Monday, June 30, 2008

Moose wedding

The male moose mascot of a tiny North Dakota town has a mate, and she's the city's namesake.

Joe the Moose has long been the mascot on the sign leading into Anamoose, in north-central North Dakota. But officials of the town of about 260 decided to give him a mate, Ana, and held a mock wedding Saturday in celebration. Maury Becker, a resident who acted as minister of the ceremony, told the guests he was joining Joe and Ana "in an estate of continual turmoil," and officially declared them "miserable mates."

The moose couple -- Ron Cartwright as Ana and Barb Martin as Joe -- cut the wedding cake and handed out what they called moose droppings.

"Really, you've got to have a little fun and live a little," said Danelle Olson, the pastor of the United Community Baptist Church of Anamoose. "It's a silly event. But, you know, sometimes you've got to act a little silly to keep your sanity in life."

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Offensive name change

A New Mexico appeals court on Friday ruled against a Los Alamos man who wanted to change his name to a phrase containing a popular four-letter obscenity.

The man appealed after a state district judge in Bernalillo County refused his request to change his name to "F--- Censorship!"

Judge Nan Nash ruled that the proposed name change was "obscene, offensive and would not comport with common decency."

The man - whose current legal name is Variable - argued on appeal that it was improper government censorship to deny him the name change.

"We do not believe that the district court's action infringes on petitioner's right to free speech," a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals said in its ruling.

The man has the right to call himself whatever he wants, unless there's fraud or misrepresentation involved, the judges said.

But once he seeks court approval for a name change, the court has the authority to turn him down on several grounds, including if the name is offensive to common decency and good taste, the judges ruled.

That law was clarified in a 2004 case in the same court that apparently involved the same petitioner. In that case, an Albuquerque man whose name was Snaphappy Fishsuit Mokiligon got the go-ahead from the appeals court to change his name to Variable.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Where are you Scooby-Doo?

Scooby-Doo has become one of Queensland's most wanted after giving police the slip during a reckless track invasion at the Ipswich Cup race day. Not only did the memorably-dressed prankster evade arrest, he also failed to return the eye-catching outfit to the store from which he hired it.

Michelle Johnstone from Hidden Identity Costumes at Cleveland in Redland City said the driver's licence the man used in the transaction turned out to be stolen.

"It was obviously a pre-meditated crime. He put a bit of planning into it," Ms Johnstone said, pointing out he had "definitely lost his $40 bond".

Ipswich police are also keen to hunt down Scooby-Doo following the "reckless" behaviour of the wearer.

"We're still making enquiries into where Scooby-Doo is," said Senior Sergeant Roger Wilson.

"We'd ask that anyone who recognises him to contact Ipswich police."

Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching said the man almost "got cleaned up" by the horses after sauntering on to the track at the 300m mark during the final race.

"It is a potentially life-threatening action to run on to the track," said Mr Kitching. "

Just a few hours earlier we had a fall involving four horses, one of which had to be destroyed. It doesn't take much to spook a horse and the results can be life threatening."

Two other men who piggy-backed each other on to the track in pursuit of Scooby-Doo were arrested and charged by police, and will face Ipswich Magistrate's Court on July 14.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


A teacher was today found guilty of dangerous driving – after police caught him with 13 people in a Volvo car built for five. Abraham Gniwosch, 30, crammed his family into the car so they could enjoy a day out to the farm in Llandudno, North Wales.

He had ten passengers in the back - two women with babies on their laps and six children under the age of 10 half-seated or standing up. A man aged 28 and a seven-year-old boy was also in the front passenger seat of the car.

Nia Lloyd, prosecuting at Llandudno in North Wales, said none of the 13 were wearing a seat belt and said the Volvo S70 was 'dramatically overloaded'.

Gniwosch, from Tottenham, London, insisted in evidence that he was wearing a seat belt and that he always drove carefully.

He was fined £500 with £415 costs, banned from driving for a year and must take an extended re-test before getting behind the wheel again.

Son turns his dead dad into a teapot

John Lowndes has no problem stirring up happy memories of his dad after putting his ashes in an urn with a difference.

He found that when Ian died 10 years ago aged 75, one of the things he missed most was their tradition of putting the world to rights over a nice cuppa.

So he brewed up the idea of giving him leaf eternal by having his ashes mixed with clay to make a teapot.

John, 54, said: "Those cups of tea with dad were special and when he died I really missed them."

John, of Broad Haven, Pembrokeshire, approached local potter Neil Richardson who made two teapots - in case one breaks. John added: "Dad would understand. The only thing more appropriate would have been a pint glass."

North Pole DUI

A North Pole man is accused of driving a riding lawn mower over several yards while intoxicated and then trying to elude police. Wyatt Lewis, 20, has been charged with driving under the influence and failure to stop at the direction of a peace officer.

Shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday morning, Alaska State Troopers were called to Garnett Drive in North Pole about an intoxicated man driving a red Craftsman riding mower over several people’s lawns.

When troopers spotted Lewis, they put on their emergency lights and sirens, but he allegedly led them on a brief pursuit for approximately 200 feet at speed of about 5 mph. As Lewis turned into a backyard on the street, the trooper exited his vehicle and finally got Lewis to stop, according to a criminal complaint filed in court.

