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Odd News Archive - June 2009

Note: Stories from some news services expire after a few weeks. If you click on a link to the original story it is possible that you will be re-directed to an archives page with the option to access the news item for a small fee.

June 30, 2009

Say no to vodka, president tells Russians: President Dmitry Medvedev has told Russians they must kick the alcohol habit.

"We drink more now than in the 1990s, although those were difficult times," the ITAR-Tass news agency quoted Medvedev as saying on Tuesday.

Health Minister Tatyana Golikova has been ordered to devise an anti-alcohol strategy. "We need to prepare a corresponding programme and take appropriate measures," Medvedev said....full story from Reuters UK

First $1 million find for U.S. Antiques Roadshow: NEW YORK - A woman who inherited some Chinese carved jade from her father has scored the first $1 million (601,557 pounds) appraisal from experts on the U.S. television program "Antiques Roadshow," the producers said on Monday.

In a record for the show, four pieces of Chinese carved jade and celadon from the Chien Lung Dynasty (1736-1795), including a large bowl crafted for the Emperor, were given a conservative auction estimate of up to $1.07 million....full story from Reuters UK

Airline wants passengers to stand during flights: A private airline in China is submitting plans for journeys where passengers can opt to stand to save money.

Spring Airlines first initiated the standing ticket idea earlier this year. It is now considering officially submitting it to the aviation regulator before the year is out.

The airline has been trying to cope with surging passenger numbers and new flight routes, but only has 13 planes....full story from

June 29, 2009

Men charged with taking tourists on police chase: Operators of an unauthorized New York airport van service that took five French tourists on a high speed chase in an attempt to evade police were charged Wednesday with unlawful imprisonment.

Tuesday, the operators of the van service - Khaalif Preacher, 27, and Ian L. McFarlane, 57 - were approached by police for "hustling" travellers outside the Air France terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport, prosecutors said....full story from The Times of India

Skier saved from death plunge by Blackberry: A skier who slipped into a crevasse in the Swiss Alps was saved from falling 700ft to his death by his Blackberry mobile phone.

David Fitzherbert's half-inch wide handset in his breast pocket caused him to get wedged in a crack of ice, stopping him from falling further.

Remarkably, the phone still worked after keeping him stuck for two hours until a mountain rescue team winched him to safety....full story from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

June 28, 2009

Two dead, 118 injured in toy factory brawl: A brawl at a toy factory in China has ended with the deaths of two people and a further 60 hospitalised after a dispute flared between workers of different ethnic backgrounds in the Muslim Xinjiang region.

More than 400 police were called to break up the fight involving hundreds of people at the factory in Shaoguan, in the southern province of Guangdong, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

A total of 118 people were injured in the fight....full story from ABC News (AU)

Priest blames holy wine for drunk-driving: An Italian priest caught driving over the alcohol limit pleaded to police that it was only because of the Holy Wine he had drunk as part of the mass, Ansa news agency reported yesterday.

Police rejected the priest's excuse and revoked his driving licence anyway....full story from ABC News (AU)

June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson's death sparks bus brawl: MIAMI - A fight broke out on a Florida bus when news of Michael Jackson's death sparked debate over whether he should be remembered as a great musical talent, and one passenger was charged with assault, police said on Friday.

The bus was moving through the city of North Lauderdale on Thursday when passenger James Kiernan received a text message about Jackson's death on his cell phone, and he read it aloud on the bus, the Broward County Sheriff's Department said....full story from Reuters UK

Venice gets first female gondolier: One of Italy's last bastions of male privilege has been breached with the coming of the first female gondolier in Venice, observers said.

Giorgia Boscolo, 23, a married mother of two, successfully completed Venice's official gondolier license test Friday, enabling her to start an apprenticeship as a "second captain," the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

ANSA said Boscolo would become the first official female gondolier in the city in 900 years....full story from UPI

June 26, 2009

Tennessee couple accused of assault using Cheetos: A Shelbyville, Tennessee couple arrested on domestic assault charges Sunday had an unusual choice of alleged weaponry -- Cheetos.

Warrants filed by Cpl. Kevin Roddy, of the Bedford County Sheriff's Department, stated he responded to a call at a home on Pass Road, where 40-year-old James Earl Taylor and Mary S. Childers, 44, were allegedly involved in an argument.

