Friday, May 30, 2008

World's smallest copter

Like something out of the Jetsons, the Japanese firm, Gen Corporation, has unveiled a 75kg helicopter, the GEN H-4. It has a set of two rotors and can fly at a max speed of 50 kilometres per hour.

Its Japanese developer, Gennai Yanagisawa, 75, is planning to take his invention to the Italian city of Vinci, the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci, to honor the Italian artist and inventor, who had drawn up plans for several flying machines, including a helicopter and a light hang glider, several hundred years ahead of his time.

Like father like son

Robbie "Kaptain" Knievel, son of the late daredevil Evel Knievel, successfully jumped over 24 delivery trucks Saturday night at the site of one of his father's most famous stunts.

"Hopefully I'll see you after the jump," Knievel told the crowd before he climbed the start ramp.

Knievel, 46, had said he would need to be going 95 miles per hour at take off for the 200-foot jump, which began from a three-story tall ramp and was completed amid wild cheers, booming explosions and shooting flames at Kings Island amusement park near Cincinnati.

Moosefart in a Jar

For sale on eBay

International Poncho Day

Residents of Nobsa, a township located in Boyaca province in Colombia gathered on Sunday to celebrate International Poncho Day and leap into the record books by making what they claim is the biggest poncho ever made. The Mayor of Nobsa was convinced the town had a world record on its hands.

For two months dozens of artisans participated in making the poncho that would be exhibited at Nobsa's cathedral as an example of their work.

The huge poncho weighs 1,500 pounds

According to local authorities, the idea of making the biggest poncho came about as they wanted to honor the work artisans do in the township and to strengthen their economy, which is based on wool products.

And it wasn't just the locals who were wearing them - all day dogs, cats, sheep and even parrots were seen adorned in the traditional outfit.

New amazon tribe found

Deep in Brazil's jungles, one the world's last remaining uncontacted indigenous tribes has been spotted and photographed for the first time from the air. The pictures show tribesman, painted red head to toe, aiming longbows at the aircraft circling above.

The tribe was found in the far western Amazon jungle, near the Peruvian border, Brazil's department for Indian affairs said Thursday.

The region they were found in was an Ethno-Environmental Protected Area, said the government foundation known as Funai. Funai said it photographed "strong and healthy" warriors, six huts and an area of crops. It is not known which tribe the group belonged to.

"Four distinct isolated peoples exist in this region, whom we have accompanied for 20 years," Funai expert Jose Carlos Meirelles Junior said in a statement.

Funai does not make contact with indigenous people and prevents invasions of their lands, to ensure total autonomy for the tribes, the foundation said.

There are more than 100 uncontacted tribes worldwide, most of them in Brazil and Peru, said Survival International, a group that works to protect the human rights of tribal people.

Coming out of the closet

A homeless woman who sneaked into a man's house and lived undetected in his closet for a year was arrested in Japan after he became suspicious when food began disappearing.

Police found the 58-year-old woman Thursday hiding in the top compartment of the man's closet and arrested her for trespassing, police spokesman Hiroki Itakura from southern Kasuya town said Friday.

The resident of the home installed security cameras that transmitted images to his mobile phone after becoming puzzled by food disappearing from his kitchen over the past several months.

One of the cameras captured someone moving inside his home Thursday after he had left, and he called police, believing it was a burglar. However, when they arrived, they found the door locked and all windows closed.

"We searched the house ... checking everywhere someone could possibly hide," Itakura said. "When we slid open the shelf closet, there she was, nervously curled up on her side."

The woman told police she had no place to live and first sneaked into the man's house about a year ago when he left it unlocked.

The closet is part of a Japanese-style room, one of several rooms in his one-story house where the man lived alone -- or so he had thought.

Police were investigating how she managed to go in and out of the house unnoticed, as well as details of her life inside the closet and whether she had taken anything else besides food.

She had moved a mattress into the small closet space and apparently even took showers, Itakura said, calling the woman "neat and clean."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Diamond record

A 101.27 carat diamond, the size of a ping pong ball, has been sold at auction in Hong Kong for more than $6m (£3m). The stone is the largest colourless diamond to appear at auction in 18 years, says auction house Christie's.

Set in a tiara, the diamond is one of only four colourless diamonds of over 100 carats to have come up for sale. The auction was the biggest jewellery sale ever conducted by Christie's in terms of value.

More than $60.1m worth of jewellery was sold at the event in Hong Kong. The diamond was the largest ever sold in Asia.

Christie's said the diamond's appearance on the market had "created a sensation".

Toilet trouble for space station

International Space Station astronauts are eagerly awaiting the arrival of shuttle Discovery - it is bringing a new pump to mend their broken toilet. The station's urine collection unit, as opposed to its solid waste unit, has been malfunctioning for several days.

Nasa said it thought a separator pump was at fault, and the three male crew members were operating it manually. To make room for the new part, Nasa has had to remove other equipment from the shuttle, which launches on Saturday.

"Clearly, having a working toilet is a priority for us," shuttle payload manager Scott Higginbotham said.

On its website, Nasa said the crew first realised something was wrong when they "heard a loud noise and the fan stopped working". The crew replaced many of the toilet's working parts, but had to adopt "temporary manual operation of the pump", and a backup system for the separator unit.

Nasa said one of its employees was rushing from Russia to Florida with the spare parts for the Russian-built toilet ahead of the shuttle launch. A 50cm-long (20in) pump and additional hardware, weighing about 16kg (35lbs), would be carried as hand luggage on a commercial plane, Nasa said.

