Monday, December 29, 2008

Unwanted Sprouts ...

... For sale on eBay ....

Hurry, there's only 2 days left!

There have been 48 bids so far with the highest bid being around $156.04

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Urinate here signs

“A PRANKSTER has put up signs on walls across Nottingham telling people they can publicly urinate in the street after 7.30pm.

The signs, which show a male toilet logo, have an accompanying letter headed with the Nottingham City Council logo, claiming the measures have been brought in over the holiday period to “address the growing problem of householders having to clean up after late night revellers.”

They have appeared in the city centre, including at the back of the Royal Concert Centre, at the bottom of Exchange Walk, as well as Radford, West Bridgford and Arnold.

Stunned Radford resident Jake Higgs took photos which clearly show the public have taken them as legitimate signs.

“There are quite a lot of them. I thought it could be genuine when I first saw them,” said Mr Higgs, 29.

“I took a closer look and there was a laminated letter attached in the same style as when the council notifies the public about planning permission. I read that and it made it out that it was a trial scheme. I think it was someone having a Christmas joke.”

World's tallest cake

An Indian bakery has attempted to break a world record by making a cake 32ft (9.75m) tall to celebrate Christmas. The cake was made by a bakery in the city of Kochi (Cochin) in the southern Indian state of Kerala, and was supported by iron pipes and wooden planks in an effort to make it stable.

Organiser Jayachandran Pillai told reporters that the cake took 15 days to make and weighed over 550kg.

"We planned to make this Christmas season something different [and] therefore, we planned to make an amazing cake. We searched on the internet and we got information about a cake of 30ft height. So we planned to make a cake 32ft high to make the record. We made this cake and right now it is a grand success and we got [a] very good response from the public," Mr Pillai said.

The cake is on display until Christmas Eve, and will then be cut and distributed to orphans across the city. There was no confirmation of whether the bakers officially broke a world record.

Wheely stuck

More than 100 people were trapped for several hours after the world's largest observation wheel, the Singapore Flyer, suffered a breakdown. The wheel ground to a halt just before 1700, when one of the drive motors experienced a short circuit, a spokeswoman told AFP news agency.

About 173 people were on board at the time. Some were later lowered to the ground in harnesses, witnesses said. The wheel restarted just after 2300, six hours after it stopped, AFP said.

The wheel is 165m (541ft) high and looks out over Singapore's Marina Bay. It is 30m taller than Britain's London Eye. One passenger who had been trapped for several hours told Channel News Asia that the wheel jerked and then ground to a halt.

About 10 people were in her cabin, she told the channel. It had been very hot when the air-conditioning went off but then it came on again, she said.

The wheel became operational in February, and a ride in it takes about 30 minutes.

Video HERE

Sunday, December 21, 2008


NEW ALBANY, Ind. -- A Floyd County man showed up at the city-county building in New Albany to pay his property taxes with more than $21,000 in coins. Frank Alford, who owns several single-family rental homes, said it's his way of protesting higher taxes, reported WLKY-TV in Louisville, Ky.

When he walked into the Floyd County treasurer's office Thursday morning, a deputy clerk immediately recognized Alford because last year, he paid his taxes with dollar bills.

Alford loaded a garbage can with $21,333 in Susan B. Anthony dollar coins, and he carried a sign that read, "Property taxes gone wild."

"I'm letting them know I'm a very unhappy taxpayer," he said.

Alford said his property taxes have gone up 48 percent since 2006, and tax relief recently passed by the Indiana Legislature has done nothing for people who own rental property.

"The owner who lives in their property got all kinds of tax breaks. They don't give you no homestead exemption, no mortgage exemption, nothing," he said. "You're paying double what you're paying than owning your own home."

Alford, a retiree with two hip replacements, loaded what he estimated was 400 pounds of coins and then headed inside to the treasurer's office to settle up.

Deputy clerk Bette Buechler did a quick tally of Alford's property taxes.

When asked if the office has to accept the Susan B. Anthony coins, Buechler said, "I think I'm understanding if it comes in pennies, we don't have to."

A Floyd County deputy sheriff was asked to lend a hand getting the money to a nearby bank to be counted.

As for Alford, this may not be his last protest.

"If we don't get some relief, it may be in quarters, dimes or pennies next year," he said. "I'm angry at them."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tater record

A farmer in southern Lebanon has dug up what might be the heaviest potato in the world.

"This giant weighs 11.3 kilos (24.9 pounds)," Khalil Semhat told the AFP news agency at his farm near Tyre, 85 kilometres (50 miles) south of Beirut. "I've been working the land since I was a boy, and it's the first time I've seen anything like it."

Mr Semhat, 56, said he had to ask for help from a friend to get the huge vegetable out of the ground. He insisted that he had used no fertilizer or other chemicals to produce it. Mr Semhat said he hoped his potato will be recognised as the heaviest potato in the world.

The current world record, as recorded in the Guinness Book of Records, is held by K Sloan of the Isle of Man in Britain for a potato weighing a mere 3.5 kg (7 lb 13 oz).

2008 is the International Year of the Potato, a project sponsored by the United Nations which aims to focus attention on the importance of the vegetable in providing food security and alleviating poverty.

Al Capone statue stolen

A life-size statue of Al Capone has been stolen from a garden in Kent, England.

Owner Pauline McCook, who discovered the fibre glass figure was missing from her Isle of Sheppey home on Wednesday, said it was like "part of the family".

The grandmother, who likes to decorate the statue for Christmas, only discovered the theft when she went outside with tinsel to drape over it.

Her family is offering a reward for the return of the statue, which was taken between 1 and 10 December.

Kent Police said it was "an extremely unusual item to steal".

Rower falls short

An Italian man who was trying to row solo across the Pacific Ocean has had to be rescued just short of his destination in Australia. The rower, Alex Bellini, had been at sea since leaving Peru in February and was about to reach Sydney.

But he was forced to call for help just 65 nautical miles away from land as fierce storms battered the eastern coast of Australia. Mr Bellini said he was nonetheless happy with his achievement.

He would have been only the fifth person to complete the crossing in a rowing boat, a journey of 18,000 kilometres (10,000 nautical miles). But facing storms and, according to Australian police, "nearing exhaustion", he was forced to radio for help.

A New Zealand tugboat which was in the area towed the adventurer's boat in Newcastle harbour in New South Wales.

"I'm not disappointed. I'm not disappointed at all," he told the AFP news agency.

"I've been not able to reach land... but the crossing has been made. I didn't put the cherry on top of the cake. But the cake is very good, very big and I will never forget about it."

He said that seeing his wife Francesca waiting for him was "one of the best moments in my life". Bellini said that he had not walked more than a few metres since February, as he averaged about 30 miles a day in his 7.5-metre (25-foot) boat.

His body weight dropped by 15kg (33lbs) during his 10 months at sea. Fear, he added, was his companion on the voyage. He kept in contact with a support team via a satellite phone and lived on dried food, drinking rain water and purified sea water.

Video HERE

Police seek tree poisoner

New Zealand - Palmerston North police are investigating the poisoning of an ash tree worth over $32,000, Senior Sergeant Brett Calkin said today.

The council-owned tree, on Totara Road on the outskirts of Palmerston North, was about 20 years old.

Mr Calkin said 13 large holes had been bored into the base of the tree, and it appeared agricultural chemicals were poured into the holes. The damage was first noticed by a resident on November 13.

It appeared likely the tree would die, and would have to be removed and replaced at a cost to ratepayers, he said. Palmerston North City Council had valued the tree at $32,452 using the standard tree evaluation method (STEM).

