Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You gotta hand it to him !

A young man in Nepal chopped off his right hand as an offering to a feared Hindu goddess, state-run media reported.

"He offered special worship at the temple this morning. After the worship, he chopped off his right hand and offered to the temple of Goddess Kali," the national RSS news agency said.

The 23-year-old survived the amputation by a kukhuri, a traditional curved Nepalese knife, and was in stable condition at a hospital in Biratnagar, 250 kilometres south-east of Kathmandu, the news agency reported.

It was not known why he sacrificed his hand.

Impoverished Nepal is a deeply traditional and religious country where around 80 per cent of the 27 million people are Hindu.

Northern Irish Muppets

Two new Sesame Street characters are to be unveiled when a Northern Ireland version of the children's TV classic is broadcast next year. Familiar favourites such as Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird and Elmo will feature alongside the new characters in 20 episodes being broadcast by the BBC from February.

Although the original series was set in New York, the Northern Ireland version of Sesame Street will contain things some adult Big Apple residents may need help understanding, such as turf-cutting.

In fact, much of the show will be set in a tree with one of its key aims being to teach town-dwelling tots in Northern Ireland about rural life.

Each 15-minute episode will also offer content which is in keeping with the Northern Ireland curriculum for children aged three to six.

'Sharing and caring'

Executive producer Colin Williams, of Belfast-based production company SixteenSouth, said of the forthcoming series: "It is looking at Northern Ireland culture and teaching the kids skills like sharing and caring.

"It is talking about differences in people and looking at different cultures."

The show is being produced by SixteenSouth in cooperation with the Sesame Workshop, the US organisation behind the landmark series.

Academics from Northern Ireland's oldest university, Queen's University in Belfast, are also involved.

Mr Williams added: "The two new characters are being designed for us and we will be creating the puppet characters to help children to find answers to the questions that they have."

She-male Octopus

A "male" octopus who had been suffering from a mystery illness has turned out to be a mother-to-be with morning sickness.

Keepers at Birmingham's Sea Life Centre were puzzled about why George the octopus was off his food and seemed tired and miserable.

On Monday staff at the centre discovered "he" had laid thousands of eggs in the tank.

The creature has since been renamed Georgina.

The octopus is among the most intelligent inhabitants of the oceans, with a highly-developed nervous system and the largest and most advanced brain of any invertebrate.

The creatures often lay up to a hundred thousand eggs.


Former triple Formula One motor racing champion Nelson Piquet has been sent to driving awareness school - for repeated speeding and parking offences.

The Brazilian lost his licence after racking up too many penalty points.

Piquet and his wife Viviane, who also had her licence revoked, must attend a week of lessons to learn good and safe driving conduct, and then pass an exam.

Only then will Piquet - F1 champion in 1981, 1983 and 1987 - be allowed back behind the wheel.

Carpet record

Iran has unveiled what it says is the world's largest handmade carpet, a vast green and red floor covering that is larger than a football pitch. The carpet, which took 1,200 weavers some 18 months to make, is destined for a mosque in the United Arab Emirates.

Measuring 5,625 sq m (60,546 sq ft), the carpet was made in nine separate segments with 2.2 billion knots.

It was woven in Iran's north-eastern province of Khorasan and is worth an estimated $5.8m (£2.8m). Half of that sum is destined for the local area in Khorasan, where it was produced using about 38 tons of wool and cotton.

The nine sections of the carpet will be stitched together after being flown to Abu Dhabi in two separate aeroplanes.

Four groups of people would be sent to UAE for the fitting and cleaning of the carpet, said Jalaleddin Bassam, the head of Iran's state carpet company. He said the carpet was an important commission for Iran's carpet-making industry, and said it could lead to further orders.

"Iran is in talks to make similar carpets for Oman and other Gulf countries," he told Agence France-Presse.

The carpet - mainly green, red and cream - was made using 25 different colours of wool sourced from the town of Sirjan, in southern Iran, as well as New Zealand.

Trellis"Too pretty"!

An award-winning couple of keen gardeners who have been told by Lancaster City Council that their front garden looks "too pretty" think it's bloomin' ridiculous.

Barry and Betty Atack have been ordered to remove a trellis arbour of beautiful flowers from around the front door of their 200-year-old Lord Street cottage – and have been given a deadline of four weeks to take it down.

The council says the trellis "detracts from the architectural simplicity of the area" in Poulton village and "sets an unacceptable precedent".

But Barry and Betty, who have won trophies for their garden in the annual Morecambe In Bloom competition, are digging their heels in.
"This council clearly don't want Morecambe to be 'in bloom'," said Betty. "They don't want flowers in the gardens? It's potty! It seems that we're being victimised because our property looks good. We rang up the council and the lady said our garden was 'too pretty'. They also said 'we don't really want you to have hanging baskets either'.
"Our property is bought and paid for and the council are acting like they own it."
David Lawson, forward planning manager for Lancaster City Council, said the Atacks signed an agreement when they benefited from more than £6,000 worth of building work to their cottage through the Morecambe Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI).
"To ensure that the improvements gained through the THI are long lasting, all grant recipients are required to maintain their property in a manner consistent with the character, appearance and amenity of the area," he said. "This is a standard condition the likes of which are used on similar schemes throughout the country. In this case, the Conservation Officer considers that the trellis adversely affects the character and appearance of a building that has been radically improved with the THI grant and would set a precedent for other property owners to do likewise."

John Bates, of the Morecambe Neighbourhood Council – organisers of Morecambe In Bloom, said: "It is a rather pedantic interpretation of that particular clause in the contract. I'm sure the clause is not intended to apply to temporary decoration but rather to material change. The Atacks have contributed greatly over the years to the appearance of Morecambe and we will do everything in our power to ensure that this continues."

I sent my bank details .... waiting for a deposit

Subject: GOOD DAY
Date: 28/07/2007 00:53:08 GMT Daylight Time
From: barr.williamsado08@hotmail.com

Selborne Chambers
10 Essex Street
Accra Ghana

Dear Friend,

I know we have not met in person but I have a very profiting proposal which I am sure you can handle. My name is Williams Addo QC. I am a Barrister and a member of the Queen's Council (QC) working with the reputable legal firm - Crown Office Chambers in Accra Ghana and I am only contacting you to help claim deposited funds made by one of our clients who was involved in a fatal auto crash which killed him and his entire family in 2003.

Late Mr. Mark Ravi was a personal client of mine and I managed all his legal affairs. Today, I stand as the only custodian to the deposit he made in a finance company and now I am faced with the task of providing a beneficiary for the fund. The amount in the deposit is $12,000,000 (Twelve Million United States Dollars Only) and the finance house is ready to release the money to whoever I present as the true fund beneficiary and next-of-kin to my late client because my late client issued me a Power of Attorney duly endorsed in the Ghana High Courts of Justice when he made the deposit and I was his legal advising counselor on the deposit and other issues.

Now the finance house where my client deposited the fund demands that I quickly provide a claimant for the fund because the deposit duration has expired and needs a renewal or withdrawal from their company otherwise it will be handed over to the government. Because I have not been able to provide anyone due to my fears of releasing the money to someone who might run away with it, I am being very careful about this. I have however decided to try and do this deal with you whether you are truly related to my client or not and I pray you will not run away with the money when they release it to you.

I will arrange to formalize your papers so that you can be approved as next-of-kin to my late client and the fund can be released to you immediately.The courier/security company has agreed to release the fund in cash to the next-of-kin to my late client through their liaison office depending on the area he/she may base.They can pay in these countries Europe:-Spain,Holand,France and london etc,Asia:-Dubai,Thailand,Taiwan,India and Singapore,African:-South-Africa,Ghana and Togo,America:-USA,Canada,Brazil,Peru and Mexico etc.

We shall draw an agreement between you and me for security of the fund sharing when it is released to you. I agree to a fifty-fifty sharing but we must bear serious responsibilities on both sides to ensure the release of the fund to you. I want you to note that this is a very serious deal and not a child's play and this time the money must be released because it truly exists in the finance company. If you feel we can sign out the funds together, quickly send me your address,phone and fax,Marital status,Occupation and I will call to give you the details of the deal and send you the relevant transaction documents.You may get back to me via my direct email address:barr.williams_00addo@yahoo.co.uk .


Barr.Williams Addo QC
Direct Tel: +233 2460 63724

Don't get caught with egg on your face. Play Chicktionary! =

Rice Art

Each year, farmers in the town of Inakadate in Aomori prefecture create works of crop art by growing a little purple and yellow-leafed kodaimai rice along with their local green-leafed tsugaru-roman variety.

