Thursday, February 28, 2008

Burglar took toddler

A man Salt Lake police say burglarized several medical offices while his young son went along was arrested Tuesday.

Justin Nuzman, 33, was arrested at his home in Magna about 2 p.m. Tuesday after numerous callers tipped off investigators, said Salt Lake police detective Jeff Bedard.

Saturday, a man burglarized medical offices at 660 S. 200 East and 508 E. South Temple. Extensive damage was done to the offices and cash boxes, and medications, a laptop computer and a digital camera were stolen.

In surveillance video, the man is seen walking with a boy who appeared to be 2 or 3 years old. Numerous people called police after local media broadcast the video saying they knew who the man was, said Bedard.

Nuzman was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on suspicion of criminal mischief, child endangerment and burglary. He was also being held without bail for several outstanding warrants.

Airline dumps 6's

Lithuania's main airline is to change the code number under which its shares are listed to get rid of sixes at the end – giving way to a Christian tradition identifying the number 666 as a cipher for the Antichrist.

"It might look strange at first glance, but the meanings of numbers are still important in such an area as aviation ... For example, often there is no 13th row marked in the airplane," Linas Dovydenas, the head of flyLAL Group, told Reuters.

He said the airline's International Securities Identifying Number (ISIN) would be changed to LT0000127995 from LT0000126666.

The number 666 is used as the "number of the beast" in the New Testament's Book of Revelation and is seen by some as a cipher for the Antichrist – though its significance is hotly contested by scholars and theologians.

"We live up to the tradition, and therefore we decided to change our ISIN code, which ends in sixes," Dovydenas said.

Lithuania is a mainly Catholic country.

Touching private parts to stay private

Italy's Court of Appeal has issued a new hands-off landmark ruling - outlawing men from scratching their crotches in public. The ruling says that blatant scratching or holding is "an act contrary to decorum and public decency".

Superstitious Italian men often hold or touch their private parts for good luck when they see a hearse or to ward off bad luck - the equivalent of touching wood in Britain.

Italy's Court of Appeal in Rome made the judgement after listening to the appeal of a 42-year-old man from Como who had been fined 200 euros for gross indeceny at a hearing in May last year. His defence lawyer had argued that his client - a mechanic - had been mereley adjusting himself in his overalls and nothing else.

However, the appeal was overturned by the judges who said in their ruling hat: "The touching of genitalia in public is a sign of ill manners and must be considered against public decency.

"The rules of social etiquette require all of us to abstain from what might be considered offensive to public decorum." The ruling added that touching or scratching below the belt risked causing "awkwardness, disgust and disapproval in the average man".

The man's 200 euro fine was upheld and he was also ordered to pay 1000 euros in costs.

Maxim's minimum rating

Maxim magazine in the US has apologised for publishing a bad review of the Black Crowes' new album even though the writer had not heard the full CD.

Its March issue gave Warpaint 2.5 stars out of five, but the band insisted that advance copies of the album had actually not been available. They claimed the magazine would have been able to hear only one track.

Maxim said in a statement that its policy of only giving ratings to albums heard in full "was not followed".

Following Maxim's review, the group said on their website: "Incredulously, the magazine gave the album a two-and-a-half star rating, although neither the writer nor the editor could have heard more than one song - the single Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution."

The magazine's actions were "a disgrace to the arts, journalism, critics, the publication itself and the public", according to the Black Crowes' manager, Pete Angelus.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

France bans beer website

Heineken has attacked a French court ruling that declared its website illegal under France’s alcohol advertising laws.

A Paris Court of Appeal judge last week banned Heineken from producing any new adverts on its French internet site, www.heineken.fr (now off line), in a civil case instigated by France’s National Association for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Addiction (ANPAA).

Setting a potentially difficult precedent for alcoholic drinks makers in France, the judge also ruled that internet adverts were not authorised under the country’s alcohol advertising rules.

That is because the law governing alcohol ads, the ‘Loi Evin’, was originally introduced in 1991, before the internet existed.

Heineken’s French arm, Heineken Entreprise, has taken its website offline and called the Paris court decision “worrying”. The brewer was also banned from using its ‘for a fresher world’ slogan on ads, because it implied drinking could make the world seem a better place.

Heineken said it was considering an appeal against both decisions.

Group vice president Pascal Sabrié added the first ruling was “highly prejudicial and totally unsuited to the realities of communication and economic exchanges today”. He said that, instead of banning internet adverts, it was time to build the internet into existing laws.

Some eejit

An Illinois idiot has created a Facebook, claiming that if he gets 100,000 (now up to 17,500) people to join, He'll eat every McDonalds value meal, #1-12, including fries ... the drinks are discretionary though.

Assuming that each meal is eaten with the standard medium fries, the total caloric intake of this endeavor would be 10,710 calories.

#1 - Big Mac
#2 - 2 Cheeseburgers
#3 - Quarter Pounder w/ cheese
#4 - Double Quarter Pounder w/ cheese
#5 - Big N' Tasty
#6 - Double Cheeseburger
#7 - Chicken Ranch BLT Sandwich
#8 - Premium Chicken Club Sandwich
#9 - Chicken McNuggets (10 piece)
#10 - Chicken Selects
#11 - Premium Chicken Classic Sandwich
#12 - Fillet-O-Fish
-All fries with every value meal has to be eaten as well.

THIS WILL BE TAPED FOR PROOF!(Nice to see BetaMax is still in use!)

Juror gets an eyefull

A murder trial was halted yesterday when a woman juror was unwittingly flashed at by a man in a tartan mini skirt. Gender-bender Brian Alliban, 37, was in the public gallery at the Old Bailey when, as he later admitted: “I forgot to cross my legs.”

It is claimed he was not wearing underpants — and the shocked juror saw the evidence.
She wrote a note to the judge, who halted the case while cops escorted Brian out.

Brian, who calls himself Naomi and plans to have a sex-change op, said: “I’m halfway to being a woman but I sometimes have trouble with underwear. I was wearing a skirt and was not sitting like a woman so, as the public gallery is higher up, people below had a view right up my legs.”

Brian was also wearing lipstick, eye liner and a hairgrip. He said he often attended court because he felt safe.

Penny windfall

A penny saved is not necessarily just a penny earned. A man's collection of rare cents has turned into a $10.7 million auction windfall in California.

The collection of 301 cents featured some of the earliest examples of the American cent, including one that was minted in 1793 but abandoned because Congress thought Lady Liberty looked frightened.

That coin and a 1794 cent with tiny stars added to prevent counterfeiters each raised $632,500, according to the Dallas-based auction house Heritage Auction Galleries, which held the sale in Long Beach.

The coins came from the collection of Burbank resident Walter J. Husak, the owner of an aerospace-part manufacturing company. Husak became interested in collecting at age 13, while visiting his grandparents who paid him in old coins for helping with chores.

There were 168 successful bidders and the auction gallery got 15% of the total.

Pot Hedge

Gold Coast, Australia - It looked like an average Nerang back yard with an above-ground pool and neatly trimmed hedges. But a closer look at the shrubbery revealed they were actually cannabis plants and that put a new twist on the expression 'cultivating drugs'.

Nerang officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Gary Symons said police yesterday removed 30 healthy and mature plants, some more than 2m tall, with a street value of more than $100,000.

The plants, trimmed and shaped to form a screen near the pool, were growing in tubs, but the thick cannabis hedge along the side fence was planted in the ground.

It was a rare find for police in these days of hydroponics. Sen-Sgt Symons said police acted on information they had received and raided the rented McLarens Road house about 1pm and quickly found the neat crop.

Sen-Sgt Symons said he had never seen cannabis shaped and trimmed into a hedge in his 25 years in the police service.

Neighbours looked over the fence in amazement as police dug up the manicured crop and removed it to be destroyed. "They are a lovely couple," said one neighbour. "Who would have thought that hedge was grass? It just looks like an ordinary hedge in a suburban yard."

Police hacked

London - Hackers have broken into the Metropolitan Police recruitment website, posting a picture of a cuddly toy on its front page and adding taunting comments beneath it.

The green stripy teddy bear appeared above a badly-spelled message posted by "Officer Brobee" that made reference to the force's SO15 counter-terrorism unit.

