Thursday, May 31, 2007

Spam King arrested

US prosecutors said they captured on Wednesday a nefarious Internet marketer responsible so much junk e-mail they called him "Spam King."

Robert Soloway, 27, was arrested in Seattle, Washington, a week after being indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of identity theft, money laundering, and mail, wire, and e-mail fraud.

"Spam is a scourge of the Internet, and Robert Soloway is one of its most prolific practitioners," said US Attorney for the Western District of Washington Jeffrey Sullivan. Our investigators dubbed him the 'Spam King' because he is responsible for millions of spam emails."

Between November of 2003 and May of 2007 Soloway "spammed" tens of millions of e-mail messages to promote websites at which his company, Newport Internet Marketing, sold products and services, according to prosecutors.

Soloway routinely moved his website to different Internet addresses to dodge detection and began registering them through Chinese Internet service providers in 2006 in an apparent ploy to mask his involvement.

Spam messages sent by Soloway used misleading "header" information to dupe people into opening them, according to Sullivan. Soloway is accused of using "botnets," networks of computers, to disguise where e-mail originated and of forging return addresses of real people or businesses that wound up blamed for unwanted mailings.

If convicted as charged, Soloway will face a maximum sentence of more than 65 years in prison and a fine of 250,000 dollars. Prosecutors want to seize approximately 773,000 dollars they say Soloway made from his spamming-related activities.

So hopefully everyone's junk mail will fall, now this scum is behind bars!

Man found living in underground bunker

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- An investigator for the fire marshal's office in Buffalo said he had an interesting discovery while looking into a fire in the city -- a homeless man he found living in a well-equipped underground bunker.

Investigator James O'Neill said he's not even sure it's proper to call the man homeless, since he has lights run by car batteries, a hot plate and a foam bed.

O'Neill said the 47-year-old military veteran told him the 16-by-20-foot bunker took two years to dig and he's been living in it for six years.

"Some people would call him homeless, but he's a clean, well-spoken guy. When I spoke to him, he was reading a novel by Joseph Wambaugh," O'Neill told The Buffalo News.

He said the man earns money doing occasional odd jobs.

"It's not the Marriott hotel by any means, but this man has made it comfortable down there," O'Neill said. It had insulation and tarps on the walls and a wood-and-roofing material ceiling and O'Neill isn't saying who or where the man is.

Gold tub goes walkies

A glittering bathtub made of gold worth nearly $1 million has been stolen from a resort hotel, an official said Wednesday.

A worker at Kominato Hotel Mikazuki in Kamogawa, south of Tokyo, notified police that the fancy tub was missing from the hotel's guest bathroom on the 10th floor, according to a local police official who only gave his surname, Ogawa.

The round tub, worth $987,000, is made of 18-karat gold and weighs 176 pounds.

The tub, flanked by two crane statues, has been a main feature of the hotel's shared bathroom. Visitors can take a dip in the tub, but it is only available a few hours a day "for security reasons," the hotel's Web site said.

Someone apparently cut the chain attached to the door of a small section of the bathroom where the bathtub was placed, but not riveted, and made off with the tub, Ogawa said.

"We have no witness information and there are no video cameras," he said. "We have no idea who took it," the official said.

Innocent man billed for prison time

A 37-year-old man jailed for a crime he did not commit is being charged almost £7,000 for his time in prison.

Warren Blackwell from Woodford Halse, Northamptonshire, has been told the sum will be deducted from compensation to cover savings on rent and food. He spent three years in jail convicted of sexually assaulting a woman with a history of false claims against men.

The Ministry of Justice said deductions were normal procedure and should not be called "bed and breakfast" costs. An appeal hearing said Mr Warren's conviction was unsafe because the woman had made similar accusations in the past about other men.

Mr Warren was told he would receive compensation minus £6,800, which has been assessed as the amount of money he had saved from normal expenses while in jail. He said: "I was flabbergasted when I was told. How can they justify charging innocent people when murderers live rent free?"

The Ministry of Justice said in a statement: "It's wrong to refer to the deductions as 'bed and breakfast' as they are made in respect of the costs an individual would have had to pay out of their net income on things such as a mortgage or rent. The purpose of the compensation is to put an individual back into the financial position they would have been in but for the miscarriage of justice, but not to a better position."

Mr Blackwell said there was no chance of that happening in his case because his legal bills were huge. "My parents contributed tens of thousands of pounds and friends added to the fighting fund."

The amount of Mr Blackwell's compensation is yet to be decided, although he said he thought it would be in the region of £100,000.

Hey there's a dwarf in my trunk!

German police staged a major operation to find a kidnapped child after a woman spotted a "young boy" being locked into a car boot.

The panicked woman alerted authorities as the car drove off, and police set up road blocks and dispatched patrol cars to intercept the vehicle.

But when the car was finally sighted and stopped, police found the "boy" was actually dwarf car mechanic Klaus "Shorty" Mueller, 27.

He had climbed in the boot and asked to be driven around so he could see where a strange rattling noise had been coming from.

Police in the northern city of Bremen confirmed a woman had called after she looked out her apartment window and saw a child in the boot - just before the driver slammed it shut and drove off.

The spokesman added: "A major investigation and manhunt was immediately launched and the car and its driver were apprehended. It seems the driver had been worried by inexplicable rattling noises in or near his boot. He called a mechanic, who was very small, and who climbed in the boot to get to the bottom of the problem."

Mis-Spelling Bee

Rebecca Willett considers the word “gastrilegous” Wednesday evening at the national spelling bee. (note the spelling of VIRGINIA !!!!)

Firemen sleep in 'wrong place'

Firefighters in Greater Manchester are facing disciplinary action over claims they slept on a station floor instead of their new reclining chairs.

Three men, based in Bury, are being investigated for "involvement in the use of unauthorised rest facilities". It is claimed they broke regulations by using sleeping bags on the floor rather than the £400 chairs.

The chairs were installed as part of modernisation programme to replace all beds in the region's 41 fire stations.

The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) said the men were all asleep as a team of inspectors from the fire service carried out a spot check one morning at 0630 BST.

"We have now christened them the furniture police," said Manchester regional secretary Kevin Brown.

Mr Brown said the service launched an investigation into the incident and the men were due to appear before a level three disciplinary hearing on 14 June.

"A level three hearing leaves open the possibility for dismissal - this is how ludicrous this is," said Mr Brown. "Obviously what we are looking for is for common sense to prevail. These people work a 15-hour night shift and they are entitled to take rest periods."

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said the inquiry concerned "involvement in the use of unauthorised rest facilities". "A full internal investigation into this matter is under way and no further comment can be made at this time," a spokesman said.

The service bought more than 300 of the chairs last year after chiefs decided to remove beds from dormitories across the region.

But firefighters were not allowed to sit or lie on the devices before reading a four-page health and safety manual.

Hangover Bangers

An award-winning butcher has come up with two special Scottish sausages which are being tipped as the perfect hangover cure - Iron Brew bangers.

The soft drink, Irn Bru, is often used to ease hangovers, along with fry-ups. Stuarts of Buckhaven are launching the Pork Iron Brew Banger and the Pork Sweet Chilli Iron Brew Banger in Fife.

Barr, which produces Irn Bru, has given the saugages its blessing but has insisted the firm uses another spelling to protect its trademark. Stuarts created the sausages to celebrate the company's 150th anniversary.

The sausages, which will be formally launched next Tuesday, received good reviews while being trialled at the company's shops in Leven, Lundin Links and Buckhaven.

Alan Stuart, Stuarts managing director, came up with the idea one morning while showering.

"I don't know why, but all my best ideas seem to come to mind in the shower," he said. "I had been thinking about producing something memorable with a Scottish twist to mark our 150th anniversary.

"We won the World Scotch Pie Championship last November which was a wonderful way to kick-start our celebratory year and we felt we needed a special new product which could be developed into a really big seller in the future."

He said that after settling on the original Pork and Iron Brew Banger, test results were "outstanding". So the decision was taken to create a more "exotic" sausage - the Pork Sweet Chilli and Iron Brew Banger.

Mr Stuart, who has 19 outlets in Fife, said the company had already received a number of orders. "We all believe we are onto a real winner with this product which will appeal to all ages," he said.

