknote, which is good. But we need a greater public debate about how our bank notes should represent Britain as it is now, in all its diversity."

Smith will replace composer Sir Edward Elgar on 1.2 billion notes from spring.

The Bank of England said it considered many suggestions of who should go on the note, but the final choice rested with Governor Mervyn King. Other nominees included authors Agatha Christie and Jane Austen, Navy hero Lord Nelson and even The Beatles.

Mr King said Smith was chosen for his contribution to British society. He said: "Smith's insights into human nature, the organisation of society, the division of labour and the advantages of specialisation remain at the heart of economics."

Stewart Hosie, SNP Treasury spokesman, said: "Adam Smith is an ideal choice to be commemorated on a banknote of any denomination in any country of the world. And that this 'Little Englander' attitude should raise its ugly head over honouring a great man is a sad and pitiful gesture."

Adam Smith was a Scottish political economist and moral philosopher. He helped to create the modern academic discipline of economics and argued for free trade, capitalism, and libertarianism

Pub crawl record

Maryborough in Queensland's central-east no longer holds the record for the world's greatest pub crawl.

London has stolen the gong after 2,237 people joined a pub crawl through the city earlier this month. The Londoners only beat Maryborough's June record breaking pub crawl by 41 people.

Maryborough Councillor Anne Nioa says the battle lines have now been drawn. "I think they have something like 1,500 pubs and 10 million people and they could only beat us by 41, so it is a bit funny really," she said.

Maryborough will attempt to reclaim the record on the Queen's birthday long weekend next year.

Mistaken identity

Two people saw what they thought were masked bank robbers in a car with tinted windows in front of a bank and called police, but the occupants turned out not to be thieves but children in Halloween masks.

The two women in the small northern town of Bad Zwischenahn in Germany separately spotted the vehicle, police say. But it took off before police arrived.

Authorities picked it up two hours later and detained the driver and three passengers - children in Halloween costumes.

"We got a call that there were 'masked people in front of a bank' and assumed it was a hold-up," officer Juergen Harms said. "After we brought the man and the children in ... we were able to quickly establish it was a case of mistaken identity. It was hard for the witnesses to see that it was three children wearing Halloween masks," he said, adding police had thanked the women for being observant.

Youthful bus driver

A 15-year-old boy was arrested when deputies stopped him driving a stolen bus along a public transit route, picking up passengers and collecting fares, authorities said Sunday.

Ritchie Calvin Davis took the bus Saturday from the Central Florida Fairgrounds in Orlando, where it was parked awaiting sale at an auction, a Seminole County sheriff's report said. The bus belongs to the Central Florida Transportation Agency, which runs LYNX public transit services in the Orlando area.

"I drove that bus better than most of the LYNX drivers could," the teen told a deputy after his arrest. "There isn't a scratch on it. I know how to start it, drive it, lower it, raise it.
Passengers and deputies noted Davis drove the bus at normal speeds and made all the appropriate stops on the route. One passenger, suspicious of the youthful looks of the driver, called 911.

There were two passengers on the bus when deputies stopped it in Fern Park, a suburb about 12 miles north of the fairgrounds where the bus was stolen. Authorities believe Davis picked up a total of three passengers and collected only a few dollars on his Saturday morning drive.

The sheriff's report noted that Davis, who is too young to legally drive, has a dummy license number because he had previously been charged for a similar bus theft. In January, he took a tour bus and drove passengers around without incident, authorities told the Orlando Sentinel. He was still serving probation for that incident, the paper reported. The teen was charged with grand theft auto and driving without a license. A court hearing was scheduled Tuesday to determine if he will be charged as an adult or a juvenile.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Hells of a way to go

For any would-be Hell's Angel it is the ultimate final send-off. A funeral procession of 100 motorcycles behind a top-of-the-range Triumph Speed - one of the fastest bikes in the world - with a hearse carrying their coffin at its side.

Now a Leith-based funeral director is trying to make the biker's fantasy a reality by offering it to all families booking funerals. It has been used on three occasions after special requests by families of motorcycle lovers, but bikes had to be loaned from funeral directors outside Edinburgh.
Now McKenzie & Millar, in Great Junction Street, Leith, is offering bikes instead of the traditional long black cars to anyone who wants to book it.

As well as the Triumph, customers will be offered a Suzuki, Hayabusa and Harley-Davidson.

Andrew Combe, funeral director at McKenzie & Millar, said: "We expect people who are motorbike fans, whose family want an appropriate send-off, will be keen on this idea.

"It has very seldom been used in Scotland so it would be popular with anyone who wants something a bit different. It would certainly make a big final effect. It's the sort of thing that when it happens people will all talk about it and take pictures of it, so I think it will really catch on when people start seeing it. We try to provide as many different options as we can for our funerals. We look for a unique tribute for a unique life and making funerals unique to a person can make a big difference. That is why this sort of thing appeals to people."

100 million-year-old bee

A scientist has found a 100 million-year-old bee trapped in amber, making it possibly the oldest bee ever found.

"I knew right away what it was, because I had seen bees in younger amber before," said George Poinar, a zoology professor at Oregon State University.

The bee is about 40 million years older than previously found bees. The discovery of the ancient bee may help explain the rapid expansion and diversity of flowering plants during that time.

Poinar found the bee in amber from a mine in the Hukawng Valley of northern Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. Many researchers buy bags of amber from miners to search for fossils. Amber, a translucent semiprecious stone, is a substance that begins as tree resin. The sticky resin entombs and preserves insects, pollen and other small organisms.

Also embedded in the amber are four kinds of flowers. "So we can imagine this little bee flitting around these tiny flowers millions of years ago," Poinar said.

An article on his discovery will appear Friday in the journal Science, co-authored by bee researcher Bryan Danforth of Cornell University.

Oklahoma legalizes tattooing

The law legalizing tattooing in Oklahoma goes into effect Wednesday and the state Department of Health has been busy fielding questions from people who want to get licenses to practice the ancient art.

Oklahoma is the last state to legalize tattooing.

Tressa Madden, director of consumer protection at the state Department of Health, said her office has been swamped with inquiries about the licensing process.

"Build the rules, and they will come," said Madden, whose department is in charge of licensing tattoo artists and tattoo establishments.

"I try to return phone calls as fast as I can. We're just being busy, and we're working as hard as we can."

The health department hired an additional public-health specialist, and now has four people to help regulate the tattooing.

Requirements for a license include professional experience in tattooing or completion of an approved apprentice program. There is also a standardized test and requirements for certificates in CPR, first-aid and in dealing with bloodborne pathogens.

A surety bond of $100,000 is also required, along with an initial licensing fee of $1,000 and a $500 charge for annual renewal.

"The laws make it a little more difficult for the average Joe to pick up a tattoo machine and say he knows what he's doing," said Brandon Mull, a member of Oklahoma Tattooing and Piercing Association and the Oklahoma Body Art Coalition, both of which fought to change the state's tattoo laws.

"It's just going to make it all around safer for the public."

Mull started in 1997 asking the state Legislature to legalize the work he's done for 12 years.

He was arrested in 2003 for tattooing. He said he was filling out the paperwork for licensing and hopes to be approved by Wednesday.

Rubber band ball record

EUGENE, Ore. - With all due respect to The Spinners and T.I., prepare yourself for the new rubber-band man. Steve Milton, through concentration and perseverance, has created a 3,300-pound ball comprised of rubber bands. His creation measures almost 5 feet tall and takes up half his two-car garage. Though it's not official, the 26-year-old Eugene man believes he has broken the record for the heaviest such ball, eclipsing John Bain's mark of 3,120 pounds. The Wilmington, Del., man's record has stood for eight years.

Milton has posted updates of his ball's growing girth on his MySpace page. He's also uploaded videos of the ball crushing things, such as using a forklift to drop the ball on an old van.

"It was awesome," Milton told The Register-Guard newspaper. "It completely flattened the roof and blew the doors off."

Milton, however, isn't just using the object for destruction. The ball will be on display Friday at a food and toy drive in Eugene, and Milton is challenging people to donate 3,300 pounds of food and toys.

Milton started building the ball last November. He bought rubber bands at retail stores and then started purchasing in bulk from the Pennsylvania-based Dykema Rubber Band Company.

Dykema president Lou McKibben said he realized Milton was serious when he got an order for 1,000 pounds of 12-inch rubber bands. He cut him a deal on the remaining 2,000 pounds.