Lewis admitted to drinking a few beers and said he did not hear the patrol car’s sirens, according to the complaint. A chemical test found his breath-alcohol content to be 0.184, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 to operate a motor vehicle.

While it is not very common for someone on a riding lawnmower to be charged with driving under the influence, it’s not outside the statute.

“Basically, the law says you’re not authorized to operate any motorized vehicle after drinking,” Trooper Charles Inderrieden said, noting it usually only extends beyond motorists to pilots and boaters.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

World's Ugliest Dog

A three-legged, one-eyed, cancer-afflicted dog named Gus has been crowned the World's Ugliest Dog at a fair in California. Gus, a Chinese Crested dog, beat all comers to take the title at the Sonoma-Marin Fair.

Owner Jeanenne Teed, from Florida, said she would spend the $1,600 prize on treatment for Gus's skin cancer.

The competition has been running for 20 years, and is one of the fair's top attractions, organisers said.

Vicki DeArmon, marketing director of the fair, said that in the past few years, winners had been dogs that had been abandoned or neglected before being adopted by dog-lovers. "They may look hard to love, but apparently they are not. I've never seen dogs better cared for," she added.

One of his legs was amputated as a consequence of his skin tumor and He lost an eye to a tomcat in a fight.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Woman washing her car

Lemonade stand robbed

A group of Terre Haute (Indianna) kids were squeezed out of cash from their lemonade stand and now a man is behind bars. The children were running a lemonade stand in the Farrington Grove neighborhood when things went sour.

Dominique Morefield and her friends set up their lemonade stand at the corner of Deming and Center streets. Police said 18-year-old Steven Tryon came up to the stand and asked for their money.

"The guy comes up and was just like, 'give me your money,'" said Morefield.

He grabbed it from the girl's hands and took off running.

"I was just like, shocked. It was my immediate reaction to chase after him," said Morefield.

Morefield chased after Tryon and called police on her cell phone.

Tryon ran into a house down the street where police spent more than 45 minutes trying to coax him out. When he finally came out, police arrested him. The kids were able to identify him because they said he came to their street corner earlier that same day and tried to sell them a knife.

Tryon was taken to the Vigo County Jail. He's due in court Tuesday. He is facing a felony robbery charge.

The kids will be getting their money back, all $17.50, but they said they're just glad Tryon was caught.

What's in a name

When it's a local dish like "Husband and wife's lung slice" or "Chicken without sexual life," lots of furrowed eyebrows on famished foreigners.

So, with the Olympics a few short weeks away, China is giving its cuisine a linguistic makeover.

It is proposing that restaurants change the names of exotic, but bizarrely named, delicacies to make them more delectable for the estimated 50,000 visitors arriving in August for the Summer Games.

The appetizer "Husband and wife's lung slice" is taking on the more appetizing "Beef and ox tripe in chili sauce." "Chicken without sexual life" has been transformed into "Steamed pullet."

The government has put down more than 2,000 proposed names in a 170-page book that it has offered to Beijing hotels, according to state media.

"Thanks to the pamphlet, we do not have to struggle to come up with the English translations of dishes any more, which is usually time consuming," a senior manager at the four-star Guangzhou Hotel in downtown Beijing told the Xinhua news agency.

The Chinese say the names of their dishes focus more on appearance than taste or smell. But Westerners are more accustomed to names that describe the ingredients and how they are cooked -- such as pot roast.

The government realizes local names are a matter of taste, but don't want them to get lost in translation. Hence, the spicy Sichuanese dish "Bean curd made by a pock-marked woman" has been bestowed the more palatable "Mapo tofu."

"The process of standardizing a menu translation is a double-edged sword," wrote columnist Raymond Zhou in the China Daily newspaper. It "removes the ambiguity and unintended humor" and "takes away the fun and the rich connotation. It turns a menu into the equivalent of plain rice, which has the necessary nutrients but is devoid of flavor."

Power to the people

Residents of Tanzania's Zanzibar island are celebrating the return of the island's power supplies four weeks after they were cut off. In the historic Stone Town, women, men, and children sang: "Leo umeme washa" - "Today the power has come on".

There are reports that some areas will have to wait longer because cables have been stolen, but in Stone Town the drone of generators has been silenced. A surge caused a connection to collapse between underwater and overland cables.

The power resumed on Wednesday morning, first in Stone Town and then in neighbouring districts. For the past month, those shops who could not afford spending nearly $10 a day on generator fuel, have waited in darkness.

In the market area of Darajani, bookshop owner Farouk Karim explains that the past month has been disastrous for the shop. "We deal in the business of newspapers and that needs light. It was not a profitable month at all. This is a modern world and for a country to have no power for a month is a real shame."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Don't pick your own

A fruit farm has stopped doing "pick your own" strawberries because customers are eating too much of the fruit without paying. Hacker's Fruit Farm, near Cambridge, had offered pickers the chance to select their own strawberries for the last 40 years.

Mark Spight, who runs the farm, said he was annoyed at the number of people not paying for the strawberries. Mr Spight said he used to get angry watching people gorging themselves then only taking a handful of fruit to be paid for.