"Youngsters will like it because of the novelty appeal, young adults will warm to it because it is whacky and can be used in a fry-up the morning after a night out, and older people will love them because of the taste. It's a winner, we believe, all ways round and, since we trialled the sausages, we've had a stream of requests from customers asking when they will be back on sale."

Nipple hair record

Some people’s greatest talents remain hidden for their entire lives — but this Saturday, Doug Williams will put his on display and, he hopes, achieve ever-lasting fame.

Williams, you see, has a five-inch nipple hair.

That’s not a misprint. It’s a single hair, growing from his left nipple, and it’s five inches long.

On Saturday, the Williamsburg resident will have the hair officially measured and logged by the folks from the Guinness Book of World Records, who believe Williams’s follicular feat may be the greatest on the planet.

There’ll also be a barbecue.

And why not celebrate? Yes, most people have nipple hairs — but no one has a nipple hair like Doug Williams.

“It’s mostly a genetic gift,” said the 25-year-old, adding that he suspects — though this can’t be proven scientifically — that the hair’s unusual length has something to do with his habit of eating at least one cheeseburger every day (alas, he’ll never make the Guinness Book for that).

As with so many things in life, size matters — but it’s not the only requirement. In accordance with the Guinness Book’s regulations, the hair will be washed and then measured three times by a local doctor. Anything over 4.5 inches will break the record — yes, there is a current record-holder, Simon Mould of Great Britain.

Trouncing Mould at his own game would, of course, come with worldwide publicity, but that’s not why Williams got into the nipple-hair racket.

“I am not attempting this record for the money,” he said. “It is enough for me to know that I have inspired an entire generation of young people to grow long body hairs and achieve their own dreams.”

Taxi! Take me to Greece

An 89-year-old woman took a £2,000 taxi trip to Greece - because she can't stand waiting in airports.

Kathleen Searles is fascinated with history and Alexander the Great. So, to visit Mieza, where he went to school, she ordered a cab to take her on the three-day journey through France, Germany and the Balkans.

She made the 3,000-mile round trip from her home near Sudbury in Suffolk after persuading friend Wendy Turner, 73, to join her and share the taxi fare. The fare was £2,000 but with food and accommodation the cost was £5,000 when a plane trip would have been £130.

For Mrs Searles it was the trip of a lifetime as she had wanted to see where Alexander had learnt the things that had made him "great" - even though she only spent four hours there.

She said: "I've always been extremely interested in Alexander. I've been to Greece before but never to Aristotle's School at Mieza where he was taught and I thought if I was ever going to do it had better be now. One could have spent a lot longer than four hours there but I have read a lot about it so it was really just checking things out. The whole journey was most delightful. I'd been to London in Julian Delefortrie's nine-seater mini-bus before and it was very comfortable."

On the way back they group made a detour and saw the sights of Belgrade and Munich.

Taxi driver Mr Delefortrie said: "I like driving and it seemed a good idea. The drive through Austria was spectacular."

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Anyone lost a pirate ?

Shiver me timbers! A wayward pirate has been captured by police in west Belfast, Northern Ireland.

A swashbucklin' Captain Hook was found abandoned in Andersonstown and is now in police custody. The six-foot tall fibreglass figure was discovered lying on a roundabout in the Dart Hill area.

A member of the public phoned the police, and Peter Pan's nemesis was swiftly apprehended, put into the back of a Land Rover and taken to New Barnsley Police Station.

Station Sergeant Colin Hughes said the seafaring villain was one of the more unusual items to be brought into the station.

"I walked into my office at eight o'clock this morning and got a bit of a shock," he laughed. The light was off and I saw this tall man standing there. It's not the sort of thing you expect to see in a police station!"

Police admit they are a bit puzzled as to the origins of the so-called "gentleman of fortune". He may have come from a fancy dress shop, or perhaps from outside a video shop. There is also a rumour that he was last seen doing panto.

Sergeant Hughes said police were keen to have Captain Hook returned to his rightful owner. "Somebody, somewhere must have noticed this missing," he said. "If anyone has any information, could they contact us."

In the meantime, the buccaneer is being treated as "found" property and will remain in police custody until he is claimed.

Funny munny

Two shops were raided under forgery laws after selling novelty bank notes with pictures of cartoon characters.

The notes, which were taken from shops in Blackburn and Darwen, showed pictures of cartoons, Dr Who and a football team - instead of the Queen. But trading standards officials in Lancashire were concerned they could have been mistaken for real money.

Bank of England rules state that written permission is needed "for all possible reproductions".

Officials seized hundreds of the notes, which were in £5, £10, £20 and £50 denominations and were being sold for £1 for four notes.

The Queen's head had been replaced with a variety of pictures from Dr Who, Star Wars, Winnie the Pooh and Barbie. But, although they were meant as fun items, the council is not treating them as a joke.

Councillor John Slater, Blackburn and Darwen Borough Council, executive member for citizens and consumer rights, said: "Part of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act makes it a criminal offence to reproduce banknotes in any way, without the written consent of the Bank of England.

"These items were clearly intended as novelties and the traders bought them in good faith purely as fun products, not realising they were breaking the law.

"We have explained the law to them, alerted the police and will destroy the seized notes. I'd urge people not to buy novelty banknotes at all," he added.

Trading standards officers will now investigate the source of the notes and decide what further action to take.

Wrong entry

A German woman in Dusseldorf blocked the entrance to an underground station when she mistook it for a subterranean car park, police said on Wednesday.

The 52-year-old drove her Volkswagen Beetle across the pavement and into the entrance, where it came to a halt five steps down.

Police estimated the damage to the station at around 1,500 euros (£1,000).

The VW Beetle-Cabrio remained balanced on the fifth step and the woman was able to get out unaided and unharmed.

The accident happened in the Nordstrasse underground station, in the centre of Dusseldorf.

A truck later towed the car out of the stairwell.

It's raining Hen

Australian police are investigating how and why homes near Sydney have been bombarded by dead chickens.

Residents in the city of Newcastle believe the birds may have fallen from an aircraft or been fired by pranksters using a slingshot. Two homes have been damaged since the mystery began.

When a headless chicken crashed on to a suburban house in Newcastle last month, most people thought it had fallen from a low-flying aircraft. That theory is now in doubt after a second bird fell on to another home nearby at the weekend. Such was the damage to the roof that experts are convinced the carcass must have plummeted at least 1,600 feet (490 metres).

A physics professor at Newcastle University has pointed the finger at local wags, armed with a giant slingshot or catapult.

The police have admitted they do not have much to go on - apart from two very squashed chickens.

Irish eagle chick

A wild Golden Eagle chick has hatched in Co Donegal, for the first time in almost 100 years.

The nest actually hatched two chicks, but as normally happens, the second chick died after five days. According to the Golden Eagle Trust, there will be a further wait of seven to eight weeks to see if the remaining chick can continue to grow and hopefully fledge in late July.

Golden Eagles last bred in Glenveagh, Co Donegal in 1910 and became extinct in Ireland after the last breeding attempt in Co Mayo in 1912.

Adult eagles were reintroduced into Glenveagh National Park as part of a Golden Eagle reintroduction programme in 2001, and despite eggs being laid in 2005 and 2006, this is the first year young have been produced.

The exact location of the nest has not been revealed to the public in order to minimise disturbance to the birds.

The breeding adults were collected as chicks from the Highlands of Scotland. The pair was first spotted together on 1 August 2006 and have been together since.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Towel burning

In a story that seems to confirm every national stereotype you could possibly hope for, a Welsh coach driver was cheered on by British tourists as he set fire to the towels that German holidaymakers had left on sunbeds.

Glyn Bowden, 55, was then arrested by the Italian police, only for them to let him go a few hours later after local hotel bosses intervened.

Bowden was the driver for a coach party of 55 Brits holidaying on the Italian Riviera. He became frustrated when German holidaymakers kept trying to reserve the best sunbeds at the private beach and pool at the Viana Marina.

The first time the British tourists complained to him about the towel behaviour, he removed the towels and dumped them at the end of the pool.

He said: "The following morning the Germans put them down even earlier so I did the same - with them shaking their fists at me from their windows."

Mr Bowden continued: "The next morning about 20 towels were there again so I collected them up, put them on a pile on the beach - and lit them. All the British tourists were cheering. But just a few minutes afterwards three police officers turned up and arrested me. They were going to charge me with criminal damage but the hotel - which owned the towels -intervened on my behalf."