According to Roddy's report, the pair became "involved in a verbal altercation" with each other "at which time Cheetos potato chips were used in the assault....full story from the Shelbyville Times-Gazette

12-year-old cat whose owners have spent over $20,000 in vets' fees: A survivor of two car accidents, gangrene and poisoning, Sinbad the cat has already used up most of his nine lives.

The 12-year-old pet, who weighs in at a substantial nine kilograms [19.8lbs], lost his tail and has four pins holding his pelvis together after being hit by cars in 2000 and again in 2003.

Later he developed gangrene on the lower half on his body and was given a fur transplant....full story w/pic from The Dominion Post (NZ)

June 25, 2009

Stoned wallabies make crop circles: The mystery of crop circles in poppy fields in Australia's southern island state of Tasmania has been solved -- stoned wallabies are eating the poppy heads and hopping around in circles.

"We have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles," the state's top lawmaker Lara Giddings told local media on Thursday....full story from Reuters UK

June 24, 2009

Thief nabbed selling stolen mower to owner: A thief in Germany was arrested after he tried to sell a garden mower online to the man he had stolen it from, police said Wednesday.

"The owner went to inspect the goods and recognized the mower as his own," said a spokesman for police in the southern town of Tuebingen. "Then he left and told police....full story from Reuters UK

Bizarre things that students leave behind: What have a snake, a giant white rabbit, a life-size skeleton and an inflatable outdoor pool got in common? They've all been left behind in their rooms by British students.

An audit by British student accommodation provider Unite has revealed that trophy traffic cones and road signs are no longer the must-have collectibles.

Instead, students are leaving behind a more eclectic group of items when they leave their digs at the end of the year....full story from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

Monkey urinates on Zambian president: A monkey urinated on Zambian President Rupiah Banda during a press conference outside his office in the capital Lusaka.

President Banda took the unfortunate incident in good humour.

"You have urinated on my jacket," a startled Mr Banda told the monkey, looking up at a tree.

The monkey was one of a colony that has made the its home in the trees outside Mr Banda's offices at Lusaka's State House....full story from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

Crime rate plummets after family jailed: A county's crime rate has fallen to a 20-year low after a crimimal family was jailed, a chief constable has reported.

Five members of the Johnson gipsy family were each jailed for up to 11 years for a string of raids on stately homes, including Britain's biggest domestic burglary, which netted them up to 80 million pounds.

Another 10 members of the gang received sentences for raids on business premises in Thames Valley, the Midlands and Gloucestershire....full story from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

June 23, 2009

French village on alert after 'croc' sightings: A French village is on the alert after several sightings of a crocodile were reported in a local pond and police and local anglers have joined the hunt for the elusive creature dubbed the 'Loch Ness monster of the Vosges'.

Xertigny, a village of some 3,000 inhabitants in the Vosges region in eastern France, has been transfixed by the unexplained sightings and sightseers have regularly gathered by the water's edge to follow the hunt.

A chicken has been left by the waterside to attract the animal but so far, it has escaped capture and local authorities are considering draining the pool....full story from ABC News (AU)

Want to get something done - talk to people in their right ear: The secret to getting someone to do something is to ask them in their right ear, scientists find.

Research shows that people prefer to be addressed in their right ear as they will find it easier to process the information and are therefore more likely to perform a task.

Known as the "right ear advantage", scientists believe it is because information received through the right ear is processed by the left hand side of the brain which is more logical and better at deciphering verbal information than the right side of the brain....full story from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

June 22, 2009

Canadian police search for naked french fry thief: Canadian police were on the search on Monday for a brazen thief who snatched a take-away meal while making a naked run past a fast food restaurant's drive-though window.

An employee of a Langley, British Columbia, Wendy's restaurant was handing food to a customer waiting in her car when a naked man ran between them, taking off with her fries, and leaving little evidence behind, according to police....full story from Reuters UK

Spanish bar invites insults from stressed customers: A bar in Spain is serving up free beer and tapas to recession-weary customers who insult its bartenders as a way to let off steam.

Casa Pocho in the beach resort town of Cullera near Valencia opened last week and says its promotional gimmick is working like a charm.

Bernard Mariusz, the bar's Polish-born co-owner, said the free alcohol and snacks go only to those who come up with truly original insults....full story from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

Pot-smoking postman burned mail: YORK, England - Authorities in Britain said a marijuana-smoking postal carrier burned thousands of letters that the weed made him too lazy to deliver.