He said some people were eating up to £15 worth of strawberries and would come to the checkout covered in juice. There had also been an increasing problem with unruly behaviour leading to plants being trampled and fruit damaged.

"We don't mind people going picking and trying some strawberries, but we once had a family come with a bowl of cream. It was shocking," said Mr Spight. "We used to have a lot of children playing in the fields and trampling the plants. We thought it was not worth it."

The farm still has a farm shop and "pick your own" blackberries and other berries.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Puffer fish bite

A teenager in Cambodia has been hospitalised after an unfortunate incident involving an angry puffer fish and his genitals.

According to local media reports, the 13-year-old was attacked by the puffer fish after it got trapped in the boy's net. Once it was released, it made a beeline for the boy's groin, and bit it.

The Koh Santepheap newspaper printed a picture of him in hospital with his testicles heavily strapped following the attack.

The boy is expected to recover from the incident - which occurred in Prek Pneuv, just outside Phnom Penh - although it's not known how much damage the angry puffer fish caused.

The bite of the puffer fish is reputed locally to be even worse than the poison from the fish's spines.

It's raining cement

Russian air force planes dropped a 25-kg (55-lb) sack of cement on a suburban Moscow home last week while seeding clouds to prevent rain from spoiling a holiday, Russian media said on Tuesday.

"A pack of cement used in creating ... good weather in the capital region ... failed to pulverize completely at high altitude and fell on the roof of a house, making a hole about 80-100 cm (2.5-3 ft)," police in Naro-Fominsk told agency RIA-Novosti.

Ahead of major public holidays the Russian Air Force often dispatches up to 12 cargo planes carrying loads of silver iodide, liquid nitrogen and cement powder to seed clouds above Moscow and empty the skies of moisture.

June 12 was Russia Day, a patriotic holiday celebrating the country's independence after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Weather specialists said the cement's failure to turn to powder was the first hiccup in 20 years.

The homeowner was not injured, but refused an offer of 50,000 roubles ($2,100) from the air force, saying she would sue for damages and compensation for moral suffering, Interfax said.


Police in Linköping, Sweden were given a delicate task on Saturday night as they were called in to help free a loving couple from their handcuffs.

The couple called the police after their sex game had left them in a tricky situation as their keys failed to open their handcuffs and they were left locked to each each other.

Police needed the help of bolt-cutters to prize the pair apart.

"They had hoped that their keys would fit, but we had to use a type of bolt-cutter," said Christian Wehlin for Östergötland police.

There was a further man in the apartment when the police arrived. He had been trying to help the couple out of their bind but had been unable to force the handcuffs open.

Armpit sniffer gets jail & cane

A Singapore man with a penchant for sniffing women's armpits was sentenced to 14 years in jail and 18 strokes of the cane for molesting his victims, a local newspaper reported Friday.

The 36-year-old, who the Straits Times said was mentally unstable, had previous convictions for drug and sex-related offences.

He molested 23 women over the course of 15 months, smelling their armpits and touching them in lifts, staircase landings and their homes, the paper said. He was caught after a housewife reported him to the police.

The court meted out the jail term, normally reserved for hardcore criminals, saying the man was likely to commit crimes again, the paper reported.

Caning on the buttocks is an additional punishment for male criminals in Singapore for offences ranging from vandalism to illegal possession of drugs and rape.

Kidnapped to iron

An Italian man was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend from a pub.
The 43-year-old man dragged the woman out of a pub in the port city of Genoa, shoved her into a car and took her to his home where he made her iron and wash dishes after threatening her, they said.

Police arrived at his house after being tipped off by a friend of the woman who watched the scene at the pub.

The man, who was apparently furious at his ex-girlfriend for leaving him, was arrested on charges of kidnapping, police said.

Dead Mayor re-elected

The residents of a Romanian village knowingly voted in a dead man as their mayor in a municipal election, preferring him to his living opponent.

Neculai Ivascu, 57, who ran the village for almost two decades, died from liver disease just after voting began - but still won the election by a margin of 23 votes.

A local official said the authorities decided to keep the poll open in case Ivascu's opponent, Gheorghe Dobrescu, won, avoiding the need for a re-run.

"I know he died, but I don't want change," a pro-Ivascu villager told Romanian television.

In the end, election authorities gave the post to the runner-up, but some villagers and Ivascu's party, the powerful opposition Social Democrat Party (PSD), have called for a new vote.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Lofty problem

A family moved into their new home only to discover 12 illegal immigrants living in the roof. Lee Bradley was inspecting the loft of his rented terraced house when he made the shock discovery.

Under the roof, a colony of Kosovan migrants had knocked down the wall between his house and the two adjoining properties to create living space for several families.

They had even brought in several deck chairs and a cupboard and the floor was littered with children's toys. The migrants - including a baby - had also managed to install a light in the roof and there were several boxes containing their belongings.

Mr Bradley, a father-of-four, called the police but within 20 minutes the immigrants had fled the property in West Bromwich in the Midlands.