According to reports, no further towels have been left on the sunbeds since Mr Bowden started burning things.

Disinfected to death

An obsessive nicknamed The Dettol Man died after continually cleaning himself and his home with the disinfectant, an inquest heard.

Recluse Jacques Niemand may have been overcome by fumes from the dozens of bottles of the cleaning fluid he kept in his flat.

The 42-year-old had so much of the chemical in his system his body was starved of oxygen, the inquest was told. More than 100 bottles of Dettol were found crammed in a suitcase at Mr Niemand's home. Several buckets containing the fluid were also found.

His sister, Ruth Bain, said the man had suffered from an obsessive cleaning disorder for years and she would not go into his home because it was 'stifling'.

Several police officers who went into the flat in Didsbury, Manchester, following Mr Niemand's death later went off sick with aches after apparently being overpowered by the smell of cleaning products.

Pathologist Lorna McWilliam said it was difficult to say if the chemical got into Mr Niemand's system because he had breathed it in or drunk it.

'I cannot be sure his death arose through using an excessive amount at one time – but I suspect there must be an element of that,' she told the hearing in Manchester.

But deputy coroner Leonard Gorodkin rejected any suggestion that Mr Niemand killed himself and recorded a verdict of misadventure.

Mrs Bain said care in the community had failed her brother. She added: 'We were struggling to get help for my brother and trying to get his life back in order when he died.'

Welsh granny ejected

A 72-year-old Wales fan sporting full national costume was ejected from a rugby international in Australia for dancing with a wallaby mascot.

Llanelli-born Jean Richards has spoken of being thrown out of the stadium by security guards in Sydney on Saturday.

She had left the stand to dance with an Australia mascot near the pitch.

Stadium bosses are reported to have denied any heavy-handedness, but the Australian Rugby Union will fly her to this weekend's second test in Brisbane.

Ms Richards, who now lives in Sydney, saved for two months to buy her ticket to the test, which Wales eventually lost 29-23 after an injury-time Australia try.

But she missed a large part of the game after being ejected by security guards and police.

ASBO shunners

A North Yorkshire museum which offered offenders with anti-social behaviour orders (Asbo) free entry said the controversial initiative was shunned.

York Dungeon had said it wanted to show offenders the grisly punishment they would have faced for their crimes if committed in the 18th Century.

But bosses said not one person with an Asbo took up the offer.

A spokeswoman for the attraction said they were "disappointed but not surprised" by the result.

The Big Donor Show

The outcome of a Dutch reality show could literally mean the difference between life and death.

The new TV show centers around a terminally ill woman who will choose one of three contestants to receive one of her kidneys after she dies.

TV executives said the "Big Donor Show" will highlight the country's shortage of organ donors.

But critics have called the show unethical and tasteless. Several members of the Dutch parliament have said it's a bad idea, and one plans to ask the government to block Friday's premiere broadcast.

Even the European Union has weighed in, saying the show is in "rather bad taste."

Still, television executives said the show points to a reality that is "even more" tasteless -- that many people waiting for kidney transplants die before receiving them.

Brummie girls not pretty enough

Beauty contest officials chose a model from Stoke-on-Trent to represent Birmingham because they could not find anyone pretty enough from the city.
Miss Great Britain organisers picked Sophie Wilson to represent the city in a heat despite her only connection being an ex-boyfriend who lived there.

The 18-year-old IT student said she thought it was unfair on Birmingham's beauties.

The competition was later won by Rachael Tennant, from Aberdeen.

Cheese rolling 2007

About 3,000 people converged on Coopers Hill in Gloucestershire for the annual spring bank holiday cheese-rolling event. Dozens of competitors chased the 7-8lb Double Gloucester down the steep slope, which is 200m long and has a 1:1 gradient in places.

Jason Crowther, from west Wales, won the first race to complete a hat-trick of victories over the last three years.
The 25-year-old said: "There's no training you can do for this." He added: "It was a bit slippery and I heard something crack, which I think was my knee.

"But there aren't any tactics involved, as you can probably see."

Aaron Walden, 20, from Gloucester, also won for the third time - beating a man dressed in a nappy to the bottom of the hill.

About 25 volunteers from the St John Ambulance were on hand to treat the inevitable injuries, while a team from Search and Rescue Assistance in Disasters was also on hand to treat any medical emergencies.

Psychologist Jemima Bullock, 33, from Wellington, New Zealand, was the winner of the ladies' race.

"It's pretty well known back home and it's always on the news," she said. "It was a bit slippy out there but I think that actually helped. I guess you've got to be a bit mad to do this."

Paul Jones, from the St John Ambulance, said 20 people had been treated for minor injuries. Most of the injuries treated were for cuts and bruises and sprains.

Semi-skimmed milk cows

Scientists have bred cows that produce skimmed milk and hope to establish herds of the cattle to meet the demands of health-conscious consumers.

The milk is also high in omega3 oils, claimed to improve brain power, and contains polyunsaturated fat. The saturated fats found in normal milk are linked to increased risk of heart disease. The cows, which have a particular genetic mutation, were bred from a single female discovered by researchers when they screened milk from millions of cattle in New Zealand.

Butter from these cows has the extra advantage of being spreadable straight from the fridge, like margarine.

Scientists at ViaLactia, the biotech firm behind the £55m research, have named the cow Marge. Russell Snell, ViaLactia’s chief scientist, said: “Marge looks like an ordinary Friesian cow but has three key differences. She produces a normal level of protein in her milk but substantially less fat, and the fat she does produce has much more unsaturated fat. She also produces milk with very high levels of omega3 oils.”

Marge was discovered in 2001 when ViaLactia’s researchers bought her from her owner for £120 and moved her to a secret location.

The key issue was whether her calves would inherit her traits. “You have to generate daughters and then they have to carry a calf and deliver milk,” said Snell. “The eureka moment was when we found her daughters produced milk like their mother.”

Oh Buoy !

Twenty-seven migrants spent a day at sea holding on to buoys around a giant tuna net as the Maltese and Libyan governments argued over who should save them from drowning.

They were picked up eventually by an Italian patrol vessel. The men – Africans of various nationalities – had paid for a passage from Libya to Europe in an open boat that foundered on Friday night.

Soon after their boat went down they were spotted by the Maltese tug Boudafel, which was towing a huge tuna-breeding plant towards Spain.

The men said that the tug threw them a line and began towing them, ahead of the plant. When their boat sank the men grabbed the steel cable connecting the breeder to the tug and worked their way on to buoys that formed a floating circle, about 60 yards across, supporting the system of nets below the surface.

The tug was ordered by her owners not to take the men on board because that would have interrupted her voyage.

The men were transferred after 24 hours to the Italian naval vessel Orione, which was in the area searching for another boatload of migrants that had become known as the “phantom boat”.

She was an open boat, crammed with 53 men, women and children, sighted and photographed from the air last Monday about 90 miles (145km) south of Malta. Her engine had stopped and it looked as if she was in difficulty, but contact was lost.

High-level soccer row

Football's governing body, Fifa, has banned international matches from being played at more than 2,500m (8,200ft) above sea level. Fifa said the decision was made because of concerns over players' health and possible distortion of competition.

The ruling was greeted with dismay in Latin America, notably in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, where games in La Paz are played at 3,600m (11,811ft). Bolivia's President, Evo Morales, vowed to lead a campaign against the ban.

Speaking after an emergency cabinet meeting, Mr Morales said the ruling amounted to discrimination.

"This is not only a ban on Bolivia, it's a ban on the universality of sports," he told reporters. Mr Morales also said he would send a high-level delegation to Fifa's headquarters in Zurich and called on other countries to join his campaign.
"We cannot allow discrimination in soccer, we cannot allow... exclusion in the world of sports," he added.

Many of Bolivia's major cities, including Sucre and Potosi, are at high altitude.

Local commentators in Peru, which was hoping to stage upcoming World Cup qualifiers in Cuzco at 3,400m (11,154ft), suggested Fifa made the decision after pressure from South America's two major football powers, Brazil and Argentina.

Both nations have struggled in recent years while playing at altitude, where the thin air hands an advantage to those acclimatised to the conditions. Playing sport in conditions of high altitude places heavy demands on the body, forcing the heart to work harder.