Damage to the tree was not a random act, Mr Calkin said, and some planning and preparation had been required.
"It would seem someone has taken a dislike to the tree for some reason, and then decided to get rid of it," he said. "It's a slow but effective way of killing the tree. I suspect the offender had no comprehension of the actual value of the tree."

Britain's oldest brain unearthed

Archaeologists have discovered what they say is the oldest surviving human brain in Britain, dating back at least 2,000 years to the Iron Age. The remains of the brain were found in a skull unearthed during excavations at York University in northern England, a statement from the university said Friday.

The dig site was described by investigators from York Archaeological Trust as being in an extensive prehistoric farming landscape of fields, track ways and buildings dating back to at least 300 BC.

They believe the skull, which was found on its own in a muddy pit, may have been a ritual offering.

Rachel Cubitt, who was taking part in the dig, described how she felt something move inside the cranium as she cleaned the soil-covered skull's outer surface. Peering through the base of the skull, she spotted an unusual yellow substance.

"It jogged my memory of a university lecture on the rare survival of ancient brain tissue. We gave the skull special conservation treatment as a result, and sought expert medical opinion," she said in a statement on York University's Web site.

A sophisticated CT scanner at York Hospital was then used to produce startlingly clear images of the skull's contents.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Spider Payment

From: Jane Gilles
Date: Wednesday 8 Oct 2008 12.19pm

To: David Thorne

Subject: Overdue account

Dear David,
Our records indicate that your account is overdue by the amount of $233.95. If you have already made this payment please contact us within the next 7 days to confirm payment has been applied to your account and is no longer outstanding.

Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles

From: David Thorne
Date: Wednesday 8 Oct 2008 12.37pm

To: Jane Gilles
Re: Overdue account

Dear Jane,
I do not have any money so am sending you this drawing I did of a spider instead. I value the drawing at $233.95 so trust that this settles the matter.

Regards, David.

From: Jane Gilles
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 10.07am

To: David Thorne

Subject: Overdue account

Dear David,
Thankyou for contacting us. Unfortunately we are unable to accept drawings as payment and your account remains in arrears of $233.95. Please contact us within the next 7 days to confirm payment has been applied to your account and is no longer outstanding.

Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles

From: David Thorne
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 10.32am

To: Jane Gilles
Re: Overdue account

Dear Jane,
Can I have my drawing of a spider back then please.

Regards, David.

From: Jane Gilles
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 11.42am

To: David Thorne

Subject: Re: Re: Overdue account

Dear David,
You emailed the drawing to me. Do you want me to email it back to you?

Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles

From: David Thorne
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 11.56am

To: Jane Gilles

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Overdue account

Dear Jane,

Yes please.

Regards, David.

From: Jane Gilles
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 12.14pm

To: David Thorne

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Overdue account


From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 10 Oct 2008 09.22am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Whose spider is that?

Dear Jane,
Are you sure this drawing of a spider is the one I sent you? This spider only has seven legs and I do not feel I would have made such an elementary mistake when I drew it.

Regards, David.

From: Jane Gilles
Date: Friday 10 Oct 2008 11.03am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Whose spider is that?

Dear David,
Yes it is the same drawing. I copied and pasted it from the email you sent me on the 8th. David your account is still overdue by the amount of $233.95. Please make this payment as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles

From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 10 Oct 2008 11.05am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Automated Out of Office Response

Thankyou for contacting me. I am currently away on leave, traveling through time and will be returning last week.

Regards, David.

From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 10 Oct 2008 11.08am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Re: Whose spider is that?

Hello, I am back and have read through your emails and accept that despite missing a leg, that drawing of a spider may indeed be the one I sent you. I realise with hindsight that it is possible you rejected the drawing of a spider due to this obvious limb ommission but did not point it out in an effort to avoid hurting my feelings. As such, I am sending you a revised drawing with the correct number of legs as full payment for any amount outstanding. I trust this will bring the matter to a conclusion.

Regards, David.

From: Jane Gilles
Date: Monday 13 Oct 2008 2.51pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Whose spider is that?

Dear David,
As I have stated, we do not accept drawings in lei of money for accounts outstanding. We accept cheque, bank cheque, money order or cash. Please make a payment this week to avoid incurring any additional fees.

Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles

From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 13 Oct 2008 3.17pm
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Whose spider is that?

I understand and will definately make a payment this week if I remember. As you have not accepted my second drawing as payment, please return the drawing to me as soon as possible. It was silly of me to assume I could provide you with something of completely no value whatsoever, waste your time and then attach such a large amount to it.

Regards, David.

From: Jane Gilles
Date: Tuesday 14 Oct 2008 11.18am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Whose spider is that?


The now inFAMOUS spider is currently up for auction on eBay .... And you guessed it, the starting price is $233.95 :)

Pensioner put on wrong flight

Employees at US Airways are looking into how an 83-year-old woman in a wheelchair flying from New York to Tampa instead found herself at an airport in Puerto Rico.

Elfriede Kuemmel had gone to Newburgh, N.Y., for a day trip on Monday. Kuemmel's family said that somehow, an attendant on a connecting flight in Philadelphia wheeled Kuemmel to the wrong flight.

She spent the night in Puerto Rico and arrived at the Tampa airport Monday. A US Airways spokesperson said the airline paid for her food and hotel and flew her back to Florida first-class.

Asked how she liked Puerto Rico, she said, "I didn't see it. I was in the airport the whole time,'' although she did get to spend the night in a nearby hotel room courtesy of the airline.

She said she loved flying first class after the tiresome, unexpected diversion. She has never been to Puerto Rico before, she said, "and I'll never go again.''

Then she got into the family's car, and away they went.

Free vegetables mayhem

PLATTEVILLE, Colo. - A Colorado farm couple say they got a huge surprise when they opened their fields to anyone who wanted to pick up free vegetables left over after the harvest.

Forty thousand people showed up yesterday and picked the fields so clean that Joe and Chris Miller had to cancel a second day of gleaning.

Chris Miller says she had expected as many as 10,000 people might show up for the free potatoes, carrots and leeks. Instead an estimated 11,000 vehicles snaked around the cornfields, creating a back up of more than two miles. About 30 acres of the 600-acre farm turned into a parking lot.

One woman taking part says with everybody "so depressed about the economy," the event turned into "a pure party" with "everybody having a great time getting something for free."

The farm's operations manager estimates the visitors gathered 600,000 pounds of produce.

Owner Chris Miller says "People obviously need food."

Meteorite lands in Canada

Scientists in Canada are hunting for pieces of a meteor that spectacularly lit up the night sky and then exploded into pieces before falling to Earth.Experts are calling it one of the biggest meteors seen in the country in the last decade.

Video footage has been broadcast of what appeared to be a fireball late on Thursday over Saskatoon.

It soared out of the sky, getting larger and brighter before disappearing as it neared the ground. Police in the province of Alberta received hundreds of telephone calls from people who say they witnessed the rare event.

Some heard a loud "boom" noise in the distance as the meteor struck.

Most meteors burn up completely after entering the Earth's atmosphere, but one in 1,000 drop meteorites that hit the Earth.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Would you like fries with that?

A US couple is suing McDonald's for $3m (£2m) after nude photos of the woman, which were on her husband's mobile phone, ended up on the internet. Phillip Sherman says he accidentally left his phone, with the photos, at a McDonald's in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

He says staff promised to secure the phone until he could retrieve it. The Shermans claim they had to move to a new home after the woman's name, address, and phone number appeared online along with the photos.

