Sunday, August 31, 2008

Drunk bus driver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Holy Cow!

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mushroom soup halts plane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mourning Gorilla :(

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wild dolphins tail-walk on water

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baby whale thinks yacht is it's mom

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Phelps has now won 10 13 Olympic golds.

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

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

Saturday, August 09, 2008

WANTED: Hagrid lookalike

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

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

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

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

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

Fake or real?

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

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

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

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

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

Digit-al plus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lord for sale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Homer Coin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Close call

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russia wipes California from map

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

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

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

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

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

Proposal rescue

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

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

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

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

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

Torta record

Mexican caterers have made what they say is the longest sandwich in Latin America, throwing together a 48-yard "torta" in five minutes.

Dozens of people from sandwich outlets in Mexico City came together to produce the monster baguette at the start of a three-day torta fair in the capital. Each section of the 600kg (1,320lb) sandwich had a different flavour and 30 ingredients went into the mix.

It pipped a similar super snack made at last year's fair by one metre. The record attempt took place in the city's Venustiano Carranza district with the help of local authorities and 45 torta outlets.

Thousands of pieces of bread, lettuce, onion and tomato were mixed with hundreds of litres of mayonnaise, mustard and spicy sauces, Reuters news agency reports.

"We broke our own record today," said Jose Antonio Arellano, a torta fair organiser.

The fair is aimed at boosting the torta which has taken a back seat to other fast food in recent years, Reuters notes. Fair organisers expect more than 160,000 visitors during the fair and hope to sell upwards of 200,000 tortas.