The employee is expected to drive the parts to the Kennedy Space Center, and they should be packed on the shuttle on Thursday. For a while, the crew was told to use toilet facilities in the Soyuz capsule docked at the ISS, and several other backup solutions are available.

The space station's solid waste unit is said to be functioning well.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Jail for sale

Maine - If you're in the market for a roomy brick-and-stone Victorian — complete with some pretty impressive security features — look no further. The Somerset County Jail in downtown Skowhegan is for sale. It has a price tag of $200,000.

"It's an interesting building. It could be used for many, many things," said Philip Roy, chairman of the Somerset County commissioners.

The 14,000-square-foot lockup, which was built in 1897, is scheduled to shut down later this year when a new 200-bed county jail opens in Madison.

One of the selling points, said Tonya Allen, an assistant real estate broker, is that the building is situated in the heart of downtown Skowhegan, with no zoning or permit-use restrictions.

Roy said some ideas for the old jail include turning the property into a restaurant, an art gallery, a gift shop or even a bus station.

The razor-wire fencing comes included

Wait for me!

A French skydiver's latest attempt to set a new free-fall record ended when his ride to the sky left without him. The helium balloon Michel Fournier was going to use Tuesday to soar to the stratosphere detached from the capsule he was going to use to jump from 130,000 feet.

It happened after the balloon was inflated on the ground at the airport in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. The balloon drifted away into the sky without the capsule.

A disappointed Fournier left the capsule and walked to the hanger. He was hugged by members of his supporters.

"It was like having a hammer over my head," he said later. "When it doesn't work like that you just cannot think of anything. You just say, `How come it didn't work?' "

The launch team members said static electricity may have caused a small shock which set off one of five charges designed to release the capsule from the balloon after the jump.

Fournier isn't giving up, saying he'll try again in August.

The balloon cost almost $400,000 and Fournier was said to have already exhausted his finances. But he said he'll bring two balloons next time.

Sorry Lithuania

Czech Republic - The Latvian flag was in the game program along with a photo of the Latvian national soccer team. Before the match, Czech organizers played Latvia's national anthem. However, the Czech Republic was facing Lithuania on Tuesday night, not Latvia.

The Czech Republic's soccer federation apologized Wednesday to its Lithuanian counterpart and to the Lithuanian embassy in Prague. The federation said in a statement that the mistakes were inexcusable and measures will be taken not to repeat them in the future.

Federation spokesman Vaclav Tichy took responsibility and resigned from his post. His deputy was fired and another federation official fined, the statement said.

The Czech Republic, preparing for next month's European Championship, won 2-0.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling 2008

GLOUCESTER, England - Fearless thrill-seekers on Monday flipped, slipped, somersaulted and tumbled down a suicidally steep slope in western England to try to catch a giant runaway circle of cheese.

The cheese rolling event at Coopers Hill is one of Britain's more unusual annual events and is not for the faint-hearted but it was made even more perilous this year by torrential rain that turned the course into a mudbath.

Organisers claimed the downpours that lashed much of southern Britain over the weekend made the vertiginous slope softer underfoot but more than 30 first aid volunteers were kept busy as 19 people limped in with injuries.

A 19-year-old man, Christopher Anderson, won the first race but was carried from the hill on a spinal board after tumbling past the finish line head over heels, hurting his back in the process.

"The conditions were horrific, you just have to get your head down and hope for the best," said his friend, Shane Beard. "Chris went absolutely flying -- he is completely fearless but I hope he hasn't hurt himself."

More than 3,000 people cheered on the competitors, many of whom came from as far afield as Australia, New Zealand and Japan, as they careered down the 200-metre slope in five bone-crunching races.

In parts, the normally grassy hill has a 1:1 gradient.

A 17-year-old student, Flo Early, won the women's race and got to keep the wheel of Double Gloucester cheese. She then declared: "Next year I want to take on the boys."

Cheese rolling is thought to date back as far as the ancient Britons or the Romans, but no one knows for sure how the race started. During rationing between 1941 and 1954, a wooden substitute with a token piece of cheese inside was chased by competitors.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Telectroscope

New Yorkers could see their English cousins across the pond Thursday without benefit of cable TV or video conferencing, courtesy of an unusual live optical hookup created by a conceptual artist with a fanciful tale of a long-lost tunnel.

An optical device called a "telectroscope" was placed at the Fulton Ferry Landing in Brooklyn and another one on the Thames River in London on Thursday.

Spectators stepped up to the machine on both sides of the Atlantic and waved and wrote greetings to each other in real time on wipe-off message boards.

They told knock-knock jokes, asked about the weather and found time for a few shout-outs to Queen Elizabeth and the Manchester United soccer team. Manhattanite Lorena Yeves, 21, even exchanged cell phone numbers with a fellow on the London end.

The contraption is the invention of Paul St George, a London artist known for his tiny replicas of monumental pieces of art.

Publicists will say only that it uses fiberoptic communication. St George prefers to stick to his story that the machine was started by his great-grandfather in Victorian times and transmits images via a tunnel under the ocean.

According to the project's website, St George's work "has always been concerned with questioning the relationship between the viewer and what is viewed. His work is also often associated with different realities, spectacle and viewer participation."

The telectroscopic spectacle and viewer participation will be in operation on both sides of the Atlantic until June 15.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Croc eats shark

DARWIN, Australia -- An Australian fisherman watched in amazement -- and snapped pictures -- as a saltwater crocodile ate shark for dinner.

Paul van Bruggen told the Northern Territory News that he and his companions heard splashing and saw a shark's tail emerge from the Daly River, followed by a crocodile's head. He said that the crocodile appeared to realize that the shark would be helpless on land.