This year’s creation — a pair of grassy reproductions of famous woodblock prints from Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji — has begun to appear (above). It will be visible until the rice is harvested in September.

The residents of Inakadate have been drawing pictures with rice since 1993. Here are a few crops from the recent past, found at this site.

What Bored Shepherds Do

Sunglasses made compulsory (or Things You'd Never See in Britain)

There was a time when wearing sunglasses would have been seen as too cool for school, but for pupils at a pioneering primary in Australia they are now a compulsory part of the uniform.

The move is aimed at protecting young eyes from the sun's dangerous ultraviolet rays, and education authorities say they are considering adopting the plan at all state schools.

The headmaster of Sydney's Arncliffe Public School, where sunglasses are now compulsory for children from kindergarten through Year 6, said they had no problems wearing the glasses in the playground.

The "sunnies" as they are called in Australia, would soon become "routine" for the pupils, Stephan Vrachas told commercial radio.

The education minister of New South Wales state, of which Sydney is the capital, said the government would consider making sunglasses compulsory in all public school playgrounds.

"It is conceivable that in certain environments it might be appropriate to wear sunglasses when they are playing in the sun," John Della Bosca told reporters.

Excessive exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays, already blamed for skin cancers, can also lead to cataracts, experts say.

Snub for "Worst Poet"

The land that gave the world Robert Burns also has the dubious honor of producing the "world's worst poet." Now fans of the hapless William McGonagall are campaigning to put him in the pantheon of Scottish literary greats.

The late 19th century poet's work is so bad he carried an umbrella with him at all times as protection from the barrage of rotten tomatoes he faced wherever he recited.

His most famous work, a poem initially titled "The Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay," drew derision from crowds when it required a hasty rewrite after the structure collapsed in 1879.

It became "The Tay Bridge Disaster" with the immortal opening stanza:
"Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879
Which will be remember'd for a very long time."

More than 100 years after the poet's death, detractors still won't give him a break: The Scottish literary establishment has blocked plans for a memorial to him at the Writers Museum in Edinburgh alongside those honoring Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Sir Walter Scott.

"The decision to turn down a place for McGonagall was just snobbery pure and simple," said Bob Watt, chairman of the Edinburgh Friends of William McGonagall.

Frank Zappa Street

BERLIN - Berlin has named a street honoring Frank Zappa. Zappa's brother, Bobby Zappa, said the Grammy-winning rocker, who died in 1993, would have been pleased, in a letter of thanks.

Frank-Zappa-Strasse or Frank Zappa Street — formerly Street 13 — lies on the eastern outskirts of Berlin amid empty industrial buildings in what was communist East Germany.

The street is home to Orwo Haus, a former Communist-era film factory that now provides practice studios for more than 160 bands.

Musicians at Orwo Haus campaigned for two years to have the street's name changed. Eighteen bands, including the Frank Zappa cover band Sheik Yerbouti, celebrated the renaming this weekend with an all-night concert for more than 2,800 people.

The Orwo Haus association said it wanted Zappa's name for its street because "he was without taboo, musically versatile, provocative, and didn't allow himself to be captured by capitalistic enterprises."

"I am absolutely certain that he would be very proud to have his name as an address for so many musicians," Bobby Zappa wrote.

Plant potty !

The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is attempting to set a world record by planting 10 million trees in a single day on Today. Officials say the plantings are designed to raise awareness of the need to protect the environment.

In all, 10,266,736 saplings will be planted at 9,320 sites across Uttar Pradesh's 70 districts. The record stands at 852,587 trees, planted in 6,284 locations in Tamil Nadu state over three days in 2006.

Forestry officials told the BBC's Ram Dutt Tripathi, in Lucknow, that the location of the sites would be recorded using GPS technology so the record can be independently verified.

Many people have been contacting forest officials wanting to plant trees. Nearly half the trees will be planted by local farmers, officials said.

The Guinness Book of Records told the BBC they had been notified of the world record attempt and were waiting for confirmation.

"The forest department need to put together all their information," a spokeswoman said. "Once they send us their verification pack we can go through all the evidence and decide whether to accept the record."

Monday, July 30, 2007

Wax museum theft

DUBLIN— Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Franklin D. Roosevelt are missing their clothes and Fred Flintstone and the Teletubbies are just plain missing after a raid on wax figures owned by Ireland’s National Wax Museum.

At least 50 figures were stolen or wrecked several weeks ago, the museum reported Monday. The wax museum, closed since 2005, has been storing its 400 figures in a warehouse while it works to reopen this fall.

Police say they suspect a door was left unlocked and the warehouse was used for an all-night rave party but museum officials discount that theory.

Also stripped of their clothes were Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle and rebel icons from Ireland’s war of independence with Britain, including Michael Collins and Padraig Pearse.

Most figures stolen came from the Children’s World of Fairy Tale and Fantasy section; others were taken from the Chamber of Horrors. Gone are Bob the Builder, Frankenstein’s monster, Fred Flintstone, Gollum from “Lord of the Rings,” a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, “Silence of the Lambs” killer Hannibal Lecter, and all four Teletubbies.

Guitars adorning the figures of U2’s The Edge and Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott also disappeared. Others, including Elvis and Madonna, suffered lost hair, limbs or jewelry.

The museum has been shut and searching for a home since 2005, when its run-down north Dublin base was razed to make way for a hotel. Dublin city officials vetoed one popular location, citing the wax museum’s lack of cultural merit.

Museum manager Kay Murray said Monday she expects to announce a new location and reopening plans next month, although she said she did not know where the money to fix all the damage would come from.

She estimated the uninsured loss at $1.4 million and said some clothing — particularly the authentic rebel uniforms — was irreplaceable.

The warehouse was ransacked in mid-June. Murray said she spoke out now because the national police force, the Garda Siochana, had not arrested any suspects. She said she doubted the police theory that partying youths had been responsible, because nobody had seen kids carrying away the wax figures.

“Whoever did it was looking for uniforms, because most of our uniforms were stolen,” Murray said, adding, “It’s not going to stop the museum reopening. It will just delay us.”

Parking meter coins for sale

NEW YORK - The city is selling 500lbs of foreign coins that found their way into its parking meters this year.

"We have pretty much every denomination from every continent," said Anthony Alfano, the city's deputy chief of meter collections. The most common coins are Greek drachmas, he said.

The Department of Transportation, which makes about $90 million from parking meters annually, has collected bids for the foreign coins and plans to announce the best offer Monday.

About a decade ago, the agency decided to sell foreign coins it collected because it was impractical to exchange them for U.S. currency. In previous years, selling the coins has netted the department between $2 to $4 a pound.

Last year's highest bidder for the coins was Jim Corliss, 60, of Brainstree, Mass., a longtime collector. He also bid this year.

"Every once in a while I find something of value," he said, pointing out that he once came across an 1835 British shilling worth $5.

Panda poo souvenirs

Nothing says "I love you" like a photo frame made from panda poop.

The Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Base has come up with a dung-for-profit scheme that turns droppings from the endangered species into odor-free souvenirs ranging from bookmarks to Olympic-themed statues of the animals, state media and base officials said Monday.

The facility in the southwestern province of Sichuan houses about 40 bamboo-fed pandas who produce less than a ton of excrement a day.

"We used to spend at least 6,000 yuan ($770) a month to get rid of the droppings but now they can be lucrative," Jing Shimin, assistant to the base director, was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency.

The products will be made at a local handicraft company mostly from undigested bamboo culled from the panda waste through a special process, Xinhua said.

An official who answered the phone at the Chengdu facility said the dung is "carefully selected, smashed, dried and sterilized at 300 degrees Celsius (572 degrees Fahrenheit)." He refused to give his name but said the products will be of all colors because they will be dyed.

"They don't smell too bad because 70 percent of the dung is just remains of the bamboo that the pandas are unable to digest," Jing said.

While no price has been set, he said the most expensive souvenirs will contain a panda hair - collected from the wild - in each package.

The 2008 Olympic statues will feature "athletic pandas performing various Olympic sports," Xinhua said.

I doh!

A romantic mountain-top marriage proposal did not go quite to plan after the bride-to-be ended up in hospital. Sharon Parry had just said "yes" to Andy Laurence's proposal on Moel Siabod near Capel Curig in Snowdonia, when she fell and badly cut her head.

The couple, along with Ms Parry's daughter Olivia, seven, and dog, Devon, had to call mountain rescuers. Ms Parry said: "It was really unlucky, but thinking about it after - it could have been much worse".

Nursing stitches and bruising, she is now recovering at the couple's home in Pentre Broughton, Wrexham.