McKibben said he gets hundreds of sponsorship requests annually from people trying to break the record. Most of them, he said, don't have Milton's determination.

"They reach a point where it gets too big or they get tired of it, but Steve persevered," McKibben says. "Now he's won the crown."

Milton, who wants to stretch the ball at least another 1,000 pounds, said the work isn't all that safe. Milton is careful to keep the ball contained with blocks of wood so it doesn't roll away. He wears gloves to avoid burning his hands from friction and learned to move when a band breaks.

"If they snap they come off pretty fast," he said. "They've given me welts before."

Mumbo jumbo love potion

A German woman won a lawsuit against a "love witch" who failed to induce her ex-boyfriend to come back with rituals under the full moon designed to cast a spell over him, a Munich court said Monday.

"The witch lost," said Munich district court spokeswoman Ingrid Kaps. The 'love witch' was ordered to return her 1,000 euro ($1,300) fee and pay "several hundred euros" in costs.

"The plaintiff was in despair after her boyfriend left and tried to get him to return with help from a woman who calls herself a 'love witch'," she added. "The court has ruled it was a service that was 'objectively impossible' to render."

The witch disputed the plaintiff's claim of a money-back guarantee, Kaps said. The witch, described as an elderly woman, also lost an appeal. The spokeswoman declined to give the names or ages of those involved.

"A love ritual is not suited to influence a person from long distance," the court said. "As the promised service could not be rendered, the plaintiff is not obligated to pay."

Spelling DVD gaffe

Eamonn Holmes is fuming after makers of his new spelling game DVD spelt his name wrong on the cover. Makers DDS Media had to scrap 10,000 games after they called him 'Eamon' - with one 'n'.

According to The Sun, an insider said: "There are a lot of red faces with everyone blaming each other."

The blunder was spotted by the star when he was sent one of the first DVDs to be pressed.

The insider added: "He said, 'How can you expect people to buy this game when you've misspelt my name on the front!' We had to destroy the whole first run of 10,000 games and delay the launch."

The game, Eamonn Holmes' Spell, with its correct cover is due to go on sale later this week.

The Oxo diet

A Cornishman has lost 16 stone in a year on a diet of Oxo cubes. Stephen Kay, 39, swapped fry-ups, pies, pasties and pints of lager for three bowls of hot broth a day. The dad-of-three, who is 6ft 2ins, weighed 31.5 stone, reports the Daily Mirror.

He devised his own diet made up of Oxo stock cubes, topped up with fruit and vegetables. Within 12 months he had slimmed down to 15.2 stone and lost two foot off his waist as his belt size shrank from 60 to 36.

Stonemason Stephen said: "I'd read all the weight loss magazines and watched all the TV programmes - but I hate salads. I remember my grandfather eating hot Oxo broth soaked up by wholemeal bread so I went for that."

Stephen decided to fight the fat after constant pestering from wife Caroline and children Gary, 21, Claire, 14 and Jack, 11.

Caroline makes her husband's filling broths three times a day using two stock cubes, hot water and pepper. She also gives him three slices of wholemeal bread.

The 42-year-old part-time cleaner said: "This diet has totally transformed him. He used to get tired easily and spend all his time on the sofa. Now he is out playing badminton."

Thief leaves more than a print

A careless burglar in Germany left behind a vital clue at a break-in when he sliced off the end of a finger and left it behind, police said on Monday.

"We usually find fingerprints at the crime scene, but it's not every day that thieves leave the original there too," said a spokesman for police in the central town of Hildesheim.

Police wasted no time in matching the piece of finger with existing prints they had from a 15-year-old of Iraqi origin.

The youth initially denied breaking and entering into an office to steal a computer but confessed when police produced the digital remnant, which had been severed on a broken window.

"I don't know if the fellow asked for it (the fingertip) back afterwards," the police spokesman said.


According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), American consumers are expected to spend $4.96 billion on Halloween-related merchandise this year, up from $3.96 billion a year ago. With a growing portion of that money being spent on pets, the NRF said it hopes to track pet-related Halloween spending as an individual category starting next year.

"It all falls in line with the humanization of the pet," said PetSmart Inc. spokeswoman Michelle Friedman. "Pets are sleeping in bed with their 'pet parents' and riding along with them to do errands around town. They're just like kids. They're participating in holidays," Friedman added.

From catnip-filled pumpkins to edible rawhide Halloween cards, more than 3.5 million Americans are expected to buy some type of Halloween product for their pets this year, according to a survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association.

Phoenix-based PetSmart, the largest U.S. retailer of pet food and supplies, is rolling out 12 costumes for dogs this year, including Superman, Darth Vader and a "Devil Dog Hood." The company is also carrying six styles of "cat hats" for feline lovers who'd like to get the often temperamental creatures into the spirit of the Halloween holiday. "Some cats have no problem wearing it and are perfectly comfortable," Friedman said. "Others wear it for a little bit, take a picture and are done."

Rival retailer Petco Animal Supplies Inc. is also stocking pet costumes. Its pumpkin and pirate costumes for dogs are two of its top-selling items, according to the company's Web site.

"Every year (pet costumes) get more and more popular," said Shari Maxwell, co-owner of online store Annie's Costumes (http://www.anniescostumes.com). The online shop offers more than 100 different pet costumes so that cats and dogs can dress up as everything from superheroes to firemen, brides and even French chamber maids -- frilly aprons, skimpy skirts and all.

Last year the company sold more than 8,000 pet costumes. This year, it expects to sell at least 11,000.

The most popular choice for both children and pets this Halloween is expected to be pirate costumes due to the success of the Hollywood blockbuster "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

Last year, the "Yoda Dog" took the top spot at Annie's Costumes online store as Star Wars fans sought to dress their dogs as the wisest Jedi. The growing popularity in pet Halloween costumes is giving new meaning to the tradition of trick-or-treating.

Contests for pets dressed in Halloween costumes are springing up across America this year and most are offering the winning animals goody bags filled with their favorite treats.

At the Haute Dog Howl'oween Parade in Long Beach, the dog voted to have the best costume wins a yearly supply of dog food, said Rudd, who spearheads the event. The parade attracts nearly 600 dogs in costumes ranging from cowboys and firefighters, to pumpkins and devils.

"An octopus was pretty cool," said Rudd, laughing. "There's always chicken dogs in the parade for some reason."

Un-ewe-sual rescue

A lifeboat crew were called out to an unusual emergency - to rescue a lost sheep.

A farmer became stuck in mud trying to reach the sheep in the River Clwyd, as it drifted towards the harbour in the seaside resort of Rhyl.

The farmer, who was up to his knees in mud, dialled coastguards who called out Rhyl's RNLI boat crew to rescue him.

The crew then rescued the sheep, which had drifted a quarter of a mile further down river.

Paul Frost, of Rhyl lifeboat, said: "The sheep seems to have fallen in from a bank but the crew was called out to help the farmer, who was stuck in mud.

"He was pulled out with the help of a rope but was concerned for his sheep and so the crew went after it."

Rare dove bred

A rare Mexican bird that died out in the wild in the 1970s has been successfully bred at London Zoo. The Socorro dove is native to Socorro Island in the Revillagigedo Islands, 600 miles off the west coast of Mexico.

The species was last sighted in Socorro in 1972 and there are now thought to be fewer than 100 in captivity.

Zoo keepers have named the new dove, Arnie - after Arnold Schwarzenegger. They hope successful captive breeding will increase the birds' numbers.
John Ellis, the Zoological Society of London's Curator of Birds, said: "This is an enormous success for London Zoo and a real tribute to the hard work and expertise of our keepers.

"I would like to think that this captive breeding success marks a change in the fortunes of the Socorro dove, and we are delighted to be playing our part in the reintroduction programme."

The species died out after falling prey to a rising number of feral cats.

They were hunted by humans for food and overgrazing by sheep also destroyed much of their forest floor habitat.

As part of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria breeding programme, it is hoped Arnie's descendants will eventually be reintroduced into the forests of Socorro.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Welcome to Crawley

Commuters driving to work were greeted by an obscene message when they arrived at Crawley, West Sussex, on Thursday morning.

Digital roadside signs, which usually give information about parking availability, instead urged visitors to "Fuck off" after hackers gained remote access to the displays. Three of the 11 Variable Message Signs on approach roads to the town carried the expletive.