"How smart is the crocodile? It if was you or me it would be dragging you in to drown you but it takes the shark up on dry land,'' he said.

Van Bruggen had gone to the Daly River last Friday for the Barra Classic fishing competition. He said that the crocodile ignored him and his companions even though they were only about 50 feet away.

The saltwater crocodile, affectionately known in Australia as the "saltie," is the world's largest living reptile with males known to reach lengths of 20 feet. Its range includes northern Australia, New Guinea, Southeast Asia and parts of India.

You can keep your pants on

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, India (Reuters) - Employees counting donations at a popular Hindu shrine in southern India will no longer have to take off their underpants at work after the local human rights commission intervened.

Police and temple authorities imposed the dress code at the Sabarimala hill shrine in Kerala five years ago after thefts were reported from the shrine's strongroom.

Employees in the vault, all of whom were men, were made to work topless wearing only a dhoti -- a cotton wrap worn around the waist -- with nothing underneath.

But they found it degrading, and their union complained to the Kerala State Human Rights Commission.

"The employees on duty are made to strip before an officer before leaving the office to ensure that they do not carry anything in their underwear," said Chavara Gopakumar, the union leader. "It is humiliating and an insult to human dignity."

The state's human rights commission agreed.

Authorities at the shrine, which is dedicated to Ayyappa, a south Indian deity, said on Friday they would end the practice and have begun looking into electronic surveillance systems.

Wild boars thwart thief's getaway

A herd of wild boars has thwarted a suspected car thief's getaway.
Police in Schwerin, northern Germany, said the 18-year-old abandoned a stolen vehicle he was driving after failing to shake off a chasing patrol car by driving into a field.

The driver initially got away by running into nearby woods.

But officers then heard the fugitive shouting for help - he had run into a herd of angry wild boars which were keen to protect their young.

Police rescued the man from the boars -

Fries for the bride

A burger-loving couple who fell in love over the internet will celebrate their marriage with a Big Mac at McDonald's.

Alice Clark, 26, and her fiance Terry Speller, 25, from St Austell, will be chauffeur driven straight from their wedding at Falmouth Maritime Museum to the town's McDonald's fast food restaurant.

Once there, the happy couple will munch on burgers and fries for the first time as husband and wife, on June 21.

They will be joined by Alice's brother and sister-in-law at the fast food wedding reception before joining friends and family for a celebration at the County Arms in Truro.

The unusual wedding meal originated from Alice's loathing of buffet food. She said: "Terry's parents are organising a buffet and I hate buffet food so Terry jokingly said let's go to McDonalds.

"I immediately said: 'In full wedding gear?' Terry then realised I was being serious so said 'why not'. "I spoke to our car driver and he said yes, but we can't do the drive through as the car won't fit."

The couple first met on the internet over networking site My Space. Terry knew few people when he moved to Cornwall from Essex so emailed people from the county with similar interests to himself.

He said: "When I found Alice on the website I thought she looked really nice in her photo. I emailed her but did not hear for a month or so and then she replied." The couple swapped emails and phone numbers for a while before meeting on a night out in Truro.

Terry said: "The more I got to know her the more I got to like her. The picture did not do her justice. I thought when I first saw her she was the one for me."

A McDonald's spokesman was pleased at the couple's wedding day meal choice.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pricey Burger

Its creators admit it is the ultimate in decadence: a $US175 hamburger. The Wall Street Burger Shoppe just raised its price from $150 to assure its designation as the costliest burger in the city as determined by Pocket Change, an online newsletter about the most expensive things in New York.

"Wall Street has good days and bad days. We wanted to have the everyday burger (for $4) ... and then something special if you really have a good day on Wall Street," said co-owner Heather Tierney.

The burger, created by chef and co-owner Kevin O'Connell, seeks to justify its price with a Kobe beef patty, lots of black truffles, seared foie gras, aged Gruyere cheese, wild mushrooms and flecks of gold leaf on a brioche bun.

The eatery sells 20 or 25 per month in the fine dining room upstairs versus hundreds of $4 burgers each day at the diner counter downstairs, Tierney said.

Pocket Change previously designated the double truffle burger at Daniel Boulud's DB Bistro Moderne as the most expensive at $120, and the Burger Shoppe set out to top that.

Boulud's creation - available only during black truffle season from December to March - rose to $150 this past season, so the Burger Shoppe raised its price on Monday to $175.

More than they bargained for

Some overly appreciative workmen got more than they bargained for in the Far North town of Kerikeri when the woman they wolf-whistled stripped bare to use a nearby ATM.

Police Sergeant Peter Masters said the woman, an Israeli tourist, told police she didn't take kindly to wolf-whistles from workmen involved in work on the town's main street.

Making the most of the balmy late-autumn day, she stripped bare to use the ATM, then put her clothes on again and calmly walked away.

"She said she had thought `bugger them, I'll show them what I've got'."

Mr Masters said the woman said she had been harassed by New Zealand men, and was fed up with it.

"She gave the explanation that she had been. . . pestered by New Zealand men. She's not an unattractive looking lady. We treated it as a one-off. She was taken back to the police station and spoken to and told that was inappropriate in New Zealand," Mr Masters said.

He said the woman was due to leave New Zealand today.

Kasparov buzzed by flying penis

Former world chess champion turned Kremlin critic Garry Kasparov has been on the receiving end of an unconventional prank launched by his political foes - one that draws its inspiration from the virtual world of Second Life.