Police said Neil Goddard, 32, of York, England, had $13,000 worth of marijuana plants growing in his home and allegedly smoked so much of his own stash that he was unable to keep up with his deliveries and burned the leftover mail, The Sun reported Monday....full story from UPI

June 21, 2009

Police: Man pays fine with fake money: Police in Fort Worth, Texas, say a man attempted to pay a $70 municipal court fine using a counterfeit $20 bill.

Police allege in a report the man, whose identity was not reported, made the illegal payment for prior traffic violations while being supervised by a marshal in Forth Worth Municipal Court, the Fort Worth (Texas) Star Telegram reported Saturday....full story from UPI

Festival honors wonders of duct tape: Residents of Avon, Ohio, embraced the many uses of duct tape during the city's annual Duct Tape Festival, a maker of the versatile tape says.

ShurTech Brands LLC, which manufactures household and office products, said in a news release that Saturday's Sixth Annual Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival in Avon included a parade full of floats made out of duct tape....full story from UPI

June 20, 2009

Jewel gang caught after getaway driver refuses to break speed limit: A getaway driver who refused to break the speed limit during a police chase led to a gang of jewel robbers being caught and sent to prison for a total of 20 years.

Neil Murray, 34 was behind the wheel of a stolen high speed Alfa Romeo when the robbers fled with £60,000 [US$98,457] worth of gems from the heist.

As they raced from Simon Pure Jewellery Design in the town centre at Guildford, Surrey, England, where they terrorised two women shop assistants, passers by noted down the number of the escape vehicle....full story from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

Royal Mail threatens delivery withdrawal after postman 'attacked' by kitten: The company wrote to shopkeeper Ken Ridge, 65, and his son Bradley, 30, after the postman was targeted by female kitten Illy at their home in Clapham, South London.

Office manager Mayo Sonubi wrote to the pair, saying: "I am writing to let you know that, on June 6, our postman was attacked by your animal in your premises while delivering mail to your address.

"Animal attacks are a major cause of injury to Royal Mail staff and so I am writing to seek your co-operation in preventing a repeat of this unfortunate incident....full story from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

June 19, 2009

Pedal power helps German pensioner catch bag thief: BERLIN - An 80-year-old German woman whose handbag was snatched from her bicycle basket by a passing cyclist gave chase on her own bike and recovered her stolen property.

As she pedalled in pursuit of the 41-year-old thief through the western town of Buerstadt, she alerted a driver who stopped the culprit and held him until police arrived....full story from Reuters UK

Judge condemns litter charge: A judge has condemned a "grotesque" waste of taxpayers' money spent on prosecuting teenager Larissa Wilkinson for allowing her 18 month-old niece to drop a sweet wrapper.

Miss Wilkinson, 19, was charged with depositing controlled waste after toddler Lila Henderson dropped a mint wrapper out of her car window as she was driving in Huddersfield, West Yorks, England.

After three appearances at a magistrates' court, and one at a crown court, Judge Roger Scott stepped in to prevent the case going before a jury at an estimated cost of £10,000 (US$16,410)....full story from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

June 18, 2009

Man dons drag to collect dead mum's welfare: A New York man has been charged with fraud after dressing up as his dead mother so he could collect more than $145,000 in welfare benefits, prosecutors said.

Thomas Parkin, 49, and accomplice Mhilton Rimolo, 47, face a 47 count indictment for collecting social security benefits amounting to $US52,000 and $US65,000 in rental assistance, according to Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J Hynes.

"These defendants ran a multi-year campaign of fraud that was unparalleled in its scope and brazenness," Mr Hynes said in a statement on Wednesday....full story from ABC News (AU)

Cowboy uses lariat to rescue boy in well: DODDRIDGE, Ark. - It was a cowboy to the rescue when a 7-year-old boy fell into an abandoned water well in southwest Arkansas.

Reed Nations lassoed Jonathan Easter out of the well with a lariat Tuesday morning before rescuers summoned by his grandmother could arrive.

Jonathan was helping his aunt clear brush around an old house near Doddridge, about four miles from the Louisiana border....full story from CNews

June 17, 2009

Obama kills annoying fly, then keeps going: Talk about flying at your own risk.

President Barack Obama, nettled by a fly during a TV interview at the White House, took matters into his own hands Tuesday.

Said Obama to the persistent fly: "Get out of here."

