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Odd News Archive - March 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.

March 31, 2009

Police in cotton swab killer mix-up: BERLIN - German police are struggling to explain why they chased a phantom serial killer for 16 years after confusion over an innocent woman's DNA samples.

Police in the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg had searched since 1993 for a woman they believed had taken part in more than 40 crimes, from murders to muggings. Her DNA was found repeatedly at crime scenes in Germany, France and Austria.

But the DNA came from an unsuspecting woman working at a factory in southern Germany, where cotton swabs are produced for the police force, investigators said....full story from Reuters UK

Killer ants are weapons of mass toad destruction: Toxic cane toads, rampant in most parts of tropical Australia and impossible to eradicate, may finally have met their match - in a one centimetre long ant.

Meat-eating ants, notoriously aggressive as their name suggests, are the latest weapon in the war on the invasive toads, which for 70 years have been a curse on the Australian landscape.

Since being introduced from Central and South America in 1935 to control sugar cane pests, the toads have spread like wildfire, eating and poisoning native animals....full story w/pic from The Times

Ohio man charged with drunken driving on bar stool: Authorities in Ohio say a man has been charged with drunken driving after crashing his motorized bar stool.

Police in Newark, 30 miles east of Columbus, say when they responded to a report of a crash with injuries on March 4, they found a man who had wrecked a bar stool powered by a deconstructed lawn mower....full story w/pic from CBS News

Loincloths marketed at Japanese women: A Japanese lingerie maker is inviting women to liberate themselves from conventional, body-hugging underwear and don loincloths instead.

Loincloths, called "fundoshi" in Japanese, were worn by adult men in the past, but they are now a rarity.

Reuters online reports that Kyoto-based lingerie firm Wacoal has brought them back into fashion, this time for women seeking "emancipation" from the tightness of conventional underwear....full story from

March 30, 2009

UFO fleet menaces east London: The Sun has mobilised a crack team of hacks and ufologists to probe a sensational sighting of a formation of extraterrestrial vehicles swooping over the mean streets of Bethnal Green.

"Baffled" expert Nick Pope, who apparently "used to investigate sightings for the Ministry of Defence", described the visitation as "truly fascinating". He said: "It appears to show nine objects flying in near perfect formation....full story w/pics from The Register

Women's shopping sprees linked to 'that time of month': Women may be able to blame impulse buys and extravagant shopping on their time of the month, research suggests.

In the 10 days before their periods began women were more likely to go on a spending spree, a study found.

Psychologists believe shopping could be a way for premenstrual women to deal with the negative emotions created by their hormonal changes....full story from the BBC
-Men: mark your calenders....

Sleeping man gets locked inside I Don't Care Bar: HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. - A patron at the I Don't Care Bar & Grill evidently didn't care about leaving until it was way past closing time and the door was locked.

The man, whose name was not released, told police in western Kentucky that he fell asleep inside the bar and when he got up to leave he set off the alarm....full story from CNews

Missing cow spent nine months on the run: Floss emerged only at night to feed under cover of darkness and ventured 60 miles from her home field to avoid detection.

Now she has been saved permanently from the abattoir by animal lovers Sue McAuley and Tracey Jaine who bought her for £500 and transported her to a sanctuary.

Nicknamed the Beast of Ealand, she was bought from a market in Thirsk, North Yorks, England, but escaped from her owners as she was being unloaded....full story from The Daily Telegraph

Pole vaulter runs naked through Paris: PARIS - A French pole vaulting champion has run naked with his pole through the streets of Paris and posted the video on the Internet, hoping to draw attention to his quest for a new sponsorship deal.

Romain Mesnil, who won a silver medal at the 2007 Athletics World Championships in Osaka, used to be sponsored by US sports brand Nike but says his contract expired last year and was not renewed....full story from The Times of India....See video

March 29, 2009

British minister apologizes for adult movies expense claim: LONDON - Britain's Home Secretary has apologized for claiming the cost of adult movies screened at her home on parliamentary expenses.