"OH HAI GUYS do joo wanna bes a policeman lulz?" it said. "I see that teh so15 anti-terrorism anti-lulz police are hiring more incompetent nervy edgy socipaths to make London's streets just that little bit safer!"

A spokesman for the Met said they were aware of the hack.

"We are aware of an unauthorised image and text having been placed on the Met Careers internet site," a statement issued by the force said. The Met Careers site is managed by an external company who are responsible for its upkeep. We will discuss this with the service provider at the earliest possible time."

Quake up call

The biggest earthquake in the UK for nearly 25 years has shaken homes across large parts of the country.

People in Newcastle, Yorkshire, London, Cumbria, the Midlands, Norfolk and also parts of Wales, felt the tremor just before 1 am.

A man suffered a broken pelvis when a chimney collapsed in South Yorkshire.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) said the epicentre of the 5.3 magnitude quake was near Market Rasen in Lincolnshire.

The tremor was felt in north, mid and south Wales although staff at North Wales Fire and Rescue Service said they felt the earthquake but were not called to any related incidents.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Boot-iful

BERLIN - Police dogs in the western city of Duesseldorf will no longer get their feet dirty when on patrol — the entire dog unit will soon be equipped with blue plastic fiber shoes, a police spokesman said Monday.

"All 20 of our police dogs — German and Belgian shepherds — are currently being trained to walk in these shoes," Andre Hartwich said. "I'm not sure they like it, but they'll have to get used to it."

The unusual footwear is not a fashion statement, Hartwich said, but rather a necessity due to the high rate of paw injuries on duty. Especially in the city's historical old town — famous for both its pubs and drunken revelers — the dogs often step into broken beer bottles.

"Even the street-cleaning doesn't manage to remove all the glass pieces from between the streets' cobble stones," Hartwich said, adding that the dogs frequently get injured by little pieces sticking deep in their paws.

The dogs will start wearing the shoes this spring but only during operations that demand special foot protection. The shoes comes in sizes small, medium and large and were ordered in blue to match the officers uniforms, Hartwich said.

"Now we just have to teach the dogs how to tie their shoes," he joked.

Fat Christ poster banned

A promotional poster, which shows a man in pink boxer-shorts being crucified, has been banned from the Tube. Transport for London (TfL) said the advert for the play Fat Christ, which begins showing this week in Islington, north London, was offensive.

TfL said the advertisement would break its commitment to avoid adverts likely to offend some members of society. Writer Gavin Davis said sensitivities could be found on "many images" on the underground and in the media.

The play was based, in part, on a person who auditioned for the play Jesus Christ Super Star and was told he was too fat to be given the part.

Mr Davis said that while he understood the image could be sensitive, in this case it portrayed the play.

"Part of the subject matter of the play is that the lead character creates a painting of the modern crucifixion... as a symbolism of all religions and the parallels and sensitivities that they have got," he said.

A TfL spokesman said: "Millions of people travel on the London Underground each day and they have no choice but to view whatever adverts are posted there.

French diploma

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been caught on camera swearing at a member of the crowd at the annual farming fair in Paris.

The video clip, which has been posted on the internet, shows a man at the Salon International de l'Agriculture refusing to shake the president's hand.

The man draws back and says: "Oh no, don't touch me, you'll dirty me."

Mr Sarkozy snaps: "Piss off then you bloody idiot, just get lost!"

$275 lottery win

An iron worker has won a $275m (£140m) jackpot in the US state of Georgia - the largest single-player prize in the state lottery's history. Robert Harris, 47, used the dates of his grand children's birthdays in two $1 tickets his wife bought in Portal, the small town where they live.

Having quit his job after his win, Mr Harris said he planned to "live happy". He and his wife Tonya, 55, have opted to take $167m now rather than $275m over 26 years.

Tonya Harris said she almost did not enter the lottery because it was raining heavily on the day.

"I was headed home and it was raining like crazy, and I said, 'Nah, I'm not going back up there'. And then something just changed my mind. I said, 'I'll go play'. It is not going to change me at all. Him maybe, but not me - I'm too country"

Neither of them played the lottery very often, and neither watched the draw on Friday night as they did not believe they would win.

It was their daughter who alerted them to the win.

Monkey wedding

Some 3,000 villagers have attended an elaborate Hindu wedding ceremony in eastern India for two monkeys.

The "bride" was dressed in a five-metre long sari and decked in flowers. The ceremony took place last Thursday in Ghanteswara village in Orissa state.

The guests were served a feast of rice, lentils, vegetables, fish and sweets.

Monkeys are revered idols in Hindu mythology. But the couples that took in and "married" off the two monkeys in Orissa say they love them as pets.

The monkey marriage took place some 200km (125 miles) from the Orissa state capital, Bhubaneswar.

The "groom", a three-year-old male monkey named Manu, was taken by procession to a temple in the company of hundreds of bemused onlookers, accompanied by loud music, dancing and fireworks.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

7 yr old's ID theft

CARPENTERSVILLE, Illinois-- Police in a Chicago suburb say the Internal Revenue Service has told a 7-year-old boy he owes back taxes on $60,000 because someone else has been using the youngster's identity to collect wages and unemployment benefits.

Officers in suburban Carpentersville said Friday the second-grader's identity has been in use by someone else since 2001.

Detectives have filed a felony identity theft charge against 29-year-old Cirilo Centeno of Streamwood, Illinois.

They accuse Centeno of using the boy's personal information to collect more than $60,000 in pay and services while working three jobs. They say he also used the boy's ID to buy a truck, pay bills and even collect unemployment benefits.

Ireland's Lame Duck Turkey

Eurovision Song Contest feathers may be ruffled by Ireland's decision to be represented in May's cross-continental competition by a puppet bird. Dustin The Turkey was plucked from a raft of six finalists, winning a televised vote on Saturday night.

The cult figure's gobbled rendition of Irelande Douze Pointe - a parody of the Eurovision voting system - secured his place at the top of the pecking order.

Dustin now aims to restore Irish pride battered by recent Eurovision failures.

But while Dustin beat off national opposition in broadcaster RTE's Eurosong on Saturday, he now faces a pressure cooker environment at May's Eurovision, where he will have to fight off competition from all over Europe.

The glove-puppet, a character on an Irish children's TV programme, won the heats despite having the backing of Dublin-born Bob Geldof, who declared that Dustin was 'one of the greatest talents this country has ever produced' and that he should represent Ireland's 'glorious musical heritage' on the world stage. 'The mere fact that he is a turkey should give Ireland the edge', said Geldof.

Fairy cake death

An inquest is to be held on a man who died during a contest to see who could eat the most fairy cakes. The man, thought to be from Birmingham, collapsed at a Swansea nightclub during the event at the end of a party to raise funds for an art exhibition.

Police say there are no suspicious circumstances following the incident at the city's Monkey Cafe and Bar during the early hours of Friday. The coroner has been informed and the family have been told.

It is believed attempts were made by staff and customers at the nightclub to revive the man.

In a statement, club owners Amanda Davey and Paul Dyke said: "We are all devastated by this tragic accident. We are all in shock. It was a tragic accident and very sad and should serve as a cautionary tale. Our deepest sympathy goes out to his family."

A South Wales Police spokesman said: "There are no suspicious circumstances and a file is being prepared for the coroner."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

School bus on skis

LA POINTE, Wisconsin: From a distance, the large red aluminum contraption parked on the frozen shore of Lake Superior here looks like a small houseboat perched on skis. Up closer, as schoolchildren pile in with their backpacks and iPods, it becomes clear that the mystery vehicle, with two large fans on the back, is something else entirely.

For residents of this remote village on an ice-locked island off the tip of mainland Wisconsin, the gliding boatmobile, known here as a windsled, is a kind of school bus.

Read the rest HERE

Stand by your ham

In what they say is a last-ditch attempt to save the Uk's pork industry, dozens of pig farmers gathered in London aiming for an Internet hit with their song "Stand by your Ham".

The song - which reworks Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man" with a porcine theme - is intended to alert the public to a sector that farmers say is being pushed to extinction by greedy supermarket chains and rising feed prices.

