Saturday, March 21, 2009

Rue Matics

Crash test dummy

A Philippine plane with 80 passengers aboard narrowly avoided a crash - after a man teaching his girlfriend to drive sped across the runway as the aircraft landed.

The Cebu Pacific plane briefly touched down at Legazpi airport in the central Philippines on Saturday, but took off again as the van being driven by the couple crossed the runway.

'That van could have turned us into a fireball had I not successfully aborted landing,' said pilot Christopher Nowioki. According to the Philippine Star newspaper, the culprit was actually the son of the airport manager.

It's thought that he may have thought all the flights to the airport were completed for the day, and decided to use the runway to give his girlfriend a driving lesson. However, a recent increase in the number of scheduled flights, combined with poor visibility, caught him out.

His father, Frisco Sto. Domingo, has now been sacked, the Philippine Star reports.


Police in Spain have seized a 'crockery' dinner set made out of 20 kilos of cocaine. Madrid police said that they had detained a 35-year-old man who received a parcel in the mail from Venezuela containing the pretend 42-piece dinner set made up of cups, plates and bowls, which had arrived at his home in Barcelona.

The package, containing 44 lbs of the drug, was sent to Barcelona from Maracaibo, Venezuela's second-largest city, via London in the middle of February. Police suspect the man had been recruited by a Venezuelan drug trafficking gang to receive the package which he was supposed to hand over to members of the group who would then extract the cocaine so it could be packaged and sold.

Barcelona has been the scene in recent days of several creative attempts to smuggle cocaine into Spain, the main entry point for the drug into Europe.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tongue insured for $14m

The tongue of the chief coffee taster for a worldwide chain of coffee shops has been insured for £10m ($13.95m).

Gennaro Pelliccia personally tastes a sample of each batch of raw coffee beans at its London plant before they are roasted and shipped to its stores.

"My 18 years of experience enable me to distinguish between thousands of flavours," he says.

Costa Coffee, which sells 108 million cups of coffee worldwide each year, aims to double its number of outlets.

The insurance policy was taken out with Lloyds of London.

"The taste buds of a Master of Coffee are as important as the vocal cords of a singer or the legs of a top model, and this is one of the biggest single insurance policies taken out for one person," said a spokesman for Lloyd's broker Glencairn Limited, which arranged the insurance cover.

"In my profession my taste buds and sensory skills are crucial... and allow me to distinguish any defects," said Mr Pelliccia.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Gay Ducks

Keepers at a bird sanctuary in West Sussex hoped that the last remaining female Blue Duck in the country - called Cherry - might mate with either of the drakes, Ben or Jerry.

But neither male duck appeared interested and are now inseparable at the Arundel Wetland Centre, leaving Cherry to her own devices. Centre warden Paul Stevens said he was disappointed that efforts to produce new Blue Duck offspring had failed but said the two male birds made "a lovely couple".

"They stay together all the time, parading up and down their enclosure and whistling to each other as a male might do with a female he wants to mate with," he said.

"People who visit the centre think they're a fantastic couple, without really coming around to the idea that they are two males. They both have very big personalities and people come from all over the country to come and see them. Cherry doesn't seem bothered by it, she's just happy to keep herself to herself."

Blue ducks originate from New Zealand but there were thought to be just three birds in the UK. Keepers initially introduced Ben to Cherry, but neither seemed keen. They then brought Jerry down from a sanctuary in London.

Mr Stevens said: "Cherry showed some interest in him. She displayed typical mating behaviour - she approached him and called to him, she even looked like she was nesting.

"We thought it was great and it was all going to happen but nothing ever did."

Mr Stevens said the male ducks were then placed in the same enclosure: "To our surprise the two males really took to each other and it was obvious that they really liked each other.

The long and short of it ...

A pony with short legs and a long body has caused numerous people to call the emergency services in England, in the mistaken belief she is stuck in the mud. Hampshire fire crews were last alerted on Tuesday as Mayflower was grazing by the River Test in Southampton.

An animal rescue expert said Mayflower seemed to be a cross between a Shetland and a New Forest pony, making her look like a "sausage-dog horse".

Her owner is now considering erecting signs advising passers-by.

Rescue specialist Anton Phillips said Mayflower could appear to be stuck in mud as she was half the height of other nearby ponies.... "We have been called out several times for the animal now and it is getting a bit ridiculous. We are changing our mobilising policy for this particular area now and in future we will only send out an animal rescue specialist to evaluate the call-out before sending a full team out," he said.

"These calls from the public are with good intent. When viewed at long range, this pony looks like it is trapped, particularly if it is standing still next to its mates which are twice its height."

Bush "shoe thrower" Jailed

An Iraqi journalist hailed as a hero in the Arab world for throwing his shoes at former US President George W Bush has been jailed for three years.

Muntadar al-Zaidi had told the court his actions were "natural, just like any Iraqi" against a leader whose forces had occupied his country.

Shoe hurling is a grave insult in Arab culture, but Mr Bush - on a farewell trip to Iraq - shrugged off the attack.

Defence lawyers described the sentence as "harsh" and said they would appeal.

The head of Zaidi's team Dhiaa al-Saadi said the sentence was "not in harmony with the law" because his client had not meant to cause injury, but rather to express contempt

Man vs Truck vs Train

There’s luck, and then there’s the luck Turkish haulier Cem Tokac has.

Tokac was waiting by a rail line for a train to pass, when a truck drove in front of the train next to where he was standing. The train hits the truck, and the truck hits Tokac, who goes straight to the ground.

His injuries: cuts, bruises, and probably a soiled pair of pants.

The entire incident was captured on CCTV at two different angles. Watching it you just can’t believe that he walked away.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Can you break a $1,000 ?

Three teenagers fell foul of the law after ignoring one of the cardinal rules of safe-robbing: if you try to use the money you've taken from the safe, make sure that it's not antique bank notes that haven't been printed in over 60 years.

According to authorities, the teenaged friends allegedly stole the safe containing the bank notes last Thursday from one of their parents in Texas Township, which (confusingly) is in Michigan.

They then drove south in a stolen van, eventually winding up around 600 miles away in Birmingham, Alabama. That's where the 18-year-old member of the party tried to exchange a $1,000 bill at a bank.

Unfortunately for them, the U.S. Treasury hasn't printed $1,000 bills since 1945.

The bank called police, who arrested the 18-year-old and his 15-year-old friends. They remain in custody, waiting to be taken back to Michigan.

Caving in

A family that is living in a cave to see out the recession may be booted out after falling back on payments. Curt and Deborah Sleeper bought the three acres property and a cave in Festus, Missouri after they spotted it online.

They fell in love with the unique geography of the old mining cave and figured out how to build a house inside it.

But they've got a big payment coming due on the property and don't think they can afford it. If they can't secure new financing, they've got a backup plan - auctioning their cave home through eBay. Bidding starts at $300,000.

"I get the financing, or I sell the property, or I lose everything," Curt Sleeper, a self-employed Web designer and small business consultant, said while giving a tour of the home.

Inside, the walls and ceiling are comprised of the natural cave stone. Three large dehumidifiers keep the interior from getting too damp or musty.

Curt Sleeper said there are no bats in the cave, and no bugs beyond the normal stuff. "Nothing a cat or two won't handle," he wrote on a Web site.

One plus to living in a cave is climate control. The cave is at a constant 62 degrees. In fact, the home doesn't even include a furnace or air conditioner.

Sleeper said he'd never want to own a traditional house after his time in the cave home.

"I'd never live in a box again," he said.