Tina Sherman says she began receiving offensive calls and text messages about the pictures from her husband's mobile phone after he left it at the McDonald's on 5 July. The couple then discovered that the nude pictures she had sent to her husband's phone had been posted online.

The Shermans are suing McDonald's Corporation, the owner of the franchise involved and the restaurant's manager, saying they have suffered emotional distress, embarrassment and damage to their reputations. They also allege loss of earnings and want to recover the cost of moving to a new home.

McDonald's Corp, the franchise owner and the manager have so far refused to comment on the case. The nude pictures have been removed from the website that had posted them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lost in space

It happens to everyone. Now a spacewalking astronaut has misplaced her handbag.

Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper was just starting to work on a solar panel when a grease gun inside her tool kit exploded and she accidentally let go of the bag.

She could only look on helplessly as the kit and everything inside floated away.

It was one of the largest items ever to be lost by a spacewalker, and occurred during an unprecedented attempt to clean and lube a gummed-up joint one of the space station's solar panels.

Stefanyshyn-Piper let the backpack-sized bag slip out of her grip while wiping grease off her camera and gloves.

"Oh, great," she mumbled.

Stefanyshyn-Piper was carrying out the spacewalk with Stephen Bowen. Luckily, he had his own tool bag with another grease gun, putty knife and oven-like terry cloth mitts to wipe away metal grit from the clogged joint.

Mission Control agreed the spacewalk would continue as planned, and that the two astronauts would share tools. Flight controllers were assessing the impact the lost bag would have on the next three planned spacewalks.

Earlier, the spacewalkers spotted a screw floating by, but were too far away to catch it. "I have no idea where it came from," Stefanyshyn-Piper told Mission Control. Mission Control said the screw was not considered a serious hazard, but did not immediately elaborate on the missing tool bag. Flight controllers were tracking its location in orbit.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My name is Earl?

The owner of an Indian food store in Bristol has received an apology letter and £100 from a former drug addict who stole cigarettes from the shop in 2001. Imran Ahmed, 27, who runs Raja Foods in St Marks Road, Easton, said he was stunned to open the remorseful letter.

It begins: "Dear Sirs, I am writing this letter to make amends to you for something I have done in the past."

Mr Ahmed said the thief's change of heart was "really good" and he intends to give the money to a drugs' charity.

The thief's letter continues:

"About seven years ago I was walking past your shop late one night when I noticed that someone had broken into it.
"I used this opportunity to enter your shop where I stole 400 cigarettes. The money enclosed (£100) is to pay for those cigarettes which I stole from you. At that time I was heavily using drugs and my life was in a mess, now I no longer use drugs and I strive to lead a decent and honest life. As part of my ongoing recovery I try to put right all of the wrongs I have done in the past, at least where I can, and this is why I am giving you back the money which I stole from you. I regret the harm I caused you in the past and I sincerely apologise to you for it. I was very wrong to do this and I hope that returning the money will make up for this harm, at least in some small way."

Friday, November 07, 2008

Pig theft

Two thieves were caught in southern Hungary with 12 pigs stuffed in their small van during a routine traffic check, Hungarian police said on Thursday.

Police stopped two men in a Renault Kangoo near the town of Szigetvar, about 220 km (137 miles) south of Budapest, as they attempted to drive off.

"The pigs weighed about 25-30 kg (55-66 lb) each -- they were really squashed into the car very tightly," a spokesman said.

Police said the pigs came from a nearby farm, where 35 pigs have gone missing in recent days.

Blinded pilot lands safely

A pilot who suddenly went blind while flying his plane at 15,000ft (4,572m) was guided in to land by an RAF plane. A plane was scrambled from the RAF base at Linton-on-Ouse in North Yorkshire to help stricken pilot Jim O'Neill, 65.

He was flying a two-seater Cessna aircraft from Prestwick airport in Scotland to Colchester, Essex, when he suffered a stroke and lost his sight. Wing Cdr Paul Gerrard, chief flying instructor, flew his Tucano T1 about 50m next to the Cessna to bring Mr O'Neill safely down.

Mr Hynd said: "He used his voice to guide him [Mr O'Neill] down by telling him to turn left and right, to lower the plane and to do his pre-landing checks. At very short range he still couldn't see the runway and it was only at the last minute that he could. He landed about halfway down and came to a halt just at the end.

"The RAF routinely practises shepherding but we are usually shepherding lost aircraft, we are not used to shepherding blind pilots, which is what makes this amazing. It was a fantastic team effort from all those involved and we're proud that we could get him to the ground safely."

Mr O'Neill was checked over by RAF medics before being transferred to Queen's Hospital in Romford, Essex where he is believed to be seriously ill.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Giant lego man appears on Brighton beach

A giant Lego man is attracting attention on a beach in Brighton - but mystery surrounds how it got there. It is thought to have washed up on the beach, and was spotted by children playing there.

The Lego man is 6ft tall in red, yellow and green. It is presumed to have washed up on the beach, but whether it has come from a cargo ship or from across the Channel is not clear.

Brighton resident Gerry Turner, 34, said: "It's very odd. God knows how it got here but people are saying it's from Holland because it's got some Dutch writing on it. It must have fallen off a boat of something. The kids love it."

Children helped stand the Lego man up on the beach, but are still mystified as to where it came from. One said: "It's great, but we don't know why it's here."

A spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said it didn't know the origin of the Lego man, but said it was fine for it to remain on the beach.

He said: "There's no problem at all. It will be interesting to see how long the Lego man stays there for. We'll keep an eye on it."

McCain on QVC

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Naked man found wedged in chimney

A naked man found wedged in the chimney of a supermarket in Wigan has been arrested on suspicion of burglary.

Police officers discovered him trapped in a chimney breast of a Tesco Express store on Ormskirk Road, Pemberton.

Firefighters were called to rescue the man who had become trapped in the chimney as he tried to get out.

Police said that because the man was naked he was taken to hospital as a precaution but was treated and discharged before being arrested.

A GMP spokeswoman said: "It is believed some his clothes came off as a result of him struggling to get out of the chimney."

A 22-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of burglary and remains in police custody.

Sarkozy Voodoo Doll

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has threatened to sue a publishing company if it does not withdraw from shops a "voodoo doll" in his image. The doll comes with pins and a manual with instructions on how to put the evil eye on the president.

Users can stick the pins into choice quotes from Mr Sarkozy which are printed on the doll. Mr Sarkozy's lawyer said the president had the "exclusive and absolute rights" over his own image.

Publishers K&B have issued 20,000 editions of the kit and have also produced a similar doll of Segolene Royal - Mr Sarkozy's Socialist party rival in the presidential elections last year.

Her lawyer said she is considering legal action, calling the doll an affront to her human dignity. The publisher said Mr Sarkozy's reaction was "totally disproportionate" and has so far refused to pull the doll from shops.

The product went on sale on 9 October.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Newspaper thief

STOKES COUNTY, N.C. - It's unlikely that authorities in Stokes County will charge a thief who has stolen a woman's newspaper at least 20 times – unless they plan to prosecute man's best friend.

Deputies said the Sandy Ridge woman reported the thefts, prompting investigators to set up a surveillance camera in hopes of capturing the thief on tape. The woman said her newspaper was delivered each day and left on a well house that was on her property.

Deputies said that after reviewing the tape they saw a hound dog circle the house, grab the paper, then run away.

"She does have a few neighbors, but at this point we haven’t verified who the owner is and we wouldn't begin to say at this point," said Detective Scott Gordon.