Jacqui Smith claimed for five movies watched on pay-per view television channels at her family home in April 2008. Two of the movies that each cost 5 pounds (US$7) were classified as adult-only.

The Sunday Express newspaper and other British media reported that the adult movies were watched by her husband....full story from The Times of India

Man gets finger trapped in SUV's gas tank: SAGINAW, Mich. - A man in Saginaw, Michigan, says he spent nearly 4 hours at a gas station after getting one of his fingers trapped in his sport utility vehicle's gas tank.

Victor Harris said while attempting to remove a piece of paper from his Lincoln Navigator's gas tank Friday, he found he was unable to extract his finger from his vehicle, WJRT-TV of Flint, Mich., reported....full story from UPI

March 28, 2009

Man busted for robbery at cop convention: HARRISBURG, Pa. - A 19-year-old man chose the wrong venue to try an armed robbery -- a Pennsylvania hotel hosting 300 police narcotics officers, officials allege.

Jerome Blanchett of Harrisburg, Pa., who was already awaiting trial on robbery charges, was arrested and charged anew with robbery along with making terroristic threats, reckless endangerment and other counts after he was apprehended Friday outside the Holiday Inn-Harrisburg East, the (Harrisburg) Patriot-News reported....full story from UPI

Pranksters brick up friend's front door: Leigh Black began plotting his revenge after his friend Dave Pearce sneaked into his house while he was away and rearranged all of his furniture.

In retaliation, when Mr Pearce went away on holiday to Thailand, Mr Black teamed up with friends Shannon Sellick, Jason Giovanni and Si Orr, to build a brick wall across his front door.

The friends, all from Bridgwater, Somerset, filmed their caper from start to finish and have now posted the footage on the video sharing website....full story w/video from The Daily Telegraph

Victorian 'ghost' picked up by Google Street View: CARDIFF, England - Experts have been called in to examine the Google ghoul filmed at a former Victorian docklands which has a dark and sinister past.

The woman dressed in long skirt, crisp blouse, bow tie, blue boater hat and scarf appears to be shimmering above the pavement.

She was captured by the Google Street View cameras in Tiger Bay, Cardiff - the scene of murders and unsolved mysteries going back 200 years....full story w/pic from The Daily Telegraph

March 27, 2009

Vampire rumors spur alert at Boston school: Boston Latin School headmaster Lynne Mooney Teta issued a notice to parents and students yesterday quashing rumors of vampires at the school. An odd move for the head of a historic elite preparatory school, but Teta and Boston public school officials declined to elaborate on what triggered the unusual message.

They did, however, adamantly offer assurances that no one at the school has been hurt, arrested - or bitten....full story from The Boston Globe

Call for inmates to have cell keys: The research director of a British-based group that is expected to bid for contracts to operate two jails in NSW [New South Wales, Australia] has backed privatised facilities in which inmates have keys to their cells and are on a first-name basis with their jailers.

Gary Sturgess, research director of the Serco Group, will tell a NSW parliamentary inquiry today that decency, not efficiency, is the main reason to privatise jails.

He says overseas experience shows that prisoners enjoy more privileges -- including being given the keys to their own cells -- in correctional systems where private and public providers compete....full story from The Australian

March 26, 2009

CDC Report: Cats and dogs are tripping hazards: CHICAGO - Roughly 240 Americans wind up in emergency rooms every day for sprains, fractures or other injuries from a fall caused by a dog or cat, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

Researchers at the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said dogs and cats account for 88 percent of all fall-related injuries in emergency departments.

Nearly 8 million people are treated in the emergency room each year for falls, and the CDC researchers wanted to know how many of them were caused by pets....full story from Reuters UK

- Whooda thought???

Bobcat drives club patrons up on their barstools: A bobcat walks into a bar in Arizona. Really.

But that's only the end of the story, KVRD radio says.