"The hackers gained remote access to our computer at 6.45am. The first we knew of it was a phone call from a member of the public two hours later," a council spokesman said."Our IT staff had the message removed by 9.05am. I think people realise that this was not the work of the council, but we apologise for any offence. Some people found it rather amusing.

"Under the message were the initials TOTSE, suggesting that this was the work of the
US-based online community of that name. Why they picked on Crawley, I have no idea."


Englewood: Eighty-five-year-old Don Francis spent three years refurbishing a three-wheel bike with shiny paint, chrome handlebars and polished wheel spokes. In one day over the weekend the whole thing disappeared after somebody stole it.

Police found the bike on Thursday, but it wasn't the same as Francis left it. The basket, lights and reflectors were all gone, the back wheel badly bent.

"Those reflectors and lights used to shine really bright," Francis said. "Those were all things that people would come by and say, 'Don, are you going to put this on the bike or that on the bike?'"

But Francis, who uses an oxygen tank because of a medical condition from breathing too much asbestos, said he doesn't think he can put all that time into fixing it up again.

Instead, he might take one that a local man offered after hearing his story, the Charlotte Sun Herald reported.

Though Francis never expected the bike to get stolen, he said he came across plenty of nice folks trying to get it back.

Firework fire

Lac Du Flambeau: A man attempting to rob a fireworks shop on Saturday fired his shotgun, igniting fireworks and starting a blaze that destroyed the business, authorities said.

No injuries were reported at North American Fireworks, the Vilas County Sheriff's Department said in a statement. A 20-year-old man was being held in jail after being tracked to a home about 10 miles away.

The owner told deputies a male entered the business wearing a ski mask and armed with a shotgun. He fired indoors, and a shot apparently ignited fireworks, authorities said.

The owner was able to wrestle the shotgun away and remove the man's ski mask, but the suspect fled on an all-terrain vehicle that had been idling outside, deputies said.

The fireworks began to burn out of control, destroying the rest of the building.

Sorry I'm late your honour

ROCKFORD, Ill., Oct. 29 (UPI) -- A woman convicted of a pair of federal firearm offenses appeared in a Rockford, Ill., court to receive her sentence -- 25 years late.

"I thought the case was closed," Jacqueline McCartney, 52, told U.S. District Judge Philip Reinhard as she stood in orange jail dungarees in front of the judge's bench with a prosecutor and a defense attorney to her left.

"It's open," Reinhard said.

McCartney was picked up by federal marshals in Iowa last week and brought back to Rockford, where she was convicted in 1979 of illegally transferring a sawn-off shotgun and a rifle.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John McKenzie would not say how McCartney was found, The Rockford Register Star reported.

A sentencing question came up, though. McCartney was convicted before federal sentencing guidelines were in place.

Reinhard asked McKenzie and public defender Haneef Omar to recommend McCartney's sentencing by Nov. 15.

"You can work together and file one thing, but if you have opposing views, you can file separately," Reinhard said.


A British male on average gives up six months of his life span ogling women, starting with her breasts and working down to her legs, says a survey.

The arithmetic is based on a target rate of eight different girls per day with an eyeing time of two minutes per girl, reports Sky News, citing the survey by the eyeglasses firm of BuySpecs4less.co.uk.

The report said girls too ogle but are not as prolific as the blokes. Their total is just one month of their life span, based on eyeing two men a day for 90 seconds each.

The survey also said the male anatomy most girls stare are the eyes, with the butt taking the second place.

The survey said more than 50 percent of the men questioned saw nothing wrong in ogling but a third said they had been caught in the act.

Obviously this doesn't affect me , I only have eyes for Debbie :)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Just add jam

A seaside town was swamped with semolina after a factory blasted out two tonnes of the dessert ingredient. People living in Great Yarmouth woke up on Thursday to find their town covered in the fine white grain.

But council staff who tried to clear up the mess made the mistake of adding water - accidentally turning the powder into a slippery pudding!

The grain is thought to have been chucked out because of a problem with a huge container at a nearby factory.

A council spokesperson said: "It looked like there had been a heavy frost. Everywhere was just white, even the grass. We had 10-15 people trying to clear it up, but as soon as it got wet it became more of a problem."

The semolina was eventually cleared up and Great Yarmouth is now back to normal.

A drop of the Irish stuff

Two Irishmen have set up a business selling dirt to nostalgic Irish Americans who want a handful of "the mother country" on their graves.
Pat Burke, 27, and Alan Jenkins, 65, have just shipped their first $US1 million load of "official" Irish soil to New York - at $US15 per 340 gram bag - and confidently expect it will be followed by many more.

"The demand has been absolutely phenomenal," Burke, an agricultural scientist from County Tipperary, said on Friday. We knew it would take off but not in our wildest dreams did we expect the reaction we've had so far."

Burke, who has patented a way of processing the soil so it passes US import rules that demand it is free of disease and non-indigenous insects, said the pair were in talks with "one of the world's largest retailers" and a US shopping channel.

"We're looking at going worldwide," he said. The firm has pledged to donate 80 per cent of its profits to charities in Ireland and the United States.

For more than a century Irish people were forced by famine, poverty and unemployment to abandon their home country, the majority of them settling in North America with the result that today some 40 million Americans claim Irish ancestry.

Globally, the number of Irish people living in another country is estimated at more than 70 million. Burke said the idea for the business - whose website www.officialirishdirt.com will go live shortly - came about after Jenkins attended an Irish association meeting in Florida.

"He found that all that these second, third and fourth generation Irish wanted was a drop of the old sod - a true piece of old Ireland - to place on their caskets," he said.

The firm has already received an order from an elderly New York businessman, originally from the west of Ireland, for $100,000 worth of dirt.

"He was in two minds about his final resting place, but now he's decided to be totally immersed in a full grave of Irish soil - in Manhattan," Burke said.

Cemetery life

Manila: In the crowded sprawl of Manila, the living must compete for space with the dead. Fortunately for Virginia Bernardino and hundreds of other slum dwellers who have moved into the largest cemetery in the Philippines, the deceased don’t seem to mind.

“So far we have not seen any ghosts here,” the soft-spoken Bernardino, 59, said with a chuckle. “I think that only happens in the movies. As the saying goes, we should fear not the dead but the living.”

For years, Manila North Cemetery, a public graveyard in the centre of the capital of 12 million people, has been a thriving community for those evicted from their homes or flocking from the provinces for better opportunities in the big city.

After being forced from their state lot beside the cemetery to make way for a new graveyard, Bernardino and her husband have converted her mother-in-law’s mausoleum into a home for their two sons, their wives and children.


The Queen broke royal protocol by sending a 100th birthday card to Flook the cat. Owner Chris Evans, 43, of Cumbria, wrote to say her pet was 100 in cat years and was amazed to get a reply.

Bosses of an acclaimed new government building with a grass roof were shocked to find it will cost £5,000 to have it cut. The £13 million Scottish Natural Heritage HQ, praised for its eco-friendly credentials, includes a roof garden, reports the Daily Record. But health and safety regulations mean scaffolding and other safety measures must be installed when people are working above ground.

Berlin: German corpse artist Gunther von Hagens is under fire again — for using corpses to recreate a scene from the new James Bond film. Von Hagens is to prop up dead bodies up to resemble Daniel Craig and others in a poker-playing scene from Casino Royale. The Protestant church in Germany is up in arms after Von Hagens revealed it would form part of his latest project. More than 5,000 people are expected visit the four-storey Guben ‘Plastinarium’ every day when it opens in three weeks. But local priest Michael Domke complained: “Human bodies are being turned into commodities, prepared on a factory line.”

Friends star Jennifer Aniston has made up a "man nursery" - with pool table and TV suite - for boyfriend Vince Vaughn at her LA home. A source said: "He'll be well entertained."

Fat Scots children are to be given help to curb their eating habits by playing a new board game.
The Obesity Game involves rolling a dice to help them make decisions about food. It gives points to players who make the right choices and deducts them from those who don't. Eleanor Coner, of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, praised the game but said its name "sent out the wrong message".

Soccer player ordered to marry

SOFIA - Bulgarian premier league side Litex Lovech have ordered striker Ivelin Popov to get married in the coming year in the hope that it curtail his wild living.