Gordon said it also wasn't known where the dog left the papers.

Video HERE

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


It was an unequal chase: a 68-year-old grandmother against a teenage thief who had just run off with her bag.

The bag-snatcher had no chance.

Janet Lane was sitting on a park bench when three teenagers grabbed her handbag containing £100 in cash, her mobile phone, an umbrella, a first-aid kit and a present that she had just bought for a friend.

What the thief did not know was that Mrs Lane had won the Yorkshire cross-country championship as a schoolgirl in 1953 and had kept herself in shape ever since.

As he and his two accomplices ran away, Mrs Lane set off in pursuit, chasing them 100 metres across a park and into the grounds of a hotel. Despite wearing sandals, the 5ft 6in (1.68m) tall grandmother managed to catch up and grabbed one of the youths by the collar. The youth, aged about 15, dropped her bag and begged to be let go. All three escaped empty-handed.

Mrs Lane, a retired nurse, said: “Those boys saw a little old lady and thought I was easy pickings, but there was no way I was going to sit there and let them get away with it. I was so angry when they took it. I had been to collect my pension and I had water rates to pay with that money.

Bike tightrope record

There were moments that drew gasps from spectators. Nik Wallenda sat down and called NBC's "Today" show at one point, saying the wind was stronger than he had thought.

He gave the crowd a scare when he rebalanced on the wire during the 235 foot walk across the wire, which was suspended between two cranes next to the Prudential Center arena.

He then rode the bike back.

Wallenda wants a place in Guinness World Records for the longest distance and greatest height ever traveled by a bike on the wire. The stunt coincided with the return of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus to Newark after a 52-year absence.

Toxic nut theft

Thieves who stole 660 pounds of hazelnuts in Germany have been urgently warned not to eat them.

Hamburg police spokesman Holger Vehren said the sacks containing the nuts were full of poisonous hydrogen phosphate gas, used to extend their shelf life. The nuts must first be treated to make them safe for consumption.

"We're looking for the perpetrators because they could face a very serious health risk if they eat these hazelnuts," he said.

"The gas is even lethal if they inhale it."

Drag Racing

Monday, October 13, 2008

Blind speed record

Belgian Luc Costermans has broken the world blind road speed record, on an airstrip in France. Mr Costermans topped 308.78km/h (192 mph) while driving a Lamborghini Gallardo supercar at Istres, near Marseille, in southern France.

Mr Costermans thanked his co-pilot Guillaume Roman, saying: ""I'm very, very happy. It's a team effort."

Mr Costermans took the record from Briton Mike Newman, whose BMW M5 reached 268km/h three years ago. Mr Costermans, 43, was blinded in an accident four years ago.

He hit the top speed in two runs in the borrowed car. He dedicated his effort to the Formula 1 racing driver Philippe Streiff, who has been a tetraplegic since suffering an accident in a Grand Prix in Brazil in 1989.

World Pizza Eating Champion

Joey Chestnut has set a new gut-busting record of eating 45 pizza slices in 10 minutes at the Famous Famiglia pizza-eating contest in Times Square. Chestnut broke the previous record of eating 22 slices in 10 minutes, held by a Chicago chef Patrick Bertoletti.

He is also world's hot-dog eating champ. He folded the slices very quickly, and thrust them into his mouth. He jumped around some, to help them go down the hatch, or knocked back water from paper cups. He never appeared to chew. The slices were the typical cheese and tomato sauce variety, dished from a 16-inch pie carved into eight wedges.

"It's as weird as it gets," he said of competitive eating. "But it's fun. We make people smile," the New York Daily News quoted Chestnut as saying.

"He is truly a god among eaters," contestant Adam Gertler said of Chestnut. "He could probably put an entire work boot in his mouth," he added.

Chestnut beat 10 other contenders, including the previous pizza-eating recordholder Bertoletti, who ate 43 pizzas in the contest.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Toilet girlfriend man feeling flush

Things were looking down for Kory McFadden at the beginning of the year, as the world discovered that his girlfriend had been sitting on the toilet for the past two years – so long that she'd become physically stuck to the seat.

But now things have improved, as the 37-year-old Kansan has won £20,000 on his state lottery – for the second time this year.

The toilet issue came to light in February, when McFadden called authorities to report that his girlfriend, Pam Babcock, had been in the bathroom for two years.
Officials found her physically attached to the lavatory seat, which had become stuck to open sores on her body. The toilet seat was only removed once she was taken to hospital.

In July, McFadden was given six months probation after pleading no contest to charges of misdemeanor mistreatment of a dependent adult.

But on Monday, McFadden won the Kansas state lottery in Great Bend – the second time this year that he's won it.

Here's your half!

An estranged couple in Cambodia have sawed their house in half to avoid the country's convoluted divorce process.

Moeun Rim and his wife, Nhanh, who have been married nearly 40 years, split the building last week following an argument, local officials said. Mr Rim has removed his share of the property and the couple have also divided their land into four parts; two for their children, and two for them.

Divorce cases in Cambodia can be costly and may take a long time to settle.

The house - or one half of the house - is located in Prey Veng province, about 90km (56 miles) from the capital, Phnom Penh. The couple fell out after Mr Rim accused his wife of neglecting him whilst he was ill.

"We tried to persuade them to think clearly before they did this because they had been married for nearly 40 years," local chief Vorng Morn told the Phnom Penh Post newspaper. "But they did not listen," he said.

A local lawyer told the newspaper that dividing a property was legal if both parties had agreed to it - but that it did not meant the pair were legally divorced.

"If in the future they have any disagreements, the provincial chief will not be responsible, as there had not been a judgment from the court," Prak Phin said.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Naked swimmer defies police

Japanese police have detained a Spanish tourist who swam naked in the moat around the Imperial Palace in the heart of the capital Tokyo. The middle-aged man jumped into the water, climbed the palace wall and splashed water at police who tried to catch him from a rowing boat.

The man then charged at police with a pole and rock while a huge crowd including journalists watched. After a chase that lasted two hours the police eventually seized the man.

Police say that it is unclear what his motives are and they believe that he may be mentally unstable, Reuters news agency reports. Local media say that he claims to have dropped a bag in the water which included his passport.

The palace is one of Japan's most sacrosanct sites and is home to their emperor and empress who are respected by the public. Most of the palace is strictly off limits but the area outside is popular with tourists and residents who can walk freely around the moat.

Red Squirrel Beer

A new drink has been created by a Scottish brewery to help efforts to protect red squirrels. Part of the proceeds from sales of Red Squirrel Ale will be donated to the Highland Red Squirrel Group (HRSG).

The Highlands are considered a stronghold for the mammals, which has been threatened by competition and a disease carried by non-native greys. The ale has been made by Atlas Brewery in Kinlochleven.

HRSG said it has been estimated that only 160,000 red squirrels are left in the UK. Loss of habitat has been identified as another factor in their demise.

Thursday's launch of the ale coincides with Red Squirrel Week from 4-12 October.

Ian Collier, chairman of the HRSG, says: ‘I hope there will be plenty of people asking for a pint of Red Squirrel Ale and a bag of nuts. We are really pleased to be in partnership with Atlas Brewery to raise the profile of red squirrels in the Highlands and to take the opportunity to raise funds for the Highland Red Squirrel Group charity’.

Goat Condoms

Maasai herdsmen in Kenya have turned to an age-old contraceptive device, the "olor", to protect their precious goat herds from an ongoing drought.