"We had been looking at rings for a while and Sharon had said which one she liked, so I'd gone back and secretly bought it," said Mr Laurence. "I'd told Olivia and she was bursting got tell her mum. When we got to the top of the mountain I asked Olivia, with a wink, to take some pictures of the scenery, and then I went down on one knee and asked Sharon to marry me."

A "very surprised" Ms Parry said yes, but on the way down the mountain a short while later she fell about 6ft (1.8m) badly cutting her head above the right eye.

Mr Laurence said: "I had a first aid kit with me and bandaged her but I rang 999 anyway and they said to start making our way down and the mountain rescue team would meet us. I had champagne on ice in the fridge at home waiting for us to get back, but Sharon had to spend the night in hospital instead," he added.

Sorry Skipper !

Chris Boulter witnessed this alarming piece of coming alongside in Varazze on the Italian Riviera. He wrote:

'While staying in Varazze, moored next to the Baglietto ship yard, a newly launched super yacht left the docks. I was watching with my daughter, when it promptly rammed the bridge that had opened to let it out and then ran up the dockside wall at speed. "

'It had only left the dock 30 seconds earlier - one of the crew jumped off the foredeck into the harbour as it hit the harbour wall.

It appears that no one was physically hurt (amazing with all sorts of people around on a sunny Saturday) only the skipper's pride and I imagine his paycheck!'

The D'oh! effect

We have all done it. You go upstairs but can't remember why. Or you pull on an item of your partner's clothing. Or you squeeze moisturiser onto your toothbrush. These are life's 'd'oh moments', and last week psychologists revealed they are much more common than many people realise. Indeed, we can experience as many as 30 a week.

'What we call "action slips", or mental lapses, usually happen in the context of well-rehearsed or routine action sequences that we usually can perform pretty successfully without paying attention,' said Maria Jonsdottir, who led the team of investigating Finnish neuropsychologists.

'They probably reflect some temporary fault in this otherwise very efficient system, much like when we mispronounce words or use the incorrect word in our native tongue. Somehow the brain has to be at fault, though an action slip doesn't mean that something is wrong per se with that person's brain.'

Jonsdottir and her team surveyed 189 people to produce their report, 'A Diary Study of Action Slips in Healthy Individuals'. They found the weekly average for such slips is 6.4, although numbers varied greatly. One professor admitted to committing 30. However, age, gender and intelligence had little influence on 'd'oh moments' - named by Dr Christian Jarrett, editor of the British Psychological Society's research bulletin, after Homer Simpson's famous exclamation. Most happen on weekdays between noon and 8pm, it was found.

Busy lifestyles, the popularity of email and mobile phones, and high levels of stress are also factors, said Jonsdottir, who believes such moments of absent-mindedness are probably becoming more common because people have more demands on their time than before. Her team's findings will appear in the Clinical Neuropsychologist later this year.

The authors divided action slips into five categories. The most common were 'storage failures' in which people forgot or misrecalled an action plan, for example remembering they had to call someone but forgetting who it was, so that they had to ring home to check if it was someone there. Others involved 'test failures' - for example, trying to turn on a light that was already on and which was then switched off.

One male participant in the study admitted having put on his female partner's jacket instead of his own, a 'discrimination failure', while another threw their child's toy in the rubbish but placed its nappy on the shelf, a 'programme-assembly failure'. Other mix-ups involved, for instance, going out to buy coffee but coming back with groceries, a 'sub-routine failure'.

Jonsdottir also noted that confusion often arose in the kitchen, especially at breakfast time, with people putting the coffee in the fridge and the milk in the cupboard, probably because they were in a rush.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ketchup sachet record

COLLINSVILLE, Illinois - First came the world's largest ketchup bottle. Now this southern Illinois community is after the record for the world's largest ketchup packet.

Collinsville has partnered with the H.J. Heinz Co. to fill an 8-foot-tall, 4-foot-wide plastic pouch with 1,500 pounds of the tomato goop for a school fundraiser.

"That's a lot of ketchup," said Tracey Parsons, a Heinz spokeswoman.

The company donated 4,000 glass bottles of the condiment for people to buy for $1 and pour into the packet. Proceeds will go to the Collinsville Christian Academy, which was damaged by a fire this week.

Hundreds in the city, home to a 170-foot-tall water tower touted as the "World's Largest Catsup Bottle," showed up Saturday to participate in the ketchup filling and other fundraising activities. The feat is being submitted to Guinness World Records.

The giant packet will be sealed and kept in Collinsville, once home to a ketchup factory, for a few days before being taken to the Pittsburgh-based company's headquarters.

Operation cell phone light

The light from the cell phone screens allowed surgeons to complete an emergency appendix operation during a blackout in a city in central Argentina, reports have said.

Leonardo Molina, 29, was on the operating table on July 21, when the power went out in the Policlinico Juan D. Peron, the main hospital in Villa Mercedes, a small city in San Luis province.

"The generator, which should have been working correctly, didn't work," a hospital spokesman, whose name was not given, told TN television news station.

"The surgeons and anaesthetists were in the dark. . . A family member got some cell phones together from people in the hallway and took them in to provide light," he said.

Ricardo Molina, 39, Leonardo's brother, told La Nacion newspaper that the lights were out for an hour and his brother's anaesthesia was wearing off.

Hospital Director Dario Maurer told La Nacion the surgery was without light a maximum of 20 minutes.

Cornish Jaws

A tourist has filmed what experts said could well be a great white shark 180 metres from a beach off England's south-west coast. The huge sharks - which can reach up to six metres long and weigh 2,250 kilograms - are not native to the country's cool waters.

But in a front page story headlined "Great White Shark Off UK", holidaymaker Nick Fletcher told The Sun tabloid how he saw "the 12-foot maneater" while he was videoing dolphins near the town of St Ives in Cornwall.

The paper dubbed the shark the "Cornish Jaws".

After seeing the footage of it following the dolphins and crashing out of the water, Richard Peirce, chairman of the Shark Trust, said: "It clearly has a white belly like a Great White. And something about the way it breaches - twisting as it leaps out of the water - also suggests it is. I'm very excited at the prospect."

Oliver Crimmen, fish curator at London's Natural History Museum, added: "It's definitely predatory and definitely big. I can't rule out a Great White."

Jumping Granny

Krystyna Zbyszynska, 84, became Poland's oldest parachutist when she made her first jump with her daughter-in-law, news channel TVN24 reported on Sunday.

"I survived World War Two and wasn't afraid, so what's there to be afraid of now?" she said after clambering out of her jumpsuit this weekend.

"Babcia (granny) Krysia is not your ordinary gran," explained one of her teenaged granddaughters.

"She tells me I'm not playing my music loud enough and comes into my room and wants to dance."

Asked whether she planned another jump Zbyszynska, from the northern city of Olsztyn, told the channel: "Yes, the day I turn 100."

Fury over sex cartoon

A Spanish cartoonist faces a possible jail term for insulting the Crown Prince in a graphic drawing that has shattered one of the country’s greatest taboos.

Spain’s National Court ordered police to seize all 400,000 copies of the weekly satirical magazine El Jueves from newspaper kiosks, as well as the “printing plates”. Judge Juan del Olmo also ordered the magazine to identify the cartoonist responsible for its latest cover, which was met with disbelief in a nation where even the smallest criticism of the Royal Family is deemed off-limits.

It depicted the heir to the throne, Prince Felipe of Asturias, having sex with his wife, Princess Letizia, and saying: “Do you realise that if you get pregnant . . . It will be the closest thing to work I’ve done in my life?”

The drawing referred to a recent decision by the Government to award mothers €2,500 (£1,680) for each child they bear. Insulting royalty or “damaging the prestige of the Crown” is a crime in Spain, punishable by up to two years in prison.

Posh school taking in poor kids

Eton College has surprised its critics by announcing a revolutionary move that would see up to 40 per cent of pupils drawn from poorer backgrounds.

The world's most famous boarding school is trying to raise £50m to cover a bursary scheme that would pay for gifted students who could never afford the annual £26,490 fees.

The programme is set to transform the school's social mix and see some of the most privileged students sharing desk space with children from struggling sectors of society. It will be one of the biggest and most controversial changes the school has made since opening its doors more than 550 years ago.

The fundraising scheme has raised more than £20m in 18 months, relying on the school's wealthy alumni.

Eton has exerted huge influence on the country for generations. Its old boys include 18 former prime ministers, five Lord Chancellors, the writers Ian Fleming, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and Percy Shelley, the adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, and Princes William and Harry.