It began, according to the Cottonwood police department, when a woman reported that she was attacked after apparently striking the bobcat with her car and getting out to investigate. Another motorist helped chase the cat away....full story from USA Today

Pensioner scares off burglars with a bugle: Alex Wade, 78, hid behind a door and gave the two men a "short sharp burst" when they crept past.

The bachelor, who lives alone in Coventry, England, keeps the homemade instrument on his pillow for "emergencies".

He said the burglars, who broke in through a downstairs window at 2.40am on Wednesday, ran off empty-handed....full story from The Daily Telegraph

March 25, 2009

BMW driver follows satnav to edge of cliff: A Doncaster man is facing a "hefty recovery bill", and an appearance before the beak on a driving without due care and attention rap, after following his BMW's satnav to the edge of a West Yorkshire cliff, the Telegraph reports.

Robert Jones, 43, was driving in "broad daylight" on Sunday morning en route to visit some chums. In the village of Gauxholme, he was directed up a narrow footpath which led to a fence, beyond which were "stunning views across the Pennines....full story from The Register

Robbery suspect nabbed after calling 911: BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Police say they caught a bumbling bank robber who crashed his getaway car and fled by bus and taxi, only to make it home and find his roommate dead.

Authorities found nearly $4,000 stolen from a Darien bank after the suspect called 911 to report the roommate's apparent suicide....full story from CNews

Teenager paints 60ft phallus on roof of family home: Rory McInnes, 18, climbed on to the flat roof of his parents' home and daubed the symbol using a tin of white paint, after watching a programme about Google Earth.

Web surfers can view detailed images from satellites using the Google software, enabling them to zoom in on their homes to see them from above.

But parents Andy and Clare did not discover their son's rude artwork until [a year later when] a helicopter spotted it on top of their home near Hungerford, Berks, England....full story w/pic from The Daily Telegraph

UK Centenarian celebrates 107th birthday with a 108mph lap of Brands Hatch: Dulcibella King-Hall notched up a top speed of 108mph as she put one of its new BMW M3s through its paces to celebrate her 107th birthday on Saturday.

Miss King-Hall, of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, gamely declared "It could have been faster" as she was helped back into her wheelchair after completing four laps of the 1.6-mile course as a passenger.

Born in Devon in 1902, Miss King-Hall moved to Halliwell nursing home in Kingswood Road, a fully-owned subsidiary of the charity, Elizabeth Finn Care, following the death of her younger sister, Delia, in 1997....full story w/pic from The Daily Telegraph

March 24, 2009

Student suspended from bus for passing gas: LAKELAND, FL: An eighth-grader was suspended from riding the school bus for three days after being accused of passing gas.

The bus driver wrote on a misbehavior form that a 15-year-old teen passing gas on the bus Monday to make the other children laugh, creating a stench so bad that it was difficult to breathe. The bus driver handed the teen the suspension form the next day....full story from The Times of India

California cops seek breast implant bandit: CBS2 in Los Angeles reports on the hunt for a California woman who allegedly stole someone else's ID to get herself breast implants.

Police in Hungtington Beach, south of LA County, are searching for a Laguna Niguel woman who is accused of using someone's identity to pay for $15,000 worth of cosmetic surgery....full story w/video from CBS News

March 23, 2009

Japanese astronaut tests stink-free underwear: Teen-age boys, are you tired of embarrassing questions about when you last changed underwear? Japan's space scientists may have just the answer -- a line of odour-free underwear and casual clothing.

Koichi Wakata, the first Japanese astronaut to live on the International Space Station, is testing the clothes, called J-ware and created by textile experts at Japan Women's University in Tokyo....full story from Reuters UK

More women going from jobless to topless: CHICAGO - As a bartender and trainer at a national restaurant chain, Rebecca Brown earned a couple thousand dollars in a really good week. Now, as a dancer at Chicago's Pink Monkey gentleman's club, she makes almost that much in one good night.

The tough job market is prompting a growing number of women across the country to dance in strip clubs, appear in adult movies or pose for magazines such as more from the Boston Herald

Mountain African gorillas photographed getting drunk on bamboo sap: When wildlife photographer Andy Rouse was told he would find a family of endangered gorillas high on the mountain, he did not expect to find them this high.