Kasparov was attending a weekend meeting of a coalition of opposition groups which had assembled in Moscow to launch a symbolic alternative parliament. As he was addressing the gathering of more than 500 delegates, he was buzzed by a remote-controlled flying phallus.

The device - which appeared to be a modified twin-rotor toy helicopter - caused a sudden commotion with security guards springing to attention.

A video shot at the event shows the modified chopper briefly evading capture before a man later identified as a security guard leaps from the stage and swats the device with a well-aimed left hook.

According to the Moscow Times website, the prank was staged by "a couple of pro-Kremlin Young Russia activists" who had launched a "plastic phallus on propellers".

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mini file

Lelystad - A world record has been set at the International Mini Meeting in the Dutch city of Lelystad.

The organisers said 868 of the British cars formed a 3.2 kilometre line, making it the longest line of Minis ever.

This was the first time in 16 years that the event has been held in The Netherlands. Over 2,000 enthusiasts attended.

Lost parrot gives vet his name and address

TOKYO, Japan -- When Yosuke the parrot flew out of his cage and got lost, he did exactly what he had been taught -- recite his name and address to a stranger willing to help.

Police rescued the African grey parrot two weeks ago from a neighbor's roof in the city of Nagareyama, near Tokyo. After spending a night at the station, he was transferred to a nearby veterinary hospital while police searched for clues, local policeman Shinjiro Uemura said.

He kept mum with the cops, but began chatting after a few days with the vet.

"I'm Mr. Yosuke Nakamura," the bird told the veterinarian, according to Uemura. The parrot also provided his full home address, down to the street number, and even entertained the hospital staff by singing songs.

"We checked the address, and what do you know, a Nakamura family really lived there. So we told them we've found Yosuke," Uemura said.

The Nakamura family told police they had been teaching the bird its name and address for about two years.

But Yosuke apparently wasn't keen on opening up to police officials.

"I tried to be friendly and talked to him, but he completely ignored me," Uemura said.

Monster Killer Mice

A British owned island in the South Atlantic has been overrun by hundreds of thousands of monster mice which have evolved into carnivores. The mice of Gough Island have grown to two or even three times the size of an ordinary house mouse.

They have developed from eating insects and seeds and are now devouring young birds, including albatross chicks, in huge numbers. Birds on the island had been used to having no predators and are unable to fend off the mice which attack in groups at night.

Gough Island is regarded as one of the most important seabird colonies in the world.
It is the size of Guenrsey and is thought to have around 700,000 mice all descended from a few that escaped from on a whaling boat.

Albatross chicks weigh up to 10kg and the mice weigh only 35g but together they are able to kill and eat the birds.

RSPB scientist Dr Geoff Hilton said: "It's like a tabby cat attacking a hippopotamus."

Conservation organisation Birdlife International says the mice are threatening several bird species to the point of extinction. The RSPB wants to use helicopters to drop thousands of tonnes of mouse poison on the island in an operation that would cost £2.6 million.

There's a video HERE (Not for the squeamish)

Too fat to run

Mozambique police officers are to undergo a compulsory physical training programme, because some of them are too fat to run after criminals.

Interior Ministry advisor Pana Chande told the BBC that the poor lifestyle of many police officers was to blame. Many of them have very large bellies and drink too much alcohol and smoke cigarettes, he said.

"Some of them are so large it is affecting their health and ability to run," he said.
"We are in a process of training officers and commanders at our training centres… We need men who are able to perform without problems," he told the BBC's Jose Tembe.

Mr Chande said many were slow and inflexible, often unable to chase criminals or act swiftly to avoid crime from occurring. The physical training involves, among other things, running, gymnastics and simulating the chase of criminals.

He explained that the retraining programme is not a form of punishment, but an exercise aimed at improving the performance of the entire police.

Ireland's Turkey Misses Out

Ireland will not appear in this year's Eurovision Song Contest final after its entrant, Dustin the Turkey, failed to qualify from the first semi-final. The glove puppet was not among the 10 successful countries, which included Greece, Romania, Armenia, Finland, Israel, Poland, Russia and Bosnia.

Norway also succeeded, along with Azerbaijan in its Eurovision debut.

A second semi-final on Thursday will determine another 10 countries to proceed to Saturday's final in Serbia.

The line-up will include Sweden's former winner Charlotte Perrelli, who emerged as the favourite in a Europe-wide vote of fans carried out by the BBC News website.

Flying fish record flight

Some remarkable footage of a flying fish has been captured by a TV crew filming off the southern tip of Japan. It is claimed to be one of the longest recorded flights of this acrobatic animal.

The fish was completely airborne for 45 seconds. This beats one previous, impressive report from an American researcher in the 1920s of 42 seconds. The animal is seen travelling parallel to a ferry, which itself is motoring at about 30km/hour (20mph).

The fish was able to continue flying by occasionally beating the surface of the water with its tail fin. The footage was shot by an NHK crew as it travelled to Yakushima Island.

According to Junji Yonezawa, at the Center for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on Outlying Islands, the animal's flight-time of 45 seconds must be close to its physical limit, as brachial respiration is impossible while moving through the air.

There are some 40 species of "flying fish" in the family known as Exocoetidae. The animals are found worldwide in warmer waters. Their flight ability comes from a glide rather than a powered flapping.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

$ unfair to the blind

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the U.S. Treasury Department is violating the law by failing to design and issue currency that is readily distinguishable to blind and visually impaired people.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a 2006 district court ruling that could force the United States to redesign its money so blind people can distinguish between values.

Suggested solutions include making bills different sizes, including raised markings or using foil printing which is a method of hot stamping that is tactically discernable.