Almost half of David Cameron's Shadow Cabinet are former Etonians, including the Conservative leader himself.

Bustard egg

The world's heaviest flying bird, the Great Bustard, has laid its first eggs in Britain in 175 years, conservationists who re-introduced the species here said.
The Great Bustard Group (GBG) said a female of the species, which can weigh up to 40 pounds (18.1 kilogrammes) and has a wing span of up to eight feet (2.4 metres), laid two eggs earlier this year in Wiltshire, south-west England.

But although the eggs were incubated, abandoned and later found to be infertile, GBG director David Walters said it was a major achievement and signs that a breeding programme, first started nine years ago, was working.

"It had been thought 2008 would be the first year that nesting activity would be seen and it is a tremendous boost to have this happening earlier," he said in a statement released Monday.

"Although males were seen displaying to females this spring, it is understood that males have to be about five years old before they can breed."

It is thought the eggs were infertile because the male had not reached maturity.

Woman banned from dreadful singing

A woman whose dreadful singing drove her neighbours to despair has been silenced with an Asbo.

Caroline Bishop, 39, could be jailed for up to five years if she continues to make the tuneless "highpitched noise".

The mother of two was accused of belting out the likes of Gary Glitter's Leader of the Gang every morning from her bathroom, in an attempt to irritate Alistair and Kerry Law.

Their feud with Bishop began after they lit a bonfire in their garden to burn autumn leaves. She apparently complained that the smoke was affecting her rabbits.

Delivering his judgment, Recorder Wigoder said: "We find the singing proved. It was anti-social behaviour. It was done to annoy and to deliberately affect the Laws' enjoyment of their own premises."

Under the terms of the order - due to run until January 21, 2009 - Bishop is banned from singing or shouting so she can be heard outside her house.

Strangers in the Flight

A British Airways flight was delayed for several hours after women members of the Qatari royal family objected to sitting next to men they did not know. The three wives of Sheikh Badr Bin Khalifa al-Thani refused take up their seats on board Flight 563 from Milan's Linate airport to London Heathrow.

Police and Qatari diplomats became involved before the captain told Sheikh Badr's entourage to leave the aircraft. The Qatari royals eventually ended up getting an Alitalia flight to London. They had been on a shopping day-trip to the Italian city.

In addition to his three wives, Sheikh Badr, a junior member of Qatar's 3,000-strong ruling family, was accompanied by a male relative, a cook and another servant on the flight. After boarding, the women complained about the seats they had been allocated because they were next to men they did not know, a spokesman at Linate said.

Cabin crew tried to move the passengers to different seats, but those travelling with other people refused to change. Sheikh Badr then reportedly got up and walked to the pilot's cabin to complain.

A delay of nearly four hours ensued as two members of the Qatari party refused to sit down. A BA spokesman said the captain eventually had no option but to return to the terminal. "The people were offloaded because they failed to comply with safety instructions when the aircraft was taxiing," he said.

Later in the evening, the royals travelled business class with the Italian carrier, Alitalia, with their staff in economy.

The Qatar embassy in Rome said it was a "private matter".

Sheep replace kids

Inflatable sheep and a toy orangutan had to replace children as the jockeys in an annual donkey derby after insurers refused to cover the event.

The race has been held in Llandudno every summer for 39 years with parents previously signing disclaimer forms.

But organisers Llandudno Rugby Club were advised this could not continue and when no insurance could be found they were forced to resort to "Plan B".

Club chairman Robin Holden said a lot of children had been left disappointed.

Flood London

In scenes that may no longer be dismissed as far-fetched, a new film is to chart what would happen if the Thames Barrier was overwhelmed.

The movie, based on a book by Richard Doyle, imagines how London would look if it was deluged by a surge of water.

Flood, which features Robert Carlyle, was shot over 11 weeks last year. The author has said he believes there is a real threat to the capital. He has called for the government to take "its head out of the sand".

Guernsey-born Doyle, who now lives on Dartmoor, wrote the book in 2003 after spending two-and-a-half years researching the issue. Writing on his website Doyle says he came up with the idea for the book after reading an article on global warming.

"[It was] one of those terrifying pieces about more extreme weather, rising sea levels and frequent violent storms. Suddenly I remembered the Thames Barrier. I wondered how it would cope. I started to look into some of the details. Barrier height, tidal reports and so forth. The more I looked, the more concerned I became."

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Fonejacker: $86,000 UGD

NSFW language, but hilarious !

Doodlebug found in London

Police closed streets near Canary Wharf on Saturday after an unexploded German flying bomb from World War Two was found on a construction site.

Bomb disposal experts were called in to make the V1 missile safe after it was unearthed close to the complex that houses 80,000 office workers during the working week, police said. At weekends the area is busy with shoppers and visitors.

Police closed several roads around the site in Millharbour, a road in the former docklands.

"Ambulance, fire and police are there and the building site has been evacuated," a police spokesman said. The area was cordoned off, he said.

Thousands of V1s, nicknamed "Doodlebugs", were fired at the capital during the war, with the docks a prime target.

Hundreds of unexploded bombs from the war are buried across the country, according to government figures. They are unearthed from time to time, often during building excavations.

Canary Wharf's tenants include Bank of America, Barclays, Citigroup, HSBC, the Independent and Reuters.

Little & Large

She may be standing in the shadows but one little horse is reaching heights of her own.

At a mere 17 inches, the miniature brown mare known as Thumbelina takes pride in the lofty title of the World's Smallest Living Horse.

Her companion, Radar, is a Belgian draught horse with his own big claim to fame - as the Worlds Tallest Living Horse.

World's oldest prosthetic

An artificial big toe found on the foot of an ancient Egyptian mummy could be the world's earliest functional fake body part, UK experts believe. A Manchester University team hope to prove that the leather and wood "Cairo toe" not only looked the part but also helped its owner walk.

They will test a replica in volunteers whose right big toe is missing. If true, the toe will predate the currently considered earliest practical prosthesis - a fake leg from 300BC.

The Roman Capua Leg, made of bronze, was held at the Royal College of Surgeons in London but was destroyed by Luftwaffe bombs during the Second World War.

Lead researcher Jacky Finch said: "The toe dates from between 1069 and 664BC, so if we can prove it was functional then we will have pushed back prosthetic medicine by as much as 700 years."

Colleagues at the University of Salford will also be testing a second, even older ancient Egyptian big toe which is currently on display at the British Museum.

This artefact, from between 1295 and 664BC, is made from cartonnage, a kind of papier-mâché made from linen, glue and plaster.

Dentist in tusk furore

A DENTIST who temporarily implanted fake boar tusks in his assistant's mouth as a practical joke and was sued for it has been backed up by the high court in the state of Washington.

Dr Robert Woo, of Auburn, Washington, had put in the false tusks while the woman was under anaesthesia for a different procedure. He took them out before she awoke, but first took photos that eventually made it around the office. The employee, Tina Alberts, felt so humiliated when she saw the pictures that she quit and sued her boss.

Dr Woo's insurance company, Fireman's Fund, refused to cover the claim, saying the joke was intentional and not a normal business activity covered by his insurance policy, so Dr Woo settled out of court. He agreed to pay Ms Alberts $250,000, then he sued his insurers.

A King County Superior Court jury sided with Dr Woo, ordering Fireman's Fund to pay him $750,000, plus the out-of-court settlement. The insurance company won the next round, with the state Court of Appeals saying the prank had nothing to do with Dr Woo's practice of dentistry. On Thursday, the state Supreme Court restored Dr Woo's award.

In a 5-4 decision, Supreme Court Justice Mary Fairhurst wrote that Dr Woo's practical joke was an integral, if odd, part of the assistant's dental surgery and "conceivably" should trigger the professional liability coverage of his policy. Justice James Johnson said the prank wasn't a dental procedure and only rewarded Dr Woo's "obnoxious behaviour and allows him to profit handsomely".

The court heard that Ms Alberts' family raises potbellied pigs and she frequently talked about them at the office.

Dr Woo claimed his jests about the pigs were part of "a friendly working environment" he tried to foster. He said he did not personally show her the pictures, but surgery staff members gave her copies at a birthday party. Dr Woo's lawyer, Richard Kilpatrick, described the surgeon as a kind-hearted, fun-loving man who was shocked that a prank turned out so badly.

Decongesting the Meercats

Animal experts from a family theme park have discovered an ingenious new way to stop their meerkats fighting, by using a humble cold remedy. The staff at Paultons Park near Romsey, Hampshire, were concerned that their two existing meerkats would fight with three new arrivals.