But it didn't....full story from CNews

Obama fly swat disappoints PETA: The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants the flyswatter in chief to try taking a more humane attitude the next time he's bedeviled by a fly in the White House.

PETA is sending President Barack Obama a Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher, a device that allows users to trap a house fly and then release it outside....full story from CNews

June 16, 2009

Disabled pensioner fined £75 for displaying parking badge upside down: A parking warden gave a £75 [US$123] fine to a disabled pensioner because he displayed his blue badge the wrong way round in his window.

Ron Padwick, 76, a great grandfather, placed the parking permit on his dashboard with all the details visible, but accidentally left the card facing the driver's seat.

He had a cup of tea with a friend and returned 15 minutes later to find a penalty notice stuck on the windscreen of his blue BMW, which had been parked in a disabled bay in Leominster, Worcester [England]....full story w/pic from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

Brussels sprouts banned from warship: A Royal Navy captain has banned Brussels sprouts from his warship, HMS Bulwark, because he loathes them so much.

Commanding Officer Wayne Keble OBE says sprouts are prohibited and labelled them the "devil's vegetable".

His orders mean no-one on board - including his 390-strong team of sailors and Royal Marines - are allowed to eat them....full story from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

Brazilian prosecutor wants to ban fast-food toys: SAO PAULO - Charging that toys sold with meals in fast-food outlets can lead children to develop bad eating habits, a Brazilian prosecutor on Monday asked a judge to ban such sales nationally at chains including McDonald's and Burger King.

The move comes amid global concern over the link between some fast food and illnesses such as diabetes, as the U.S. Congress considers requiring chain restaurants to disclose calories on their menus to help fight endemic obesity....full story from Reuters UK

Swine flu parties not recommended: The New Zealand Health Ministry has warned against hosting "swine flu parties" following overseas concerns parents are deliberately exposing children to the virus in other parts of the world.

Thirteen new cases confirmed in Canterbury late last night brought the national total of confirmed cases to 100.

The Canterbury District Health Board said all cases of the influenza A (H1N1) strain - now totalling 31 - stemmed from a single case who had been in Victoria, Australia in early June....full story from

June 15, 2009

Lawmaker wants to stop the dead from voting: A Philippine lawmaker frustrated by rampant electoral fraud has proposed legislation to get the names of the dead off voter rolls.

Rep. Maria Victoria Sy-Alvarado said Monday she wants to make it mandatory for doctors and family members to report deaths to the civil registrar, which has to give the information to the Election Commission so it can update its voter lists....full story from CNews

Polish woman wakes up in morgue: An 84-year-old Polish woman woke up in a morgue after being declared dead by her doctor.

The emergency medical services became aware of the error when someone saw her body bag in the morgue moving, police said.

The woman, from the village of Jablonowo in central Poland, fell unconscious and her husband called an ambulance. A doctor from the emergency medical services pronounced her dead, January Majewski, a police spokesman said....full story from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

June 14, 2009

Rat Island rat-free after 229 years: Alaska's Rat Island is finally rat-free, 229 years after a Japanese shipwreck spilled rampaging rodents onto the remote Aleutian island, decimating the local bird population.

After dropping poison onto the island from helicopter-hoisted buckets for a week and a half last autumn, there are no signs of living rats and some birds have returned, according to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service....full story from ABC News (AU)

Insurers reject claim for damage to house because the wind was 'too slow': Douglas Graham, 64, claimed for damage caused by storms in March, which weakened lead flashing lining the roof and resulted in a leak.

However, Halifax Insurance told him it would not pay out because the wind on that day measured only 44mph, defining it as a gale.

In the insurer's policy, a storm has 'winds of at least 55mph'....full story from The Sunday Telegraph (UK)

June 13, 2009

Queens kids overdo it with food fight: NEW YORK, June 13 (UPI) -- Officials at a New York City high school say there wasn't much permanent damage after a raging food fight resulted in 10 arrests and a campus lockdown.

Most of the students busted at Richmond Hills High in Queens were charged with criminal mischief and disorderly conduct in the wake of Friday's fracas that started with eggs flying in the hallway and eventually spread to the cafeteria....full story from UPI

Man had broken leg for 29 years: DAGENHAM, England - A businessman in England has discovered he has had a broken leg for nearly three decades.

The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday that Steve Webb, 49, plans to undergo surgery on the leg so he may grow back a chunk of dead bone.