Judge Judith Rogers, in a ruling on a suit by the American Council of the Blind, wrote that the Treasury Department's failure to design and issue paper currency that is readily distinguishable to the visually impaired violates the Rehabilitation Act's guarantee of "meaningful access."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Baby subpoenaed

HARRISONBURG, Va. - A Harrisonburg court has dismissed a case against a baby boy summoned to appear in court for an unpaid bill. Richard White said he was shocked when he got a subpoena in the mail requiring his 1-year-old son, Jacy, to appear in Rockingham County General District Court next Tuesday over a $391 chiropractor bill.

Neither of Jacy's parents was named in the lawsuit, which has been dismissed at the request of the plaintiff.

Shortly after his son's birth in April 2007, White says he took Jacy to the chiropractor. He suspects that when the family moved, the office updated records for everyone but Jacy.

White says his insurance didn't cover the $391 and only recently billed him , about the same time the residents of his former home forwarded the subpoena.

Altered yearbook

McKINNEY, Texas — School officials say they are appalled by altered photos — including heads on different bodies — in hundreds of McKinney High School yearbooks delivered this week.

Besides the head and body switching, some necks were stretched, one girl's arm was missing, and another girl's head was placed on what appeared to be a nude body, with the chest blurred.

A spokeswoman for Minnesota-based Lifetouch National School Studios Inc. said the alterations were "an unfortunate lapse in judgment" by an employee but didn't believe it was malicious.

The high school had required Lifetouch to make heads the same size and eyes at the same level in all student photos, company spokeswoman Sara Thurin Rollin said Saturday. The request was "unusual and definitely very particular, but that's not to suggest what happened here is acceptable," she said.

Rollin declined to say if the company fired or reprimanded the employee who altered the images. She said Lifetouch is taking full responsibility for the altered pictures, about 30 in all, and will pay to have the publication reprinted before the seniors graduate.

Lori Oglesbee, the school's yearbook adviser at McKinney High School, said the yearbook staff would spend the weekend rebuilding the yearbook.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Is it offensive?

Marietta, GA -- It's a controversial t-shirt depicting a presidential candidate as a monkey...but protestors say it's racially decide!

Mike Norman owns a restaurant in the Atlanta area, and is selling shirts with the slogan "Obama in '08" with a picture that resembles cartoon character Curious George.

Norman is known to have very conservative views, but some residents are protesting the shirt, saying it's an injustice. Norman says he has a right to sell the shirts.

Mike Norman, restaurant owner: "I Looked and thought...didn't see anything offensive..." Norman says says right now he's sold out. he plans to donate the proceeds to a local charity.

Benched, coz Mom's at work

A 7-year-old Massachusetts boy was benched during his Little League baseball game because his mother failed to show up to work the league's concession stand, and the mother isn't happy about it.

Jodi Hooper of Freetown said she was unable to fulfill her obligation at the concession stand because she couldn't get time off from work, according to MyFOXBoston.

Dave Brouillette, head of the Freetown Youth Athletic Association, told MyFOXBoston that the concession revenues are necessary to fund the league's programs and that he has to enforce the rules, which require parents show up for their assigned concession stand shifts or risk suspensions for their children.

Brouillette told the station that he wasn't able to see his own son play because he had to cover the concession stand shift for Hooper, according to MyFOXBoston.

Hooper told MyFOXBoston that she believed she could make up the assignment at another time if she missed one.

Nine-year-old girl had twin in stomach

An embryonic twin has been discovered in the stomach of a nine-year-old Greek girl who went to hospital complaining of stomach pains.

News agency Associated Press reported doctors at Larissa General Hospital surgically removed a growth that was an embryo more than 2 inches in length.

"They could see on the right side that her belly was swollen, but they couldn't suspect that this tumour would hide an embryo," hospital director Iakovos Brouskelis said.

The girl has made a full recovery.

The embryo had developed a head, hair and eyes, but had no brain or umbilical cord, hospital paediatric department head Andreas Markou said.

It had been absorbed into its twin in the womb.

Such absoprtion is rare, occuring in about one 500,000 live births.

Cat & Mouse Blackout

Albanians may have found a new villain to blame for the frequent power cuts that have been blighting their lives.

The country's main electricity company says a cat chasing a mouse caused a 72-hour blackout in parts of the capital, Tirana.

The animals ran into an area of high-voltage cables and were electrocuted, a spokeswoman for the firm - Kesh - told Reuters news agency.

"We took pictures because we've never had anything like this," she said.

Power cuts have been endemic in Albania for many years.

The authorities usually blame drought and the dilapidated state of the communist-era grid, which appears to be buckling under the strain of the extra demand caused by the Albanians' recent access to modern amenities.

Plane lands on other on runway

A Piper Cherokee with instructor and student aboard, and a Stinson with one pilot aboard, met on the runway at non-towered Northwest Regional Airport near Roanoke, Texas, Thursday afternoon, coming to rest on the runway with the Cherokee perched atop the Stinson. All parties walked away from the crash.

The Stinson was departing and the Piper was arriving at the airport, sometime near 2 p.m., but at precisely the same moment. Pilot Jim Austen was waiting in the Stinson (apparently on the runway) to take off when the Cherokee cleared trees on approach and may have spotted the Stinson on the runway, but too late to avoid impact.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Man who claimed for 36 kids is jailed

A father-of-two who fraudulently claimed almost £80,000 in benefits for 36 children has been jailed. Irvin Fraser, 30, claimed child tax credits over three years from two addresses in Aberdeen.