They realised a decongestant rub, normally used to ease cold symptoms, could mask the African animals' scent. In the wild, meerkats normally attack newcomers to a group.

The five animals at Paultons Park have had the strong smelling rub applied to their noses to hide their scent long enough for them to get used to each other without any arguments.

Livestock manager Geoff Masson said: "It is normally extremely difficult to integrate new meerkats into an existing group - their usual instinct is to try to attack any newcomers. However, thanks to a suggestion from our vet, Kate Chitty, we were able to neutralise all odours by using a little of the VapoRub on the nose of each meerkat. The meerkats then all smelt the same to each other and gladly accepted the new arrivals."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Swimming pool & water nicked

PATERSON, N.J. It was a strange morning for the Valdivia family in Paterson, to say the least. Take it from Paul Magna, who lives across the street from them, and is still stunned by the news.

"You want a good story? The pool across the street was stolen during the night. With water in it," Magna tells WCBS-TV.

Not even the tabloids could make this one up. Edgar Valdivia and his wife Daisy awoke Wednesday morning to find their backyard pool -- 12-feet in diameter, 3-feet tall, filled with an estimated 1,000 gallons of water -- had vanished without a trace. Amazingly, whoever stole it apparently did it without spilling a drop of water.

"If I'm a crook, I don't go to a house to steal a pool," Mr. Valdivia says of the bizarre booty.

Mr. Valdivia tells WCBS-TV that by 5 a.m. on Wednesday, the pool had simply disappeared, with the ground around it completely dry. Both he and his wife were left scratching their heads. Water wings, perhaps?

"If I catch them or police catch them, you're going to jail," Mr. Valdivia says. "They will laugh at you in jail!"

Police say the heist was likely well thought out, and whoever pulled it off, it appears they may get away with it. Investigators continue to look into the case, but say they'll likely pass on a full-blown investigation.

"I don't understand. Like how can you lose a 300-pound pool?" says the Valdivia's daughter, Kimi.

It may be no one will ever know, except for the thieves likely splashing about somewhere wet with glee. In the meantime, the Valdivias are now trying to protect the rest of their backyard possessions, including chaining their grill to the house.

Chicken suit or prison

PAINESVILLE, Ohio -- Remember the "World Famous Chicken Ranch" brothel in Nevada?

A Painesville, Ohio, judge does. Judge Mike Cicconetti ordered three men who were busted in a sex sting to put on chicken costumes. The men must take turns wearing a bright yellow, feathered get-up outside the courthouse with a sign saying "No Chicken Ranch in Painesville."

The slogan is a take off of the movie, "The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas." The brothel in the movie was known as the Chicken Ranch because during the Depression customers were allowed to pay with poultry.

The men were arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover officer. While prostitution is legal in some parts of Nevada, it's not in Ohio.

In exchange for the chicken punishment, the judge suspended 30-day jail sentences for each of the men.

Low speed chase II

This plucky pensioner led police on a low-speed chase around Middlesbrough - and then gave officers the slip.

The lukewarm pursuit started after he caused traffic chaos by crawling down the fast lane of a busy dual carriageway.

Police asked the stubborn senior citizen to pull over. But he defiantly cranked his battery-powered mobility scooter up to its top speed - 8mph - and somehow managed to escape their attention.

Engineer, Ian Hardy, from Darlington said he couldn’t believe his eyes as he watched the chase unfold on the A1032 Newport Bridge Approach Road on Monday afternoon.

“The police tried to pull him up but he issued them with a lot of profanities.”

Then the determined OAP veered onto the Cannon Park roundabout where he gave red-faced officers the slip.

“They asked us, ‘scuse me - have you seen a bloke on an electric scooter?’,” added Ian, who was on a walk at the time.

“The two in the police car looked a bit sheepish to have lost a battery-powered scooter. I bet they’ll be the toast of the nick.”

A police van joined the pursuit and when cops eventually caught up with the pensioner, he was escorted to safety.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tosser let off

A man avoided a jail term in Scotland because the woman left paralyzed when hit by a traffic cone he tossed from a bridge offered her forgiveness in court. Instead of incarceration, Andrew Smith, 30, of Australia is to perform 180 hours of community service, The Scotsman reported Wednesday.

The woman he injured, Kate Flannery, 24, suffered a broken skull and three fractured vertebrae when injured while chatting with friends outside a pub last November. She is recovering but is expected to have weakness in one or more limbs the remainder of her life.

But the postgraduate occupational therapy student from Ireland told Edinburgh High Court she bore no ill will toward Smith and didn't want to see him go to jail. Judge Lady Dorrian responded by saying Smith, who had been drunk at the time of the accident, had been "stupid, thoughtless and showed a degree of immaturity not to be expected of someone of his age." But she noted there had been no intent to harm anyone.

Dorrian said she had "nothing but admiration" for Flannery.

"She has shown great courage, fortitude and strength of character in the way she has dealt with her injuries," she said.

Selfish-ridges Pan

WHAT do you buy the couple who have everything? Well, if the lucky newlyweds in question like to cook, then you could do worse that these choice kitchen accessories.

But with the joint price-tag for this cooking pan and cutlery set coming in at more than the average house, you will not have much change left for a new hat to wear on the big day. And you probably would not want to put them in your dishwasher.

Selfridges is catering for a demand for luxury items by launching a diamond-encrusted cutlery set priced at £200,000.

Meanwhile, Harrods is tapping into the same market with a "show-stopping" gold and diamond-studded cooking pan priced at £100,000. The department store describes the two-handled pot as being "probably the most precious pot in the world".

Made by renowned German cookware firm Fissler, it contains 200 diamonds of varying sizes.

Meanwhile, the 144-piece solid-silver cutlery set is made with 4,000 diamonds weighing a total of 74 carats.

The head of Selfridges' home department, Kit Li-Perry, said: "This wonderful cutlery set is catering for customers who have a passion for craftsmanship of the highest order where money is no object. We know this is exactly what some of our customers want from Selfridges and we are delighted to be able to satisfy their expectations."

The cutlery set is made to order and goes on sale at Selfridges Wedding Shop.

Harrods will display the luxury pan in its second-floor cook shop from September to October.

It is also made to order for the eye-watering price tag.


A COUNCIL has apologised after spelling one of Scotland's most famous locations as "Lock" Lomond.

West Dunbartonshire Council issued dozens of blue armbands marked with the misspelling for the 40th anniversary of Balloch's annual Highland gathering.

Does the water taste funny ?

CARY, North Carolina - Vinay Jain knew his tap water tasted funny, but he wouldn't have guessed his family had been drinking treated wastewater used for watering lawns.

That turned out to be the case at his suburban-Raleigh home, the discovery coming after workers shut off an irrigation pipe in Jain's neighborhood. His neighbors had tap water but couldn't get their sprinklers to work, while Jain's sprinklers worked fine - but the taps inside his house ran dry.

It's unclear how the piping got switched.

"We believe that this is a unique situation," Cary Public Works head Mike Bajorek said.

About 500 homes in the town have irrigation systems served by reclaimed water. As a precaution, Cary officials were going house to house to check for similar problems.

Jain, meanwhile, isn't pleased his family had a reversed connection for nearly five months.

"In a place like Cary, it never even occurred to me that this might even be a possibility," said Jain, 37. "This gives the impression of a Third World country."

State regulations ban water systems from using the treated wastewater for drinking water. Cary officials said the risks are low, and that someone must drink a lot of water in one sitting to get an infectious dose of coliform bacteria.

Still, Jain and his wife, Priyanka, said they are second-guessing their children's claims of stomach aches at dinner.

Zloty Hell !

WARSAW, Poland - A Polish bus driver has been fired for sending 38,000 text messages on his company cell phone in a losing effort to win contest jackpot, a spokesman said Thursday.

Leszek Wojcik, a bus driver in the northwestern Polish city of Slupsk, ran up a tab of some 94,000 zlotys ($34,000) with his text messages while trying to win a 100,000-zloty ($36,000) SMS contest that ended June 30, Slupsk city transport spokesman Hubert Boba told The Associated Press.

Boba said a city bus drivers' monthly company phone bill is supposed to be limited to 15 zlotys ($5).

Wojcik sent an average of 1,200 SMS text messages a day, each costing 2.40 zlotys ($0.86), on his work cell phone.

Wojcik told TVN24 television he wanted to buy a second car with his possible winnings.

"Now I'm without work," he said.

2,000 cards

NEW YORK - He wanted a couple of credit cards. He got a couple of thousand. Manhattan accountant Frank Van Buren found himself flooded with plastic in recent weeks, as the ExxonMobil cards kept on coming. Van Buren, who said he has had an ExxonMobil account for his business for 17 years, had ordered two copies of his card because it was expiring.