"Stand by your ham," runs the chorus. "Sausages, pork and bacon/Help us stay in business/Because our pigs are worth it/Stand by your ham."

With little singing experience but fuelled by enthusiasm and bacon sandwiches, the 20 to 30 farmers hope to rely on affection for traditional pork products from pies to sausages.

It will be available for download from the weekend from the website www.pigsareworthit.com

"It's a lighthearted way of drawing attention to a very serious issue," Yorkshire pig farmer Richard Longthorp said by telephone from the recording session.

"If this doesn't stop, then as sure as eggs is eggs, the industry is going to disappear."

The farmers say they lose more than 20 pounds a pig after unprecedented rises in feed prices fuelled by soaring global cereal prices due to higher fuel costs, competition from biofuels, increased demand from Asia and drought in Australia.

The National Pig Association says surveys show consumers are willing to pay more to keep high-quality pig farming - which farmers say puts animal welfare first - in business. They want politicians to put pressure on retailers.

"Hopefully we will have a couple of stars," said National Pig Association chairman Barney Kay, who penned the alternate words. "I don't think we'll be at the Brits next year but you never know."

Feudalism ends

Politicians in the Channel Island of Sark have agreed to end the island's feudal system of government which has been in place for the past 450 years. Governing body, the Chief Pleas, has approved new reform laws which will lead to the introduction of a 28-member elected chamber. Elections under the new constitution will be held in December.

Sark, 80 miles off the south coast, had been governed by a mix of landowners and elected people's deputies. There was pressure on Sark to reform its feudal constitution to comply with the European Human Rights laws and other international obligations.

Owners of the island's 40 tenements (divisions of land) currently have an automatic seat in the Chief Pleas, and islanders chose 12 people's deputies. The first new assembly of Chief Pleas will take place in January next year.

Deputy Paul Armorgie said: "It's a great relief. We have been trying to achieve this for 10 years and now a line has been drawn. Sark is finally moving from feudalism to democracy."

Sark, which is only 3 miles (4.8km) long and 1.5 miles (2.4k) wide, has a resident population of about 600.

Its government can directly trace its roots back to Queen Elizabeth I, who once granted the ruling "Seigner" a fief on the tiny Channel Island. The unelected descendents of 40 families brought in to colonise Sark, after the French abandoned it in 1553, have governed life on the island ever since.

2,000,000 - 1

A punter in North Yorkshire has become the first betting shop millionaire after he placed a 50p bet on eight horses with odds of two million to one. The man, who will receive a £1m payout, placed his winning bet at William Hill bookmakers in Thirsk, North Yorkshire.

The betting shop said the winner was a regular customer and had placed similar bets almost on a daily basis.

The first horse that won on Friday was called Isn't That Lucky and the last winner was A Dream Come True.

The punter discovered he had won at 1200 GMT on Saturday when he went into another William Hill branch in Bedale, 15 miles away from the branch were he placed his 50p bet.

Graham Sharpe from the bookmakers said: "He placed five more 50p bets for Saturday's racing, then asked staff to check his betting slip from the day before. When they told him he had £1m to come but would have to collect it from the Thirsk shop, he went visibly pale before saying that he would have to go and tell his wife."

The customer, who has not been identified but lives in the local area, landed an eight-horse accumulator, which is bookmaker William Hill's limit on the amount of races a punter can link bets on.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Jail if you slam a door

A Welsh woman was given a five-year Anti-Social Behaviour Order which could land her in prison if she drops litter or slams doors.

Sarah Gibbons, 27 of Old Barn Estate, Newport has been making her neighbours' lives a misery for more than two years, Cwmbran magistrates were told yesterday. Newport City Council made the application for repeated anti-social behaviour dating back to December 2005.

The court heard Gibbons acted in a drunken manner, damaged property, shouted and screamed and made a disturbance at all hours of the day and night.

Magistrates imposed the order with 12 conditions, that Gibbons must not act in a manner that will cause harassment or distress to anyone in England or Wales; use threatening or foul language, scream or shout; enter any premises owned by Kaleidoscope; drink alcohol in a public place except for licensed premises or be drunk in a public place.

She must not cause noises that would disturb residents; kick or knock doors, including her own, to cause a nuisance; slam doors repeatedly; intentionally dispose of litter in public space other than in the correct manner; encourage others to carry out any of the behaviour included in the order; damage other people's property or be in possession of a controlled substance.
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The council had asked for the order to last 10 years.

How not to name a child

A Swedish couple has been fined for failing to register a legally approved name for their seven-year-old child, who is presently called “Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116″ (pronounced “/?al?bin/”).They’ve offered to change the kid’s name to “A,” but the Swedish government says that won’t do, either.

Because the parents (Elizabeth Hallin and an unidentified father) failed to register a name by the boy’s fifth birthday, a district court in Halmstad, southern Sweden, fined the parents 5,000 kronor (US$682 at the time). Responding to the fine, the parents submitted the 43-character name in May 1996, claiming that it was “a pregnant, expressionistic development that we see as an artistic creation.” The parents suggested the name be understood in the spirit of ‘pataphysics. The court rejected the name and upheld the fine.

The parents then tried to change the spelling of the name to A (also pronounced /ˈalˌbin/) instead. Once again, the court did not approve of the parents' ideas for naming because of a prohibition on one-letter naming.

Real life Narnia?

DUI Exec DUI'd

PALM CITY, Florida - Program officials say the executive director of a nonprofit agency that gives classes to DUI offenders has been suspended after the Palm City woman received a DUI herself.

Margot Cioffi has been suspended from her job as executive director of the Comprehensive Offender Rehabilitation and Education program. The program -- which operates in Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee counties -- will continue.

According to a deputy's report, Cioffi was arrested in Palm City on Monday night. She's facing charges of DUI with property damage, leaving the scene of an accident with property damage, resisting arrest without violence and disorderly intoxication.

Cioffi is out of jail on bond.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sleeping pilots miss airport

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating whether two airline pilots who flew past the airport in Hilo Hawaii by 15 miles last Wednesday were asleep. Go! Airlines flight 1002 left from Honolulu and was expected to land in Hilo around 10 a.m., but had to turn around after flying past the airport.

The pilots did return to the airport and land safely. Go! Airlines is owned by Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group, which also operates Mesa Airlines.

There is no indication that the pilots had to avoid landing because of other aircraft or weather, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said. Investigators are looking into why the pilots flew past the airport.

Air traffic controllers, which had been tracking the plane by radar, were unable to reach the plane for 25 minutes.

Gregor said the FAA plans to interview the pilots of the 214-mile flight. Under FAA rules, they could be subject to a warning, suspension or license revocation depending on the findings.

Go! Airlines is also conducting their own investigation. Gregor also said that there is no FAA regulation that allows pilots to sleep during a flight. A radar track of the flight provided by the Web site www.flightaware.com shows the plane remained at 21,000 feet as it flew past Hilo before returning to the airport.

Stuffing theft

MIDLAND, Michigan — This stuffing was hot, but not in the roasted turkey sense.

Police have arrested a 32-year-old man they accuse of stealing 217 cases of Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix.

The stuff went missing last week from a storage trailer in Midland. Deputy Police Chief Robert Lane said area distributors have access to the trailer, and that the suspect worked for one of the distributors.

The man was arrested over the weekend at his home, The Midland Daily News reported.

Lane said prosecutors have been asked to charge the man with embezzlement. The 157 cases of stuffing recovered by police is being held as evidence.

Obama, Osama Blooper

NEW YORK - NBC News said Tuesday it has reprimanded the employee responsible for mistakenly flashing a picture of Osama bin Laden on MSNBC as Chris Matthews talked about Barack Obama.

"This mistake was inexcusable," MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines said.

It happened during the opening of "Hardball" Monday evening. Matthews was previewing a story on the controversy over Obama's use of another politician's words, and a picture of bin Laden briefly flashed on the screen beside him with the headline "Words About Words."

The Obama campaign immediately called NBC to complain, and Matthews apologized on the air a few minutes later. When "Hardball" was rerun later that night, a picture of Obama replaced the picture of the terrorist leader.

The mistake was made by someone in the network's graphics department whom MSNBC would not identify. The network did not explain exactly how the mistake was made nor detail the punishment for the employee.

Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor noted the apology and said the campaign had no other comment.

It's hardly the first time the presidential candidate and terrorist leader have been confused in the media. CNN apologized last year for promoting a story on the search for bin Laden with the headline, "Where's Obama?"

One other time, CNN's Alina Cho reported that "Barack Obama's campaign has been dogged by false rumours, among them that Osama is a Muslim, Obama rather."

Jail for walking the dog

A 70-year-old Iranian man was arrested and sentenced to four months in jail and 30 lashes for walking his dog, Adnkronos.com reported Tuesday. Police caught the man on the street with his dog in Shahr Rey, a suburb of Tehran.

Owners of domestic animals are forbidden from taking them on the streets of the city because Islam considers dogs to be impure. An Islamic judge later charged the man for "disturbing the public order,” Adnkronos.com reported.

Despite repeated warnings by the police, dog owners continue to defy authorities by taking their dogs outside their homes. Typical punishment for people caught with dogs outside is a fine or the "detention" of their animals in a pound, Adnkronos.com reported.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently provoked debate in Iran about dog ownership when he took possession of four guard dogs, bought in Germany for approximately $161,040 each.

The dogs are at the centre of a theological controversy because Islam considers dogs to be impure.

For this reason, the government has banned owners of domestic animals from taking them on the streets of the city, and owners risk fines or the 'detention' of their animals in a pound.

"The purchase of these dogs was authorised by a fatwa issued by several ayatollahs who approved the use of these animals if the only goal was to guarantee personal security and not infringe on any religious rule," said Iran's semi-official news agency Fars.

Welsh metal detecting



A home-made metal detector, which works by remote control, has netted a father and daughter a haul of coins worth £2,000.

Decima Watkins' father David from Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, made it from scrap metal and recycled materials. They say it can cover the ground automatically, and save on the more back-breaking work, combing for coins.

Art student Decima, 20, said after initial trial and error the detector, which cost £100 to make, has paid off. They spent more than a year building the "Decima Detector" in Mr Watkins' garage and found a haul of old coins while trying out their machine.

They have collected more than £2,000 in cash on Porthkerry beach near their home, as well as finding 5,000 assorted silver and hammered coins, some they say date from the 14th Century.

Decima now hopes a company might be interested in developing the machine.

Podgy Aussie Posties

Australia's postal service has raised its weight limit for new recruits to attract a wider range of applicants. The 90kg (198lb) weight limit had been introduced to allow the service's 110cc Honda motorbikes to carry a "postie" plus 40kg (88lb) of mail.

Following talks with Honda, Australia Post decided the bikes could safely carry a heavier rider. Unions said the move showed the service had been unable to attract enough lighter applicants.

Union representative Michael Etue told the Associated Press news agency that he would not make the weight limit himself. "We're getting a lot of women riding and Asian people - who are a lot lighter (than average Australians) - but Australia Post cannot meet the demand," he said.

Australia Post spokesman Scott McIntyre denied recruitment problems but acknowledged that the new limit would allow more people to apply.

Honda approved the new limit after tests showed the extra weight "would not have any significant effect on the stability, handling or safety of the 110cc motorcycle", he told Australia's Daily Telegraph.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Total lunar eclipse

In the late night hours of tonight, a total lunar eclipse will dazzle the night sky. And this lunar eclipse may be worth staying up for, because it will be the last one until December 2010.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth lines up directly between the sun and the moon, casting a shadow over the moon's surface. The February 20, 2008 eclipse will last for nearly 3 and a half hours. For a full 50 minutes of that time the moon will be in totality - the period when the lunar surface is completely covered by the Earth's shadow.

During an eclipse the moon changes color, going from a light gray color to an orange or deep red shade. This is totality. The moon takes on this new color because indirect sunlight is still able to pass through the Earth's atmosphere and cast a glow on the moon.

The exact color that the moon appears depends on the amount of dust and clouds in the atmosphere. If there are extra particles in the atmosphere, from say a recent volcanic eruption, the moon will appear a darker shade of red.

Residents of the Americas, Europe and Africa will have the best view of this eclipse.

Here in the United States, the entire eclipse will be visible for the majority of the country. However, residents on the West Coast will miss out on watching the early stages of the eclipse, as it begins before moonrise.

This Wednesday night, hope for clear skies, try to stay awake and enjoy a spectacular lunar eclipse.

Homeless Soccer World Cup

No effin' charge!

A restaurant owner has apologised after diners had their very own F word experience - without Gordon Ramsay.

Ten friends found the abusive and sexually-explicit message on their bill at Joe Delucci's Italian restaurant in Bird Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire.

Diner Clare Watkin said she thought it was written after they complained about poor service. The party from Walsall had gone to the restaurant on Friday. Owner Nigel Langsdon has begun an investigation.

Ms Watkin said: "I couldn't believe it. The bill read 'fish cakes', which one of us had for a starter, and it was written right above it - absolutely disgusting language. We actually booked the table for 8 o' clock in the evening, by the time they had taken our order it was quarter to nine and we didn't actually receive our food until quarter past 10."

She added: "I'd like a written apology from the restaurant and I'd also like some compensation. I think that the way that we've been spoken to is absolutely outrageous."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cricket


It was a defeat of epic proportions. The Bermudan women's cricket team crawled to 13 all out - and South Africa overhauled them from just four balls.

As usual in cricket, the true drama was in the statistics. Batting first in a World Cup qualifier at Stellenbosch University yesterday, the Bermudans took 18 overs to score their 13. Three players scored a run each and extras top-scored with 10. The mainstay of the innings was skipper Linda Mienzer, who stayed at the crease for 60 minutes, facing 48 balls for her one.

In reply, the South Africans took just four legal deliveries to reach their target after Bermudan opening bowler Terry-Lynn Paynter bowled nine wides and a no-ball in her opening over.

Mienzer said she was extremely proud. "In terms of women's cricket Bermuda has come a long way, but we still have a long way to go."

Record Skydive Plan

An ex-SAS soldier is to attempt a record-breaking skydive — from 120,000ft. Movie stuntman Steve Truglia, 40, will jump from a hot air balloon 24 miles up on the edge of space.

That is three times the cruising altitude of a Jumbo jet. Only a Space Shuttle flies higher, shedding its rocket boosters at 150,000ft.

He will free fall for seven minutes before opening his parachute, and could break the 770mph sound barrier as he hurtles towards the ground. No human has ever travelled at such a speed outside an aircraft — and Steve has no idea how his body will react.

He will need a pressurized space suit in temperatures of -100°C, but Steve, of East London, said: “It’s the last great challenge left on Earth. Obviously it will be dangerous. We’re playing with a lot of unknowns. But it’s my job to assess risk and I don’t believe the problems are insurmountable.”

Steve is a veteran of 1,200 jumps with 21 SAS Regiment and the Royal Marines. He has since co-ordinated stunts in Bond films. He plans a jump from 52,000ft over Norfolk in May to break the European record — before attempting the world record in the autumn.

Meanwhile he is seeking sponsors for a seven-figure sum. The current record of 102,000ft was set by US Air Force officer Joseph Kittinger in 1960.

Matchstick Racing-car

Take nearly 1million matchsticks, add thousands of man hours spread over six years and a small fortune in glue, and what do you get? Your very own wooden Formula One car.

It has been built by German racing fan Michael Arndt, using a mind-boggling 956,000 matchsticks.

He spent £4,500 on the matches and glue to construct the life-size model, which he put together in his kitchen. Altogether, he has used an amazing 1,686 tubes of glue to fix his masterpiece.

Mr Arndt even took the end off each of the matchsticks so the car is just one colour and carefully assembled the matchsticks by using tweezers to fit them in the structure.

His creation can be broken down into 45 pieces – perfect for taking his beloved model with him to matchstick building conventions.

Marmite statue

Publicity stunts based around Valentine are normally pretty tasteless - but not this one.

A giant statue made of Marmite is now standing in London's Greenwich Park.

The romantic food-based monument is based on Rodin's The Kiss and is made with limited edition champagne flavoured Marmite.

Totally pointless, but pretty cool. At the very least, you'll love it or hate it...