Fraser induced HM Revenue to make payments totalling £79,718. He was jailed for 13 months at Aberdeen Sheriff Court. Sheriff Alexander Jessop said it was a "whacking" amount to be paid, and expressed surprise it was not detected.

Fraser admitted making fraudulent claims from Tullos Circle and Abbey Road between November 2003, and June 2006.

Fraser explained: "I was claiming child tax credit for my son and just added another name by chance. They never asked for any documents. It went on for two years and I got away with it. I couldn't understand why they did not pick up on it. How could someone claim to have so many children but not be old enough to have them?"

He said: "I wanted to stop but it just snowballed and spiralled out of control. I withdrew my last claim but they still paid £4,000 into the bank account. I stupidly spent it, and that's when I got caught."

Jet Man

Yves Rossy yesterday jumped out of a small plane with his custom wing strapped to his back, then throttled up and flew over the Swiss Alps.

Rossy was able to top 186 miles-per-hour, which enabled him to maintain altitude and even fly. His wing is powered by two jet engines of the type used to power large model aircraft and has no movable controls, meaning he steers it entirely by moving his body. He has been revising the design of the wing for years, but yesterday's flight was its first public demonstration

His website is in the title.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thatched roof straw shortage

Traditional thatched roofs on quaint British cottages are under threat because of a severe shortage of the type of straw used to make them.

Planning and heritage authorities have routinely insisted on the use of long-stemmed wheat straw for roofs on thatched cottages.

However many of Britain's long-stemmed wheat straw growers have lost their entire crop this year, while some have managed to save between 30 and 40 percent of what they expected to harvest.

The National Society of Master Thatchers (NSMT) has described the shortage as critical, while English Heritage is calling on planners to allow the use of a wheat-rye hybrid or thatch imported from Europe.

"Even if we have the very best harvest on the planet this year it will all go in a flash because we have so many properties waiting," a NSMT spokeswoman told The Times newspaper.

Aliens Are My Brother

The Pope's chief astronomer says that life on Mars cannot be ruled out.

Writing in the Vatican newspaper, the astronomer, Father Gabriel Funes, said intelligent beings created by God could exist in outer space.

Father Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory near Rome, is a respected scientist who collaborates with universities around the world.

The search for forms of extraterrestrial life, he says, does not contradict belief in God.

The official Vatican newspaper headlines his article 'Aliens Are My Brother'.

Neil Young Spider

US singer and songwriter Neil Young has had an honour bestowed upon him that is not received by many musicians – his own spider.

East Carolina University biologist Jason Bond discovered a new species of trapdoor spider and opted to call the arachnid after his favourite musician, Canadian Neil Young, naming it Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi.

"There are rather strict rules about how you name new species," Mr Bond said.

"As long as these rules are followed you can give a new species just about any name you please. With regards to Neil Young, I really enjoy his music and have had a great appreciation of him as an activist for peace and justice."

Mr Bond discovered the new spider species in Jefferson County, Alabama, in 2007. He said spiders in the trapdoor genus, who tended to live in burrows and build trap doors to seal off their living quarters, were distinguished from one species to the next on the basis of differences in genitalia.

He confirmed through the spider's DNA that the Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi was an identifiable, separate species of spider within the trapdoor genus.

Beer strapped in, not child

An Australian driver has been fined for putting a seatbelt around a carton of beer instead of a five-year-old passenger.

Constable Wayne Burnett told reporters he was "shocked and appalled" to discover the driver's priorities when he pulled a sedan over on the Ross Highway south of the desert town of Alice Springs.

"I haven't ever seen something like this before," he said.

"There were four adults in the car, two in the front seat and two in the back seats and in between those adults there was the carton of beer strapped in with the belt," he said.

"The child was sitting in the lump in the centre, unrestrained."

The driver was fined 750 dollars (707 US) for driving an unregistered and uninsured vehicle and failing to ensure a child was wearing a seatbelt.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ebay: air guitar owned by jfk

Extremely rare oppurtunity

up for auction is the only air guitar known to have been owned by US president JFK

President kennedy was under constant stress from political rivals and upsets,

so its only natural he would have taken up playing air guitar

Many silent and melancholy impromptu jam sessions haunted the air in Kennedy's office as US president

it was discovered recently in a cold storage unit in its case

the atmospheric conditions left the case with some of the usual imperfections found in

aging vintage sound equipment, but the guitar itself (a red solid-body electric resembling a Mustang)

is as it was in kennedys hands

Kennedy entertaining premier Khruschev in a moment of naive peacefulness with his faithful air guitar.

Core Blimey!

A manwas locked up 18 hours in a police cell for allegedly dropping an apple core.

Keith Hurst, 54, was challenged by a police community support officer as he went to the chemist for his wife. He denied littering and refused to pay a £50 on-the-spot fine — but when he exited the pharmacy, carer Keith was nicked by 5 cops.

He was fingerprinted at a police station and went before JPs in Salford, Greater Manchester, accused of littering and obstructing an officer.

Prosecutors dropped the obstruction charge — but he still faces going on trial for littering.

Keith, who has had heart surgery, claims he suffered dizziness in custody and had to see a doctor. He fumed: "You’d think I’d robbed a bank."

A police spokesman said: "Officers are expected to challenge anyone seen littering."

Happy Mother's Day x18

It's a happy Mother's Day for an Arkansas woman — she's pregnant with her 18th child.

Michelle Duggar, 41, is due on New Year's Day, and the latest addition will join seven sisters and 10 brothers. There are two sets of twins.

"We've had three in January, three in December. Those two months are a busy time for us," she said, laughing.