He got the cards he requested - and then got two boxes with 1,000 cards each. Van Buren said it took hours to shred the cards, which all had his name and account number.

"How could you send me 2,000 cards by mistake?" Van Buren said he asked customer-service representatives.

ExxonMobil Corp. spokeswoman Paula Chen said the Irving, Texas-based oil company was looking into the mix-up.


Energy efficiency is the new black, it would seem. If Google had a black screen, according to calculations, 750 megawatt hours per year would be saved. The average UK household uses around 18 megawatt hours per year.

So Heap Media – a company dedicated to developing online services with a global reach – have used Google technology to make Blackle.

It has exactly the same functions as the white version, but with much lower energy consumption.

An all white webpage uses 74 watts to display, whereas a black equivolent uses only 59 watts.

With roughly 200 million queries a day worldwide, it all adds up.
Click here to see the energy saving Google.

As you can see , Dom's weird news has been saving energy for years :)

Yorkshire Moore

The argument over who was the best James Bond may never be settled – but there can be no doubt who has the biggest head – Sir Roger Moore, in a field near York.
Sir Roger, along with Bond's Aston Martin DB5, has been immortalised in maize at this year's York Maze by farmer Tom Pearcy, who chose the 007 theme in part because of the year – 2007 – and also because it is the 30th anniversary of his favourite Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, which starred Sir Roger.

"I've included the Aston Martin DB5 in the maze because it is the most iconic James Bond car and to mark the re-release of Goldfinger in cinemas this year," said Mr Pearcy at yesterday's launch, which had been delayed a week because of the wet weather.

It is believed to be the biggest maize maze in the world and Sir Roger expressed his appreciation.

"It's amazing to hear that I'm in a maize maze in York," he told Mr Pearcy. "I absolutely adore sweetcorn and I'd have quite happily chomped my way around the maze, but you've saved me the job. Now, go get lost!"

York has more Bond connections as the birthplace of Oscar-winning Bond composer John Barry and Dame Judi Dench, who has become a fixture in the films as Bond's boss, M.

The maze, next to Grimston Bar park and ride, opens on Saturday and opens daily until September 9 from 10am until 7pm, and then at weekends for the rest of the month.

(pic to follow when I find one !)

Stone dead the crow

In a turn of events that sounds like it was the product of a comedy animator's imagination, a crow managed to set fire to a field outside Enköping, Sweden.

First, the crow flew into an electricity cable. Then, after a nasty electric shock the bird burst into flames, burning to death.

Still ablaze, the dead crow dropped to earth, landing in a pile of hay in the field in Österunda, outside Enköping , 80km west of Stockholm.

The hay quickly caught fire and the blaze spread to the whole field before four fire engines arrived to put a stop to the infernal farce.

"I've never seen anything like this before," said fire officer Per Gustafsson to local newspaper Enköpings-Posten.

Nobody was injured in the blaze, which destroyed around 250 square metres of crops.

Dead cow news

Police marksmen have shot dead one heifer, but a second remains on the loose after the pair escaped from a Darlington cattle market. Officers are searching the market town for the remaining animal described as "extremely dangerous".

Commuters and shoppers have been warned to be on their guard as police say the heifer, weighing about half a ton, will attack anyone it sees. There have been no reports of injuries to the public so far.

A spokesman for Durham Police said: "We cannot stress too highly how dangerous this animal is. "It will attack anyone it sees and the public must not approach it in any circumstances. The animals escaped from Darlington Cattle Market at about 0500 BST on Thursday."

Police say the first animal was shot in the town's Elton Grove. The remaining heifer was last sighted in the Skerne Park area of the town.

Update ; Shambo the Sacred Bull was removed to be destroyed today after a contratante with police.

Wanted: People to be stung

OSLO — Norwegian researchers are calling for bold, non-hairy humans to bare their arms and be stung by jellyfish — in the name of science.

Testing a new sun screen, aimed at protecting against jellyfish stings, the University of Oslo said it wants volunteers to be burned by jellyfish tentacles on both arms — one with ordinary sun block, the other with anti-jellyfish sun lotion.

"You're supposed to get burned. If you're not, then the tests have been a waste of time," Torgrim Andersen, spokesman for the university's biology department, said Wednesday.

Only five people have registered for the test, to be held on Thursday, but Andersen said he was optimistic about getting a team of more than 10 people. "There's been a lot of interest in us doing this," he said.

Volunteers must be aged over 18, have hair-free inner arms, which means they get stung easier. Asthmatics, pregnant women or people with allergies or skin diseases will not be accepted, Andersen said.

Jail exercise Philipino style

An unusual physical fitness regime at a jail in the Philippines has attracted worldwide attention on the video sharing website, YouTube. A clip of hundreds of prisoners in orange uniforms dancing to Michael Jackson's song Thriller has been watched more than 1.3 million times.

The routine is the brainchild of Byron Garcia, a security consultant for the Cebu provincial government. He said it had helped "drastically" improve inmate behaviour.

And two former inmates have since become dancers.

The dancing is compulsory for all 1,600 inmates at the prison in the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Centre, except the elderly and infirm. Prisoners have also performed to songs by local artists, Queen and from the film Sister Act, clips of which have been watched on YouTube tens of thousands of times.

"Using music, you can involve the body and the mind. The inmates have to count, memorise steps and follow the music," Mr Garcia said. "Inmates say to me: 'You have put my mind off revenge, foolishness, or thinking how to escape from jail, or joining a gang'," he said.

The routines developed last year after Mr Garcia started making inmates march to music, such as Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall, in a bid to increase participation in exercise.

You can watch the other dances HERE

Oscar the grim reaper

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die: He curls up next to them during their final hours.

His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live.

"He doesn't make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die," said Dr. David Dosa in an interview. He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Many family members take some solace from it. They appreciate the companionship that the cat provides for their dying loved one," said Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at Brown University.

The 2-year-old feline was adopted as a kitten and grew up in a third-floor dementia unit at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The facility treats people with Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and other illnesses.

After about six months, the staff noticed Oscar would make his own rounds, just like the doctors and nurses. He would sniff and observe patients, then sit beside people who would die in a few hours.

Dosa said Oscar is generally aloof. "This is not a cat that's friendly to people," he said.

Oscar is better at predicting death than the people who work there, said Dr. Joan Teno of Brown University, who treats patients at the nursing home and is an expert on care for the terminally ill.

She was convinced of Oscar's talent when he made his 13th correct call. While observing one patient, Teno said, she noticed the woman wasn't eating, was breathing with difficulty and that her legs had a bluish tinge, signs that often mean death is near.

Oscar wouldn't stay inside the room, though, so Teno thought his streak was broken. Instead, it turned out the doctor's prediction was roughly 10 hours too early. Sure enough, during the patient's final two hours, nurses told Teno that Oscar joined the woman at her bedside.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Police : Anyone seen our money ?

An investigation has been launched to find cash that has gone missing from a police station.
The Sun newspaper reported that £170,000 seized in a drugs bust had vanished from Hamilton police office in Lanarkshire.

Strathclyde Police discovered that the money was missing during an audit, the newspaper said.

The money was reportedly seized by the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency during a routine swoop.

A police spokesman said: "An inquiry is under way to locate a sum of money which currently cannot be accounted for at Hamilton police office.

"Given that there is an on going inquiry it would be inappropriate to comment further."

Aussie Convicts now online

The records of tens of thousands of British convicts sent to Australia from the end of the 18th Century have been put online for the first time. Subscribers can browse names, date of conviction, the length of sentence and which penal colony they went to.

Ancestry.co.uk features records of 160,000 convicts transported to Australia between 1788 and 1868.

It is estimated two million Britons and 22% of Australians will have a convict ancestor listed in the records. The journey to Australia by boat took eight months, six of which were spent at sea and two in ports where supplies were picked up.

The majority of the convicts were men and although a small number had been found guilty of serious crimes such as murder and assault, most had committed minor offences.

Some of the crimes they were punished for included stealing from a pond or river and setting fire to undergrowth.

Not the whole story

At least 200 people across the country who bought "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" over the weekend could use a little wizardry to help them get through the book.

And it's not because the final installment of the series about a boy wizard, Muggles and Hogwarts is too long.

The books, first made available Saturday, have printing errors that include missing pages. At least three QFC stores in the Renton/Maple Valley area had problems, with one book missing at least 30 pages.