Sitting back in the foliage as if it was a cocktail bar, the mountain gorillas had been gorging on alcoholic sap from fresh bamboo shoots and were looking distinctly the worse for wear.

Some were propping up the bar with a bleary air, while others staggered to their feet obviously hoping the mountain police would not ask them to walk in a straight line....full story w/pics from the Daily Mail

March 22, 2009

Brussels sets world record in longest toilet queue: BRUSSELS -- A world record in the length of a queue to a toilet was set Sunday when 756 people lined up to a latrine in central Brussels to raise awareness for the need for clean water on World Water Day.

The event was organised by the United Nations' children's agency UNICEF which gave each participant a wristband with his or her number in the line and T-shirt certifying participation in the event.

"The latrine was of the same design as we use in third world countries -- a dry latrine -- and we formed the longest queue this morning," UNICEF spokesman Benoit Melebeck said....full story from Reuters UK

Pet dog eats up woman's cash: A North Carolina family's dog didn't eat the children's homework, he ate mom's money. Kelley Davis said she had an extra $400 in cash to deposit after working extra hours as a physical therapist. She said that on Friday she planned to deposit the money, but it wasn't in her pocket.

She remembered leaving it in the bedroom and it occurred to her that the family's 2-year-old greater Swiss mountain dog, Augie, might have eaten it....full story from The Times of India

Woman seeks husband as part of university art project: Alex Humphreys's route to finding a husband is a direct one. Already disillusioned by her dating experiences at the age of 23, she has conceived The Husband Project -- a conceptual artwork that will form part of her degree at Leeds [England] College of Art and Design. Advertising on her blog and Facebook, she aims to meet and marry a man in the next three months and will include the marriage certificate in her final presentation....full story from The Sunday Times (UK)

March 21, 2009

'Toilet torcher' reward offered: A US firm is offering $5,000 (£3,450) for clues leading to the arrest of an arsonist who has been setting portable toilets on fire across San Francisco.

The Clorox Company is also offering a year's supply of toilet cleaning products in exchange for such tips....full story from the BBC

Missing Italian statue found in North Carolina couple's home: CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A 350-year-old statue of a saint and former pope, taken from an Italian church nearly two decades ago, has been found in the home of a North Carolina couple who had no idea it was stolen, authorities said.

The intricately carved bust of St. Innocent will be returned to the church in Naples, Italy, U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement agents said Saturday....full story from CNews

Girl on bottle goes topless as you guzzle: A former rock band drummer and two mates have taken on the Australian beer market with a unique world first marketing concept for their new beer.

The label is Skinny Blonde, a low-carb beer that is thriving on the current popularity of Australia's new crop of 'healthy' beers. But there is another reason it is popular: the Skinny Blonde bottle features a 1950s-style pin-up called Daisy whose red bikini disappears as the beer level drops and the bottle warms up, thanks to the modern ink technology used on the labels....full story from The Times of India

March 20, 2009

Speaker's Ferrari repossessed: NORTH SHORE, New Zealand -- A New Zealand motivational speaker who says he made his fortune inspiring people has had his prized Ferrari repossessed and sold at an auction.

Kevin Abdulrahman, 28 -- whose Web site features a picture of him sitting on the bonnet of the Ferrari 360 Modena -- is described on the site as "an icon, an international author, an entrepreneur, a generous contributor, a fearless leader, a dreamer," the New Zealand Herald reported Friday....full story from UPI

Rhode Island strip club to host job fair: Rhode Island: Here's a job opportunity you won't need to buy a new wardrobe for.

Hoping to take advantage of Rhode Island's floundering economy, owners of the Foxy Lady strip club in Providence plan to hold a job fair on Saturday.

They say they're looking to fill around 30 positions, from strippers and waitresses to disc jockeys and bartenders, at that club and two others in Massachusetts....full story from The Times of India

Moose charges British Columbia house: PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. - Don't get a moose mad - that's what one family learned after trying to scare a moose away from their home near Prince George, B.C.