"I accept the order and I promise to do it," said Popov who is a key member of Bulgaria's under-21 squad. "My bosses are right to want such a thing from me because they know my temper."

Popov, a Levski Sofia trainee who turned 19 this week, had an unsuccessful spell at Dutch club Feyenoord before joining Litex last year. He is known for his countless girlfriends and volatile temper and upset the Litex fans on Friday when he made a gesture towards them after scoring in a 2-1 victory over Rodopa Smolyan.

However, he is promising to curb his volatile temperament and settle down with his current girlfriend.

"She's very nice and very smart. I think this will be the woman of my life, so don't remind me my past, please," he said. "They want me thinking only about football and the marriage probably will help me to calm down. I know I'm a very bad boy and I want to meet my 20th birthday as a married man."

Litex, coached by Ljupko Petrovic, a European Cup with Red Star Belgrade in 1991, are third in the domestic league with 23 points from 11 matches, six behind leaders Levski Sofia.

Do I sit or stand? asks Italian MP

ROME - Which bathroom should a "transgender" politician be using in parliament? The thorny question rocked Italy's lower house, home to Europe's first transvestite MP, on Friday.

"You can't use this lavatory. This is the women's bathroom," Vladimir Luxuria reported being told by centre-right lawmaker Elisabetta Gardini on Friday, triggering a spat that forced the speaker of parliament to intervene.

Born male, Luxuria wears women's clothes but has not had sex-change surgery. Elected for the centre-left in April, the 40-year-old former drag queen and defender of gay rights prefers to be called "she". "I have been using women's bathrooms for years. I would have never expected an attack with such violent tones," Luxuria said. "It would be very embarrassing for me to use the men's bathroom. For me, and for the men themselves."

Gardini, spokeswoman for Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, said she was shocked to bump into Luxuria in the bathroom. "I saw him there and I really felt sick," she said, adding she had written a protest letter to parliament officials.

"He should have a bathroom just for himself," she said. Gardini is backed by fellow centre-right lawmakers who call for the creation of a third, special "transgender" lavatory.

In the unlikely event this proposal were pursued, it would push parliamentary bathroom costs, already the subject of controversy, even higher. The belt-tightening 2007 budget sets aside over 2 million euros ($2.5 million) for soap, toilet paper and cleaning products just for the upper house, the Senate.

Centre-left MPs leapt to Luxuria's defence, with one accusing Gardini of discrimination tantamount to racism.

Parliament speaker Fausto Bertinotti called for tolerance. "I am sorry that we should be discussing this," he said.

It is not the first time Luxuria has clashed with the centre right. Alessandra Mussolini, grand-daughter of Italy's wartime fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, was once asked by Luxuria on television whether she wanted to lock up homosexuals.

"Better a fascist than a faggot," Mussolini snapped

Hell fails to sell

LOS ANGELES - No one was buying hell on Friday -- or at least its red-hot Web address.

HELL.com was among hundreds of Internet domain names up for auction in Hollywood, Florida, by domain asset management provider Moniker.com, a unit of marketing services firm Seevast Corp.

The owner put a minimum price of $1 million (£527,000) on the underworld's domain, confident of high interest after the salacious address, Sex.com, sold for about $12 million earlier this year. But there were no takers with bids failing to reach the reserve price.

"The world is still alive and well. Nobody is going to hell right now," Seevast Chief Executive Lance Podell said, adding that the domain would now be part of a silent auction.

Moniker was selling HELL.com on behalf of a group called BAT Flli LLC, whose founder Kenneth Aronson registered the name in 1995.

It's not the first time that Aronson has tried to sell HELL.com. He put the address on the auction block in April 2000, at a starting bid of $8 million.

In an interview with Reuters in 2000, Aronson said members of The Final.org, an enigmatic collective of digital artists and creative visionaries, were using HELL.com as a private destination for their work.

According to the site, HELL.com is a "private parallel web" not accessible with a Web browser.

The auction on Friday included a list of domain names such as cameras.com, which pulled in $1.5 million. Sexeducation.com that sold for $120,000 and babies.net which went for $26,000.

Flowers.mobi, an address with the new extension for mobile devices, went for $200,000, while fun.mobi pulled in $100,000.

A boom in Internet advertising driven by companies such as Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. have sent prices for sought-after domain names soaring.

Serves them right !

With the benefit of hindsight using the keyword "robbery" on a video posted on YouTube was not the brightest idea. Including crystal clear shots of the face of a youth just before he committed his crime was also, probably, a mistake.

In fact the 19 seconds of film, captured on a mobile phone and showing the robber, his friends, the theft and the escape, provided police with all the evidence they would ever need. Today the footage made by a group of Welsh hoodlums as one of their number snatched a charity worker's spectacles landed the culprit in a cell.

The clip, recorded on Saturday on Wrexham's main shopping street, shows a teenage man in a white T-shirt walking in front of a group of around four friends all filming him on their phones.

The youth looks back at the camera and grins as he approaches a middle-aged charity worker as she talks to a group of potential donors. In the film he is shown reaching out and snatching the bemused woman's glasses before sprinting off down the pedestrianised street. The final shot shows one of the group still filming with a smile on his face as those around him guffaw with laughter.

The clip was posted two days ago by "wxmboys" and titled "Wild specs robbery" and captioned: "pissed up bald lad steals randomers specs in street! Absolutely WILD!!!"

Wxmboys put it online as "comedy" but within hours of the arrest the posting, which had been left on the video-sharing website in the hope of impressing other users, instead quickly attracted a stream of derision.

With those responsible variously branded "cretins", "chavs", "scum" and "retarded" one user commented: "Who's laughing now, losers? I bet your parents are proud."

North Wales Police confirmed that a spectacles theft was reported in Wrexham on Saturday and that they were tipped off about the footage by a member of the public within hours of it being posted yesterday,

After viewing the film officers were able to identify the culprit and a police source said officers had recovered a pair of spectacles after visiting his home.

The source said: "We had a word with him - he isn't the brightest lad."

A force spokeswoman said: "We have arrested an 18-year-old man from Wrexham on suspicion of theft. We were told about the existence of the footage and after officers viewed it we were able to follow new lines of inquiry which resulted in the arrest. The spectacles have been recovered."

Unfortunately the video has been removed from Youtube

Only one pit pony left

One of the last two pit ponies has died, aged 29. The Welsh pony, called Carl, retired from Ellington Colliery, in Northumberland, in 1994 and was being cared for by the National Coal Mining Museum, near Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

The museum said: “Carl will be sorely missed as he was loved by all who met him. That leaves only Sparky. He is 35 years old.” More than 70,000 horses worked in the mines 100 years ago but by 1994 there were fewer than 20.

Madcap !

A salesman has been convicted of the “illegal practise of dentistry” after demonstrating tooth-whitening treatments.

In the first case of its kind, the General Dental Council prosecuted Ben Nahab for marketing the treatment for Denmed Direct Services, based in Canterbury.

Norwich magistrates fined Nahab £300 and ordered him to pay prosecution costs after he offered the procedure as part of a demonstration at a dental clinic.

The council said that it sought the landmark ruling to stop the spread of such unregistered dentistry. Hew Mathewson, its President, said: “The General Dental Council’s priority is to protect the public. Tooth whitening can be dangerous, particularly in the hands of unregistered professionals.

“For public safety, only registered dentists should be permitted to carry out tooth-whitening procedures or provide clinical advice about such treatments.

“If we receive information that suggests an unregistered person may be practising dentistry illegally, we will investigate.”

Anyone seen Dennis ?

The mischievous Dennis the Menace has gone missing -- except this time, he's not hiding because he broke the rules. A statue of the perennial pint-sized troublemaker that has stood for almost two decades in a city park was unbolted and stolen sometime between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, Monterey police said.

Police said the statue, which is three feet tall and weighs 125 pounds, is worth as much as $30,000. The city is offering a $5,000 reward for its safe return.

The statue was crafted by Carmel artist Wah Ming Chang. The statue was commissioned by Hank Ketcham, the cartoon character's creator who died in 2001.

Police aren't sure how the thief or thieves got the bulky statue out of the park but are asking the public for any tips about Dennis' whereabouts.

Fridge traps woman

A Roseville woman was pinned down to the ground for four days after her refrigerator fell on top of her in her kitchen, as she fought to stay alive.

69-year-old Inga Walen's refrigerator was top heavy and as she leaned in to open the fridge door, it fell forward, toppling her.