The olor is made from cowhide or a square piece of plastic, and is tied around the belly of the male goat.

It prevents the bucks from mating with the female goats.

The herdsmen are using the device to limit the goat population and ensure there are not too many animals grazing on sparse vegetation.

"We don't want them to breed in this drought," says Mr Ole Ngoshoi Kipameto, a goat owner in Kajiado district.

The area, which is 80km (50 miles) from the capital, Nairobi, has received insufficient rainfall, making the landscape barren and forcing residents to move from place to place in search of pasture and water.

In the Maasai community, livestock are often people's only assets and sole means of survival.

"We tie this hide under the belly of the buck for three months. After that we remove it and then they can breed by November when the short rains come," Mr Kipameto says.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Big Daddy

Bao Xishun, 57, a 7-foot, 9-inch Inner Mongolian herdsman listed by the Guinness World Records as the tallest living man, became the world's tallest father this week with the birth of his son at a hospital in Zunhua, Hebei province Oct. 2, 2008.

The boy's whose initial height seems a compromise between his gigantic dad and average-sized mom (22 inches).

Bao had briefly lost his title as tallest man, but regained it in August when his successor, Ukrainian Leonid Stadnyk refused to be measured.

Mystery meat on beaches

Officials in New Jersey are trying to work out why large chunks of mystery meat have been washing ashore in the American state.

Bob Schoelkopf of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center noted: 'The largest piece that we found intact was 5 feet... Almost as if someone had blown up an animal and it floated to shore.'

Experts from the center, who were called in to investigate the meat, say that it was actually internal organs from a large marine animal – possibly a whale or a shark. However, they're unable to pin down exactly what species might have been – or exactly how it got broken up into meat lumps.

To add to the mystery, it's not just New Jersey that's being inundated with innards. When the center officials contacted the National Marine Fisheries Service to let them know about the meat, they discovered that the beaches of neighboring Delaware had also been hit by a meat influx.

The meat is now undergoing DNA tests to discover what animal it used to belong to – bit it could be months before the results are back. By which time, residents must hope, their beaches will no longer be covered in meat.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

World Stone Skimming Championships

More than 200 people are expected to compete in the World Stone Skimming Championships being held on the Scottish island of Easdale on Sunday.

The event is open to anyone, with heats in four categories: adults over 16, over 60s, girls and boys aged 10 to 15 and the under-10s.

Stones must be no more than 3in, formed of Easdale slate and bounce no less than three times within the boundary.

Skims are judged on the distance thrown rather than the number of bounces.

The World Stone Skimming Championships were started up in 1983 by Albert Baker.

It was not held again until 1997, when it was resurrected by the Easdale Island Trust as a fundraising event.

Tea and biscuits for all arrivals

Every person flying into Britain will be offered a free cup of tea and a biscuit in an ambitious, if eccentric, plan to make the country more cheerful.

The hope is that tourists, and travellers returning from holidays, will be able to banish dark thoughts of a delayed flight, poor weather, and global financial meltdown if confronted with a free cup of English Breakfast tea and a plate of Jammie Dodgers.

The man behind the idea is Mark Price, the managing director of Waitrose.

He has persuaded airports operator BAA to run a week-long trial in November at Terminal 5, offering 5,000 cups a day to travellers in the arrivals hall. Visit Britain – the tourism agency – has agreed to back his campaign, which could see all airports across the UK offering the traditional British mix of milky tea and quirky biscuits in time for the London 2012 Olympics.

Mr Price said: "What could be more welcoming that a cuppa and jammie dodger or Garibaldi? When everyone seems so miserable about the economy, I am sure a cup of tea would put things in perspective."

Before the plan goes ahead, Waitrose needs to decide which style of biscuit they will offer to in-bound travellers. "I am very fond of a Garibaldi, or bourbon, but neither is a very good dunker."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Human Jet crosses Channel

Swiss adventurer Yves Rossy successfully crossed the English Channel using his homemade jet-propelled wing Friday, the first man to perform the feat. Rossy leapt from a plane more than 8,800 feet or a mile and a half from the ground, before firing up his jets.

He made the 22-mile trip from Calais in France to Dover in England in a little under 15 minutes.

He began the Friday flight just before 1207 GMT; by 12:15 GMT, Rossy was above British soil and looped over onlookers before opening his parachute, with his wings still strapped to his back. He touched down in a field near the famous white cliffs of Dover.

"It was perfect. Blue sky, sunny, no clouds, perfect conditions," Rossy said. "We prepared everything and it was great."

The trip across the Channel was meant to trace the route of French aviator Louis Bleriot, the first person to cross in an airplane 99 years ago.

The lighthouse was the site of Guglielmo Marconi's experiments with radio telegraphy in 1898. Bleriot used the white building as a target during his pioneering flight, the building's manager, Simon Ovenden, said.

Several hundred spectators rushed to greet the pilot, trying to take photographs with cameras and cell phones.

"It's a remarkable achievement, we saw the climax of his attempt as he came down to earth with his parachute. It's been an exciting afternoon," said Geoff Clark, a 54-year-old onlooker from Chatham, in Kent.

The carbon composite-wing weighs about 121 pounds (55 kilograms) when loaded with fuel, and carried four kerosene-burning jet turbines that kept him aloft. The wing had no steering devices -- Rossy moved his body to control its movements.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Warner Bros lose Hari Puttar case

A court in the Indian capital Delhi has rejected a lawsuit filed by Hollywood company Warner Bros against the makers of a Bollywood film Hari Puttar.

The makers of the blockbuster Harry Potter films said the title of the Indian movie was too similar. The court said Warner Bros could have brought the case three years ago and said readers could easily distinguish Hari Puttar from Harry Potter.

The court decision means the film can now be released in India. Mirchi Movies, the makers of the Bollywood film, said Hari Puttar had no connection with the Harry Potter movies.

Mirchi told the court that Hari was a popular Indian name, and Puttar meant "son" in Hindi and Punjabi.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Goggle ban

A swimmer has been banned from his local pool because of his unusual goggles.

Roland Grimm, right, in his late 60s, said: “I’m very upset because it seems mad. I’ve used these goggles in more than 100 pools and no one else has ever complained. After you’ve been swimming for 40 years all over the world you know what works best for you and what’s safe.”

Gary Dark, manager of the leisure centre in Swiss Cottage, northwest London, said the goggles were a health and safety risk because the glass was not shatter-proof and the nosepiece could cause breathing difficulties.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Jet-pack cow

LOGAN, Utah --Bessie is cleared for takeoff. A sculpture of a cow wearing a jet pack and leaping over a crescent moon will go on display this month in front of the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in downtown Salt Lake City.

Artist Michael Bingham won a $3,000 commission last summer to create a "flying object" and decided on the airborne bovine.

"I read about the commission in the paper and was thinking about things that I could make fly," Bingham said. "I saw these cows and thought, 'These are the least likely animals or objects to fly.' Then, I pictured the jet pack and that was it."

Bingham is shuttling the sculpture around the city of Logan before it goes on display in Salt Lake City.

"I'm on a local board for public art and we're hoping this will be a good conversation starter about public art in the valley," Bingham said.

The cow is life-size and has a jet pack -- complete with flames shooting from it -- on the animal's back. It will be perched on a 15-foot pole when it goes on display in front of the downtown Salt Lake City theater.

"Most people will walk by and go, 'Oh look, a flying cow,'" he said. "They won't realize the thousands of hours it took to make this cow fly."