Mr Bradley, who had just moved in with his wife Caroline, 32, and their children, told The Sun:

"I decided to look in the loft space and popped my head through the hatch. There was a light dangling from the roof and about a dozen people - men, women and a baby who started to cry when she saw me. They were eating sandwiches and just stared back at me. I was scared and shut the hatch straight away. The police were here within 20 minutes but the people had gone. They'd taken their mattresses and bedding but left behind a table, chairs and toys. The police think they're illegal Kosovan immigrants but God knows where they are now - they just vanished."

'Tache Case

An RAF fighter pilot has won his battle with the United States Air Force over the size of his handlebar mustache. Flight Lieutenant Chris Ball, who is on an exchange posting with the USAF in Afghanistan was told to trim his distinctive mustache.

The pilot, who is usually based at RAF Lossiemouth, turned to the Queen's Regulations and found the mustache's width did not breach RAF guidelines.

The rules state the mustache should not go below the edge of the mouth.

Despite Flt Lt Ball serving on exchange with the USAF, the RAF still have some say on the attire and appearance of their staff.

The USAF relented and Flt Lt Ball's mustache was left unruffled.

Huge tumor removed

Doctors in Bangladesh have removed a tumour from a cycle rickshaw puller, which they say weighed 42kg (93lb). They say it is probably the largest one ever seen in the country.

The surgeon who removed the giant tumour told the BBC that it had been growing inside the abdomen of the patient for more than four years. It caused only slight pain to the man who had it. Despite the unusual growth of his stomach, he did not think of having it checked until this week.

When the tumour was removed on Tuesday, Professor Omar Ali said that both he and the patient were absolutely amazed at its size.

"It was bigger than a jackfruit," the doctor said - the tumour had grown 81cm (31 inches) long and 61cm (24 inches) in width. "We normally only see ones which weigh 20kg maximum."

But the tumour was not cancerous, and he said that the patient would soon be back on his feet.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Baby Born Twice

A one-month old girl in Texas will count May 3, 2008, as her birthday. But it wasn't the first time she left her mother's womb. A large tumor was discovered on Macie Hope McCartney about six months into her development, "The Today Show" reported.

It was found when her parents, Chad and Keri McCartney, and her four older siblings had gone for a routine ultrasound to determine the sex of the baby. Instead, the technician found a mass as large as the baby.

Dr. Darrell Cass, who led the surgery to save Macie, said the tumor, which extended from her tailbone, was stealing the blood that she needed to live.

The type of surgery he performed has only been done about 20 times. During the operation, Keri was put into anesthesia much deeper than usual, Cass said, so her uterus would relax. Surgeons then exposed the uterus, cut where they would not damage the placenta, pulled most of the baby out and removed the tumor. They then had to ensure Keri's womb would hold amniotic fluid to keep the baby alive.

Ten weeks later, Macie was born. After a month in the hospital, mom and daughter were expected to return home Saturday.

"We are doing great," Keri McCartney said on the morning show. "I am so excited to think that we're leaving tomorrow."

Cooler DWI

One New York man's Memorial Day fun ended when police pulled him over while he was driving his motorized cooler.

Leslie J. "Bomber" Marr, 57, was charged with driving while intoxicated and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle after the police saw him swerving on the street and driving on the sidewalk in his "Cruzin Cooler," Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle told the Post Star newspaper.

Marr's electric-powered cooler was filled with 14 beers and has room for 24 cans and ice, Fox News reported.

Baby born drunk

A woman was so drunk when she gave birth that her baby was 15 times over the drink drive limit. The baby had 2.9 grams per litre of alcohol in its blood when it was born in Otwock, Poland.

The limit in Poland for driving is 0.2 grams per litre.

The mother was arrested moments after giving birth on Tuesday and charged with endangering the life of a child.

A spokesman said: 'There are fears for the child's long-term development.'

7 people arrested for cheering at graduation

ROCK HILL, S.C. - Authorities say seven people attending high school graduations in Rock Hill, South Carolina, are facing charges after police say they cheered while students' names were being called.

Authorities say six people at Fort Mill High School's graduation were charged Saturday and a seventh at the graduation for York Comprehensive High School was charged Friday with disorderly conduct.

Police say those arrested yelled after students' names were called while diplomas were handed out.

A police spokesman says school officials request police patrols to prevent graduation disruptions that include standing, hollering and clapping.

He says those attending the commencements are told their behaviour can be prosecuted.

Rock Hill is about 110 kilometres north of Columbia, South Carolina.

House washed away in floods

This video shows an entire house and road washed away by rapid currents in Lake Delton, Wisconsin, one of the areas of the midwestern U.S. hit hardest by flooding.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

One legged car thief

PHILADELPHIA -- A man is under arrest, charged with stealing rental cars at Philadelphia International Airport, police said. According to police, Benjamin Copeland was spotted on surveillance video. They said he was stealing the cars while on crutches because he only has one leg.

The five cars were taken from the Avis and Budget rental centers over the past two weeks.

Police allege that he would steal a Ford Explorer or Expedition, drive it until it ran out of gas and then return to steal another one.

Police said Copeland's downfall was that he had a specific pattern. Although the scheme was clever and new, detectives said they set up surveillance and caught him on tape climbing aboard parked, out-of-service shuttle buses.