Inga tried calling for help any way she could. At first she grabbed some shattered glass pieces that fell on top of her during the accident, and she threw them at her kitchen window to draw attention and make noise. After that didn't work, she then managed to grab a wooden spoon and a pressure cooker lid, and banged the two together as she called for help.

Luckily by the fourth day, Greg Allen, a politician running for the Placer County Water Board, heard Inga's call for help while going door-to-door campaigning. He found an unlocked door and ran in to save Inga's life.

Inga suffered a broken collar bone, and injured both legs as a result of the accident. She says that she doesn't care which political party Allen represents, she's voting for him either way.

Reach for your medals

Young footballers in Cardiff had to reach a long way to receive their medals when they were presented by one of the world's tallest men. Hussain Bisad who stands at about 7ft 9in made a special appearance at the Somali Integration Society event.

Mr Bisad, who is reported to weigh 33 stone (462lbs) and wears size 26 shoes, is from Somalia but lives in London. He stands taller than a phone box and has to sleep in a 9ft bed.

The Somali Integration Society organised the five-a-side football event for 11-19-year-olds.

Spokesman Ibrahim Harbi said the society had put on the tournament as part of its Eid celebrations. He said: "He's been to Cardiff before, he likes it here and he is really supportive of the work we are doing. When he heard about the event he was happy to come along to support. He really is a huge man - you should see his hands!Wherever he goes he attracts attention."

In 2002, the Guinness World Records recorded him as having the biggest hand span of any living man.

The tallest living man record is currently held by China's Xi Shun who is 7ft 8.95in tall.

Mr Bisad, who has a medical condition known as Giantism which causes excessive growth, came to the UK as an asylum seeker after robbers shot him in the knee in Somalia. He travelled by lorry to Ethiopia before getting on a plane to the UK, where airline staff had to allocate him two seats.

The Home Office has now given him permission to stay in Britain indefinitely because he is deemed a legitimate asylum seeker.

The world's tallest ever man was American Robert Wadlow, who died in 1940, at 8ft 11ins.

Goldilocks' Asbo and the Three Bears

A community group has produced a modern version of the children's tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears - in which Goldilocks receives an Anti Social Behaviour Order (Asbo).

The Safer Bristol Partnership says the new take on the story warns children about anti-social behaviour. A hoodie-wearing, bling-sporting Goldilocks is dealt with by the long arm of the law in the panto, which is set in and around Knowle West.

Rachel Furnivall, from the project, says it sent out an anti-crime message. "All the places mentioned in the pantomime are local so the kids will be able to identify with them," she added.

In the folk story Goldilocks discovers the bear's empty house and eats their porridge while the animals are out. The bears come back and are furious to find Goldilocks asleep in their bed.

But in the modern version - Goldilocks' Asbo and the Three Bears, the heroine commits criminal damage by breaking and entering the bears home.

Then she commits theft by eating their porridge and to top it all she commits vandalism after breaking baby bear's chair.

Goldilocks is arrested and sent up before a judge where she is sentenced to complete community service and given an Anti Social Behaviour Order.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Whisky PC

If a colleague has an open bottle of whisky sitting on his desk, you would be forgiven for thinking his mind was not on the job.

But what if the bottle was really his computer?

When Janos Marton polished off a 1.5-litre bottle of Ballantine's Scotch, he decided the container was far too nice to throw away - so he set to work and turned it into a PC.

The 33-year-old Nokia engineer spent £275 building his Internet-ready machine, which has 256mb of RAM, a 40gb hard drive and an Intel P3 processor.

Mr Marton began modifying computers six years ago as a hobby and started looking for something more interesting to use than a standard tower.

'I got fed up with the box-shaped white computer cases,' he said . 'Perhaps I should make a cluster of these. It would combine the fun of emptying the whisky bottles with some good company and building a high-calculation power cluster.'

Mr Marton, from Budapest, Hungary, drilled holes in the back and side of the bottle for the equipment and installed a fan to keep cool air flowing.

The father of two is not the first to build a computer from a household item. Others have been housed in pumpkins, guitars, toilets and even a barbecue.

A Ballantine's spokesman said: 'We are proud to have inspired such an innovative project.

'It is a credit to the iconic design of the Ballantine's bottle.'

See more pictures of his PC here

Crazy coffins

See more here
Or here

Queen Liz lays 2,000 eggs per day

Typos are the bane of a journalist's life. No matter how many times an article is spellchecked, proof-read and copy-edited, you'll still find that where you meant to write 'Tony Blair today defended his actions over the Iraq conflict,' you actually wrote 'Tongy Blirfish tiddle infendip crzwwldgdch spong spong someone get me out of here.'

A round of applause, then, to Reuters, who manged to take the typo to new levels today, with an online article about the genetics of honey bees which claimed that Queen Elizabeth lays up to 2,000 eggs a day.

Somehow, every time they meant to refer to the queen bee, the phrase 'Queen Elizabeth' was substituted instead.

This led to the article informing us that 'Queen Elizabeth has 10 times the lifespan of workers and lays up to 2,000 eggs a day.'

This was after we were told that 'With its highly evolved social structure of tens of thousands of worker bees commanded by Queen Elizabeth, the honey bee genome could also improve the search for genes linked to social behaviour.'

Click on the image to enlarge (which half cuts off the second sentence, an error for which I apologise.)

Tragically, Reuters have now taken the article offline.


Cuddles the hippo enjoys a seasonal snack of pumpkin at San Francisco Zoo yesterday.

The 43-year-old animal is a star of the park's Halloween haunted nature trail, Boo At The Zoo

Saved by the bells

A vicar who was locked inside his own church rang the bells to send an SOS distress signal to parishioners.

Reverend Steve Rathbone, 45, tugged on the bell rope as wife Jo, who was also locked in, prayed someone would hear them.

However, the couple's 16-year-old son Jake, who was next door in the vicarage, was too busy practising on his drum kit to hear his father's calls. And parishioners just thought the vicar was practising for a wedding.

After 20 minutes of ringing, neighbours eventually went to investigate the 'unusual rhythm' coming from the church, in Rainow, Macclesfield, and the couple were rescued.

Mr Rathbone said: 'We were accidentally locked in by a parishioner. When she heard the bells, she thought I was havin

Great John

A lavatory company in Texas has created the ultimate WC "for modern Americans".

The Great John Toilet Comapny of Laredo's latest offering features "150% more contact area on the seat; an extra wide base with four anchor points, to prevent tipping ; unique 'side wings' to prevent pinching; and reinforcements allowing it to support a load of up to 2,000lbs.

Back to Dingle

Residents of one of Ireland's most famous towns have voted in favour of changing its name back to the one which has given it worldwide recognition. eople living in Dingle have voted to reverse its name from An Daingean, as it is now officially known after the Placenames Act of 2004, back to its better known English form.

The town's name was officially changed last year. However, public outcry to the change reached such levels that Kerry County Council decided to hold a referendum on the issue.

Voters had the choice between An Daingean on the one hand, or Dingle-Daingean ui Chuis.

Friday's poll showed that the vast majority of the town's population want the town's official name to be reversed back to Dingle - with 1,005 out of an electorate of 1,222 voting in favour of Dingle-Daingean ui Chuis.

The decision to change Dingle's name to An Daingean was part of the Irish government's efforts to protect and promote the ancient Irish language by decreeing that all official place names within Gaeltacht areas had to be in Irish.

Condensation delays trains

Rush-hour rail passengers were startled to hear a new excuse for a delayed journey , condensation on signals. Travellers on a London-bound South West Trains (SWT) service stuck at Winchester in Hampshire were told by a guard that condensation had led to all signals being turned red as a precaution.

One passenger who had got on at Southampton Airport Parkway station at 7.38am said everyone was amazed to hear the announcement.

She said: "We were told that due to cold weather, there was condensation on all signals in the Winchester area and that, as a safety measure, all signals had turned red and we would have to stop at each signal. I know it's a little colder this morning than it has been, but this seems ridiculous."

A spokesman for Network Rail (NR), which is responsible for signalling, was equally amazed when the explanation was put to him. He replied: "I've never heard anything like this. The real reason for the delay was a fault with a signal power supply cable in the Winchester area."

The fault caused cancellations and delays of up to 60 minutes on SWT services.