Bridge theft

Police in the Czech republic are trying to find out who stole a 4 tonne railway bridge from the border town of Cheb.

The company which was responsible for looking after the bridge raised the alarm when, ever alert, they noticed that the bridge wasn't there any more.

The bridge was on a disused stretch of line just outside Cheb.

Martina Hruskova, a spokeswoman for the Czech police, commented to AFP: 'We are not sure if it was taken for personal use or for its scrap value.' Exactly what that 'personal use' might be was left unsaid.

'It is the first time we have dealt with this type of theft,' she added.

Of course, it's not the first time some light-fingered bridge enthusiast has made off with a bridge. At least two bridges have been nicked in Russia in the past six months, and a pair of bridge thieves appropriated two Macedonian bridges last February.

At your convenience

A three-seater outside toilet in Kent has been listed as a building of special architectural and historical importance. The oak bolthole, beside a farmhouse in Benenden, was built in 1775 and was still being used into the 1960s. The Grade II-listed privy has two full-size seats and a child-size one.

"Having children of my own and knowing what a devil it is to potty train them I thought how wonderful it must have been," said owner Mary Kellett. "You could take your child along with you and hopefully it would get the message quite quickly."

The contents of the privy were collected in a bucket, which could then be removed via a trap door at the back and used to make fertiliser.

Emily Gee, of English Heritage, said there were several hundred listed toilets - some rural privies and some urban public conveniences. "There are a few others with three seats - but only a handful - it is quite rare," she said.

Farting woman loses case

A Bradford woman who said she was relentlessly taunted by colleagues because of chronic flatulence has had her claims dismissed by a tribunal.

The employment tribunal heard that the woman - who cannot be named because of a court ruling - suffered severe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) which she claimed led to an embarrassing wind problem at work.

The woman's lawyers claimed at the hearing that she was subjected to cruel jibes about a "terrible smell" and that a colleague mocked her saying: "She opens the windows because she is stinking the place out."

In another alleged incident, her line manager made an "unhumorous bowel joke" and another colleague made "exaggerated sniffing noises" in earshot of her.

However, her claims for disability and race discrimination and constructive dismissal have all now been dismissed by a panel of tribunal judges.

DVD overcharge

A Chateauguay, Quebec, couple can't believe they ended up being criminally charged after forgetting to return some DVDs.

"It was just ridiculous. I can't believe the police took the time and put the effort into this," Helena Pawl told CTV Montreal on Monday. Pawl and her boyfriend, Jean-Francois Mainville, forgot to return the movies to Video Carnaval.

The store claimed they tried to contact the couple several times to request the return of the movies, but the couple claims they heard nothing. So the store filed a complaint with police over the $81 bill.

After a call from the Chateauguay police, Pawl and Mainville quickly returned the DVDs, but that didn't end the matter. A few months later, the Surete du Quebec, the provincial police force, pulled Mainville over for speeding. While processing his licence, they found a warrant out for his arrest.

"They used a loudspeaker, telling me to exit the vehicle and put my hands on the hood," Mainville said in French.

The couple has hired a lawyer to fight the case, spending about $1,000. At their court date, the video store didn't even show up. While that meant an acquittal, Mainville now wants his name and mugshot completely cleared from police files. But hiring a lawyer to help with that would cost yet more money.

"Oh my God. I think it's ridiculous. Give me the late charges. I'd rather pay the late charges," said Pawl. "We were three weeks late bringing back these DVDs."

A Chateauguay police officer said it really doesn't make any difference that this incident involved late DVDs. "It's a product (with) a monetary value to it," said Tony Sciullo. "All complaints, we have to take them down," he said of the store's complaint.

Pawl said: "We didn't rob the store. We didn't go in with masks and take the movies. We forgot to bring them back."

Urinal modification

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A young mechanic, Wang Chi-sheng, is suspected of stealing a urinal sensor, which he said he planned to use to modify a Mercedes Benz car.

Wang has been accused of trespassing for entering a closed-down gas station restroom and stealing the heat sensors used on the urinals. Police escorting Wang stated that they laughed as they listened to his plan to use the sensors to test out his latest designs for improving a Mercedes Benz car.

The Taiwan Mercedes' technicians department said the young man's scheme was "unbelievable," commenting that "the probability of successfully using a sensor from a public urinal to replace special factory-made sensors was and remains zero."

What's more, the technicians explained the thief's actions are quite dangerous, and could even lead to creating an electric current that leads to the engine, which would cause it to ignite and possibly even explode.

via The China Post

Warrant saved

A copy of the warrant for the execution of Mary Queen of Scots has been saved for Britain. The document has been acquired by the library of the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace for £72,485, with the help of heritage bodies' donations.

It faced being taken overseas by a private buyer until the government put a block on its export last year.

The Catholic Queen was executed on 8 February 1587 at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire. Her cousin, Elizabeth I, signed the warrant but later claimed she had given no instruction for its enactment. The original warrant disappeared in the recriminations which followed.

Robert Beale, principal clerk to the Privy Council, was responsible for bearing the warrant to the commissioners.

They were instructed to "repair to our Castell of Fotheringhaye where the said queene of Scottes is in custodie and cause by your commaundement execution to be don uppon her person".

The document, which includes Beale's annotation, was delivered by him to Henry Grey, 6th Earl of Kent - one of the two commissioners who organised the execution.

The purchase by Lambeth Palace Library, the library and record office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, comes after a temporary export ban was put in place last November by the government after a private owner applied for a licence to take it overseas.

The reviewing committee on the export of works of art and objects of cultural interest, administered by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, (MLA), had recommended that the manuscript was "so closely connected with our history and national life that its departure would be a misfortune".

Castro retires

Cuba's leader Fidel Castro has said he will not accept another term as president, ending 49 years in power.

"I neither will aspire to, nor will I accept, the position of president of the council of state and commander in chief," he told the newspaper, Granma.

The 81-year-old handed over power temporarily to his brother, Raul, in July 2006 when he underwent surgery.

US President George W Bush said the news should mark the beginning of a transmographication towards democratification for Cuba.

Big Butt Craze

A national dance craze in Ivory Coast has spawned a black market in treatments claiming to increase one's bottom size. The dance in question has been inspired by DJ Mix and DJ Eloh's hit song Bobaraba, which means "big bottom" in the local Djoula language.

When it plays you can be guaranteed that the dance floor will be packed with people shaking their derrieres. Even Ivorian footballers have adopted the moves and could be seen wiggling their bottoms in a curious on-pitch dance after each goal scored during the just-ended Africa Nations Cup.

However, doctors have warned of the possible dangers of some of the concoctions on sale. While the dance has been embraced by both sexes, DJ Mix says it was inspired by women.

"We made it as a tribute to women, because African women are defined by the shape of their bottoms," he says. "Move your bottom, jump, you see, it's alive."

Kady Meite, one of his dancers, says the song is a message for women. "There are women today with large bottoms who are embarrassed, so it's to say don't be ashamed - be comfortable," she says.

The message seems to have been taken on board - so much so that some women are now going in search of a "bobaraba".

In the sprawling Adjame market just north of the city centre in Abidjan, women sell "bottom enhancers". "You need to inject this liquid into your bottom once a day," says a market trader, showing a vial of coloured liquid labelled "Vitamin B12". Each vial costs $2. The label claims it is made in China.

If you do not like the sound of injections, the same amount of money will also get you a small tub of cream. There is no description of what the product contains or how to apply it; just the words "Big bottoms and big breasts", and two illustrating pictures.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Kidney donor

After Laura Moon started suffering stomach pains, doctors decided to carry out an ultrasound scan on the teenager. When they saw the results, they were astounded. For the scan revealed that she had four kidneys. The 18-year-old is now hoping to donate the extra organs for transplant operations.

Only a handful of people in the UK have four kidneys, although having three is relatively common. But Laura's case is especially unusual because all four are fully formed and functional.

Laura, a customer services adviser from Leeds, said: "I think if I've got four, I don't need all four. Why not donate if there's someone else in need? I hope I can help somebody else while I am young. I will do everything in my power to become a donor."

It is not known why people develop multiple, or duplex, organs but one in 125 people have one extra kidney, normally a partial organ. Laura's condition often causes the patient no problems, although sufferers can be more prone to urinary infections.