Kristin Maas, a QFC spokeswoman, said the grocery chain has made calls to Scholastic Inc., the U.S. publishing company that sold 8.3 million "Deathly Hallows" books in the first 24 hours, and will replace any books with errors. Maas did not know how many books had problems.

"Printing and distributing 12 million copies of a book is a Herculean task, and it is not surprising at all that some would have printing errors," Scholastic said in a statement Monday morning.

Scholastic initially said it had just 21 books with errors, but that number had increased to 200 by early afternoon.

Sara Sinek, a Scholastic spokeswoman, said the errors were reported in different parts of the U.S., and the company expected to have a few problems because the seventh "Harry Potter" book, at 759 pages, had such a massive run.

Sinek said it took 288 million blocks of text or sections to create 12 million books.

"That puts into perspective the huge quantity we are talking about," Sinek said.

The problems, however, could be growing.

A handful of readers on message boards at Amazon.com and eBay voiced complaints Monday over missing pages, and the BBC reported that a batch of books in Australia and New Zealand had two chapters gone.

7 year old terrorist

For the third time in his young life, a 7-year-old Florida boy recently had to check in with an airline agent before flying because his name is on the no-fly list.

Michael Martin, of Coral Springs, appears to share a moniker with a suspected or known terrorist, a mix-up that has snared several other children around the nation as well as high-profile officials like California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.

"He thought he did something wrong," said the boy's mother, Krista Martin.

Earlier this month, Martin was unable to print Michael's boarding pass from an AirTran kiosk at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, so she asked an airline agent if there was a problem.

"She made a funny face and said, 'Oh, he's on a no-fly list,"' Martin said.

Martin said she tells an airline her son's age when making flight reservations, but still has to seek out an agent when she cannot obtain his boarding pass online or at an airport kiosk.

"It's been happening since 9-11," she said. "I just think it's kind of ridiculous to put a 7-year-old boy on a no-fly list."

The Transportation Security Administration, which compiles the list, said airlines are responsible for automatically excluding children from further scrutiny. An AirTran spokeswoman said the only way an airline can clear children is to see them first.

Octopus finds treasure

It is a story that combines all the great mysteries and exciting discoveries of the sea – an octopus hauled onto a fishing boat with valuable ancient pottery attached to its suckers.

Conjuring up visions of ancient mariners and sailing ships laden with fabulous wares, Korean fisherman Kim Yong-Chul pulled up more octopus, most of which had shards of pottery attached to their tentacles.

Now the chance discovery is being hailed as one of the great undersea treasure discoveries of modern times. Officials at the National Maritime Museumin Seoul say the pottery dates back to 12th century, when the Koryo Dynasty ruled the Korean peninsula.

The extraordinary discovery on what was for 58-year-old Mr Kim another 'day at the office' began when he took his small boat out from the town of Taean, 60 miles south west of Seoul. As usual, he was hoping for a good catch of webfoot octopus, which are a delicacy in Korea.

But on this particular day, he decided to try somewhere new, a few miles south of his regular fishing spot. Casting out a long line, he felt a familiar tug and hauled up his first octopus of the day. He was puzzled by several blue objects attached to its suckers and thought at first they were shells.

But when he examined them, he realised they were pieces of pottery. Not realising he was on the point of making an incredible discovery, he cast out his line again and again, bringing in more octopus with shards of pottery attached. Then he brought one up with a whole plate caught on its tentacles.

By now, Mr Kim realised that there had to be something important deep below. He had heard that divers had found several shipwrecks filled with relics, including ancient pottery, along the coast.

On his return to shore, he contacted the museum, which sent officials to examine the pieces. 'You can imagine just how excited we were when we studied the bits and pieces as well as the virtually perfect plate,' said Mr Mun Hwan-Seok, a museum official.

'We arranged for an urgent exploration of the sea bed and although we did not find a ship down there, we were able to find 30 12th century bowls. It seems that a ship carrying Koryo pottery was wrecked there and what excites us is that these pieces are perfect examples of beautiful Koryo pottery. A large number of kilns were established in the area and the ship must have been transporting the pieces when it went down.'

Elephant man to undergo surgery

A Chinese "elephant man" with a crippling 33 lb tumor drooping from his head and face -- the biggest on record -- will undergo life-threatening surgery on Tuesday to have it removed.

Huang Chuncai, 31, from the southern province of Hunan, can hardly speak because the mass is so huge, he has to cradle it when he stands. His left eye is totally covered, his left ear hangs to his shoulder, and his right ear and jaw have been engulfed.

He recently visited his hometown to see relatives before the operation. "Because I am going to have surgery, I am afraid of how everything will turn out," he said. "I came back to see my parents one more time."

Huang's face and head swelled when he was a child and, according to a neighbor, his mother said he should be a government official when he grew up because his head was so big.

"His head got bigger and bigger each year," said neighbor Huang Bamei, who shares the same name.

The fleshy tumor is about 22.4 inches long and has a 38 inches perimeter at its end; Huang stands 4 ft 5 inches high, records from a hospital in the city of Guangzhou said. He lost his teeth at the age of 25, it said, and his backbone became malformed because of the weight. As Huang left home for hospital, his tearful mother waved goodbye and said she hoped he would be able to live a normal life after surgery.

"I am holding his hand, patting his head, and he told me: 'Don't cry mother. I should get better. Everything that can be cured, will be cured.' I love him a lot," said Huang's mother, He Baohua.

Millionaire for a day

A bank clerk accidentally gave a customer nearly £2 million. Care worker Jenny Woollvin, 24, paid a £50 winning Premium Bond cheque into her local Abbey branch. But when she checked her balance, she found she was a “millionaire”.

Her original receipt showed the clerk had put part of her account number into the space where the amount goes — and given her £1,761,000.

Jenny, 24, from Seaford, East Sussex, said: “I was staggered. It was nice to have a dream.”

But 24 hours later the cash “disappeared”. The Abbey — whose slogan is ‘More ideas for your money’ — said; “This was a genuine human error. When we cashed up, we made the correction.”

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Rat in the pipe

Thirty-five years as a mechanic were not enough to prepare Paeroa man Philip Berry for what he discovered when he took a look at a customer's misfiring car engine.

Paeroa woman Viv Gerrand took her 1991 Toyota Corolla into B&M Services because the car was not firing on all cylinders after a long road trip.

Under the bonnet, Berry discovered something he had never seen before – a dead and flat rat lodged inside the motor.

Berry said it appeared the unlucky rodent had been in the car's air cleaner before gnawing its way out. While the engine was going it was sucked back feet and tail first into the motor, where it was likely killed by hot oil, high air pressure and shock.

"What a horrifying death," Berry said. "He really went out of jail (in the air cleaner) right back into jail."

Berry said in all his years working on engines he had never seen anything like it.

Despite its ordeal, the rat appeared to be well preserved in oil. Berry thought no major damage had been done to the car's engine.

Wild man had hotel rooms

Discovery Channel is re-evaluating one of its most popular series, Man vs Wild, after allegations surfaced that its survival expert host was bunking in motels when he was supposed to be braving the great outdoors.

The network issued a statement on Monday in response to an investigation launched by British television network Channel 4, which carries the program under the title Born Survivor: Bear Grylls. Channel 4 confirmed that host Bear Grylls had partaken of indoor accommodations on at least two occasions when his series had depicted him spending the night in the wild.

"Discovery Communications has learned that isolated elements of the Man vs Wild show in some episodes were not natural to the environment, and that for health and safety concerns the crew and host received some survival assistance while in the field," the network said in a statement.

The production company behind the series, Diverse Television, is cooperating with the Channel 4 investigation, which likely will address a range of allegations that called into question Wild's authenticity. In each episode of the series, Grylls is airlifted into the wilderness with only a few tools to aid in his survival, such as a flint or water bottle.

A former British special forces soldier, Grylls is typically depicted as subsisting for several days without intervention or interruption while cameramen follow him offscreen. He has been stranded all over the globe, including Utah's Moab desert and the Costa Rican rain forest.

But among the charges made against Grylls is that a raft he is depicted as having built himself actually was constructed and then disassembled by consultants to the show in order for the host to put it together. In another episode, Grylls happens upon what are referred to as wild horses that were said to be brought in from a trekking station.

The brouhaha could become a PR nightmare for the channel, which in recent years has abandoned contrived unscripted formats in favour of the scientific explorations that first made the Discovery brand famous.

Wild in particular has emerged as one of its main attractions during the past two seasons. But the company gave no indication about parting ways with the series, only making certain unspecified alterations.