Everest trash collector

A Japanese mountaineer has led an expedition to the top of Mount Everest to retrieve tons of rubbish littering the slopes of the world's highest peak.

Ken Noguchi led a team of Japanese and Nepali climbers and returned with 500kg (1100lbs) of tins, old tents, food and medicine left over decades by other climbers.

He estimates he has collected some 9,000kg (20,000lbs) of rubbish from Mount Everest during his five trips to the peak.

The peak has been often described as the "world's highest rubbish site".

Mr Noguchi said he will display some of the rubbish in Tokyo and Seoul to raise public awareness about keeping the world's most famous mountain clean.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Churchgoers told to drink more

A CHURCH that holds services in a city nightclub could lose its home – because the “congregation” doesn’t drink enough.

The lack of thirsty punters attending the Solace church meetings in Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach on Sunday evenings, is costing the nightspot hundreds of pounds each week.

Rev James Karran, 26, of Ararat Baptist Church, Whitchurch, Cardiff, said: “The reality is we don’t make the Welsh Club any money. It costs them about £600 to open up the place for us and we’re only paying them £50 to hire it. It’s not enough and they’re not making the money back from drink sales.

“Solace is going really well otherwise so we’d like to encourage people to come along to see what we’re about and the bar is open so don’t to be shy to go and drink – but not too much obviously.”

Solace was set up last month by James, along with the Church Army’s Wendy Sanderson, to make church more accessible and fun for young people and of course there’s the bar.

James thinks that the regulars aren’t drinking as much as they normally might on an evening in the pub because they’re in a church mindset.

He said: “People aren’t there to get wasted. The club has been very helpful to us but they’re used to being open until 2am with people getting hammered.

Cake compensation

After a marathon legal battle that has lasted nearly ten years, a couple in the Philippines have finally lost in their attempt to sue a pastry shop because they didn't like their wedding cake.

The couple, Edgardo and Stephanie Abenina, claimed that the wedding cake (five tiers, in orange chiffon) was 'tawdry-orange' in colour and was leaning wonkily to the side.

They said that the humiliation of the tawdry cake caused them after their wedding in June 1997 anxiety, anguish and sleepless nights. They sought £545 (50,000 Philippine pesos) in compensation for the damages they suffered.

However, after almost a decade of legal wrangling, an appeal court has upheld an earlier ruling against their claim – pointing out that in the wedding photos, the cake appears to be fine, the couple were smiling while cutting it, and that it was partially eaten.

They did however award the couple the £52 (4,775 pesos) that the cake cost.

Apple iRate over iGasm

CUPERTINO, Calif -- Apple Inc. executives are upset about a new sex toy from a British manufacturer, alleging the new iGasm trades on Apple's iTunes image.

Not only does the sex toy from the Ann Summers sex shop chain have iTunes' trademark letter, Apple alleges, but the exotic item is being advertised with posters reminiscent of Apple's advertising, the New York Daily News said Sunday.

While iTunes' ads typically show a silhouette dancing or running, the iGasm ad campaign takes a slightly more risque approach. The toy's ads simply show a silhouette of a woman leaning back with her knees spread triumphantly holding the iGasm up in the air.

While Apple Inc. has demanded the offending posters be removed from the chain's stores nationwide, the president of Ann Summers has offered a different solution.

"Perhaps I can send them an iGasm to put a smile back on their faces!" Jacqueline Gold told the newspaper.

It's never too late

SAN DIEGO-- Two lovebirds who have lived a combined 181 years have become the oldest couple to ever apply for a marriage license in San Diego.

Harold Bentzien, 100, and Madonna Marshall, 81, were married Saturday at the Tierrasanta Seventh-day Adventist Church, with an odd spin on the ceremony, The San Diego Union Tribune reported. One of their flower girls was the groom's great-granddaughter and one of Marshall's middle-age sons walked her down the isle.

The San Diego County recorder may not track the age on marriage licenses, but staff members couldn't remember anyone older having been granted one.

"The men all say he is robbing the cradle," Marshall said, chuckling. "But at 81, I'm not sure that applies."

Slumming it

A LANDLORD has been sentenced to house arrest in one of his derelict buildings until he makes proper repairs.

A judge in Lakewood Municipal Court ordered Richard Naumann to live in his apartment building, which has no heating, hot water or working stoves, until proper repairs have been carried out on the two tenement buildings he owns, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

Mr Naumann, who will only be allowed to leave the building for work, will be tagged with an electronic monitoring device on his ankle to ensure he abides by the judge's order.

Naumann also must turn over all rent money to Lakewood courts beginning June 1. Tenants and the gas company can petition the court for reimbursement for rent and unpaid gas bills, Corrigan said.

Court records show that gas service was cut off more than a month ago at Naumann's apartment buildings on Lake and Robinwood avenues. The city also is investigating gas shutoff complaints at two other buildings.

Harley hearse

Harley-Davidson enthusiasts who take the motto "Live to Ride, Ride to Live" to heart now have a proper conveyance to hog heaven.

A Long Island funeral home chain invested $100,000 in a three-wheeled Harley and carriage-style hearse for bikers who want to go out in style.

So far, reaction has been "favorable and positive," Michael Moloney of Moloney Family Funeral Homes said Thursday during a Manhattan demonstration.

"People see it and go, 'Wow, this can be really cool and different for my dad, for my uncle,'" Moloney said.

The black hearse is a replica of a 19th-century horse-drawn carriage and features sconces in each corner, a large window on either side and burgundy and gold curtains. It can fit caskets up to 39 inches wide and carry more than 900 pounds of coffin and dead weight. The black and chrome motorcycle is a 2006 Road King Classic.

For $795, a driver will take the dearly departed from the funeral home to the house of worship, then on to the cemetery — compared to $475 to $575 for a lift in a traditional hearse, they said.

World's oldest camera sells

The world's oldest commercially produced camera - built in 1839 in the early days of photography - was auctioned Saturday in Austria for nearly US$800,000.

The camera, a Daguerreotype by Susse Freres of France, went to an anonymous online bidder for $792,333, which also makes it the world's most expensive camera, the Vienna gallery and auction house WestLicht said in a statement.

The camera, which was found in an attic in Germany by a professor, is made of soft wood and weighs between five and six kilograms, WestLicht director Peter Coeln told Austrian radio. He said it was likely to have been built before August 1839.

"It was clear to me straight away that this was a camera from the first year of photography," he said.

Bids were placed from around the world, including South Korea, Japan, the U.S. and France.

Underwater real estate with a catch

HONOLULU - Real estate is often a long-term investment. But 10,000 years?

Lo'ihi Development Co. will soon start offering oceanview lots speculators won't even be able to stand on for many millennia. That's because they're currently submerged more than 900 metres below sea level - on an underwater volcano called Lo'ihi, located about 32 kilometres southeast of the Big Island.

The website will be renovated in the next couple of weeks to officially begin selling parcels for an introductory price of US$39.95. Buyers will receive a brochure and a "deed," but much like Internet groups that claim to sell stars, they probably can't call themselves owners.

"What's the scam?" said Norm Nichols, co-developer of the online venture. "If you really think there's something here that you can't live with, nobody's forcing you to buy it. It's meant to be fun."

The website advertises, "Lo'ihi Seaview Estates: Real Estate for the Future. Grand Water View Front Lots." A photo of the sales office is a raft in the middle of the ocean.

Nichols and his business partner, Linda Kramer, both Honolulu entrepreneurs, envision online chat rooms and newsletters to discuss everything from street names to what kind of government to install. They want to hold a "homeowners association" meeting - a boat ride over the volcano - every April Fool's Day.

Scientists don't really know when, or if, Lo'ihi will break the surface of the Pacific Ocean. Many guess about 10,000 years, but it could be much longer than that.

Stephen Levins, head of the state consumer affairs office, said the offer could be a problem if it were serious. "However, if the website is clear it's a parody and you're not going to be receiving an actual interest in real estate, that's something else," he said.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

10 marathons in 10 days

Brent Iddles has run 10 marathons in 10 days — at the age of 63.

He was recovering at home last night, but already planning his next 26-mile run in Ireland.

Brent set a new record for the most marathons in a row at Lake Windemere, Cumbria.

He said: “When I got to five marathons, I was beginning to feel severe pain in my legs."