The Duggars' oldest child, Josh, is 20, and the youngest, Jennifer, is nine months old. The fast-growing family lives in Tontitown in northwest Arkansas in a 7,000-square-foot home. All the children — whose names start with the letter J — are home-schooled.

Duggar has been been pregnant for more than 11 years of her life, and the family is in the process of filming another series for Discovery Health.

The new show looks at life inside the Duggar home, where chores — or "jurisdictions" — are assigned to each child. One episode of the new show involves a "jurisdiction swap," where the boys do chores traditionally assigned to the girls, and vice versa, Duggar said.

3 yr old has NEVER slept

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A 3-year-old Florida boy with a rare condition has not slept in three years. Doctors said Rhett Lamb of St. Petersburg apparently has a condition called chiari malformation that puts pressure on his brain.

Rhett has never taken a nap or gone to sleep at night, forcing his parents to keep watch day and night.

"(My husband) has the day shift and I kind of have the afternoon shift," mother Shannon Lamb said. "We share the night shift because no one can sleep in the house when he is up anyway."

Lamb said she is working extra to pay for Rhett's large medical bills. She also said her husband, David, has given up his job to care for their child.

"I would give anything for Rhett to be this normal little boy who plays and has a good time," Lamb said. "If it takes going to every single solitary doctor, I will do it."

According to the May Clinic, chiari malformation is a rare abnormality where brain tissue protrudes in the spinal canal.

Part of the skull is abnormally small and puts pressure on the brain. Rhett checked into a hospital for an experimental surgery Thursday.

9 yr old driver pulled

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Capitol police in Harrisburg thought they had a drunk driver on their hands. But they didn't find an intoxicated person behind the wheel.

Instead, they found that a 9-year-old boy had been driving. Police say it was his adult passenger who was intoxicated.

Investigators say the man and boy are related. The man has been taken into custody and police say charges are pending. The child has been returned to the custody of relatives.

Usher blunder

R&B star Usher left Kent festival goers unimpressed after shouting out "hello Manchester" to the packed crowd.

The singer was opening Radio 1's Big Weekend festival in Maidstone, Kent, when the blunder happened, prompting some audience members to boo.

The rest of the 29-year-old's set went without a hitch as he performed

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Monkey business went wrong

A keeper at the Greater Vancouver Zoo said it looks like somebody broke into the monkey cage yesterday morning looking for animals and things went sour.

"We think that they broke in with the intention of probably stealing a monkey or two, and things went a little bit wacky," said animal care manager Jamie Dorgan.

He said Jocko, the male monkey killed in last night's break-in, was likely defending his territory and ended up dead. Zoo workers don't yet know how Jocko was killed, but trauma is the most probable cause, Dorgan said.

Mia, Jocko's female mate, was abducted from the enclosure following the killing. John Creviston, administrator of Wild Arc - an animal rehabilitation centre, said the abductor may be hoping to sell Mia to a private buyer.

"Somebody might be thinking there's a market but this is not, I would guess, not an organized thing."

There is also the possibility that the thief wants Mia as an exotic pet, but this, Creviston said, would be unadvisable.

"They're a little bit more than most people are able to deal with. Especially one that's essentially wild."

Dorgan described Jocko as a "friendly guy" who was loved by everybody.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Baguettes sold to France

A Yorkshire bakery has started exporting lorry-loads of baguettes across the Channel.
Fosters of Barnsley has used a legal loophole to beat local boulangers to a contract supplying the narrow loaves to the whole of the French railway system.

The baguette triumph, which has earned Fosters managing director, John Foster, the French media title of "most hated man in France", is down to the firm's expertise in making long-life loaves.

French local law forbids the use of fat which is key to the long-life process, Foster said yesterday, but competitors from elsewhere in the European Union can sidestep the ban, under European legislation. Building on the "rolling stock" order, the Barnsley bakery is now challenging the brioche market in France, using the same method.

"Their own bakers could give them a good product, but it didn't fit the railway's needs," said Foster. "In Yorkshire we've a tradition of giving customers what they want. They asked for baguettes which don't go stale and we said yes, we can do you them. We're shipping the stuff out by the wagon-load."

Foster said he had been surprised by the "cheek" of the mismatch between French and EU law but recognised a good sales opportunity.

Pit Bull Gets Stuck In Engine

A Vacaville, Calif., man found a pit bull stuck in the engine of his truck and chewing through wires Tuesday morning, his family said.

Walter Witthoeft had just woken up and went outside to put power steering fluid in his truck. When he popped the hood, he saw a pair of eyes, heard growling and then noticed a dog wiggling around in his engine.

The dog worked his way up and under the truck the night before and got stuck, Sacramento Station KCRA reported.

Witthoeft's family called police and reported the incident.

Witthoeft said he had just paid $1,000 to fix his truck last week, but the truck had to be towed back to the shop for repairs due to damage caused by the pit bull.

The dog eventually was able to wiggle out and animal service brought it to a county shelter.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Record Lego Tower

Visitors to Legoland Windsor, UK, yesterday helped set a new world record for the tallest tower made of Lego bricks. Thousands of children and their families helped put the final bricks in place to complete the monster structure, which stands nearly 100ft tall.

The tower is designed to resemble a Viking longboat mast to mark the opening of the new Land of the Vikings at the Berkshire theme park. Positioned at the park's main entrance, it is made up of almost half a million Lego bricks and celebrates 50 years of the popular children's toy.

Youngsters helped build 20cm sections, with each section hoisted into place by crane.

The previous record for the tallest Lego tower was just over 96ft which was set in Toronto in August 2007.