"What he's doing is he's boarding a shuttle bus, and apparently on the shuttle bus there's some type of a button that you push that opens the gate, similar to a garage door opener. What he would do was he would gain access to these lots," Inspector William Colarulo said.

Sources told NBC 10 that Copeland admitted he did it. Police said that, with his record, they don't expect Copeland to be leaving jail anytime soon.

"Some of them are for robberies, aggravated assault, drugs. So, as far as I'm concerned, he shouldn't be walking the streets of Philadelphia," Colarulo said.

Copeland was awaiting an arraignment hearing Friday afternoon, police said. Budget and Avis had no comment, Cahn reported.

Video HERE

Time to cry: Beer spilled

Police say a German truck hauling beer to thirsty fans at the soccer European Championship 2008 in neighboring Austria overturned, spilling 350 cases of its precious cargo across the autobahn.

Police say the truck took an exit ramp too quickly on its way from Munich to Vienna when the accident occurred late Monday night.

Thousands of bottles were strewn across the road and shattered on impact. It created a sudsy mess that took about 40 firefighters with a bulldozer three hours to clean up.

Police said Tuesday that the 51-year-old driver of the truck was unharmed.

Austria and Switzerland are co-hosting the Euro 2008 tournament, which opened Saturday.

Waterless washing machine

A WASHING machine that uses only a cup of water to carry out a full wash, leaving clothes virtually dry, has been developed by British inventors. Researchers say the technology, which uses less than 2 per cent of the water and energy of a conventional machine, could save billions of gallons of water each year.

The washing machine uses thousands of tiny plastic chips – each about half a centimetre in size – to absorb and remove dirt. About 40lbs of the chips are added to each load along with a cup of water and detergent.

During the washing cycle the water is heated to help dissolve stains and dirt, which are then absorbed by the plastic chips. The chips are removed at the end of each wash but can be used up to 100 times.

The technology, dubbed Xeros, could save millions of gallons of water each year if widely adopted.

An average household uses about 42 pints of water daily washing clothes.

Anyone own a 727?

Vietnamese Authorities still haven’t been able to find out who is the owner of a Boeing 727 that has been left at the Hanoi-based Noi Bai International Airport for several months.

This plane, which bears a strange name – Air Dream –, has been lying at Noi Bai Airport for over six months. The aircraft just flew several times, transporting passengers from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Hanoi and vice versa, and since then it has been left idle at Noi Bai Airport. Neither the crew nor owner can be found.

Though the aircraft has a Cambodian flag on its fuselage, nobody has any information about an airline named Air Dream in Cambodia. There is also no information about Air Dream on the website of the International Aviation Transport Association (IATA) and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

According to officials of Noi Bai Airport, this aircraft had a breakdown in late 2007. Representatives of some airlines say that perhaps the owner abandoned this aircraft to not have to pay parking fees, which are quite high. They say this is the most mysterious case that they have seen.

Monday, June 09, 2008

300 yr old bill

The Prince of Wales will finally pay off a family debt dating back more than 350 years on a visit to Worcester. For the past 15 years businessmen in the city have been trying to reclaim the £453.3s which King Charles II failed to pay 357 years ago.

Before the Battle of Worcester in 1651 the Worcester Clothiers made the monarch thousands of new uniforms to fight Cromwell's army. But he was driven out of the country and never actually paid for them.

Prince Charles is expected to finally pay off his ancestral debt when he visits the city with the Duchess of Cornwall on Tuesday - but without the interest.

According to the Institute for the Measurement of Worth website, the sum of £453 and three shillings in 1651 would have been worth approximately £47,500 ($95,000) in 2007, if interest was taken into account.

A spokeswoman for Clarence House said Prince Charles would personally repay a sum of £453.15 to the current High Master of the Clothiers Andrew Grant at a ceremony.

The spokeswoman said the prince would hand over the money at The Commandery, which served as the headquarters for the Royalists during the battle, as a "gesture of goodwill".

The money will be presented in a purse made by the Royal Shakespeare Company in the style of a 1650 "gaming purse".

Charles II was eventually invited back to England to reclaim his throne in the 1660s.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Alcohol reduces arthritis

Alcohol can cut the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in half, according to new research. A study by Scandinavian scientists looked at 2,750 people. Of those, 1,650 had arthritis. When they were compared to people with similar age, sex and lifestyle, those who drink alcohol were less likely to have the joint condition.

And the more a person drank, the lower the risk, researchers said in a news release. The quarter of people who drank the most were half as likely to have arthritis as the half who drank the least.

The authors said the research reinforces the importance of lifestyle factors in the development of the disease, and that giving up smoking remains the single most important preventive measure.

They pointed to recent experimental research by other authors, which showed that alcohol protected against the development and severity of rheumatoid arthritis, although it is not clear exactly how it does this, and who cares!

Road trip

Diego Percivaldi drove his 27-year-old car almost 10,000 miles through 11 countries to see Ford Motor Co.'s headquarters on Thursday. The trip from Argentina to Dearborn took 47 days in Percivaldi's 1981 Ford Falcon.

"The Ford Falcon, in Argentina, it's very sentimental for all the Argentine people," Percivaldi said, adding that he drove the Argentine version of the four-door vehicle that featured a luggage rack and sported several sponsorship stickers.