“By the ninth day I didn’t know how I was going to carry on. When I got to 23 miles on the last day I thought I wouldn’t finish it. But I stopped, put some bandages on my feet and carried on.”

Brent, of Worfield, West Mids, has already run a trio of three marathons in three days.

The retired businessman, who has done 280 marathons since his first in 1987, said: “My wife Toni thinks I am mad."

“But my latest challenge was to show that ordinary people can do extraordinary things.”

Finally, a good mite's sleep

A New Zealand man is now sleeping peacefully after years of living with an infestation of mites in his ear finally came to an end.

Paul Balvert's "noisy nightmare" went undiagnosed for two years before it was discovered by a nurse at a specialist clinic.

"For years I had no idea what was wrong," a relieved Mr Balvert told the New Zealand Herald.

"I had been hearing continual bubble and squeak noises in my ears and it was worse at night. Sometimes I would get up in the morning and think I would be lucky if I had got any sleep.

"And there was movement. That was the worst - the itch. Many times during the day and night I would stick my fingers and cotton buds in my ears to try and relieve the itch. It was unreachable."

His doctor twice flushed his ears with water, but he got no relief.

Mr Balvert eventually went to see a specialist.

Nurse Theresa O'Leary said she was amazed to see "very active, tiny, bulbous, semi-transparent mites moving around in a moist layer and white eggs present all over the canal and eardrum.

"There were about a hundred of them. It was a well-stocked breeding ground," she said.

Doctors used suction to remove all visible mites and eggs from Mr Balvert's ear, but hidden eggs soon hatched and his problem resurfaced.

Mr Balvert was eventually cured when microbiologist Chris Mansell recommended soaking the ear in a liquid used for scabies and head lice.

Mr Balvert, who owns a chicken shed cleaning business, believes the mites entered his ear one day when a chicken feed pan was emptied over his head.

Wrong birthday for 99 years

When Nellie Davies blew out the candles on her 100th birthday cake yesterday, she was marking more than one special occasion - for the first time she celebrated her birthday on the correct day.

Until yesterday, she always celebrated it on May 2 and it was only when relatives took out her birth certificate to send to the Queen so she would receive a telegram that they discovered she was actually born 22 days later.

A great-grandmother, Mrs Davies, who lives near Dover, Kent, said: "I couldn't believe it. My mum and dad must have got mixed up somewhere down the line after I was born because we have always celebrated it on the 2nd."

Mrs Davies, who is originally from Wrexham, Wales, added: "What's wrong with having two birthday parties? After all, not everyone turns 100."

Guests included her three surviving children Alma, Peter, Burt, and her 13 great-grandchildren. Her fourth child, Audrey died in 1996.

Alma, 73, said: "We were gobsmacked when we found out. It's amazing really."

Ann Laight, the manager of Mrs Davies's housing complex, added: "She is a real character - it could only happen to her.

"She loved the parties because she could have a few drinks and get up for a bit of a dance around with her family."

Mrs Davies, whose husband, George, a coal miner, died in 1983, said the secret of her long life was a cup of tea with a dash of whisky when she got out of bed, and a glass of port for lunch.

Hogzilla pt II

A WILD boar shot by an 11-year-old boy in Alabama was claimed to weigh a staggering 1050 lbs and measuring 9feet from its snout to the end of its tail.

If these measurements are accurate, Jamison Stone's trophy boar would be bigger than Hogzilla, the famed wild hog that grew to seemingly mythical proportions after being killed in South Georgia in 2004.

National Geographic experts, who unearthed Hogzilla's remains, believe the animal weighed about 800lbs and was 7 foot long.

Regardless of the comparison, Jamison is revelling in the attention.

"It feels really good. It's a good accomplishment. I probably won't ever kill anything else that big," he said.

Jamison said he shot the huge animal eight times with a .50-calibre revolver and chased it for three hours before finishing it off with a point-blank shot.

Trees had to be cut down to bring Jamison's prize out of the woods.

Jamison's father, Mike Stone, is turning the beast into sausages. "We'll probably get 500 to 700 pounds " he said.

Staying awake record falls short

A bleary-eyed researcher who normally sleeps like a log went to bed yesterday claiming a world record after staying awake for more than 11 days and nights.

But when Tony Wright, 43, finally regains wakefulness today after catching up on his sleep, he could be in for a cruel awakening. The human guinea pig will discover that he may have given up ten hours too early to claim the crown.

The record that he broke – of 11 days, or 264 hours – was set by Randy Gardner, an American, in 1964 and is recognised in psychiatric textbooks.

But that is 12 hours shorter than the record which used to be included in The Guinness Book of Recordsbefore being removed from the book in 1989. It was deleted on the grounds that it could encourage records harmful to health and was unverifiable because of the claims of insomnia sufferers.

The Guinness previous record was for 11½ days, or 276 hours, and was set by Toimi Soini in Hamina, Finland, between February 5 to 15, 1964.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

14 holes in one this year

The one thing Jacqueline Gagne lacked in her remarkable story of against-all-odds holes in one was some kind of widespread visual proof.

Until now.

Gagne, whose 10 holes in one since January have become the stuff of golf myth and international media interest, hit an ace on Tuesday while the cameras were rolling. A cameraman from KESQ-TV in Palm Springs captured visual proof of her feat, relieving Gagne of a burden she has carried since news of her ace streak between Jan. 23 and May 2 made believers of some, but skeptics of many more.

"When ABC came out and I got it on tape, I really did feel like a weight had been lifted," Gagne said. "I had proven it."

That videotape got a lot of play Wednesday, appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America" and repeated throughout the day on "CNN Headline News."

While Gagne says the taped ace was a "godsend," officials at SilverRock Golf Resort in La Quinta, Calif., are working to nail down witnesses for a recent Gagne claim of two more aces in a single round at that course some time in late April or early May.

"Management is still trying to verify the validity of the holes in one," said Randy Duncan, general manger and director of golf at SilverRock. Duncan said such verification is a standard practice for aces at SilverRock.

Even without official verification of the SilverRock aces, which would raise her total to 12 in 2007, Gagne has 10 witnessed and attested aces this year in regulation rounds of golf. In recent weeks Gagne has tried to keep a relatively low profile, talking to media around the world while shielding her friends and witnesses from a barrage of questions about her claims.

Free admittance for Asbo's

York Dungeon Museum is offering free admission to people with Asbos (anti-social behaviour orders) so they can see the grisly punishment they would have faced in the 18th Century.

Bank Holiday weekend visitors who prove they have a current Asbo will be put in the dock to face an old-fashioned "Judgement of Sinners". People who committed crimes such as graffiti or damaging public buildings in the 1700s were often hanged.

Museum bosses said they hoped the event would shock 21st Century offenders.

Dungeon manager Helen Douglas said: "What we're handing out Asbos for today are exactly the same sort of crimes that people would have been transported or even hanged during the "bloody code" of the 18th Century.
"While I'm by no means advocating a return to the punishments of old, I thought it might shock the Asbo offenders a little to see what would have happened to them a couple of hundred years ago".

More than 200 crimes were punishable by death under the "Bloody Code", which was introduced in 1783. These included shooting a rabbit, adopting a disguise and impersonating a Chelsea Pensioner. Hanging was the main form of judicial execution in the UK until its abolition in 1969.

Asbos were introduced in 1999 as part of The Crime and Disorder Act 1998. They were first used in York in 2000. The Safer York Partnership, which holds the information on the current state of Asbos issued in the city, revealed that almost 75% of the orders were being flouted. There are currently 41 orders in force and 27 of these have been breached.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Police chief pickpocketed

OSLO, Norway -- A police campaign to crack down on pickpockets has come too late to help the capital's top crime fighter.

Police Chief Anstein Gjengedal's wallet was snatched by a pickpocket as the campaign was set to begin, the Oslo newspaper Dagbladet reported Friday.

The police chief was on the Oslo airport train Monday when a group of people jostled him. When he checked a few minutes later, his wallet was gone.

"I didn't have much money with me," he was quoted as saying. "But it still wasn't very nice."

Gjengedal said he had followed police advice by having the wallet in the inner pocket of his jacket, but the thieves got it anyway.

According to Dagbladet, Gjengedal's deputy -- Bjoern Aage Hansen -- wasn't aware of the theft when he announced the "Safe Summer" campaign later in the week, vowing that "we will have a special focus on pickpockets."