Piglet racing

Hundreds of people witnessed a bizarre event as five piglets took part in a charity race in Lancashire.
Hundreds of visitors watched the pigs race down a track at Cobble Hey Farm and Gardens, Claughton-on-Brock.

Bosses expect the races to have helped raise hundreds of pounds for St Catherine's Hospice in Lostock Hall.

Punters at the event on Bank Holiday Monday could bet on the winning piglets in the two races with proceeds going to the hospice.

The fastest set of trotters to reach the food bucket was declared the winner in the Bank Holiday spectacular.

Video HERE thanks to Lancashire Evening Post

Hump sign annoys Victorians

Victoria, Australia - A road sign depicting two people in a passionate embrace above the word "hump" has angered VicRoads.

The sign is believed to be the work of a mysterious artist in Langwarrin, south of Melbourne.

Motorists have reported seeing other fake road signs along Cranbourne-Frankston Rd, Langwarrin, according to the Frankston Leader.

VicRoads regional director Steve Brown said the stunt was illegal and unsafe.

More signs reported HERE

Pea accident

A man has been rescued from a grain silo in Western Australia after being buried up to his neck in tonnes of peas.

The accident happened while the man was working inside a Co-operative Bulk Handling silo yesterday at Esperance port.

It is not yet known if the man fell into the silo while it was being loaded or if the product was dumped on him while working inside.

The State Emergency Service's Murray Hatten says about 30 emergency workers took three hours to rescue the man, fearing he may sink below head level.

"Once he was stabilised by a rope around under his armpits, they begun the process of digging him out utilising a vacuum cleaner of sorts - a large one, as well as shovels and various other things to free the man," he said.

A spokesman for CBH say the man was not injured and Worksafe will investigate the incident.

Free concert for returned violin

A violinist who left his 285-year-old instrument in a taxi in the United States is playing a concert to thank the driver who returned it to him.

Philippe Quint is giving a private 30-minute performance on Tuesday in the cab waiting area at Newark Liberty International Airport. He left his violin, a 1723 Kiesewetter Stradivarius, in a taxi on the way back from the airport last month.

The driver, Mohamed Khalil, got in touch the next day to return it.

Mr Khalil, who was born in Egypt, was given a reward of $100 by Mr Quint, and was also presented with a medal from the City of Newark. In addition to the airport performance, he and his family are also being given tickets to Mr Quint's next New York performance, at Carnegie Hall in September.

The violin was made by the Italian Antonio Stradivari, and then owned by the 18th-Century German composer and violinist Christophe Kiesewetter. It has been valued at $4m

Monday, May 05, 2008

Keeper scores

It was the long-range strike that every goalkeeper dreams of scoring one day.

Montgomery Town's Steve Goodwin blasted the ball from the edge of his own penalty area, over the head of the opposition keeper and into the net.

Now local MP Lembit Opik has tabled a Commons motion praising it as one of the "greatest and most spectacular goals" in British football history.

Fan Peter Mills said: "It was the type of shot you never think you'll see, and something we'll never see again."

Kitchen fall

A father and his daughter were rescued after falling into a cavity when the kitchen floor of their Newcastle home collapsed, a fire brigade said.

The pair became trapped when they fell through rotten floorboards in the ground-floor flat in Ethel Street, Elswick, Newcastle, in the early hours.

It is thought the man was trapped and called for his daughter's help but she then also fell into the 4ft-deep space.

Tyne and Wear Fire Brigade used a short extension ladder to free the pair.

The woman was placed on a spinal board as a precaution and both were taken to Newcastle General Hospital.

The man is not thought to be seriously injured. His daughter has a suspected broken ankle.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Italy posts salary details

There has been outrage in Italy after the outgoing government published every Italian's declared earnings and tax contributions on the internet.

The tax authority's website was inundated by people curious to know how much their neighbours, celebrities or sports stars were making.

The Italian treasury suspended the website after a formal complaint from the country's privacy watchdog.

The information was put on the site with no warning for nearly 24 hours.

Blind driver busted again

Traffic police in the southern Estonian city of Tartu have again caught a notorious blind and drunk driver, the local police press service said on Tuesday.

Kristjan Gradolf, 20, became a real headache for the city's traffic cops last year after he was caught behind the wheel three times and even hefty fines and five days behind bars did not put him off driving. This time he will face criminal charges as a repeat offender.

Gradolf apparently enjoys driving and is according to him "good at it."

The car owner, who was with Gradolf in the vehicle giving him instructions, will face a $1500 fine.

Gradolf was first caught on August 5, 2007, while driving erratically in Tartu. He only confessed to being blind after he could not find the tube to give a breath test.

Cheerleader cover-up

NEW DELHI-- The Washington Redskins cheerleaders were brought in to show India's cricket fans how to shake their pompoms -- but not everyone was impressed.

The New Delhi team said Wednesday it was switching its cheerleaders for a band of drummers. Mumbai politicians have forced theirs to cover up, saying their performances were lewd and not appropriate for India's traditional culture.

The cheerleaders were flown in to give a touch of glamor to the Indian Premier League -- a newly launched cricket tournament that brings together the sport's biggest international stars, million-dollar (euro) contracts, big business and celebrities.

Police vowed to keep scantily clad dancers out of public view. "We will take action," said Mumbai police officer Ramrao Wagh. "The government has said it will not allow obscenities on the field." He did not elaborate.

In the end a compromise of sorts was reached.

The away team cheerleaders still wore their tartan miniskirts -- but they donned black full-body stockings underneath. The Mumbai dancers wore flowing, ankle-length blue pants.