The trip took three years to plan, he said, and the Falcon's original engine was rebuilt in preparation for slow ride north.

"If you don't love cars, it's impossible to travel with this car," Percivaldi said.

Percivaldi, 32, declined to say how much the trip cost, but did say sponsors helped with half the expenses. He said he paid as much as $8 per gallon for gas in Peru and $1.40 in Ecuador.

Cecilia, Percivaldi's 32-year-old wife, said the trip has long been a goal for the family of four.

"We have always dreamed of a trip like this," she said.

Upon arriving unannounced at the Dearborn headquarters of No. 2 U.S. automaker, the family walked up to the security desk at about noon and asked to speak to someone from Ford, spokesman Tom Hoyt said.

Hoyt said he will be talking to senior management to see if they will do anything for the family.

Pranksters get pranked

NYACK - The Nyack High School students who plotted the annual senior prank this week wound up getting pranked themselves.

Their initial plan was simple enough: Seniors would go into the high school late at night, remove nearly all the classroom desks and chairs, and line them up in the shape of a giant "2008" on the field behind the school.

Senior Erin Cummings, 17, said about 100 seniors came to the school at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and worked for several hours arranging the desks.

But it seems another group came out to the field afterward and rearranged the desks in the shape of a penis, leaving the image that way for everyone to find yesterday morning.

"Personally, it was upsetting to see all our hard work turn into a huge penis," Cummings said, though she conceded she was proud her class was able to cause a little chaos for the day.

"Kids were on the floor laughing. They thought it was the funniest thing," she added.

Principal Daniel Nicholson says he authorized the "2008" shape. He and police say the penis shape was just another prank so they're not investigating.

Thong bandits captured

Colorado police say two suspected robbers dubbed the "thong bandits", after they used women's underwear to disguise themselves, have been caught. The two men used skimpy underwear as masks, but much of their faces remained visible in a CCTV tape broadcast across the US state.

Nineteen-year-old Joaquin Rico and his 24-year-old alleged accomplice, Joseph R Espinoza, both turned themselves in.

Police in Arvada say the men stole cash and cigarettes from a shop in May. The two were unarmed but reportedly hit a shop assistant and injured her.

One man wore a green thong and the other wore blue. The garments barely covered the men's features, leaving most of their faces exposed.

Woman gets 4 minutes probation

At one point this year, Patricia Vincent faced up to 20 years in prison for hiring a company to chop down trees on national forest land next to her home to improve her view of Lake Tahoe. Instead, she ended up serving about 4 minutes of probation.

``This case is unique, no matter how you cut it,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Rachow said at Wednesday's sentencing hearing.

In fairness, Vincent, 57, of Incline Village, also performed more than 80 hours of community service and paid $100,000 in restitution as part of a deal in which she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unlawfully cutting trees on U.S. land.

The short probation period was a legal technicality resulting from the fact that she had already paid the restitution and completed the community service by the time she arrived in federal court for sentencing in Reno. The plea deal dictated that upon completion of those requirements, the probation would be suspended.

U.S. District Court Judge Brian Sandoval questioned why it was even necessary to include the probation as part of the sentence.

``It is unusual to request to put on probation then take it off. It would be the fastest probation I have ever imposed,'' he told Rachow and Vincent's defense lawyer, Scott Freeman.

But Rachow said that it was necessary to have a record of the probation if for some reason there developed problems with verifying completion of the community service.

So Sandoval reluctantly acquiesced.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Welcome to Iceland

Icelandic authorities said they were forced to shoot a polar bear found wandering on the island in order to protect the public after a plan to anaesthetize the animal was abandoned.

The bear, an adult male weighing around 250 kg (500 lbs), was presumed to have swum to shore from drifting ice. The last time a polar bear came ashore in Iceland was in 1988.

"There was a lot of fog in the area and the bear was moving into the fog. We couldn't risk losing him and there was no time to wait for anaesthetics, so we had to shoot him. It was for the safety of the public," Police Superintendent Stefan Vagn Stefansson told Icelandic national radio on Wednesday.

In response to a public outcry at the shooting, the environmental ministry said it would review the incident to see if it could avoid shooting the next bear that lands in the country.

The world's largest land-based predator lives in the Arctic, depending largely on sea ice to hunt seals. When bears have come to Iceland they have usually travelled most of the way on icebergs from the east coast of Greenland. The animals are excellent swimmers. Last month, polar bears were listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act because their sea ice habitat is melting away.

Fake bus stop

A German nursing home has come up with a novel idea to stop Alzheimer's patients from wandering off: a phantom bus stop.

The bus stop, in front of the Benrath Senior Centre in the western city of Düsseldorf, is an exact replica of a standard stop, with one small difference: buses never stop there.

The idea emerged after the centre was forced to rely on police to retrieve patients who wanted to return to their homes and families but had forgotten that in many cases neither existed any longer.

"If we can’t find them then we have to alert the police,” said Benrath's director Richard Neureither. “It can be particularly dangerous if this happens in winter and they spend the night out in the cold.”