The family was using an air horn to scare the animal when the moose charged the home's front door.

The family took a video of the incident, which shows the moose tramping around in the snow outside the house before running at the door, which the owners slam shut at the last moment....full story from CNews

UFOs photographed over London: Derek Burdon was left stunned when he took a scenic picture of the UK capital then noticed four flying saucers on the far right of the picture.

Mr Burdon took the photographs 16 floors up on the roof top of Orion House in Covent Garden in the morning.

Although invisible to the naked eye, the shapes can be clearly seen on the picture....full story w/pic from The Daily Telegraph

Rapping flight attendant a rising star: An American flight attendant has developed a novel way of ensuring passengers pay attention during the pre-flight safety announcement - he delivers it as a rap.

Forty-year-old David Holmes, a flight attendant for US airline Southwest, has become an internet celebrity since passengers began posting videos of his cabin announcements three months ago....full story from

March 19, 2009

Police: Robbers robbed while fleeing: MILWAUKEE, Wash. - Milwaukee police said a pair of unlucky alleged robbers were targeted by another group of thieves as they fled from a jewelry store.

Lt. Thomas Welch said two men, ages 31 and 40, took money and jewelry from the store on the south side of the city at about 10:50 a.m. Wednesday while armed with at least one handgun and were confronted by a group of four men as they attempted to flee, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported Thursday....full story from UPI

Last laugh: Woman cut daughters from will: OLDHAM, England - A British woman whose daughters tried to have her evicted in the 1990s cut her offspring out of her will, leaving her entire $30,000 to a local hospice.

Megan Swanston, who died in December at the age of 85, became embroiled in a family conflict when her three daughters attempted to have her evicted from her Oldham, England, home in 1994, The Daily Mail reported Thursday....full story from UPI

March 18, 2009

Hundreds strip off for free flights: About 400 people have stripped off in London in order to win free flights in a stunt organised by Irish carrier Aer Lingus.

The airline had promised two free flights to people willing to strip off at Jubilee Gardens, in the shadow of the London Eye. The participants were given `shamrocks' to protect their modesty....full story w/pic from

Chinese police ordered to forego nightclub invites: China has banned police from accepting invitations to nightclubs, bars and other entertainment venues in a bid to thwart corruption, state media reported Wednesday.

Officers who accepted such invitations would be suspended for even face criminal charges, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The ban is one of "five prohibitions" along with taking bribes and helping family members run a business....full story from Reuters UK

March 17, 2009

Computer programmer from Finland has lost finger replaced with USB drive: Jerry Jalava has built a special prosthetic finger which contains computer storage for photos, movies and other useful files.

While the prosthetic looks like a normal finger Jerry can peel it back from the 'nail' and plug it into the USB slot on his computer using it as an additional hard drive.

The software developer from Helsinki lost his finger last summer after crashing his one week old Ducati Monster 696 motorbike....full story w/pic from The Daily Telegraph

Man, 71, fends off young robber with ice scraper: RAPID CITY, SD - Police said a 71-year-old man, armed only with an ice scraper, frustrated a 20-year-old would-be robber who approached him with a knife. Police said the man was scraping ice off his car Friday when the 20-year-old pulled out a knife and demanded money.

Police Sgt. Pete Ragnone said the man used his ice scraper to fend off the attacker -- who then ran to his girlfriend's home nearby....full story from CBS News

Driving lesson on runway, Philippine pilot averts crash: MANILA - A Philippine plane with 80 passengers aboard was seconds away from a crash when a man teaching his girlfriend to drive sped across the runway as the aircraft landed, newspapers reported Tuesday.

The Cebu Pacific plane briefly touched down at Legazpi airport in the central Philippines Saturday but took off again as the van being driven by the couple crossed the runway, the Philippine Star newspaper said....full story from Reuters UK

Cover up or go to jail, says Dubai: Skimpy shorts, bikinis and kissing in public could soon be banned in Dubai, say authorities.