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Hendrix guitar fetches $500,000

The first guitar torched on stage by Jimi Hendrix has been sold for £280,000 a London auction of rock memorabilia.

The Fender Stratocaster, burnt at the end of a show in north London in 1967, was bought by collector Daniel Boucher from Boston, Massachusetts.

"It was something I wanted to have," he told the BBC after the sale. "I decided I would go the distance to get it."

The instrument was only recovered from a garage last year and still bears the scorch marks of Hendrix's performance.

"It's one of a kind from one of a kind," said Mr Boucher, who described Hendrix as a "unique person" who "changed the game".

Water theft

A 26-year-old forklift operator at Zephyrhills Water Company, Florida, was arrested Saturday at work, accused of stealing $50,000 worth of bottled water from his employer.

Over a six-week period, Michael Gordon Fernandes and another man who has not been arrested yet, swiped five truckloads of bottled water from Zephyrhills Water, a division of Nestles Waters North America Inc., according to an arrest affidavit.

Fernandes would load pallets intended for the warehouse at 4330 20th St. onto a tractor-trailer owned by the co-defendant who would take the water to an "unknown destination," according to a report.
Zephyrhills Police Officer Timothy Claussen said Sunday he couldn't reveal where the water ended up or any other details of the case since the investigation is ongoing.

Fernandes, of 5442 Braddock Drive, reportedly told police he was paid $500 per truckload and he did it to help support his family.

He was booked into the Land O' Lakes Jail on a grand theft charge but was released later Saturday after posting $10,000 bail.

Coach Obama?

A London businessman has bet 10 pounds ($18) that Barack Obama will replace Alan Curbishley as manager of the West Ham football team.

British bookmaker William Hill agreed to offer odds of 10,000-1 to the unidentified customer despite no one really believing the potential 100,000 pound prize will ever eventuate.

One possible reason the bet was laid lies in rumours that Obama has been a fan of the club since visiting Britain five years ago.

However, William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe told AP that the bettor simply wanted to show his American friends and clients a betting slip with the US presidential candidate's name on it.

"We offered 10,000-1 as he is probably more concerned with winning a slightly higher profile job for himself at the moment," Sharpe said. "But if he loses out on that one and the position is still up for grabs, you never know."

Fake surgeon sentenced

A French court has sentenced a doctor to three years in jail for posing as a plastic surgeon and endangering patients by operating on them illegally in a derelict Marseille clinic.

Michel Maure went on trial in June accused of luring hundreds of patients to the dirty premises under false pretences between 2002 and 2004 and carrying out painful, unhygienic operations on them.

Maure was also sentenced to pay a €75,000 fine and to compensate his victims, about 100 of whom had complained of disfigurement and permanent damage to their health.

He went on the run while the court prepared its ruling and was arrested in Spain on August 19 after being spotted on a luxury yacht. Spain is expected to hand him over to France within days.

Maure was a qualified doctor but not a trained plastic surgeon. He was struck off the list of recognized French doctors in 2007 over his activities at the Marseille clinic.

French media have reported that the disgraced doctor had proclaimed himself "one of the greatest surgeons in the world."

A Right Balls Up!

New Zealand - A blooper that saw a misspelled Wellington street sign become a national laughing stock has resulted in city council staff drawing up a "red list" of possibly naughty street names.

Residents of the suburb of Highbury managed to see the funny side when a new footpath sign for Old Bullock Rd was erected, mistakenly calling it Old Bollock Rd.

Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said the error was astounding, but feedback had indicated that "everyone had a right old laugh".

"Of course we'll change it ... Clearly our proof-reading and English standards have fallen here."

Mr MacLean said a couple of people, including residents of the wrongly named street, had wanted to buy the sign.

The council had opened the street directory and done an "informal check" of street names that could be easily altered by the misplacement of a a few letters. They included Dorking Rd, Volga St, Wanaka St and Virginia Grove.

The embarrassing blunder came less than a year after a sign for Prince of Wales Park in Mt Cook turned it into Prince of Whales Park.

A Highbury resident said locals were "all for better signage for footpaths", but the name should be spelled right. This is a real balls-up."

Wheelchair robbery

Dallas police today are searching for a man who robbed a 7-Eleven convenience store in his wheelchair, stealing 10 boxes of condoms and an energy drink before rolling himself out the door, authorities said.

The man wheeled into the store in the 8400 block of Park Lane in northeast Dallas around 2 a.m. Wednesday clutching a baseball bat and a knife, said Senior Cpl. Kevin Janse, a Dallas police spokesman.

The man, who appeared to be in his 30s, went straight to the cash register and began beating it with the bat until it opened, Cpl. Janse said.

But he didn’t steal any money.

Instead, he wheeled himself past other customers around the store, grabbing boxes of condoms and an energy drink before leaving, Cpl. Janse said.

By the time police arrived, the man was nowhere to be found. He is described as a black male, 5-10, weighing about 170 pounds.

Police do not have any suspects, but they believe he may be homeless.

Cpl. Janse said he couldn’t recall another robbery involving a person in a wheelchair. He believes the culprit was probably intoxicated at the time.

“This certainly isn’t something we see everyday,” Cpl. Janse said.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Little Gordon

From Little Gordon . com

Collectors Tramp

People calling a federal phone number to order duck stamps are instead greeted by a phone-sex line, due to a printing error the government says would be too expensive to correct.

The carrier card for the duck stamp transposes two numbers, so instead of listing 1-800-782-6724, it lists 1-800-872-6724. The first number spells out 1-800-STAMP24, while the second number spells out 1-800-TRAMP24.

People calling that second number are welcomed by "Intimate Connections" and enticed by a husky female voice to "talk only to the girls that turn you on," for $1.99 a minute.

Duck stamps, which cost $15 a piece, are required to hunt migratory waterfowl. The government uses nearly all the revenue to purchase waterfowl habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System. In 2006-2007, the latest figures available, duck stamp purchases brought in nearly $22 million.

This year's stamps, which feature a pair of northern pintail ducks, went on sale July 1 and are good through June 30 of next year. The error will not be corrected until next year's duck stamps.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, which administers the program, printed about 3.5 million duck stamps attached to cards with the wrong number. An agency spokeswoman, Rachel Levin, said it would cost $300,000 to reprint them.

"I don't know that it would be worth it to do a reprint," she said Thursday. "That's a lot of money we can be using for wildlife conservation. With all of the needs for conservation, it doesn't make sense to divert money away from an important cause." For those people who like to dial by letter, the card does include the proper 1-800-STAMP24.

"As best we know, it was a typographical error that was not caught," Levin said, stressing that the stamps are still valid.

The agency first learned of the mistake a few days ago, when a duck stamp owner informed them about the glitch. Levin said the agency has not received any complaints.

The error, which was first reported Wednesday by Denver TV station KUSA, is limited to self-adhesive versions of the stamps. The moistened version, which is printed in much smaller numbers, does not come with a carrier card.

The government uses a contractor, Ashton Potter Security Printers of Williamsville, New York, to print the duck stamps. Levin said she did not know whether the error was made by the government or by the company.

Ashton Potter's president and chief executive, Barry Switzer, said that the company was provided with the wrong telephone number.

"We reproduced the wrong number correctly," he said. "We regret this whole situation happened, but we did our job properly."

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Drunk bus driver

Hawaii -- Police arrested a Honolulu city bus driver on Thursday night on charges he allegedly drove the bus while drunk with passengers on board. Searle Pestana, 61, has been a driver with TheBus for 36 years. He has two prior drunken driving convictions -- one in 2000 and another in 2002.