SWT has endured a difficult week, with services disrupted at Waterloo station in London following derailment on Monday evening and signalling work.

Britain had a black cop in 1837

To anyone with an interest in the history of multiculturalism, the name Norwell Roberts has an enduring resonance. He was, most people agree, the first black police officer in the UK after joining the Metropolitan Police in 1966.

But Mr Roberts, who had a 30-year career with the Met, rising to the rank of detective sergeant, and who also contributed to the seminal film about black Britain, The Windrush Years, found himself upstaged yesterday when it was revealed that the son of a Caribbean slave walked the beat more than a century before him.

PC John Kent - "Black Kent" - joined the Carlisle constabulary in 1837, but was sacked seven years later for being drunk on duty, a common offence when clean water was in short supply.

Pooch cuts power

Stunned Gary Davies saw his dog erupt in flames — after it peed on a live power cable.

Bailey the Staffordshire bull terrier also cut power to 148 homes by cocking a leg against a faulty pylon.

Gary, 42, said: “There was an almighty explosion and the whole street lit up. I turned round and the dog was on fire.”

Power was off for five hours in Middlestone Moor, Co Durham.

Last night Bailey was recovering at home after being treated for burns.

Goalpost thief

A man has been fined £150 for stealing the goalposts from Britain's least successful football league club. Mark Rice, 37, of Ladysmill Road, Falkirk, admitted carrying off both sets of metal posts from East Stirlingshire's ground near Falkirk.

The club have come bottom of Scotland's Scottish Third Division for the past four seasons, conceding 166 home goals.

But since the raid in August, home form has at least improved - the club are currently second bottom of the league.

Prosecutor Eilidh Smith said a woman living near the ground phoned police after seeing unemployed Rice tying them on the roof of his car in August. Ms Smith said: "He told officers he had found them lying on a scrapheap."

Rice's lawyer, Lynsey Maclean, said he appeared to have given East Stirlingshire a bit of a boost.

She said: "Since the posts were stolen they've started moving up the league."

East Stirlingshire are currently second bottom of the Scottish Third Division, on 10 points.

Ms Maclean added: "The posts were lying on the ground - he didn't have to dig them up."

Rice had intended to sell the posts for scrap. Leaving court, he refused to comment on his crime. But he did say: "Don't say I'm an East Stirlingshire supporter, because I'm not."

Scan a meal

Pupils at a Scots primary school have become the first in the world to pay for their lunches by having their palms scanned rather than by handing over cash.

Biometric technology which allows them to be identified through their hands' unique vein patterns has been introduced at Todholm Primary in Paisley.

It means no more lost dinner money - and protects the identity of pupils who are entitled to free school meals.

The system identifies children with food allergies and encourages pupils to eat a balanced diet by providing a read-out of what they choose during the week.

Those behind the scheme now want to roll it out across Scotland and say it could be used to allow pupils to get in and out of school, register their attendance and take out library books.

However, critics said it is unnecessary and a possible breach of civil liberties.

Tribute to a legend

Northern Ireland soccer legend George Best is to be immortalised on one million commemorative £5 bank notes.

The Ulster Bank is to issue the limited edition notes as a tribute to the footballing genius next month to mark the first anniversary of his death.

They will show Best in both his Northern Ireland and Man Utd strips.

The finalised artwork for the notes was unveiled at the bank's Belfast headquarters by chief executive Cormac McCarthy on Thursday.

Members of the Best family and representatives of the George Best Foundation - the footballer's father Dickie Best and sister Barbara McNarry - were present to see the notes for the first time.

Muscle fetish

A man has been ordered by a judge not to feel people's muscles or ask them to do exercises in public. Akinwale Arobieke, 45, from Liverpool, was also banned from measuring the size of muscles, under the order requested by Merseyside Police.

Arobieke, who is known in the area as Purple Aki, is out of jail on licence after a sentence imposed in 2003 for 15 counts of harassment. He pursued young people with requests such as asking to feel their muscles.

Deputy District Judge Aled Jones granted the order to coincide with Arobieke's release on Thursday.

Merseyside Police applied to Liverpool Magistrates' Court for a Sexual Offences Prevention Order against Arobieke - despite the fact he has not been convicted of a sex crime.

A spokeswoman for Merseyside Police confirmed an interim order had been granted until 23 November. Under the terms of the order Arobieke cannot touch, feel or measure muscles or ask people to do squat exercises in public.

Neither can he approach or do paid or voluntary work with any young person under 18.

He is also banned from St Helens, Warrington or Widnes without the permission of either the chief constable of Merseyside or the chief constable of Cheshire. And he cannot loiter near educational establishments, gyms or sports clubs.

4 legged chick dies

Forzie the four-legged chicken will cluck no more. The Te Uku-bred Barnevelder chick - hatched at Marlene Dickey's property at the start of last month - has died.

But it wasn't the extra legs that led to its death, more likely an extra anus, Mrs Dickey believes.

"He developed two bottoms and I think he got glugged up," she said.

While she was surprised by Forzie's death - he weighed a "good pound of butter" and was gaining feathers slowly - it was not totally unexpected, she said.

Looking ungainly on its extra legs but twice as cute, the bird was an exception to the rule that chickens with defects are not normally born alive.

He was found dead on Friday and is now in the Dickeys' freezer waiting to be stuffed.

After he's been to the taxidermist, the family plan to donate the bird to Auckland Museum.

Not a toy

A "sexy" pole-dancing kit has been pulled from the toys and games section of a website run by Britain's biggest retailer after protests from outraged parents. The Peekaboo pole-dancing kit, which has a "sexy garter" to help "unleash the sex kitten inside" was sold in Tesco Direct's toys and games section, The Daily Mail reported.

"Soon you'll be flaunting it to the world and earning a fortune in Peekaboo Dance Dollars," its blurb reads."Unleash the sex kitten inside... simply extend the Peekaboo pole inside the tube, slip on the sexy tunes and away you go!"

The £50 kit includes a 2.6-metre chrome pole, a "sexy dance garter" and a DVD demonstrating suggestive dance moves, the report said. However, family campaigners slammed the kit's status as a toy, saying it would "destroy children's lives".

"It is an open invitation to turn the youngest children on to sexual behaviour," Dr Adrian Rogers of the Family First group told The Daily Mail. "This will be sold to four, five and six-year-olds. This is a most dangerous toy that will contribute towards destroying children's innocence.

"Children are being encouraged to dance round a pole, which is interpreted in the adult world as a phallic symbol. This should only be available to the most depraved people who want to corrupt their children."

The Daily Mail report said Tesco had removed the kit from the toys and games area of its site, but would still sell it as a "fitness accessory". The retailer denied the pole-dancing kit was sexually oriented and it was clearly marked for adult use.

"Pole dancing is an increasing exercise craze. This item is for people who want to improve their fitness and have fun at the same time," a spokesman said.

Other British retailers had been forced to remove sexually suggestive children's products from their shelves, including padded bras with a "Little Miss Naughty" logo, the report said.

Thief sentenced to mass

Ercilla: A judge in Chile has sentenced a teenage thief to go to mass every day for a year. Claudio Araneda, 18, from Ercilla, must also paint his local church white and keep it clean.

Judge Ricardo Traipe passed the unusual sentence after hearing Araneda had stolen four empty gas containers from the church and sold them.

Local priest Edgardo Solar had asked the judge not to send Araneda to prison.

The priest told Terra Noticias Populares: "It is a way to make sure he is not going to forget Jesus. The church is here to help people overcome their sins."


West Sussex: A fire chief has told of his embarrassment after a station without a smoke alarm went up in flames. The building and a fire engine were destroyed in the blaze at Arundel Fire Station in West Sussex.

Neil Odin, southern area commander for West Sussex fire service said it showed it could happen to anyone. "Unfortunately, we had severe damage to our fire station, which is embarrassing," he told the BBC.

He said a brand new building would need a smoke alarm. But he added: "Automatic smoke detection wouldn't have made any difference."

Nobody was injured in the fire which was tackled by 30 firefighters in six fire engines from neighbouring towns.

The Irish sumo wrestler

SAKAI, Japan (Reuters) - Madcap Irishman Colin Carroll is battling outrageous odds in his death-defying quest to add sumo glory to his other world title -- in elephant polo.