“It sounds funny,” said Old Lions Chairman Franz-Josef Goebel, “but it helps. Our members are 84 years-old on average. Their short-term memory hardly works at all, but the long-term memory is still active. They know the green and yellow bus sign and remember that waiting there means they will go home.” The result is that errant patients now wait for their trip home at the bus stop, before quickly forgetting why they were there in the first place.

“We will approach them and say that the bus is coming later today and invite them in to the home for a coffee,” said Mr Neureither. “Five minutes later they have completely forgotten they wanted to leave.” The idea has proved so successful that it has now been adopted by several other homes across Germany.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Guns confiscated from prison cell

The luxurious lifestyle of a convict in northeastern Brazil has come to an abrupt end after police confiscated a plasma TV set, gym equipment, two pistols and cash worth $173,000 from his cell, officials said Tuesday.

Bahia's Prison Affairs Department head Jose Francisco Leite said police raided the cell Monday in a statewide crackdown on drug trafficking.

He said Tuesday authorities have ordered an investigation of how of Genilson Lins da Silva got 280,000 reals ($173,000), two .38-caliber pistols and other amenities into his cell at the Bahia's Lemos Brito Penitentiary. Silva is serving 28 years for robbery and murder and was transferred to another prison.

Leite says Silva "led a posh prison life in his cell, which he occupied all by himself."

Rowing to England

Hopping the Pond will take on new meaning for four men who are trying to make the trans-Atlantic trek in a rowboat.

The team of rowers from the United Kingdom left New York in a 29-foot rowboat on course for their homeland. They hope to end up at a group of small islands off England's southwestern tip.

The boat is equipped with an electronic tracking system.

According to a Web site dedicated to the effort, as of Sunday night, the men had rowed 37 miles in the approximately 3,200-mile trip.

They're trying to break a century-old record of 55 days and 13 hours set by two Norwegian-Americans in 1896.

The rowers are expected to take turns, with two people rowing in two-hour shifts.

On board are 1,500 freeze-dried meals and a device that can make saltwater safe to drink.

Germans do have a sense of humour

Germany's tabloid newspaper, Bild, has printed a list of holiday resorts to avoid - those dominated by the British. This comes after a British man was awarded £750 (953 euros) after suing his travel company over a holiday at a resort filled with Germans.

Bild quotes a German legal expert saying that Germans holidaying in all-British resorts would not have the same opportunity of suing. It goes on to poke fun at British cuisine, drinking-habits and sport.

David Barnish, 47, was awarded compensation last week for a holiday in Greece which he argued had been spoilt by the number of German tourists and the fact that all the activities were organised in the German language.

Bild points out that Germans will find it hard to get their money back if they find their hotel overrun with Britons.

"Even if the travel company announces in the brochure that the resort is 'favoured by Germans', the tourist has to accept the possibility that he will spend his holidays with up to 90% foreigners - above all with the English," Uta Stenzel, a legal expert, told the paper.

Bild recommends avoiding the best-known destinations for British holidaymakers and lists the top six 'black spots' as the Bay of Palma in Majorca, San Antonio in Ibiza, Playa de las Americas in Tenerife, Ayia Napa in Cyprus, Faliraki on the Greek island of Rhodes and Malia in Crete.

Just in case the Germans have a problem identifying British tourists abroad, Bild has a guide on its online version, illustrated with an unappealing photo of two sunburnt women on sun chairs.

It also ridicules British cuisine, binge-drinking, fashion and sport, says that "athletically they are not up to much, they can't even take penalties" and points out that Austria and Switzerland - the hosts of this summer's Euro 2008 football championships - will be largely British-free zones this year as no British teams have qualified.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Man drops cash from plane

An Indonesian businessman has scattered 100 million rupiah ($10,700; £5,406) in banknotes from a plane to promote his new motivational book.

Tung Desem Waringin said he would rather share money for a promotional campaign with people who needed it.

His plane flew over a sports field in Serang city, 40 miles west of Jakarta, dropping four loads of bills of small denomination.

Crowds had been gathering after rumours of the stunt spread on Saturday.

Mr Tung, 42, admitted his scheme was a little "crazy", but said he wanted to create "a rain of money" over Jakarta.

He had been refused permission to conduct the flight over the capital amid security concerns.

Millions of Indonesians live below the poverty line and distributions of free food and aid regularly draw large crowds.

Kurt Cobain's ashes stolen

Courtney Love has revealed the ashes of her late husband, rock legend Kurt Cobain, were stolen in a burglary two weeks ago.

Love kept the Nirvana star's ashes in a pink teddy-bear shaped bag along with a lock of his hair, but the item was taken along with other personal items including clothes and jewellery from her Los Angeles home. The singer was so taken aback by the theft she has reportedly told friends she feels suicidal.

"They were all I had left of my husband," she told press. "I can't believe anyone would take Kurt's ashes from me. I find it disgusting and right now I'm suicidal. If I don't get them back I don't know what I'll do."

"They were all I had left of my husband. I used to take them everywhere with me just so I could feel Kurt was still with me."

After his death in 1994, most of Cobain's ashes were scattered near his Washington home and at a Buddhist temple, with Love keeping the rest.

Car plows into bike race

MONTERREY, Mexico -- A car has plowed into a bike race along a highway near the US-Mexico border, killing one and injuring 10 others.