Webb broke his left leg in a motorcycle crash when he was 20-years-old....full story from UPI

Thieves use stolen digger to break bank: GRAIGUENAMANAGH, Ireland - An "audacious" gang of thieves used stolen cars, a stolen trailer and a stolen mechanical digger to steal an ATM machine from a bank in a quaint Irish village.

The Bank of Ireland branch, which was heavily damaged by the thieves, is only a few yards from the police station in Graiguenamanagh, the Irish Independent reported. But no one is on duty at the post at night, and the robbery was carried out just after 5 a.m. Friday without police interference....full story from UPI

June 12, 2009

14-year-old hit by 30,000 mph space meteorite: ESSEN, Germany - Gerrit Blank, 14, was on his way to school when he saw "ball of light" heading straight towards him from the sky.

A red hot, pea-sized piece of rock then hit his hand before bouncing off and causing a foot wide crater in the ground.

The teenager survived the strike, the chances of which are just 1 in a million - but with a nasty three-inch long scar on his hand....full story from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

'Drunk' woman drives along rail track: FAWDON, England - A drunk 40-year-old woman drove her Mercedes hundreds of yards along a railway line before her vehicle broke down as a train approached, a court heard today.

It was only by good fortune that the Metro train � containing 20 passengers � was on the opposite side of the track.

Karen Angus, an alcoholic mother-of-three, had drunk wine and taken antidepressants when she got behind the wheel of her car....full story w/pic from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

June 11, 2009

Venezuela bans Coke Zero, cites 'danger to health': The Venezuelan government of U.S.-critic President Hugo Chavez on Wednesday ordered Coca-Cola Co to withdraw its Coke Zero beverage from the South American nation, citing unspecified dangers to health.

The decision follows a wave of nationalizations and increased scrutiny of businesses in South America's top oil exporter.

Health Minister Jesus Mantilla said the zero-calorie Coke Zero should no longer be sold and stocks of the drink removed from store shelves while the government investigated its ingredients....full story from Reuters UK

June 10, 2009

Job-seekers try new tricks to get employers' eye: NEW YORK - Job-seekers are using unusual gimmicks to grab the attention of potential employers, such as in one case sending a shoe along with a resume to get a "foot in the door," said a survey released on Wednesday.

Almost a fifth of hiring managers report seeing more unconventional tactics this year, compared with 12 percent who said so last year, according to the study by, an online jobs site....full story from Reuters UK

BBC invites net comments from unconnected: The BBC is currently probing the shocking news that 17 million Britons, or 30 per cent of the population, are currently without an internet connection - and that 43 per cent of those wouldn't poke the interwebs with a sharp stick even if they were given a free PC and broadband.

Fair enough, but what raises this particular piece to a Beeb classic is this form inviting comments....full story from The Register

Israeli woman throws out mattress with $1m inside: A woman in Tel Aviv, Israel, mistakenly threw out a mattress with $1 million hidden inside, setting off a frantic search through tons of garbage at a number of landfill sites.

The woman told Army Radio that she bought her elderly mother a new mattress as a surprise on Monday and threw out the old one, only to discover that her mother had hidden her life savings inside. She was identified only as Anat....full story from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

Head teacher sends pupils home for wearing fake tan: A headteacher, Peter Reed, is sending home pupils who wear fake tan to school at Sefton, Merseyside, England.

The crackdown at Maghull's Deyes High School, in Sefton, has been enforced by headteacher Mr Reed in a bid to maintain high standards.

His hit list includes getting tough on female students if they regularly break the school's make-up rules and wear "excessive" amounts of self-tan and foundation....full story from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

June 9, 2009

Chimp bites off zoo director's finger: The director of the Berlin Zoo made famous by the polar bear cub Knut has had his finger bitten off by a chimpanzee called Pedro.

Bernhard Blaszkiewitz, 51, was feeding Pedro walnuts as he showed a visitor round the zoo on Monday when the ape grabbed his hand and bit off his right index finger....full story from Reuters UK

Airlines reduce spoon size to save fuel: Airlines are reducing the size of spoons and dropping in-flight magazines to make planes lighter and save fuel during the recession, according to the International Air Transport Association.

In the United States, Northwest Airlines has excluded spoons from its cutlery pack if the in-flight meal does not require one.