There were seven people on board the bus when Searle Pestana was on his final run near the end of his shift in Waimanalo. Honolulu police received a call about a bus driver who was driving erratically and had sideswiped a tree.

It was a concerned bus passenger who called 911 at about 8 p.m. Police pulled over Pestana in a parking lot, performed a sobriety test and arrested him.

Pestana blew 0.18 on his blood-alcohol test. That is more than twice the legal limit. He also allegedly had an open container of alcohol on board the bus when police pulled him over.

"I'm not only surprised, I'm shocked," Oahu Transit Services President Roger Morton said. OTS runs the city's bus system. Morton said the company was aware of Pestana's 2002 DUI conviction, but allowed him to drive again after he successfully completed rehab.

"Both in terms of customer contact and safety and showing up for work and attendance and all of those things, he's a good employee," Morton said. Morton said his company performs random drug tests on employees. Drivers are subjected to inspection before starting their shift, he said.

Just how long Pestana had been drinking while behind the wheel is unclear.

"Public safety is our first concern. We take drugs and alcohol very seriously. We don't tolerate their use in the workplace," Morton said.

OTS suspended Pestana without pay. He is scheduled to appear in District Court on Sept. 26.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Holy Cow!

A cow had to be freed by the RSPCA after getting her head stuck in a fly-tipped washing machine drum. The lucky cow escaped injury after her ordeal - but the animal charity warned today that fly tipping can cause animals harm.

The RSPCA was called to rescue the heifer from a field at Higher Fraddon, St Columb, Cornwall.

'It is one of the more unusual things we had had to rescue an animal from,' said RSPCA spokeswoman Jo Barr.

'Young cows are quite curious, and she probably thought there was some food inside the drum,' she added.

A member of the public spotted the frustrated animal trying to free herself from the metal drum. RSPCA inspector David Hobbs rescued the heifer on 19 August, and she has since returned to her herd unharmed.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mushroom soup halts plane

A Ryanair plane was forced to land in Germany after a passenger had an allergic reaction to mushroom soup. The soup leaked onto the man from a jar in an overhead locker on a flight from Budapest to Dublin on Monday, the airline said.

His neck reportedly swelled up and he struggled to breathe, forcing the plane to divert for emergency medical help. On the same day, another Ryanair flight had to make an unscheduled landing in France after losing cabin pressure.

A spokeswoman for Ryanair said the jar contained "a vegetable oil/mushroom soup type substance". "It is procedure when a passenger requires medical attention to divert to the nearest airport," she said. "The cabin crew and pilot take that decision."

The Boeing 737 landed at Frankfurt Hahn Airport where the man was treated by doctors.
The plane was delayed for two hours before continuing its journey to Dublin.

The episode was one of a series of high-altitude incidents in recent days. On Monday, oxygen masks were deployed on a Ryanair flight from Bristol to Barcelona Girona when the cabin depressurised. The plane was forced to land at Limoges Airport in central France and 16 people were taken to hospital suffering from ear pain.

Then on Tuesday, a Thomsonfly plane to Gatwick had to turn back to Croatia just seven minutes after take-off when a fire broke out in an oven. A spokesman said the fire was "immediately contained" and there was "no danger to passengers or crew".

Passengers were delayed for eight hours while a replacement plane was flown from Manchester.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mourning Gorilla :(

A gorilla at a zoo in the German city of Muenster is refusing to let go of her dead baby's body several days after it died of unknown causes.

Allwetter Zoo spokeswoman Ilona Zuehlke says the 3-month-old male baby died on Saturday but its 11-year-old mother continues to carry its body around. Zuehlke says such behavior is not uncommon to gorillas.

Zuehlke says the mother "is mourning and must say goodbye." The mother gorilla is named Gana.

Signs were posted near Gana's enclosure Wednesday to explain the situation to visitors. A staff member is also present to answer questions.

The baby was named Claudio and was Gana's second baby. She had a female baby in 2007 that now lives at the Stuttgart Zoo.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wild dolphins tail-walk on water

A wild dolphin is apparently teaching other members of her group to walk on their tails, a behaviour usually seen only after training in captivity. The tail-walking group lives along the south Australian coast near Adelaide.

One of them spent a short time after illness in a dolphinarium 20 years ago and may have picked up the trick there. Scientists studying the group say tail-walk tuition has not been seen before, and suggest the habit may emerge as a form of "culture" among this group.

"We can't for the life of us work out why they do it," said Mike Bossley from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), one of the scientists who have been monitoring the group on the Port River estuary.

"We're doing systematic observations now to determine if there's something that may trigger it, but so far we haven't found anything," he told BBC News.

In the 1980s, Billie, one of the females in the group, spent a few weeks in a local dolphinarium recovering from malnutrition and sickness, a consequence of having been trapped in a marina lock.

She received no training there, but may have seen others tail-walking. Now, other females in the group have picked up the habit. It is seen rarely in the wild, and the obvious inference is that they have learned it from Billie.

"This indicates that they do learn from each other, which is not a surprise really, but it does also seem that they exhibit elements of what in humans we would call 'cultural' behaviour," said Dr Bossley.

Baby whale thinks yacht is it's mom

Australian media say a lost humpback whale calf has bonded with a yacht it seems to think is its mother.

The 1- to 2-month-old calf was first sighted Sunday in waters off north Sydney, and on Monday tried to suckle from a yacht, which it would not leave.

Rescuers towed the yacht out to sea, and the calf finally detached from the boat but still swam nearby, Australian Broadcasting Corp. and Channel 10 television news reported.

The calf appears exhausted but rescuers hope it will continue out to sea and search for its mother or another pod of whales.

"The outlook is not good, but we are giving the calf its only option. It can't be fed, and in fact we wouldn't know what to feed it" because it is not weaned, National Parks and Wildlife regional manager Chris McIntosh told ABC radio.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Phelps has now won 10 13 Olympic golds.

Michael Phelps equals Mark Spitz's 1972 record of seven golds in one Olympics, while Britain's Rebecca Adlington takes a second gold in the pool.

If Phelps was a country, he'd be 4th on the medals table :)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

WANTED: Hagrid lookalike

WELLINGTON, N.Z. - Police hunting a teen burglar in the New Zealand city Christchurch have circulated a mug shot of 58-year-old British actor Robbie Coltrane who, they say, has a strong resemblance to their young suspect.

Posters bearing a photograph of Coltrane, who portrays the giant Hagrid in the "Harry Potter" movie series, were dropped by police this week in mailboxes around the city centre where the burglar has been most active.

"Robbie Coltrane is not the burglar," the poster says.

"But imagine him aged 16 with lank, greasy hair and you have the picture."

Barred by New Zealand law from publishing or circulating pictures of juvenile offenders, police hit on the idea of using a photo of Coltrane, who they say is similar in appearance to the burglar.

Fake or real?

The photographed remains of a mysterious "creature" washed up on a beach near New York has led to a frenzy of online speculation.

Hot on the heels of claims from an ex-NASA astronaut about aliens visiting Earth and supposed hair of a yeti undergoing DNA tests, news of the find has excited conspiracy theorists around the world.

Dubbed the Montauk Monster after the Long Island town where it was found, the creature has prompted speculation it was part of a secret mutant breeding program undertaken by the US Government.

The Huffington Post has even given the creature its own blog.

Meanwhile,, which helped break the story, has sought to explain the phenomenon as a viral marketing stunt for a new US TV cartoon series.