Service fee for thick robber

Peterborough, Canada - Banks are always charging fees. Even, apparently, to people who are trying to rob them.

Christopher Emmorey, 23, discovered that the hard way when he walked into the Royal Bank on George Street March 22 demanding that the teller give him $5,000 and telling her he had a gun in his pocket.

The fiscally responsible teller told Emmorey she could only give him $200, and told Emmorey there would be a $5 transaction fee because Emmorey was not a client at the bank.

Emmorey pleaded guilty yesterday in Ontario Court of Justice to the robbery plus breaching his probation. Crown attorney Brian Gilkinson said Emmorey waited patiently as the teller filled out the appropriate paper work before running out of the bank with $195.

By that time, other bank tellers were alerted to the ongoing robbery.

Emmorey wasn't wearing a disguise and his videotaped image was recognized by police officers who responded to the call.
When officers arrived at Emmorey's Stewart Street apartment they overheard him asking his neighbours to tell police that he'd been home all day, court heard.

Emmorey's lawyer Dave McFadden described the robbery as a "comedy of errors" and something that was "doomed to fail at the outset."

"A $5 transaction fee on a robbery sir?" McFadden said to Mr. Justice Robert Graydon.

Emmorey's criminal resume includes previous convictions for attempted robbery, weapons offences and violence. Graydon gave Emmorey two years in prison for the crime, plus probation for two years.

Emmorey told Graydon he has no significant drug or alcohol issues and said he wouldn't need any court-ordered addiction counselling.

"You must think by now that there's something wrong with you," Graydon said to Emmorey. "Is this normal in your mind?"

"No sir," Emmorey replied.

Graydon also banned him from owning any weapons for 10 years.

World Water Bombing Championships

The World Water Bombing Champion spectacularly retained his title and immediately threw down the gauntlet to his most illustrious rival.

Steve Ayres took the title for the second year in succession at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre after pulling a near perfect score of 19.5 in the 'Bomb Off' after seven bombers had tied for the lead in the Macmillan Cancer Support fundraising event.

His pioneering treble tuck somersault bomb technique blew away the judges and following victory he wasted no time in challenging Peter Kay, star of the famous John Smith's No Nonsense adverts, to a dual for the undisputed water bombing champion of the world.

Steve, of Kier Lifts' Sore Botics team who also topped the fancy dress table for their impressive robot costumes, said: "They say the hardest thing about being a world champion is going out there and successfully defending your title so I'm proud to prove myself a true champion!

"We have been calling it the 'Pot Noodle' title – for instant success just add water! Some people claim Peter Kay is the water bombing champion so I'm challenging him to a 'bomb off' for the title – anytime anywhere!"

The team winners were the SAD (Sheffield Amateur Diving) Team Reserves who chalked up an impressive overall score of 79 out of 80, just pipping tournament sponsors Eric Twigg Foods' Who Ate All The Pies team.

It was just reward for the commitment and often kamikaze approach to water bombing that the Sheffield foursome displayed.

A bloody-nosed SAD team captain Richard Rattlidge said: "We're thrilled our hard work and bruises have paid off. We play water polo here at Ponds Forge three times a week and I only saw the notice board last week so it's been a week of intensive water bombing training!

"We have been called 'showmen' but it's a sport that's close to our hearts and for a fantastic cause so we had no shortage of help and encouragement from family and friends. We came here not expecting to win but to entertain the crowd and we're delighted to take home the team crown!"

The event is expected to raise between £2,500 and £3,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support and local fundraising manager Steve Loane from the charity paid tribute to the participants.

Steve said: "Congratulations to Steve Ayres, the Sore Botics and SAD Team Reserves for their success. It's been a great event with some top bombing and everyone who took part deserves a big pat on the back. Special thanks to Ponds Forge for allowing us to use their amazing facilities and Eric Twigg Foods for providing sponsorship."

Teams representing DESQ, Britannia Building Society, Maltby Sub Aqua, Alan Martin Furniture and Richard Ratcliffe & Co also participated in the event at the Sheffield International Venues-managed facility.

I am assured that pictures and videos will be available in a few days from the Ponds Forge site

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Snakes on a plane pt II

Customs officers at Cairo's airport Thursday detained a man bound for Saudi Arabia who was trying to smuggle 700 live snakes on a plane, airport authorities said.

The officers were stunned when a passenger, identified as Yahia Rahim Tulba, told them his carry-on bag contained live snakes after he was asked to open it.

Tulba opened his bag to show the snakes to the police and asked the officers, who held a safe distance, not to come close. Among the various snakes, hidden in small cloth sacks, were two poisonous cobras, authorities said.

The Egyptian said he had hoped to sell the snakes in Saudi Arabia. Police confiscated the snakes and turned Tulba over to the prosecutor's office, accusing him of violating export laws and endangering the lives of other passengers.

According to the customs officials, Tulba claimed the snakes are wanted by Saudis who display them in glass jars in shops, keep them as pets or sell them to research centers.

The value of the snakes was not immediately known.

Books by email in snippets

Never had time to read Moby Dick and want something weightier than spam to read on your Blackberry on the way to work?

A new Web site is offering to send classic books in bite-size instalments to your handheld device or email every morning before you go to work, or whenever you want, for free.

The emails from are designed to be read in under five minutes. Jules Verne's "Around the World in 80 Days" comes in 82 parts while Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" could take nearly two years of working days to read at 430 parts.

"Our audience includes people like us, who spend hours each day on email but can't find the time to read a book," DailyLit co-founder Albert Wenger said.

The company was launched in May with a list of around 370 mostly classic titles, though the Web site has been operating on a trial basis for several months. Wenger said 50,000 people had signed up, registering for over 75,000 titles.

Since the books are out of copyright the company can offer them for free, but it plans to expand and start charging a fee for newer titles licensed by major publishers within four or five weeks. The emails are free of advertising and the revenue model will depend on fees, sharing revenues with publishers.

Dopey tourists

Two tourists got a big surprise when they spoke in French so a police officer would not know they had marijuana after they had been stopped on the outskirts of Broken Hill in far western New South Wales.

The policeman also spoke French.

The pair were travelling in a hired van and were stopped for a random breath test on the Barrier Highway, west of the city. Police say when one of them was asked for his licence, his companion said in French, "Don't pull it out when you show him".

The officer replied in French that he understood what they were saying and asked what it was they did not want taken out.

The pair apparently looked at each other in surprise.

Police took 13 grams of marijuana in resealable plastic bag from them and they were taken to the police station.

The 23-year-old and 24-year-old gave police an address in France and were given a cannabis caution and sent on their way. Cautions are issued to people of good character when only small amounts of the drug are found.

Cat grows wings

A Chinese woman claims her cat has grown wings .

Granny Feng's tom cat has sprouted two hairy 4ins long wings, reports the Huashang News.

"At first, they were just two bumps, but they started to grow quickly, and after a month there were two wings," she said.

Feng, of Xianyang city, Shaanxi province, says the wings, which contain bones, make her pet look like a 'cat angel'.

Her explanation is that the cat sprouted the wings after being sexually harassed.

"A month ago, many female cats in heat came to harass him, and then the wings started to grow," she said.

However, experts say the phenomenon is more likely down to a gene mutation, and say it shouldn't prevent the cat living a normal life.

Flap over a BIG flag

A Las Vegas HUMMER dealer, Dan Towbin of Towbin HUMMER, has been ordered to take down a 30' x 60' American flag he's flown 100 feet above his dealership for a year because his neighbors have complained about the sound of the flag flapping and the obtrusiveness of its looming pole.

While Towbin claims the the flag is an expression of his patriotism, the dealer's neighbors and other concerned citizens in Las Vegas assert that his intentions are mostly commercial, accusing Towbin of exploiting veterans for his own financial gain. One point of controversy is a war memorial Towbin planned to build at the base of the pole. Towbin, who is an honorary commander at Nellis Air Force Base, said he has not built the memorial because the flag was only approved tentatively pending a six-month review. The six months came and went without the city following up on the matter.

Whatever the circumstances, an interesting component of the battle over the flag is the fact that both sides claim the other is anti-American -- critics of those who wish that the flag be removed say that taking down a flag is unpatriotic, while others say keeping the flag up allows Towbin to commercialize a patriotic symbol. Only Towbin knows for sure his intentions, of course.