The glitzy Gulf city has laid down new behaviour guidelines in the local media in an attempt to tame public behaviour.

The outlines of the possible new restrictions appeared in Al Emarat al Youm, an Arabic-language newspaper with close ties to Dubai's ruling family....full story from

March 16, 2009

Malibu residents upset at Bob Dylan's outhouse: How sweet is life when you live next to a celebrity in Malibu? Outside Bob Dylan's house, the answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.

That's what some of the singer-songwriter's neighbors are claiming in an increasingly onerous dispute over a porta-potty at his sprawling ocean-view estate on Point Dume.

Residents contend that the nighttime sea breeze sends a noxious odor from a portable toilet on Dylan's property wafting into their homes....full story from the Los Angeles Times

Sacked French workers pelt bosses with eggs: REIMS (France): Angry French tyre factory workers burst into a management meeting Monday and pelted their bosses with eggs to protest the closure of their plant.

Hundreds of workers from the German firm Continental had travelled by bus from their plant in the northern town of Clairoix to protest outside a hotel in the nearby city of Reims where the meeting was being held.

A small group stormed into the meeting room to attack the managers with eggs, a reporter at the scene said....full story from The Times of India

Paper shortage cripples Ohio court: An Ohio court says it won't accept new civil, small claims, criminal and traffic cases because it has run out of money for paper.

Judge Lee McClelland said the Morrow County Municipal Court that handles the cases has only enough paper left to print hearing notices and other documents for cases already pending, The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch reported Monday....full story from UPI

You've been served -- on Facebook: A High Court judge today approved the serving of court papers via Facebook, the popular social network web site, in what is thought to be a New Zealand first.

The High Court in Wellington was told that Axe Market Garden is trying to sue Craig Axe who is alleged to have taken $241,000 from the firm account.

Counsel for the company Daniel Vincent said the plaintiff was effectively Axe's father John and there were difficulties in serving papers on his son.

He asked Justice Warwick Gendall if he would take the unusual step of approving a secondary service order on Axe via Facebook and email to avoid him frustrating his client's court action....full story from

March 15, 2009

Woman snatches back her purse: NARRABUNDAH, Australia -- An elderly woman in Australia took her handbag back from a thief who had driven into a pillar after snatching it from her.

Police said the woman grabbed her bag from the passenger seat as the thief tried to restart his car after ramming it into a pillar, The Sydney Daily Telegraph reported Sunday....full story from UPI

Star Wars scientists use laser gun to kill mosquitoes: Experts behind the 1980s missile shield idea have helped to develop a laser that locks onto and kills airborne insects.

It is thought the device, dubbed the 'Weapon of Mosquito Destruction' (WMD), could be used against mosquitoes, which kill almost one million people around the world every year by spreading malaria.

The research in Seattle, reported in the Wall Street Journal, has been funded by Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates through his charitable foundation....full story from The Sunday Telegraph

Google Earth used for robbery: Tom Berge used the popular internet tool, which shows aerial photographs of towns across the world, to pinpoint museums, churches and schools across south London with lead roof tiles.

After the 27-year-old builder found a potential target on his home computer he would scale its roof, take the valuable roof materials and abseil down the side of the building, before selling the lead to scrap metal dealers....full story from The Sunday Telegraph

Euro chiefs ban 'Miss' and 'Mrs': The politically correct rules also mean a ban on Continental titles, such as Madame and Mademoiselle, Frau and Fraulein and Senora and Senorita.

Guidance issued in a new 'Gender-Neutral Language' pamphlet instead orders politicians to address female members by their full name only.

Officials have also ordered that 'sportsmen' be called 'athletes', 'statesmen' be referred to as 'political leaders' and even that 'synthetic' or 'artificial' be used instead of 'man-made'....full story from The Sunday Telegraph

March 14, 2009

Math whiz, dead for 450 years, gets TV bill: BERLIN: A German mathematician who died 450 years ago has been sent a letter demanding that he pay long-overdue television license fees, residents at his former address said on Wednesday.