It is not alone, according to Paul Steele, director of the environment at IATA....full story from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

Schoolgirl allergic to 21st Century: Molly Harrad, from Herne Bay, Kent, cannot wear normal shoes, socks or clothing or even come into contact with carpet.

She has to eat a specially selected packed lunch under supervision at school in case she encounters foods which trigger a reaction.

The 10-year-old must keep her hands covered with special cotton gloves at all times, bathes in a special solution to coat her skin and takes several pills to suppress her extreme allergies....full story from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

June 8, 2009

Blind man wrongly arrested for motoring offences: George Day - who lost his sight aged seven - was seized by police who thought he had committed a string of offences behind the wheel.

Despite telling police of his disability, he was ordered to appear before magistrates to prove his innocence.

Mr Day, 50, from Birmingham [England], said he initially thought the arrest was a joke....full story from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

June 7, 2009

Tourist clings to Australian train: A teenaged American tourist says he spent two hours clinging to the side of a long-distance train as it sped across the Australian outback in the night.

Chad Vance said he had to leap onto The Ghan as it left the station at Port Augusta, South Australia, after he had disembarked during a 40-minute stop.

He became cold and tired as the train reached speeds of up to 110km/h (68mph) on the journey to Alice Springs....full story w/video from the BBC

90-year-old US woman gets high school diploma: A 90-year-old suburban Chicago woman who dropped out of school to help her family during the Great Depression now has her high school diploma.

Eleanor Benz left Chicago Public Schools' Lake View High in 1936 during her senior year to take a job. Over the following decades she moved to the suburb of Gurnee and had 15 children, 54 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren....full story from The Times of India

June 6, 2009

German man sets record for speed-kissing: A German man has set a new record in speed-kissing, after smooching 111 women in 60 seconds outside a Berlin disco late Friday.

Michael Basting, 31, secured an entry in the Guinness Book of Records after lining up the ladies on the pavement for a quick peck on the cheek....full story from The Times of India

Beer run on a lawn mower leads to OUI charge: A Maine man has been charged with operating under the influence after he and a friend made a beer run on a riding lawn mower.

Police say 51-year-old Danforth Ross of Vassalboro was charged May 29.

Trooper Joe Chretien had been flagged down by several motorists warning of a wayward mower and made the arrest after Ross and his friend emerged from a variety store with two cases of beer....full story from CBS News

June 5, 2009

Parking tickets pile up on van with dead driver: Police say a man's decomposing body inside a minivan covered in parking tickets went undiscovered for weeks in New York.

They said it's because the vehicle's windows were apparently tinted, and ticketing officers don't normally search cars....full story from CNews

Prank leaves swing set on school roof: Six high school seniors in Brookfield, Wisconsin, will not be at their graduation ceremony because they built a swing set on their school's roof, an official says.

Superintendent Matt Gibson said the Brookfield East High School students were arrested for the senior prank and received three-day suspensions that will include Saturday's graduation event, Milwaukee's WTMJ-TV reported Friday....full story from UPI

Priest invites parishioners to bring guns to church to celebrate Independence Day: An American pastor has invited his parishioners to bring their guns to church to celebrate America's Independence Day, in a show of support for the right to bear arms.

A former US Marine, Pastor Ken Pagano of New Bethel Church of Louisville, Kentucky said the church would celebrate the Fourth of July and "our rights as Americans".

Rev Pagano said he wanted responsible handgun owners to attend this service openly wearing their sidearm, on 27 June, the Saturday preceding Independence Day....full story from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

June 4, 2009

Man rides zebra to avoid breathalyser: A former horse trainer has broken in a zebra so he can ride it to the pub.

Englishman Bill Turner bought Zebedee, a 14-month-old zebra, for �4500 ($9150) and says it took three weeks for the animal to get used to being ridden, The Sun reports.

Mr Turner began riding the zebra around his farm but soon set off for his local, the King's Arms near Sherborne, Dorset, England....full story from

Penal Tour de France pedals off: Nearly 200 French prisoners are preparing to take to their bikes in the first ever penal Tour de France.

The 194 inmates, escorted by 124 prison guards and sports instructors, will set off from Lille and cycle about 2,400km (1,500 miles), ending up in Paris....full story from the BBC

Paddy the labrador sniffs out fake DVDs: A DVD-sniffing anti-piracy dog named Paddy has uncovered a huge cache of 35,000 discs in Malaysian warehouses, many destined for export to Singapore, industry officials says.