Trafalgar Square goes green

Trafalgar Square has been transformed into a green space.

More than 2,000 sq m of turf has been laid as part of Visit London's campaign to promote green spaces and villages in the city.

The grass will cover the square for two days during which visitors will be able to soak up the sunshine in specially laid-out deckchairs or enjoy a picnic.

The turf, which has been sourced from the Vale of York, will then be moved to Bishops Park in Hammersmith and Fulham.

Chief executive of Visit London James Bidwell said: "From the rural feel of areas like Bexley Village and Wimbledon, to urban villages like Marylebone and even Canary Wharf, the campaign will help everyone discover Village London."

Don't use Chinese toothpaste

Health officials in the United States say they are checking all shipments of toothpaste imported from China for contamination with toxic chemicals.

Panama and the Dominican Republic have reported finding diethylene glycol, a chemical used in engine coolants, in toothpaste from China.

The toothpaste scare is the latest involving products from China. Earlier this year, contaminated pet food ingredients killed a number of cats and dogs in North America.

The toxic chemical, melamine, was found in wheat gluten exports from China for use in pet food, prompting a recall of at least 100 pet food brands. The tainted wheat gluten was even thought to have made its way into livestock feed.

Cough syrup containing diethylene glycol originating from China killed more than 50 people in Panama last year.

The New York Times said a Chinese chemical maker had sold the industrial-grade chemical as glycerine, which is often used as a moistener in products from toothpaste to soap and cosmetics.

Pupils try to sell school

Cheeky pupils put their school up for sale without teachers knowing so they would not have to sit their exams.

The sixth form students erected an estate agent 'For Sale' sign outside the impressive property earlier in the week.

But agents Buckey and Ward alerted Borden Grammar School in Sittingbourne, Kent, after they received several calls from interested people.

A pupil said: 'It was just a joke. But I think some of us were hoping it might get rid of the school so we would not have to sit our exams.'

Tramp handed £2m plot of land

A tramp has become the legal owner of a prime piece of land on Hampstead Heath in north London which he has lived on for more than 20 years.

Harry Hallowes, 70, was handed the title deeds to the secluded woodland spot, thought to be worth £2m, after developers threatened to evict him.

Mr Hallowes made a successful claim under what is called squatters' rights, a Land Registry spokeswoman said.

He occupies a 12ft by 8ft shack which stands in a 90ft by 90ft garden.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wrong exam

AN investigation has been launched after 160 pupils sat the wrong exam paper at a north Suffolk school - and now they face the ordeal of taking the exam for a second time.

After the Year 11 students at Leiston High School took their GCSE short course in Religious Education (RE) exam last week, it was discovered they had sat the wrong paper. They were supposed to have taken an exam paper called “Religion and Society” but instead took “Religion and Life”.

Now the teenagers will have to sit through an extra exam to take the correct paper. This will be on June 12. Meanwhile, an investigation into the error has been launched.

Ian Flintoff, headteacher, said he did not how the mistake occurred but he said the titles of the two papers were very close. He said: “There are many factors that could have contributed which will be part of the investigation. Our first point of call was the students, they come first, and we let them know on the same day, gave them all a letter to take back to their parents and we've arranged for them to take the correct paper. They will not lose out and they will not be disadvantaged at all.”

Mr Flintoff said there was no need for the school to have both of the papers because the students only sit one exam to gain the qualification.

“Finding out why we had two papers will be part of the process,” he said. “We get whatever we order in and it boils down to GCSE entries. We have to give the paper code and papers come in accordingly.”

The students have been studying for the compulsory exam one lesson a week for more than two years.

Toothpaste that rebuilds enamel

British scientists have developed a toothpaste that they claim contains a liquid form of calcium and can help in treating sensitive teeth by rebuilding the tooth enamel.

People with sensitive teeth experience pain and discomfort after consuming hot or cold food, liquid or breathing cold air. This problem often occurs when gums recede and the tooth roots are exposed. They are not covered by hard enamel, the protective outer layer of the tooth.

Arm and Hammer's enamel care toothpaste produced by Church and Dwight Co., the world's leading manufactures of a wide range of personal care, household and specialty products is said to contain a liquid form of calcium, the key component of tooth enamel.

The liquid calcium rebuilds the tooth by plugging microscopic gaps in the enamel. The repair stops dental nerves from becoming exposed thereby preventing pain, reported online edition of Daily Mail.

Dentist Graham Barnby, who tested the new product at his clinics in south England, said, "This is a unique product. Current toothpastes aimed at people with sensitive teeth simply mask the pain while this one solves the problem."

Car baby #2

RALEIGH, N.C. - If a pregnant Stephanie Green asks for a ride to the hospital, beware: she has a history of giving birth in cars. For the second time in 17 months, Green had a baby Tuesday while en route to a hospital. Doctors planned to induce labor Thursday, but baby Zaria had other plans.

"I thought I was gonna make it this time, but she changed all that very quickly," Green said.

The first contraction came around 7 a.m. Tuesday, and Green called friend Shanika Lewis for a ride to the hospital. They were on the highway just blocks from a Raleigh hospital about an hour later when the contractions got more intense.

"We saw the exit on Lake Boone Trail and said, 'We are almost there,'" Green said. "But the water broke, and then out came the baby. Yep, we are not going to make it - yet again."

Lewis, who works at WakeMed hospital, helped with the delivery until emergency personnel arrived.

"I didn't have anything to tie the umbilical cord but a rubber band," Lewis said.

Green's other daughter, 17-month-old Semajai, was born in a car after mom got stuck in traffic.

Orangutan goes bananas

A hulking orangutan escaped from his cage and terrified restaurant patrons Wednesday, at the same Taiwan zoo where a crocodile recently chomped off a veterinarian's arm. The latest incident at the Shaoshan Zoo in the southern city of Kaohsiung began when the orangutan pushed his way out of his cage and wandered into a nearby restaurant courtyard.

It was captured on camera by Taiwanese cable news station TVBS.

As zoo officials scurried to bring the animal under control, he gleefully overturned picnic tables and motorbikes, forcing terrified diners to cower inside the eatery.

The orangutan was finally subdued when an official shot him in the upper body with a a stun gun. He was then carted off for treatment in the scoop of a small bulldozer.

Video-cams for wardens

Manchester traffic wardens will issue tickets with miniature cameras strapped to their heads from next week. Wardens in Salford, Greater Manchester, will become the first in Britain to record their work on video.

NCP Services, which supplies the attendants in the city, hopes the initiative will be adopted by councils throughout the country if it proves successful. The technology has been introduced to help resolve disputes over tickets and to provide evidence against motorists who assault or abuse staff.

The cameras, already used by police and community support officers, will also aid wardens with their new powers of issuing fixed penalties for littering, flyposting, graffiti and dog fouling in the street.

James Pritchard, communications manager of NCP Services, said: "The cameras will be crucial in gathering evidence on the circumstances of why a fixed penalty has been issued. In many disputes it can often boil down to one person's word against another. We will now have the video evidence to help clear up any doubts. The technology will also act as a deterrent against attendants being assaulted or abused."

He explained that a small number of workers would initially use the devices in the city next week before the programme is rolled out to all parking staff working on behalf of Salford Council. "We are hoping that other councils will decide to use the technology after seeing how well it works in Salford," he said

Drive-thru sleep

CAMDEN, Arkansas - A man who was a little slow in picking up his fast food has been charged with drunk driving.

Police said they found Terrance Forte, 32, asleep behind the wheel in the drive-through lane at a McDonald's restaurant. Restaurant employees called police about 12:30 a.m. local time Saturday after waiting 15 minutes for Forte to drive from the first window to the second window in the drive-through.

In a police report, Officer William Mahon said he found Forte asleep inside the car with the engine running and his right foot on the brake. The report said Forte offered Mahon US$10 for his food order when Mahon tried to wake him.

Forte's blood alcohol level was registered at 0.19, more than twice the legal limit.

Forte was cited for his third drunk-driving charge and was later released.

Policeman over-dressed

A police officer was asked to leave a court because he was wearing his full uniform, including body armour, baton and handcuffs.

The incident took place at Mold Crown Court on Monday during a sentencing.