She discovered she had the unusual anatomy six months ago when she was undergoing tests following a road accident.

"I was in a car crash a year ago and six months later I began having a lot of pain in my stomach. My GP referred me to the hospital for a scan."

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Liverpool landmark to leave

Liverpool's iconic Superlambanana could leave the city before the end of the year, it has been claimed. The 17ft-high yellow sculpture, which has stood at various locations around the city, was unveiled in 1998 by its Japanese creator Taro Chiezo.

It currently stands outside the John Moores University Avril Roberts centre on Tithebarn Street. The artist's agent, Francis McEntegart, has now said it was only on a 10-year loan, which expires in May.

It passed to the Liverpool Architect Design Trust (LADT), but when that dissolved it was handed to the council. Mr McEntegart has now written to the Liverpool Culture Company - the organisation set up by the council to deliver the culture programme in 2008 - to discuss selling the artwork.

"If anybody wants to purchase it, it is up to Taro whether he wants to sell it, he could keep it himself if he wants to," he said. "I think the ideal scenario would be that it stays in Liverpool and it is purchased by Liverpool City Council."

He compared the situation to Anthony Gormley's Another Place statues on Crosby beach, which were bought by Sefton Council.

"They saw it as a great piece of public art and hopefully Liverpool will see it the same way," he added.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Round the World? cyclist

A British man has smashed the record for cycling round the world. Mark Beaumont, from Fife, completed the journey in 195 days - beating the previous record of 276 days.

The 25-year-old crossed the finish line at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris at 1430 GMT after an 18,000-mile journey which began on 5 August last year.

Mr Beaumont passed through 20 countries on his way, including Pakistan, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and the US. His solo journey has been dramatic at times. He endured floods and road rage, and was knocked off his bike in the American state of Louisiana by an elderly motorist who drove through a red light.

Mr Beaumont, who is originally from Bridge of Cally in Perthshire but now lives in Newburgh, also had his wallet and camera stolen from a motel. However, he is now celebrating.

He said: "I'm delighted, although I think it will take a while for it to sink in. It's great to see my friends and family and now I'm looking forward to getting some sleep."

Mark's first long-distance ride was from John O'Groats to Land's End, aged 12.

His mother Una said: "I am very proud. With Mark, the passion is being the first and the fastest. It's about pushing himself to the limit."

Leg 1: Paris to Istanbul = 2,054m Countries: France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey.
LEG 2: Istanbul to Calcutta = 5,234m Countries: Turkey, Pakistan, India.
LEG3: Bangkok to Singapore = 1,253m Countries: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore
LEG 4: Perth to Brisbane = 4,085m Country: Australia
LEG 5: Dunedin to Auckland = 907m Country: New Zealand
LEG 6: San Francisco to St Augustine, Florida = 2,833m Country: USA
LEG 7: Lisbon to Paris = 1,180m Countries: Portugal, Spain, France

Total Distance: 18,492 miles in 195 days

There's a diary & pictures from the BBC HERE

New, Oldest person

Mariam Amash filled in the routine form with anything but routine information. Amash, who recently applied for a new Israeli identity card, said she was born 120 years ago _ a claim, if confirmed, that would make her the oldest person in the world. The Guinness Book of Records currently lists 114-year-old Edna Parker of Shelbyville, Indiana, as holding that title.

Sabine Haddad, a spokeswoman for Israel's Interior Ministry, confirmed that Amash, from the Israeli Arab village of Jisr a-Zarka, is listed in the population registry as having been born in 1888. "We're just not sure it's correct," Haddad said.

The listing was based on a birth certificate issued by Turkish authorities who ruled the region at the time, she said. Ministry clerks in an Israeli city near Amash's village found out about her claim this week when she came in to replace an identity card she lost.

Relatives said she has 10 sons and one daughter, her eldest, now in her late 80s. She has about 120 grandchildren, 250 great-grandchildren and 20 great-great grandchildren, they said.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sleeveface

Sleeveface, the latest craze to sweep the internet. Taking part could not be easier - all you need is an old record sleeve, a camera and a spark of creative genius.

What started as a joke among DJ friends in Cardiff has now become an online phenomenon, with music fans across the world posting pictures of themselves, their faces obscured by their favourite album art.

Some try to recreate the mood of the original photo as accurately as possible, others choose to embellish the sleeve with a quirky or unexpected background.


Thousands of Sleeveface pictures have been posted on special Facebook and Flickr websites, and John Rostron, the music promoter who helped launch the craze, says a book is in the pipeline.

There have been pictures posted from Sleevefacers in the USA, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Iceland and Israel, as well as the UK.

And that's not to mention the media coverage that has included features in the Observer and Guardian newspapers. The Guardian even made Sleeveface its Facebook group of the year.

Who ya gonna call? ... not Manchester!

A hotline for people in Manchester to offer suggestions on how the council should spend its £468m budget received one phone call in a month. In addition to the solitary call, the city council received six letters and 21 e-mails in the month-long exercise.

Council bosses admitted disappointment at the response but said it was still an important consultation.

About 2,000 copies of a leaflet with contact information were printed and sent to community centres and libraries between Christmas and New Year. It was also reproduced in Manchester People, the town hall newspaper delivered to 200,000 households in the city. The consultation finished on 31 January.

Councillor Bernard Priest, Manchester City Council's executive member for finance, denied the consultation was a waste of time.

He said: "It is always disappointing if there is a limited response to this type of consultation, but it's really important to give taxpayers a chance to let us know their views on how their money is spent. We are constantly looking for ways to make it easier for people to communicate with us and the views we receive are given careful consideration. I am sure that if people did not believe that the services they receive offer good value for money, they would be very quick to let us know."

Manchester City Council will receive £468m for the financial year 2008/9 to serve its population of about 442,000 people.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Kindergarten bans stripes and dots

A kindergarten in northern Sweden has introduced an unusual form of dress code, banning staff and children from wearing clothes with stripes or dots, a news report said today.

The ban was introduced at a pre-school in Koskullskulle near Gallivare to protect a staff member who suffers from migraines who “cannot be in an environment where there are stripes or dots,” principal Maj Norberg said, according to the Norrlandska Socialdemokraten newspaper.

“Parents question this, they don’t want to change their children’s jumpers. The current fashion is stripes,” Norberg said.

Norberg said the dress code was “unusual” but “the staff member has to be able to work and it is hard to find alternative employment for her.”

Ulf Eriksson, head of the national Parent-Teacher Association, said he had never heard of a similar case and questioned if the kindergarten had the right to introduce what was in effect a school uniform.

Eriksson said that migraine attacks could also perhaps be triggered by loud noise, the newspaper said.

Standup and deliver

Even a standup comedian can use a good prop, and Katt Williams had one of the best — a briefcase stuffed with cash.

While he cracked jokes at the Laugh Factory on Sunday night, the comedian with a taste for fedoras and wide lapels worked the audience, handing out $100 bills to everybody. In all, the comedian handed out about $29,000, Laugh Factory owner Jamie said.

“You should have seen it,” Masada said. “Some people were crying. They came to see the show and they got $100.”

Williams’ manager didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail Tuesday, but Masada said the comedian told the audience he hadn’t forgotten his roots and wanted to thank his loyal audience.

70yr old bullet removed

Doctors have extracted a bullet from an 88-year-old man that has been lodged inside his shoulder since the Spanish Civil War - over 70 years ago. Faustino Olivera proudly held up the rusty, deformed bit of metal -- its tip curved and pointy -- in video footage that aired Tuesday on the Web site of radio station Cadena Ser.

Olivera spent most of his life oblivious to the bullet that lodged in his left shoulder blade when he was shot with a rifle in 1938 while fighting for the Nationalist forces of Gen. Francisco Franco.

Doctors operated on him at the time but found no bullet.

“I had my suspicions because there was only one hole, the entry wound, but no exit wound,” Olivera said. “I knew I had been wounded.”

Two years ago Olivera saw a doctor because of sharp pains in his left side. X-rays detected the bullet, and physicians said it was causing an infection and inflammation.

Doctors left the bullet because it was close to an artery, however. Since then, Olivera had gone to the hospital every few months to have fluid drained.