Alarmingly under-sized in a sport of blood-curdling giants, Carroll had to sign a death waiver before entering the sumo world championships. But the skinny Cork native, the first man from Ireland to take part in the tournament, tweaks the nose of fear.

"The Japanese weigh-in guys laughed at me," Carroll told Reuters before Sunday's tournament in Sakai. "But the bigger they are the harder they fall. If you think anyone small can't make a difference in life then think of a mosquito in your bedroom. That's my sumo name -- Green Fly. I'm the little mean green sumo machine."

Carroll only squeaked into the championships because his "mawashi" -- or "nappy" as he prefers to call it -- carried him over the minimum 75-kilogram weight limit.

"In true Irish fashion I came in at 74.9 kilos," he laughed. "You have to be 75 kilos to actually compete so thank God my sumo nappy weighed five kilos. I got in by nappy default."

Carroll, comfortably the lightest wrestler in the amateur competition, barely flinched when tournament organisers pushed a death waiver under his nose.

"I had to sign something about (them having) no responsibility for injury of any kind," the Irish braveheart winced. "What does that mean? True to form misunderstanding has meant I might have signed my life away."

Carroll caught the sumo bug by freakish chance after winning a surprise gold medal at the world elephant polo championships in Nepal last year.

"I was riding home in December last year through the Nepali jungle with my world elephant polo trophy under my arm looking at the arse of the elephant in front of me," he smiled.

"I thought if that arse had a G-string on it, it would be a sumo wrestler. So immediately the idea, in the Nepali jungle, was born."

Carroll, who has popped up in previous incarnations as a tennis coach in Germany and a bobsleigher in Latvia, unveiled his cunning strategy for sumo success -- an old-fashioned headbutt.

"I'm just a scrawny little six-foot guy," he said, elaborating that his inspiration was Zinedine Zidane's infamous butt on Marco Materazzi in this year's World Cup final. I'm going to do what I call the 'bull-frontal'. In short, I've clicked that the best way to fight for a small guy is to do a Zizou on them, the bull-frontal."

Carroll added with a laugh: "I'm going to try to knock them out -- go straight in with the crown of my head first. Zizou got a medal. I'm doing the bull-frontal too."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A drop of the red stuff

Guinness, the dark Irish drink known as the "black stuff", could soon be turning red.

Manufacturer Diageo plans to produce a version at its Irish brewery using lightly roasted barley, which will have a reddish colour, and give it a trial run across the Irish Sea in Britain.

"If you held up a pint of Guinness to the light, the red would come through. It's a very deep red," a Diageo spokeswoman said.

Diageo plans to test Guinness Red on drinkers in British pubs in the coming months but has no plans to launch it more widely, either at home in Ireland or in about 150 other countries where Guinness is sold.

The beer, which like the traditional, darker Guinness will have a creamy white head and be poured in the two steps needed to let it settle, will have a strength of about 4.1 percent.

Diageo already sells several versions of the brew -- including Guinness Original, Guinness Draught and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout -- to cater to different tastes around the world and has tested other limited-edition varieties in Ireland in the past year.

Pumpkin races

Giant pumpkins converted into boats have taken to the water for an annual charity sailing regatta.

More commonly used for soups, pies or as halloween lanterns, two huge pumpkins were given outboard motors and raced down Lymington Quay, Hants.

The pumpkin-racers were raising money for the BBC's Children in Need Appeal and the Jubilee Sailing Trust.

But while one of the pumpkins proved unseaworthy, the other was cheered as it motored to victory on Thursday.

The pumpkins were scooped out before being transported to the Royal Lymington Yacht Club, where they were lowered into the water for the club's second annual Pumpkin Sailing Regatta.

Outboard motors were attached and it was the largest pumpkin, weighing in at more than 1,000 lbs (450kg), which proved the most buoyant.

Library thief

A library assistant who stole rare books valued at £175,000 to sell on the internet has been given 250 hours' community service.

Norman Buckley, 44, of Hulme, took more than 455 ancient books, posters and documents while working as an assistant at Manchester's Central Library.

The books he stole included a 16th Century Chaucer edition worth £35,000.

At the city's Crown Court Buckley was sentenced to 15 months in prison to be suspended for two years.

The illegal haul also included a 1654 publication of 17th Century poet John Donne's Elegies valued at £1,800. Buckley sold 44 of the books on internet auction site eBay, but most of the books were recovered by police at his flat in Hulme.

He was dismissed from his job in March this year.

Judge Clement Goldstone QC told Buckley his sentence was suspended because he had helped police find the books, which the judge described as part of the city's "literary heritage".

"Every time you offered a book for sale, you were breaking the trust that had been placed in you," he said. "The ultimate loss to the city and its heritage may have been measured, if it can be measured at all, in the thousands of pounds rather than the tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds. You have brought shame on yourself and your family by your behaviour."

Potty mouthed toy

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -- A North Carolina father wants Toys "R" Us to take a popular police toy set off the shelves. He said the toy given to his 6-year-old son utters a curse word. Toys "R" Us has gotten two complaints and had the chip re-recorded.

The toy is a police officer set called "Elite Operations Role Play Set: Police," that includes a nightstick and a utility belt. A recorded message that includes what sounds like a curse word plays when the nightstick is removed from the belt.

Philip Morton, 33, said he returned the toy to the toy store where he bought it and played it for store managers. He said they gave him a new set with a recording that didn't include the obscenity.

He kept the original set and played the recorded message, including the apparent curse word, over the phone for Associated Press reporters.

"We shelter our kids," said Morton. "We're very protective about everything they watch on TV and discourage cussing around our kids. Our TVs are on the Disney Channel 97 percent of the time."

Morton told The Daily News in Jacksonville, N.C., that when he heard his son, Jonathan, saying an obscene word to friends after his birthday party, he was incensed. Morton said his son learned the word -- a term for sexual intercourse -- from his toy.

"He asked me if I wanted him to arrest me and I said no, (then) he asked me if I wanted to be cuffed and I said (maybe), and then he said, '(expletive) don’t make me use my nightstick,'" Morton told the paper. "Without even thinking I said, 'What did you say?’ So he said it again. To some people that might have been funny to hear a child say that, but I got very, very mad."

He said he's been apologizing to people for his son's cursing. "I've had to explain to parents why my son is saying the f-word; it's horrible," Morton said. “It's really a cute little toy; but God forbid, it's not what I want my kid hearing."

A store spokeswoman said the problem may be a faulty chip.

Jerry Gibson of TekNek Toys International of Southlake, Texas, said Morton hasn't made the recording available, but that the recorded voice is supposed to say "stop."

"I understand they can’t check every toy on the shelf," Morton said. "But if one doesn’t say it and one does, maybe someone is playing a game and got in a hurry and forgot about it. Personally, I think they should be held liable."

TekNek Toys denied claims that the toy has a potty mouth. Michelle Perea, the products and marketing manager for TekNek, told the paper that the recorded voice actually does say “stop.”

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Kanging for votes ?

A Halloween episode of "The Simpsons" will air just days before November's midterm elections with a politically sensitive parody of the war in Iraq.

With polls showing a majority in the United States now believing the Republican Bush administration's invasion was a mistake, ABC News said the sarcastic justifications by two green aliens attacking Earth had the possibility to sway voters.

The characters, Kang and Kodos, have exchanges amid the ensuing destruction, including one justifying the invasion, because humans have "weapons of mass disintegration."

"I'm starting to think 'Operation Enduring Occupation' was a bad idea," one character says, to which the other replies "We still have the people's hearts and minds," as he holds up a heart and brain.

The show's executive producer, Al Jean, denied there was any attempt to affect the election.

"I'd like to take credit for being adventuresome, but I think we're expressing a viewpoint 69 percent of the country agrees with," he said.

Gas guzzler

A Chicago Sun-Times reporter was surprised when her monthly natural gas bill -- usually around $30 -- suddenly jumped to $27,933.55.

Michelle Stevens wrote in the newspaper that Peoples Gas billed her for $27,497.08 for gas use plus a $404.60 late fee and current charge of $31.87 -- which is close to the amount of her previous bills.

A gas company meter reader apparently found the meter set at 00000 on Sept. 7 and the company assumed Stevens had consumed so much gas, the gauge rolled over to the beginning, a representative told Stevens.

The representative said she made a note Stevens was disputing the charge and a new reading was scheduled for Nov. 18.

So do I pass ?