Police investigator Jose Alfredo Rodriguez says the 28-year-old driver was apparently drunk and fell asleep when he crashed into the race.

A photograph taken by a city official shows bicyclists and equipment being hurled high in to the air by the collision.

Rodriguez says Juan Campos was charged with killing Alejandro Alvarez, 37, of Monterrey.

Authorities say the wreck happened 15 minutes into the race along a highway between Playa Bagdad and Matamoros.

Campos says he is an American citizen living in Brownsville, Texas. U.S. consulate spokesman Todd Huizinga said officials were looking into whether Americans were involved.

Emergency Skydive

Fifteen people have escaped unharmed in the US state of Indiana after a sky-diving plane lost power 7,000ft (2,100m) from the ground. The pilot told the 14 skydivers to jump to safety, then crash-landed the plane and crawled out of the wreckage.

The malfunction caused oil to spray on the windscreen, limiting the pilot's visibility, and he lost manual control. The plane found the runway but overshot ending up in a cornfield, turning over as its propellers hit the ground.

The parachutists, who all landed without incident, were able to watch the plane's descent, near the town of Greensburg.

Bob Dougherty, who owns the company SkyDive Greensburg, said the plane was climbing when the engine cut out.

The pilot levelled off the plane at 5,000ft so that the jumpers could evacuate the plane. With thick smoke and oil from the engine affecting his field of vision, the pilot tried to steer the plane back.

"He just ran out of runway, but he was able to put the plane in a place where nobody would get hurt," Mr Dougherty told the Greensburg Daily News newspaper. "It's a loss, but 15 people walked away because everybody performed professionally," he said.

Buried in a Pringles can

The man who designed the Pringles potato chip packaging system was so proud of his accomplishment that a portion of his ashes has been buried in one of the iconic cans.

Fredric J. Baur, of Cincinnati, died May 4 at Vitas Hospice in Cincinnati, his family said. He was 89.

Baur's children said they honored his request to bury him in one of the cans by placing part of his cremated remains in a Pringles container in his grave in suburban Springfield Township.

The rest of his remains were placed in an urn buried along with the can, with some placed in another urn and given to a grandson, said Baur's daughter, Linda Baur of Diamondhead, Mississippi.

Baur requested the burial arrangement because he was proud of his design of the Pringles container, a son, Lawrence Baur of Stevensville, Michigan, said Monday.

Baur was an organic chemist and food storage technician who specialized in research and development and quality control for Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co.

Baur filed for a patent for the tubular Pringles container and for the method of packaging the curved, stacked chips in the container in 1966, and it was granted in 1970, P&G archivist Ed Rider said.

Baur retired from P&G in the early 1980s.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

RIP Lorenzo Odone

The man whose parents' battle to save him from a nerve disease was told in the movie "Lorenzo's Oil" died Friday at his home in Virginia, having lived more than 20 years longer than doctors predicted.

Lorenzo Odone, who doctors said would die in childhood, died one day after his 30th birthday, said his father, Augusto Odone.

Lorenzo Odone had come down with aspiration pneumonia recently after getting food stuck in his lungs, his father said. He began bleeding heavily, and before an ambulance reached their home, his son was dead, Odone said.

"He could not see or communicate, but he was still with us," Odone said Friday. "He did not suffer. ... That's the important thing."

Odone was found at age 6 to have adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD. His doctors told his parents that the disease, brought about by a genetic mutation that causes the neurological system to break down, would lead to death in two years.

The disease leads to the accumulation of substances called very long chain fatty acids in cells, damaging the material that coats nerve fibers in the brain.

Jesus cocaine statue

U.S. customs officials have seized a statue of Jesus Christ made from plaster mixed with cocaine -- the latest sophisticated attempt to smuggle drugs from Mexico.

Sniffer dogs at the border crossing in Laredo, Texas, alerted officials to the smell of narcotics in the 6.6 pound (3 kilo) statue, which was in the trunk of a car being driven by a Mexican woman into the United States last week.

"The statue tested positive for cocaine," Nancy Herrera, an official at the U.S. Attorney's Office Southern District of Texas said on Friday.

U.S. border police arrested a 61-year-old Mexican man accused of offering the woman $80 to carry the statue to the bus station in downtown Laredo.

The woman escaped back to Mexico, Herrera said.

Cartoon fraud

A California man was arraigned this week in federal court in Sacramento on multiple counts of computer fraud, wire fraud and mail fraud for allegedly opening 58,000 fake brokerage accounts.

Michael Largent, 22, of Plumas Lake, Calif., was charged with using false Social Security numbers, drivers license numbers, and names - even the names of cartoon and comic book characters - to open the accounts.

He used the accounts to steal so-called micro-deposits of a few cents to a few dollars deposited by brokerage firms into new accounts to verify that users can access them. Prosecutors charge that the scam netted Largent about US$50,000 in the course of six months.

According to documents from the DOJ, Largent allegedly defrauded ETrade, Charles Schwab & Co. and other businesses using this scheme between November 2007 and May 2008.

When the micro-deposits were made Largent allegedly transferred or attempted to transfer the funds into his bank accounts and onto pre-paid debit cards.