But last Wednesday, Olivera was rushed to a hospital in the town of Barbastro because he had a huge bulge on his side and doctors delicately extracted the bullet once and for all.

Olivera said he gave the bullet to his nephew as a souvenir.

The cost of Newts

Cheshire County Council is calling for a review of EU legislation after being forced to spend £60,000 to move four newts from a school development site. Great crested newts are an endangered species and are protected by EU law.

When four were found on land at Fallibroome High School, Macclesfield, they had to be trapped, moved and have a new pond built to house them. Councillor Barrie Hardern called the £60,000 cost of the scheme before the school could build "ludicrous".

When the amphibians were found on the site where the school wanted to build new sports facilities and an extension a costly mitigation exercise had to be undertaken which meant a new habitat had to be built.

Natural England, the government body charged with protecting the newts said it is important to look after every colony no matter how small.

But Mr Harden said: "I find it extraordinary that the law requires public money to be spent at such a ludicrous level."

Publish and be damned!

At least 17 Danish newspapers printed a controversial cartoon of Prophet Mohammed Wednesday, vowing to defend freedom of expression a day after police foiled a murder plot against the cartoonist.

Three of the country's biggest dailies were among those that published the cartoon, which featured the prophet's head with a turban that looked like a bomb with a lit fuse.

The caricature was one of 12 cartoons published in September 2005 by the Jyllands-Posten daily which sparked violent protests in a number of Muslim countries in January and February 2006.

On Tuesday, Danish police said they had arrested three people, a Dane of Moroccan origin and two Tunisian nationals, suspected of plotting to kill the cartoonist of the turban cartoon, Kurt Westergaard.

The newspapers that printed the cartoon on Wednesday said they did so to take a stand against self-censorship.

"Freedom of expression gives you the right to think, to speak and to draw what you like... no matter how many terrorist plots there are," conservative broadsheet Berlingske Tidende wrote in an editorial.

The newspaper -- which had not previously printed the caricature despite the massive controversy that engulfed Denmark for months in 2006 -- urged "the Danish media to stand united against fanaticism".

Tabloid Ekstra Bladet meanwhile published all 12 of the original cartoons.

The Danish press has unanimously condemned the alleged murder plot against Westergaard, who has lived in hiding for the past three months.

The biggest loser

The world's fattest man, according to the Guinness Book of Records, proudly announced Tuesday he dropped 230 kilograms (570 pounds), nearly half his original weight in less time than doctors had expected.

"I'm going to throw a big party," Manuel Uribe told AFP by telephone. "I'm getting out of my house and going for a walk" in Monterrey, where he lives in northern Mexico.

Uribe, 42, weighed in at 570 kilos (1,257 pounds) at his heaviest and for five years has been bed-ridden at his home, where his mother and fiancee help him.

Doctors from neighboring United States, Italy and Mexico for two years have been helping Uribe lose weight through dieting and exercise. His goal, he said, is dropping to a slim 120 kilos (265 pounds) in four more years.

On March 9, Uribe will be lifted out of his house on his bed by a special crane and driven around on a flat-bed truck.

"I feel great," he said. "The doctors say I'm healthier than ever."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Spam blamed for islanders fatness

It was lampooned by Monty Python and spurned by British shoppers, but Spam is fuelling a "raging epidemic" of diabetes, strokes and heart disease among the previously lithe inhabitants of the South Pacific.

Another of Britain's colonial culinary legacies - corned beef - is also being blamed for a rise in obesity-related illnesses in countries once known for muscled warriors and slim-hipped maidens. Countries across the region - many of them former British territories, from Tonga to Tuvalu - are struggling to deal with a health crisis caused by poor diet and not enough exercise.

Where once islanders ate fish, vegetables and coconuts, burning off excess calories by casting nets from canoes and farming small plots of land, now they eat tinned, processed food and drive to the nearest shop.

Once confined to the South Pacific's somnolent capitals, the problem of obesity has now spread to outlying islands.

"Even if you go into a store in a remote village you'll find shelves of Spam and corned beef," said Dr Jan Pryor, the director of research at the Fiji School of Medicine. "In the past it was unusual for anyone to have a stroke under 50, now people are having strokes in their twenties and thirties. You see it every day."

Figures from the World Health Organisation show that Pacific island nations make up eight of the world's 10 most obese countries.

"What we have in this country is a raging epidemic. We have 6,000 to 8,000 cases of diabetes out of a population of 53,000 people," said Carl Hacker, the director of economic policy and planning in the Marshall Islands.

"What is unfolding here is a physical disaster and a fiscal disaster."

The single-island nation of Nauru, which faces economic disaster in the wake of its Australian-run refugee detention centre closing down last week, heads the list with 94.5 per cent of people older than 15 defined as obese.

Similar problems are repeated across the South Pacific.

Dumped in jail



Tampa Florida - The Hillsborough Co. Sheriff's Office held a press conference at 10:30am regarding the deputy who can be seen on video dumping a man in a wheelchair onto the ground.

They've announced that Deputy Charlette Jones has been relieved of her duties without pay pending the outcome of an investigation. She has not officially been terminated.
Jones has been employed by the Hillsborough Co. Sheriff's Office since 1996.

Chief Deputy Joe Docobo watched the video for the first time last night and said he found himself in "disgust" and was "appalled at every level."

Docobo also announced that two corporals and a sergeant involved are now on administrative leave with pay, and the jail supervisor on duty did not have knowledge of the incident.

Brian Sterner broke his neck almost 14 years ago and is a quadriplegic. Sterner, who can drive, was arrested on a traffic violation. When he was booked into the Orient Road Jail last month, Sterner couldn’t believe what happened.

He says a deputy looked at him and didn’t believe he was a quadriplegic. She walked behind him, took the handles on the back of the hospital-grade wheel chair and dumped it forward.

Sterner says he tried to roll as he was going down, but hit so hard he thought he had broken two ribs. Then, while he was on the floor, deputies frisked him and tried to get him back into the chair.

Sterner says he told them how to pick him up and put him back into the chair, but because he can’t feel anything from his breastbone down, he says he was injured and didn’t know it. Sterner thought he had broken two ribs, but jail x-rays showed that wasn't true.

The Hillsborough Sheriff's Office didn't know anything about the incident until they were showed their own tape. Now an investigation is underway.

Flapjack record

FARGO, N.D. -- This feast was for the record books, and it only took 34,818 pancakes to get there. Thousands of people, including an official with Guinness World Records, escaped the bone-chilling winter weather on Saturday for the 50th anniversary of The Kiwanis Club's Pancake Karnival fundraiser.

Grillers flipped flapjacks and served them with sausages and orange juice for most of the day until they more than surpassed the 30,724 pancakes served in 2002 by the Lubbock, Texas, Lions Club.

"We're officially the largest pancake feed in the world," Matt Sullivan, president of The Kiwanis Club, said Sunday.

The group had brought in Kris Teufel, a records manager from London, to certify the feed, Sullivan said. The cost of the feast was being tallied, but organizers felt it was worth it for the event's silver anniversary, he said.

Charity donation

England - Several streets were cordoned off after a grenade was handed in at a Tyneside charity shop.

Bomb disposal experts from Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire were called to the Forest Hall area after the alarm was raised on Tuesday afternoon.

Parts of Station Road North, Forest Hall Road and Delaval Road were cordoned off while the explosive was made safe.

Several people were also evacuated from nearby shops, said police.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Not the sharpest ...

Farmhand Mark Leslie Payne was late getting to court yesterday to defend charges of driving while disqualified. He had an excuse . . . sort of.

Several witnesses were waiting in the New Plymouth District Court yesterday to give evidence against him when prosecuting Sergeant Craig Jones informed visiting Judge Barry Morris there would be a delay.

It turned out Payne (20) had been pulled over by a patrol car as he hurriedly made his way from Pungarehu. According to Mr Jones, by the time the officer made it to the driver's door, Payne was sitting in the passenger seat maintaining he was not the driver.

There was, however, no one else in sight.

After being arrested and having a brief meeting with defence lawyer Barry Henderson, Payne decided to cop to the charges. He pleaded guilty to driving while suspended, driving yesterday while disqualified, unlawfully taking a motor vehicle and breaching his community work.