Judge John Rogers QC saw the officer at the side of the room and said: "You can't come to court dressed like that. Will you please leave."

A North Wales Police spokesman said a force policy was in place.

"Operational uniform should be worn when on operational duties, including attendance at court," he added. "This is necessary in order to ensure that officers are fully equipped to deal with any situation which may arise while they are on duty, whether in or outside the court."

Richard Eccles, North Wales Police Federation Secretary, said the incident was "unfortunate."


Get a FREE Virus !

Computer specialist Didier Stevens put up a simple text advertisement on the Internet offering downloads of a computer virus for people who did not have any.

Surprisingly, he found as many as 409 people clicking on the ad saying "Is your PC virus-free? Get it infected here!" during a 6-month advertising campaign on Google's Adword, said the IT security expert.

"Some of them must have clicked on it by mistake. Some must have been curious or stupid," said Mikko Hypponen, head of research at data security firm F-Secure.

There was no virus involved, it was an experiment aiming to show these kind of advertising systems can be used for malicious intent, Stevens said.

Too stressed to quit

Smokers in Britain are trying to kick the habit more often than any other Europeans but many blame the pressures of modern life for failing, a survey of 27 countries showed yesterday.

Almost half of British smokers tried to give up in the past year – much higher than the EU average – and many sought help from their GP. But while Italians blamed their friends for their failure to quit and Austrians said that they could not cope with nicotine cravings, the British overwhelmingly cited stress as the reason why they lapsed.

Antismoking groups said that the British would benefit from counselling to find alternatives to cigarettes whenever they felt under pressure. They also pointed out that cravings generally last only a few minutes and could often be overcome by something as simple as going for a short walk.

A total of 46 per cent of British smokers tried and failed to give up in 2006, according to the Eurobarometer survey published by the European Commission. This was much higher than in France (31 per cent), Germany (27 per cent) and Italy (22 per cent).

A “stressful life” was given as a main reason for failure by almost half of those who tried in Britain, compared with a European average of 33 per cent and only 15 per cent of Italians, who mainly (40 per cent) blamed friends and colleagues for not giving them enough support.

Save the Caveman

A squatter who has been living in a ramshackle camp overlooking Bondi Beach for the past seven years was celebrating yesterday after authorities backed down on a plan to evict him.

Jhyimy Mhiyles had been given a deadline to move out of his home on a cliff edge, jokingly described as one of the most desirable pieces of real estate in Sydney because of its panoramic views.

The reprieve for the man known as the Bondi Caveman came after more than 400 local residents signed a petition demanding that the local council allow him to stay. "Let the poor old bugger enjoy the rest of his life without having to contend with officious councildom!" wrote one.

Waverley council said Mr Mhiyles could continue his rent-free existence as long as he agreed to abide by some basic rules.

"We became increasingly concerned about Mr Mhiyles's safety because of the expansion of his camp, his proximity to the cliff face and the problems with fires and gas cylinders," said the local mayor, George Newhouse. "If he continues to live on public land, Mr Mhiyles must abide by some house rules."

Mr Mhiyles, also known as Jhyimy Two Hats, is a familiar figure to locals. He has said he came to Sydney during the Olympics in 2000 to try to get work and set up camp overlooking Bondi because he could not afford accommodation.

Although some locals complain that his site, crowded with books, paintings, pots and pans and a comfortable chair, is an eyesore, others have embraced his eccentricity. He recites poetry to passersby, feeds seagulls and says he acts as a one-man neighbourhood watch, protecting the possessions of people going for a swim.

Sharks can reproduce without a mate

Female hammerhead sharks can reproduce without having sex, scientists confirm.

The evidence comes from a shark at Henry Doorly Zoo in Nebraska which gave birth to a pup in 2001 despite having had no contact with a male. Genetic tests by a team from Belfast, Nebraska and Florida prove conclusively the young animal possessed no paternal DNA, Biology Letters journal reports.

The type of reproduction exhibited had been seen before in bony fish but never in cartilaginous fish such as sharks. Parthenogenesis, as this type of reproduction is known, occurs when an egg cell is triggered to develop as an embryo without the addition of any genetic material from a male sperm cell.

The puzzle over the hammerhead birth was reported widely in 2001, but it is only with the emergence of new DNA profiling techniques that scientists have now been able to show irrefutably what happened.

The investigation of the birth was conducted by the research team from Queen's University Belfast, the Southeastern University in Florida, and Henry Doorly Zoo itself.

The scientists say the discovery raises important issues about shark conservation. In the wild, these animals have come under extreme pressure through overfishing and many species have experienced sharp declines.

If dwindling shark groups resort to parthenogenesis to reproduce because females have difficulty finding mates, this is likely to weaken populations still further, the researchers warn.

Organised chaos

We're watching you !

The UK's first police remote control helicopter has taken off.
Merseyside police are using the "spy drone", fitted with CCTV cameras, mainly for tackling anti-social behaviour and public disorder.

The machine is 1m wide, weighs less than a bag of sugar, and can record images from a height of 500m.

Originally used by the military, it is due to be operational by June for a full three-month trial, which is the "first of its kind" in the UK.

The drone will also be used for monitoring traffic congestion and investigations are to be made into its possible role in firearms operations.

The machines, which are flown by remote control or using pre-programmed GPS navigation systems, are silent and can be fitted with night-vision cameras.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sleepless in Penzance: Day8

A Cornish man attempting to break the world record for sleep deprivation says he is feeling fine, despite being awake for more than a week.

Tony Wright, 42, from Penzance, started his attempt to beat the current record at 0600 BST on 14 May.

The current record stands at 264 hours - 11 days.

Mr Wright said: "It's a bit difficult for me to say but I feel fine - there's a lot of pressure and there's been troughs of tiredness, but I feel OK."

He has been passing the time by playing pool and keeping an online diary.

In one of the entries, Mr Wright described his experience of nearly falling asleep on Saturday as: "The flat screen starts turning into a multi-dimensional portal to another world and the text into a welcoming entourage of giggling dancing pixies and elves.

There's a live webcam here

Wheelchair man 10 times limit

A Man in a wheelchair German stunned police when they pulled him over for using the road and found he was 10 times over the legal alcohol limit for drivers.

“He was right in the middle of the road,” said a spokesman for police in the northeastern city of Schwerin today.

“The officers couldn't quite believe it when they saw the results of the breath test.

"That's a life-threatening figure.”

The 31-year-old told police he had been out drinking with a friend and was about 2km from home when a squad car stopped him as he passed through the village of Ventschow.

Police said that because the man was technically travelling as a pedestrian, he could not be charged with a driving offence.

“It's not like we can impound his wheelchair,” the spokesman said.

“But he is facing some sort of punishment.

"It's just not clear yet what exactly that will be.”

ABBA museum

THE world's first museum in honour of legendary Swedish disco group ABBA will open in an old customs building in central Stockholm in 2009. “ABBA the Museum” will be on the island of Soedermalm, in a waterfront building a short walk from the city centre.

The exhibition will fill three floors and more than 4000 square metres of material related to the super group, initiators and ABBA fans Ewa Wigenheim-Westman and Ulf Westman said.

The old customs building - Tullhuset - is a protected heritage site on the banks of the Baltic Sea, not far from another popular tourist attraction, the Old Town. “The city will rebuild Tullhuset and work will begin at the end of the year. Afterwards the museum will pay rent,” Stockholm mayor Kristina Axen-Olin said.

“So far we don't know how much it will cost.”

The couple behind the project, Wigenheim-Westman and Westman, pitched their idea for a museum last November and initially indicated it would open in 2008.

The museum will be an ultramodern place, filled with ABBA's music, original clothes, images, instruments and much more that captures the group's heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, the couple said.

An American in Nuremburg

A naked American tourist raised eyebrows when he went for a walk through a German city and told police he thought this was acceptable behaviour in Germany.

“We have been having unusually hot weather here lately but, all the same, we can't have this,” a spokesman for police in the southern city of Nuremberg said. “The man said he thought walking around naked was tolerated in Germany.”

Many Germans enjoy nude sunbathing which is allowed in public parks.

The 41-year-old was carrying his clothes in a bag when police stopped him yesterday evening after complaints from pedestrians.

The tourist was not under the influence of drugs, said police.

They made him get dressed and pay a €200 ($329) deposit pending his investigation for indecent behaviour.