"Moving forward, the program will be 100 per cent transparent and all elements of the filming will be explained upfront to our viewers," Discovery said. "In addition, shows that are to be repeated will be edited appropriately. Bear Grylls is a world-class adventurer and a terrific talent."

A spokeswoman for Discovery declined to elaborate on what exact measures will be taken to address the concerns raised about Wild. Among the likely possibilities: a disclaimer that will precede each episode explaining that some of the events being depicted are dramatised.

On July 13, Grylls spoke at the Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles about production of the series, but gave little hint of any shenanigans behind the scenes. At one point, he described what it was like to bed down in the wild.

"Often at nighttime, they will get helicoptered out, and they might have to recharge camera batteries and hand in footage, and then they leave me a little minicamera for the night stuff, and they come and rejoin me in the morning," he said.

Poodles ID stolen

It seems that identity thieves have tired of humans and are starting to target the canine world.

A scammer stole the details of Afonwen Welch Fusilier, the two year-old winner of last year's Midlands Counties Canine Society Show and the North West Poodle Club, from a website.

He then put out advertising claiming that the dog had had puppies and offering them for sale for up to £1,000 each. However, the advertisements were spotted as fakes by an alert dog breeder who checked out the ad.

"I said I was interested in a poodle and they came back with a message in very poor English saying they wanted to meet me and needed money upfront," Annette Connolly-Read, of Hounslow in London, told the North Wales Daily Post.

"He gave me the details of the pedigree, and all I had to do was type in the kennel name on the internet to find who actually owned it. He also sent some really tatty pictures of the dog, which obviously were not his. They were also toy poodles, not standard poodles as they should have been. "

Another giveaway was that the thief failed to notice that Afonwen Welch Fusilier is in fact male, and the address he gave for his 'kennel' was a Glasgow graveyard.

"Anybody buying a dog on the internet needs to be aware of this," said the dog's real owner Lynne Day. "Some people will send the money up front, and that is how these people make their money. The thing that upsets me most is that a crime has been committed in my name and I have had nothing to do with it."

North Wales police are investigating the scam.

The Princess that contacts angels

Norway's Princess Märtha Louise, daughter of King Harald and Queen Sonja, has emerged as a clairvoyant, and is launching an alternative school aimed at training students to contact angels. Officials at the Royal Palace won’t comment on the princess' latest business venture.

The princess' business partner has publicly confirmed the training program, which is billed as a means of "getting in touch with your own truths" through "readings, healing, crystals and hands-on treatment."

The princess, who still officially represents the Royal Family at various events, has named her new venture after "one of the oldest goddesses in the Middle East," Astarte, and its website is registered at her home address in Lommedalen, just west of Oslo. The telephone number listed is that for the Royal Palace in Oslo.

Even though use of the palace's phone number implies the business is indirectly supported by the Royal Palace, palace officials won't comment on it.

"The palace never expresses itself on the princess' private business ventures," said a tight-lipped Sven Gjeruldsen, information adviser on the palace staff. He referred further questions to the contact information on Astarte’s web site.

The princess wrote on her school's new website, Astarte Education, that she's "always been interested in alternative treatment programs," suggesting she's had psychic abilities since she was a little girl.

"I especially remember one time I met a woman when I was small," Princess Märtha Louise wrote. "I went up to her and said she didn't need to be sad about her husband, that things would go well between them."

The woman was astonished, according to the princess, and "wondered who had told me this. There was a big commotion, and many fearful adults, because none of them wanted her to think one of them had gossiped," Märtha Louise wrote.

The princess has launched Astarte Education with a friend, Elisabeth Samnøy, who describes herself on the website as a former ship mechanic who also attended a holistic academy.

"After that I have been in a process where angels and their frequency opened contact with the divine in my heart," Samnøy wrote.

The pair concedes that their training program isn't sanctioned by Norwegian education authorities. Courses will be offered twice a week over three years, at a cost of NOK 12,000 per half-year.Students are obligated to sign up for at least one year at a time.

Selling ice-cream to the Mongolians

To drive from London to Mongolia takes some doing. To try it in this ice cream van, stopping to serve cones to passers-by and border guards along the way, is one step beyond.

Here Ryan Walker explains why he is leading a team of three intrepid travellers across Europe and Central Asia on a gruelling and bizarre race.

"Backpacking just isn't for me. Everyone goes backpacking, or so it seems, I want a proper old-fashioned adventure and to do something nobody has ever done before. And so we are pushing back the boundaries of ice cream vending.

After a pub conversation where we wondered if people ate ice cream in Mongolia, we thought we might find out. The Mongol Rally is a charity event limited to 200 teams and this year all the places were snapped up in under one minute. Participants travel a third of the way around the world from London to the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar, in about four weeks, in a vehicle with a one-litre engine or less.

Each team has to design their own route and, unsurprisingly, not all vehicles are expected to make it over the finishing line. The principal charity for the Mongol Rally is Mercy Corps with the money raised funding projects in Mongolia that support rural communities.

Ten thousand miles of freezing mountains and scorching deserts - temperatures potentially hitting 50°C and going as low as -25°C. That's 20 countries in 30 days and about one third of the way round the earth. In an ice cream van.

Swales Yorkshire Dales ice cream gave us a fully functioning ice cream van and all the delicious ice cream we need to deliver along the way. In the two weeks prior to departure we went up and down the country dealing out dairy ice cream from our mad van raising money for charity.

Where to sleep in the van is a logistical nightmare in itself. There would be plenty of room if we had no freezer, jerry cans, tyres and wafer cones, but as it is Alex has claimed the front seats, I am sleeping with the freezer in the back and Mike is outside in a tent.

Four days into our mission we don't know how we are getting back from Mongolia - the van gets sold for charity once we arrive. After getting 10 visas to enter some weird and wonderful countries - some of which, like Turkmenistan, didn't really want us to come, we forgot to get a double Russian or Chinese visa to get back out. Mike was escorted out of the Kazakhstan Embassy in Prague. They say it takes seven days but all it is is a stamp on paper.

Having left Hyde Park in London on Saturday, we have driven through the night to reach Prague by Monday, before all the competitors go their separate ways to Mongolia. Already, we've had some funny encounters.

Two days later, after passing through Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria we hit Turkey for a much-needed rest day. Then on through Turkey to Georgia and Azerbaijan, where we catch a ferry to Turkmenistan. We have a five-day Turkmenistan visa, no more, and we are in trouble if we are not out within this time.

We're quite looking forward to getting into the off-road side of things. But we don't know how we are going to handle it with hills. The van, with the ice cream and equipment, weighs an absolute ton. It'll do the downhills but going uphill may be different.

From there we pass into Uzbekistan to the great Silk Road city of Samarkand, before heading to the tiny mountainous country of Tajikistan. From here we pass through one of the worlds highest roads at well over 3,000 meters through mined borders into Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Then it is a long drive through to Russia before tackling the world's least densely populated country of Mongolia to our finishing post in the capital, Ulaan Bataar.

As mentioned, along the way we will be giving our delicious dairy ice cream and we have become a dab hand at whipping up a "99-style" ice cream complete with flake and sprinkles in a matter of seconds to please passing kids and border guards alike.

As for chimes, we have an mp3 with Greensleeves and so on - although we also hope to entertain passing nomads with other classics such as Van Halens "Ice Cream Man" or "Ice Ice Baby".

Harry Postman

A postman in Britain has been hailed a local hero for defying rising flood waters in order to deliver eagerly-awaited copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to fans, it was reported Tuesday.

Richard Yates arrived at the Evesham sorting office in Worcestershire, central Britain, last Saturday to be told that delivery rounds were cancelled for the region.

Yates, whose own daughter had been eagerly awaiting the final volume of the wizard's adventures, promptly loaded up his personal four-wheel-drive with pre-ordered copies and delivered them to Potter fans in his village.

'We had seen the floodwater and all the post vans outside the main post office earlier in the day and were resigned to not getting the copy,' said Chris Haynes, a local fan.

'But, about an hour later, a 4x4 came up the drive and out got this chap with a big grin on his face and explained what he was doing.'

Funny noises in the garden

German police called to investigate unusual noises in the garden of a Bremen house late on Monday were surprised to find that a pair of amorous hedgehogs were to blame.

After illuminating the garden with spotlights, officers discovered the animals making love beside the pond.

"The pair were loudly engaged in ensuring the continuity of their species," said Bremen police spokesman Ronald Walther.

"All those spectators did not worry them in the least, indeed they even intensified their activities, so the officers turned off the lights," he added.

The hedgehog breeding season runs from April to September and their lovemaking is typically accompanied by very loud puffing and snorting, usually by the female as she tries to ward off the male.