An Indiana teenager appeared to be on the road to a successful driver's license test -- until she crashed her car into the license bureau office.

The unidentified girl was not hurt, but a worker at the motor vehicles bureau, in a Portage, Ind., strip mall, suffered a minor hip injury, The Gary (Ind.) Post Tribune reported.

"We jumped up and we went to the door and saw the car half in and half out of the license bureau," Amazing Travel Manager Susan Williams told the newspaper.

Added Jennifer Stover, a clerk at Bryan's Florist: "(It was) like a big boom. The building shook a little bit. My reaction was, 'Oh, my God!'"

A large plate-glass window was shattered and its metal frame was bent in the Tuesday afternoon accident. The branch reopened Wednesday.

Portage police were completing an accident report.


ANTIGO, Wis. - Three year old Robert Moore went fishing for a stuffed replica of SpongeBob SquarePants and ended up trapped in a vending machine. The toddler's adventure began with a Saturday evening shopping trip with his grandmother, Fredricka Bierdemann, and three siblings.

Bierdemann ended the trip by giving each child a dollar and telling them to have fun in a retailer's game room. A stuffed SpongeBob in a vending machine's bin caught Robert's eye. He tried without success to fish it out with a plastic crane.

"I told him I could get it for him," his grandmother said. "He's a character. He said, 'Oh no, I can get it."'
When she turned her back to get another dollar for a second try, Robert took off his coat and squeezed through an opening in the machine. He landed in the stuffed animal cube.

"I turned around and looked for him, and he said, 'Oma, I'm in here," Bierdemann said. "I thought I would have a heart attack."
Store employees couldn't find a key to the machine, so Robert waited while the Antigo Fire Department was called.

"He was having a ball in there, hugging all the stuffed animals," Bierdemann said. "He was so good-natured, but I was shaking like a leaf."

Firefighters broke one lock but then spotted two latches inside the plastic cube. They passed a screwdriver to Robert.

"He stacked up all the stuffed animals and used that screwdriver to open the latch," his grandmother said. "You should have seen him go."

Eventually, Robert freed himself. But his mother, Marie Moore, and grandmother said they were lucky that he remained calm when another child might not have. He went home safe - but without a stuffed SpongeBob.

Divorce finger

VIENNA - A Viennese man cut off his ring finger and presented the digit, still holding his wedding band, to his ex-wife after an acrimonious divorce, Austrian news agency APA reported Tuesday.

Charged with dangerous harassment and assault for the act, he told a preliminary hearing he did not regret having cut off the finger and had chosen deliberately not to reattach it.

"It was an act of breaking free," the man was quoted as saying. He did not miss his finger, could work well without it and did not plan on getting married again anyway, he said.

Stone me !

JERUSALEM- Israeli doctors have removed a grapefruit-sized stone from the bladder of an Israeli woman after she left it untreated for years, possibly breaking world records.

The stone, removed in its entirety, had a diameter of 5.1 inches and weighed almost 2.2 pounds, doctors who treated the 48-year-old woman at the Western Galilee Hospital in northern Israel said.

"When I saw the stone, I was stunned," patient Moneera Khalil said in a statement released by the hospital. I could not believe such a thing was inside my body. I am happy everything ended well and that the pain is gone."

The Guinness Book of World Records lists a bladder stone weighing 0.6 pound with a diameter of 2.75 inches, taken from a man in Yemen in 1998, as the largest ever removed.

Haim Farhadian, the physician who removed Khalil's stone, said the woman had been hospitalised three years ago after suffering similar pains but had refused treatment.

Dehydration can often cause dissolved minerals in a person's urine to form masses inside their kidneys, ureters or bladder. Such "stones" causes abdominal pain by obstructing urine flow.

The stones usually do not grow beyond two inches and are often passed naturally.

Wedgie Principal

LIVINGSTON, Mont. (Oct. 25) - A high school principal received a six-day suspension and a letter of reprimand for giving one of his students a wedgie.

Eric Messerli pulled a Park High School senior's soccer jersey over his head and yanked upward on the waistband of the boy's underwear at a soccer game Oct. 5. Other school officials said he was joking around with the student and did it playfully.

He was suspended for two days without pay and four days with pay before the school board decided Monday to let him return. He tearfully told the board: "I've made mistakes in my life, but none have had the impact that this one has had."

Messerli, who was back on the job Tuesday, will be required to talk with students and staff members about the incident to restore respect and authority.

He said his first reaction was to resign, but he decided to "tackle this mess" head on.

"I want to live in a world where we don't have to hide when we screw up," he said.

Lotto formula

MOST of us believe winning lotto is down to the luck of the draw. ut a syndicate of university professors and tutors in Britain thought it could also be related to the principles of mathematical probability.

And their theory was spectacularly vindicated this week when they matched all six numbers and scooped the $13 million lotto jackpot. The syndicate, made up of 17 staff members at Bradford University and College, bagged the big prize by using two boxes, 49 pieces of paper and a large amount of brainpower.

But it was far from an overnight success.....

Syndicate leader Barry Waterhouse, 41, who works at the design and printing section of the university, explained that the syndicate had been doing the National Lottery for eight years without conspicuous success after it started in 1994 with each member picking his or her own line.

"We just weren't winning with the numbers being picked that way, so we thought of a different method which would mean all 49 numbers would be used,' Mr Waterhouse said.

The syndicate then set up a computer program to check the numbers every week.

It took four years and a total outlay of $8700, but on Saturday, the formula succeeded.

Matching the winning numbers and the bonus ball, they hit the jackpot.

"We just thought that if all the numbers are in use, we must have a good chance of winning and it has proved so, though you never really think it will happen to you, "Mr Waterhouse said.

Fellow syndicate member David Firth, 63, said: "We have won tenners and the odd 70 quid in the past, but now this is the big one."

Happy Xmas 1973

A CHRISTMAS card has arrived at its destination - 33 years after it was posted.

Staff at Kirkton Community Centre in Dundee received the card, which had a 3p stamp and was postmarked Kilmarnock, 20 December, 1973. It was sent to Robert Stevenson, a former employee, who left in the 1970s to go on a round-the-world trip.

This is news ?

WOMEN over 40 own an average of 19 pairs of shoes - with many possessing more than 100, according to a new survey.

Handbags were also popular with 11 being the average number, although more extravagant shoppers admitted having more than 200.

Woman & Home magazine polled more than 1500 women over the age of 40 on their attitudes to fashion, shopping and clothes. The more popular labels were Chanel, Armani and Gucci. A third said they lied about the cost of their shopping sprees.

The women surveyed said their daughters made the best shopping partner, but half said they were more than happy to go by themselves and not have to worry about how much time they take.

Two-thirds said they thought they looked younger than their age, and shopped in Next, Monsoon, Primark, H&M, Wallis, Dorothy Perkins, Zara and Gap.

Bordering on a crazy ruling

The Canadian government said on Tuesday it was most unhappy that a U.S. judge had sentenced a sex offender to a three-year term of "exile" in Canada rather than a jail sentence at home.

The New York state judge accepted a proposal from former teacher Malcolm Watson, 35 -- convicted of having sex with a 15-year-old girl -- that he be allowed to live in Canada on probation and not spend time in a U.S. jail.

Watson, a U.S. citizen, lives in the town of Fort Erie, Ontario, with his wife and children. He had commuted to work at a girls' school in nearby Buffalo, New York.

The U.S. judge ruled Watson can return to the United States only to report to his parole officer.

"I was infuriated to see an American court decision deporting an American citizen back to my constituency," said government minister Rob Nicholson, who represents the electoral district in southern Ontario near Niagara Falls where Fort Erie is located.

Canadian officials are looking into whether they can deport Watson, who has permission to live and work in Canada.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty called on Ottawa on Tuesday to have the U.S. decision overturned.

"I hope that we are of one mind in this regard so that we don't become some kind of a dumping ground for convicted offenders," McGuinty told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. It's obviously not the kind of precedent that we want to allow the Americans to establish and it's not the kind of thing we're prepared to accept," he said.

A U.S. embassy spokesman in Ottawa said he could not comment on the case.

U.S. authorities say Watson's relationship with the 15-year-old was consensual. The age of consent in Canada is 14, compared with 17 in New York state.

However, the age of consent in Canada rises to 18 if the sex takes place within a relationship of trust or dependency -- such as between a teacher and student.