Mr Henderson managed to get a charge of possessing drug utensils dropped after telling the judge Payne had just been accepted into the army.

Payne will learn if he gets to go straight to boot camp when he is sentenced on March 19.

Body-builder rescue

A group of 10 body-builders from a German gym took a break from their normal training routine to help a driver whose car was stuck in a ditch, police said.

The men were training at the Explosives fitness studio in Bad Zwischenahn near the western city of Oldenburg when the 38-year-old driver lost control of his vehicle, veered into a meadow and plunged the front of his car into the two-metre (6 feet) deep ditch.

"They dropped their sweat towels and water bottles and ran over the road to the crash site," a police spokesman said. "They then heaved the car out. It only took them a few minutes."

The grateful driver joined the men at the fitness studio bar and treated them to a round of energy drinks, the police spokesman said.

Return of the teeth

A fell walker has been reunited with his set of false teeth more than a year after losing them in the Lake District. David Packer from Manchester had just climbed the Haystacks in January 2007 when he stopped for a chocolate bar.

He popped out his dental plate and wrapped them up in a hanky but mistakenly left them behind. But last month keen walker Alan Marsden found the teeth. He put an advert in the lost and found section of a walking magazine and Mr Packer got in touch.

The grateful owner said: "I opened the magazine and saw a picture of my pallet looking back at me. I couldn't believe it. I contacted the person and got them posted back to me. I had visions of a sheep wandering around the Lakes with a set of my shiny teeth - I never thought I would see them again."

The set was bought for £450 ($900) a few years ago but survived the weather thanks to its titanium base.

Mr Packer admitted they were a bit tight when he popped them back in but said he would be using the teeth as a spare set in the future.

Mr Marsden from Gamblesby, near Penrith, said: "I was out walking with my wife when she spotted something shiny on the ground. We looked further and saw it was a dental plate just lying there, it was still in good condition."

The pair then met with friends, including a trainee dentist who confirmed the teeth would have been worth hundreds of pounds. "I thought the owner might be missing them and decided to put an advert in the lost gloves section of Trail Magazine," added Mr Marsden.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Jesus found in a log

A Bensalem, Pa., furniture maker says he's found a holy item and he's been taking care of it religiously. Craig O'Connor has a block of wood that he chopped from a pine tree. On it, is an image of a Jesus-like figure with its arms outstretched. The tree rings form a kind of halo around the figure's head.

"I was just covered in goose bumps," said O'Connor as he reminisced about his find. He had been helping out a friend, chopping trees in Burlington County nearly a year ago when he came upon the image. O'Connor said it looked like "Jesus ascending to heaven. Take me, thats what it looks like to me. It's a natural stain, a natural sap stain."

There's a video HERE

Yahoo reject Microsoft

Yahoo's board of directors on Monday rejected Microsoft's buyout offer, saying the 44.6-billion-dollar bid is too low and not what's best for shareholders of the veteran Internet company.

Hours later, Microsoft urged Yahoo to reconsider its blockbuster bid to combine the two tech titans and said it offers "superior value" to Yahoo shareholders.

Yahoo issued a statement early in the day saying its board had decided "after careful evaluation" that Microsoft's bid "substantially undervalues Yahoo."

As a result, the board "concluded that the proposal is not in the best interests of Yahoo and our stockholders," Yahoo said.

Microsoft called the Yahoo board action "unfortunate" and said the bid was "full and fair."

Wienermobile wipes out



An Oscar Mayer Wienermobile span out on snow on Route 15 about two miles south of Mansfield.

Read the pun filled article HERE

Lisa the Geep

This curious creature is making scientists do a double-take. Meet Lisa the geep... a cross between a goat and a sheep. She was born after an unscheduled amorous encounter on the farm of Klaus Exsternbrink, in Schwerte, in northern Germany's Ruhr Valley. One of his young billy goats leapt over a fence and had a passionate liaison with a ewe.

The result a month ago was Lisa - resembling a lamb in shape and stature, but with the colouring and agile back legs of a goat. Her mother seems unfazed by her unusual offspring and has raised her happily so far.

Now Lisa is booked into a specialist animal medical school in Hanover for genetic tests to determine her hybrid status. "These whims of nature are extremely rare," said the school's Professor Karl-Heinz Waldmann. "But goats are known for their strong sex drive."

So far, it's unclear whether the geep will produce the milk of a goat or a sheep - but the farmer thinks it will be drinkable. "We will find out what the milk and cheese tastes like in the autumn," he said.

Sadly, however, Lisa won't be basking in a proud paternal gaze down on the farm. Two goats were recently slaughtered there and Mr Exsternbrink is unsure which was which. "But one of them was Lisa's father."

Dreaming of bombs

A massive operation to evacuate a North Sea oilrig may have been triggered by a female worker's nightmare, it emerged last night.
The 23-year-old is said to have dreamt there was a bomb on board the accommodation platform where she was sleeping. That led to the alarm being raised and efforts made to airlift nearly 650 people to safety.

At the height of the drama, a total of 14 civilian and military helicopters, along with two other RAF aircraft, had been scrambled or were involved in the incident.

It is thought the evacuation operation, the biggest in the history of the North Sea, cost up to £4 million, including an estimated £3 million of losses suffered by the oil company Britannia, which was forced to suspend production.

When the catering worker awoke yesterday morning, she is said to have caused alarm with claims about a suspicious device being on the Safe Scandinavia, a "flotel" that is attached to the production platform Britannia, about 120 miles north-east of Aberdeen.

Britannia, the operator of the rig, said it had decided to order an evacuation while claims of a bomb threat by a crew member were investigated. The woman is understood have been detained by senior staff and sedated.

However, union leaders later claimed workers on board the Scandinavia had told relatives a rumour had spread around the flotel that the alert was triggered by a member of staff's dream.

The flotel, owned and operated by the Norwegian company ProSafe, is connected to the rig by a bridge, and Britannia decided to move everyone to the platform while the alarm was raised with Grampian Police.

Meet Valentine

A cute little piglet born with heart-shaped markings on his side is the centre of attention as lovers gear up for Valentine's Day this week.

The 10-day-old Gloucester Old Spot piglet christened Valentine - what else? - is one of a litter of seven born at Byford's Farm in Taynton, near Newent, Glos.

Farmer Eric Freeman, 75 - a founding member of the Gloucester Old Spot Pig Breeders' Club - said Valentine's mother Mandi Lou has already got used to her piglet stealing the show.

Mr Freeman has been breeding Old Spots at his farm for 25 years and said the breed has come back from near-extinction in the past few years.

"I think there are probably around 400 members of the breeders' club and they have spread far and wide," he said.

"There has been a lot of interest because they are a fatty breed and it's a different taste to the normal type of pig - it's much more succulent."

Baseball card lawsuit

A rare baseball card is at the center of a contentious lawsuit, with a New Jersey man accusing a memorabilia company of holding the card hostage. In his lawsuit against Sportscard Guaranty Corp., James Hass alleges that he sent his near-perfect 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie card to the company to see if its imperfections could be fixed, The New York Post said Sunday.

Haas alleges that when he asked for the return of the rare baseball card, thought to be worth nearly $300,000, company officials rebuffed him. The West Point graduate filed a lawsuit against the collectable company in Morris County, N.J. A judge ruled Friday the card should be returned to Haas after being re-authenticated.

Sportscard Guaranty officials denied Haas' allegations, saying he was simply unhappy with their analysis of the card's condition. Nonetheless, with his Superior Court case won, Haas told the newspaper he will be happy have his prized possession back.

"I'm a low, under-the-radar guy. I don't want trouble," he said. "This was trouble."

Schnapps Chocolate kids?

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Officials at a junior high school spiked an edition of the student newspaper because it contained a recipe for hot chocolate that included peppermint schnapps.

The January edition of Stillwell Junior High School's quarterly Tiger Tracks was pulled off the racks when the boozy recipe was discovered, Principal Tim Miller said. A student at the West Des Moines school submitted the recipe, which slipped through the editing process, Miller said.

Miller described the mistake as an honest one, saying the student who submitted the recipe thought schnapps was a type of candy.