The black labrador helped enforcement officials who carried out raids last week in southern Johor state which neighbours Singapore, the Motion Picture Association (MPA) said in a statement....full story from ABC News (AU)

Long distance space travel leaves you short, fat and ugly, claim scientists: Going boldly where no man has gone before is likely to leave you going bald, claims scientists � not to mention fat and ugly.

Making long space journeys, like those envisaged in the future, will not be good for your looks or figure, claim scientists who believe they will leave astronauts looking short, fat and bald.

They believe living permanently in space for many years, perhaps even for many generations, adversely affects human's looks because they will not require any effort to move or keep warm....full story from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

Royal family stung by theft of beehives: Thieves have stolen hundreds of thousands of bees along with their hives destined for the royal family, police said on Thursday.

Disease and dwindling bee numbers have led to a sharp rise in the value of hives and the cost of honey, tempting thieves to carry out audacious raids.

Thefts worth thousands of pounds have been reported across the country in recent months, with the latest and most high profile taking place on hives run by royal beekeeper Murray McGregor in West Lothian, Scotland....full story from Reuters UK

June 3, 2009

Bureaucrats get training in stand-up comedy: TOKYO - Japan's bureaucrats may have little to laugh about these days, given opposition charges of misspent tax money, but that has not stopped one ministry offering its officials a unique form of training -- as stand-up comics.

More than 100 transport ministry officials in their 20s got tips this week from professional comedians as part of training in communication skills.

"By experiencing comedy routines, we hope they can learn more about how to speak to clients and how to manage their staff as they begin to have more management responsibility," said Atsuya Kawada, deputy director of the ministry's personnel division....full story from Reuters UK

Missing cat strolls into police station: A Wellingtonian's missing pet cat turned himself in to police.

Rubiks the cat was missing for two weeks after running away from his home in the Wellington [New Zealand] suburb of Mt Cook.

But yesterday the black cat simply walked into the Lower Hutt police station, bringing his escapade to an end....full story from

Spurned NZ man offers ring in treasure hunt: WELLINGTON - A New Zealand man, spurned by the woman of his dreams, has come up with a novel way of disposing of the diamond engagement ring he bought her -- a treasure hunt.

Anyone keen to pick up the ring, valued at NZ$5,000 (1,970 pounds), will need to be in New Zealand's capital city, Wellington, on Saturday to join the hunt, the Dominion Post newspaper reported....full story from Reuters UK

June 2, 2009

Warship fires on village 'by mistake': The Russian navy has admitted that one of its anti-submarine ships fired at a village by mistake.

The navy said no-one was injured when a small anti-submarine ship opened fire on a village in the Vyborg region of St Petersburg.

"On the 28 May, a small anti-submarine ship from the Baltic fleet was working on a host of exercises in the gulf of Finland, including artillery fire at aerial targets," RIA quoted a navy spokesman as saying....full story from

June 1, 2009

Car loses all four wheels on highway: ZURICH - A car travelling on a motorway in Switzerland lost all four wheels simultaneously, coming to an immediate halt in the middle of the highway, police said on Saturday.

The car had just stopped and the passengers had changed from winter to summer wheels themselves, a common task in Switzerland where there is plenty of snow in winter, but used the wrong nuts when mounting the new set....full story from Reuters UK

Small plane stuck in tree after crash: SARASOTA, Fla. -- A small plane is still stuck in an oak tree in Sarasota.

A Cessna 172 crashed into a tree as the pilot was heading to the Sarasota Airport on Sunday morning.

The pilot says he started having engine trouble, then lost power and finally crashed into the tree....full story w/pic form WFTV (Orlando, FL)

Officials: Lawnmower case sensationalized: SANDUSKY, Ohio - City officials in Sandusky, Ohio, say they would support dropping charges against a man arrested for refusing orders to stop mowing an overgrown park.

John Hamilton, 48, was charged with persistent disorderly conduct and obstructing official business after being arrested Thursday morning by police who said he refused to stop mowing Central Park....full story from UPI

Birdsong radio taken off the air: A digital radio station which became unexpectedly popular with listeners by playing just birdsong has gone off air.

It has been replaced by an interactive radio station which will play a mix of indie, urban, rock and jazz music by unsigned artists.

The Birdsong channel had been broadcasting for almost 18 months....full story from the BBC

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