Digit-al plus

Pianists, typists and tailors might all look on green with envy at Haramb Ashok Kumthekar, of Goa in India, who has six digits on each hand and seven digits on each feet.

But for Heramb, 22, it means he cannot even wear a pair of simple flip-flops, nor can he find a pair of gloves that fit his hands in the winter.

Even more frustrating is the fact that Heramb does not even hold the official Guinness world record for most digits on a person because some of his fingers are technically attached, even though they have separate bones.

The official Guinness honour belongs to his fellow countryman Devendra Harne, a 13 year old boy from Kolkota, who has 12 fingers and 13 toes on his feet.

However, there is some consolation for Heramb as he is included in the Indian equivalent of the Guinness Book of Records, the Limca Book of Records.

Heramb, who is currently studying for a Masters in Business Management at his college in the western Indian town of Pune, has always seen his extra digits as something to be proud of.

"I am happy about it because I have something that others don't have," says Heramb.

And showing a full understanding of that old maxim 'Use what you've got' , Heramb goes on to say, "I never had a problem with it and after I get publicity I will be famous because of it."

Lord for sale

An eccentric British millionaire has put his entire life up for sale on the Internet -- including his title of Lord of the Manor of Warleigh -- in the hope of converting his assets into cash.

David Piper, a hotelier who made headlines six years ago after advertising for a wife to become his "lady of the manor," wants to sell his west of England existence on the auction site eBay and move to London to be closer to his children.

He is selling two hotels, two Bentleys, a collection of paintings and his title of Lord of the Manor -- which he bought along with a large estate for one million pounds ($2 million).

"This sale is brought about as the present lord has been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer," the advertisement for the sale explains.

"For sale as a whole or in part... Can include David, the existing eccentric lord of the manor, physically as well to a suitable purchaser."

Piper, who is well known in his hometown of Plymouth for his antics, is hoping to raise up to 4 million pounds, although he estimates that the total value of the estates was as much as 6 million before property prices fell.

More than 100 bids have been received so far, with the current offer standing at 10 million pounds. Bidding closes on August 15.

Piper's move follows that of Ian Usher, a British-born man living in Perth, Australia who earlier this year auctioned off all his worldly goods, including his home. He ended up raising much less than he had hoped -- barely making $380,000.

Piper's attempt six years ago to find a bride ended in minor disaster. More than 2,000 young women answered his advertisement in the International Herald Tribune newspaper and he chose a 32-year-old American divorcee to try out to be his lady.

She arrived with her two young children, but fled the manor after only a few days, unable to go through with the union.

As part of his new venture, Piper said he was offering to introduce whoever purchased his life to some of the women whose applications he turned down.

Homer Coin

A one euro coin has turned up in Spain bearing the face of cartoon couch potato Homer Simpson instead of that of the country's king, a sweetshop owner told Reuters on Friday.

Jose Martinez was counting the cash in his till in the city of Aviles, northern Spain, when he came across the coin where Homer's bald head, big eyes and big nose had replaced the serious features of King Juan Carlos.

"The coin must have been done by a professional, the work is impressive," he told Reuters.

The comical carver had not taken his tools to the other side of the coin displaying the map of Europe. So far, no other coins of the hapless, beer-swilling oaf have been found in circulation.

"I've been offered 20 euros for it," said Martinez.

8lbs 8, Born 8:08 on 8/8/08

Talk about a memorable birthday: A Fergus Falls family is welcoming a baby girl born at 8:08 a.m. on the eighth day of August, weighing in at eight pounds, eight ounces.

Lindsay Hauer’s cesarean section was scheduled for 8 a.m. Friday morning at Lake Region Hospital and began right on the dot. When hospital staff told her the time of her daughter’s birth, Hauer thought they were pulling her leg.

“I thought they were just joking,” she said. “I didn’t believe them when they told me.”

“The time was to the minute,” said Hauer’s husband, Joe.

Imagine Hauer’s surprise when, still in the operating room, she received a call from staff in the hospital’s birthing suite, where Hailey Jo Hauer was being measured and weighed.

“I had the scale on grams at first,” said Jenny Harstad, Hauer’s nurse. Based on the baby’s weight in grams, Harstad estimated Hailey would weigh-in within the eight-pound range. She later joked she’d hoped to find significance in the baby’s length as well.

“I was trying to shrink her down to 18 inches,” Harstad said. Instead, Hailey measured 19.5 inches.

Back in the operating room, hospital staff resolved to buy lottery tickets later in the day.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Close call

Video footage has captured the moment a New Zealand man narrowly escaped the crushing force of a 30m falling tree on the South Island city of Nelson. The anticipation of witnesses can be heard on the video as the pine tree crashed to the ground just centimetres behind Paul Thomas’ car as he drove along the street during a raging storm on Wednesday night.

But the Nelson resident said his brush with death, which snapped his car's aerial, was a "buzz", according to TVNZ.

"I saw through my front windscreen above me that the tree was coming down, so I just had to keep going there's nothing else I could do," he said.

Police had been concerned about the swaying tree and closed off surrounding streets. But Mr Thomas was unknowingly driving inside the restricted area.

The camera man said he couldn’t believe how lucky Mr Thomas was. "It's just so unbelievable that he made it through," he said.

The savage storms which ripped through Marlborough, Nelson and West Coast have been reported as the biggest event to hit the region in the last 20 years, and left one person dead.

AMI Insurance Tasman district manager Graeme Duncan said it would spark millions of dollars worth of insurance claims. More than 10,000 homes and businesses lost power on Wednesday and hundreds of were still without power or water supplies on Friday.

Russia wipes California from map

California will no longer exist on the Russian map. Russia's north-western region of Nizhny Novgorod has decided to eliminate the tiny village of California due to the lack of inhabitants, Itar-Tass news agency reported on Thursday.

The village was set up in the 19th century by a Russian landowner as a snub to the government for selling Alaska to the United States in 1867, Tass said.

The once vibrant village has been in decline since the Soviet collapse, with the last of its residents leaving in 2000 to seek better lives elsewhere.

It will now officially cease to exist as a geographical unit but it was unclear if its buildings, including a school, would also be destroyed.

Thousands of villages, abandoned by people moving to cities, are scattered across Russia, many in ruins but some frozen in time, their wooden huts unchanged for decades.

Proposal rescue

Two lovers were rescued as they drifted out to sea following a romantic marriage proposal in a rowing boat. The couple were dressed in full evening wear and had enjoyed a champagne picnic as they set out from Cromer in Norfolk, coastguards said.

But the alarm was raised on Friday night after onlookers from Cromer Pier saw the boat more than a mile from the beach in windy conditions. The couple were rescued and brought back to shore by a small fishing boat.

"The inshore lifeboat was launched but, fortunately, there was a small fishing boat nearby and they brought them back safely," said a coastguard spokeswoman. "The coastguards were quite surprised when they met the couple. "Instead of the normal garb, they had evening wear on. It wasn't quite what they expected to find.

"He had a black bow tie and a waistcoat and she had a flowy dress. "It had been a romantic trip - he had proposed and she had accepted. Obviously, congratulations are in order. He had done the full works - picnic, champagne, flowers - but in the meantime they had got a mile-and-a-half out to sea."

The spokeswoman said the couple, from Cromer, who both described themselves as strong swimmers, had not realised how far out they had drifted. "They were under the assumption that they were absolutely fine," she said. "Apparently the gentleman said: 'It's ok, I'm a surfer, I know about these things'. They were brought ashore and they then decided to go on up the beach to have a picnic. They were quite relaxed about it."