Germany's GEZ broadcast fee collection office sent the bill to the last home address of Adam Ries, an algebra expert who bought the house in 1525....full story from The Times of India

Postcard arrives in Ohio 47 years late: HUDSON, OHIO: A woman's postcard bearing greetings from Montana has finally arrived in northeastern Ohio -- 47 years later.

Insurance agent Dave Conn opened his post office box in the community of Hudson last week and found the mailing sent from Helena, Montana, in 1962.

It was sent to Marion White, the previous renter of the box, who had died in 1988....full story from The Times of India

March 13, 2009

No toilet, no bride -- Haryana slogan hits the mark: PANIPAT, INDIA: The war against insanitation is being fought by women in Haryana by placing a simple condition before their daughters get married -- her new household should have a toilet.

Suresh Devi, 52, a resident of Shahar Malpur village near Panipat, about 100 km from New Delhi, had been forced to defecate in the open till not so long ago, as there was no toilet in her home. But when her daughter got married, she made sure the bride had a toilet in her new home....full story from The Times of India

Canadian prisoners used nail clippers to escape: Six high-risk prisoners escaped a Canadian jail last summer after spending four months chipping a path to freedom with nail clippers and other makeshift tools, according to a government report released on Thursday.

The prisoners, four of whom faced murder charges, used their tools to remove a heating grill and steel plate and win access to a brick exterior wall.

While some inmates played cards at a carefully positioned table to block the guards' view, others chipped away at the wall, finally breaking through with a steel shower rod....full story from Reuters UK

March 12, 2009

Italians unearth "vampire" in Venice plague grave: Italian researchers believe they have found the remains of a female "vampire" in Venice, buried with a brick jammed between her jaws to prevent her feeding on victims of a plague which swept the city in the 16th century.

Matteo Borrini, an anthropologist from the University of Florence, said the discovery on the small island of Lazzaretto Nuovo in the Venice lagoon supported the medieval belief that vampires were behind the spread of plagues like the Black Death....full story from Reuters UK

ISS crew flees flying space junk: International Space Station crew members were forced to flee to the outpost's escape capsule briefly on Thursday when a rogue piece of space junk came too close for comfort.

The debris, a discarded mechanism used in boosting a satellite into higher orbit, missed the ISS without incident. The three astronauts took shelter for 11 minutes inside an attached Russian Soyuz module, which serves as the station's lifeboat if needed.

NASA usually steers the ISS clear of space junk, but this time the warning came too late for evasive maneuvers....full story from The Register

Seagull stuck in mud sparks emergency when rescuer ends up sinking herself: Two fire engines, 12 firefighters and paramedics were on standby to help the zoo keeper who had suffered the same fate as the stricken gull and became stuck in the thigh-deep mud.

The keeper, from Newquay Zoo, in Cornwall, England, had waded into the empty, dredged Trenance Boating Lake in the town in a bid to rescue the bird without realising how treacherous the mud was.

A member of the public had alerted the RSPCA to the plight of the gull but they were unable to help and Newquay Zoo decided to step in - quite literally....full story from The Daily Telegraph

Fans try to end Colonel Sanders 'curse': Fans of the Japan's Hanshin Tigers hope the "curse of Col. Sanders" is finally at rest now that the Kentucky Fried Chicken founder's statue is out of the river.

Exuberant supporters of the team threw Sanders' life-sized statue into the Dotonborigawa River in Osaka 24 years ago to celebrate Hanshin's Central League baseball pennant. The Tigers also won the Japan Series in 1985.

They haven't won the series since....full story from UPI

March 11, 2009

Noise closes London Tube station: The Central Line platforms at Bank Tube station were yesterday closed for 90 minutes during the rush hour following "complaints that decibel levels from screeching rails were too high", the Evening Standard reports.

City lawyer John Cooper told the paper: "We were all thrown out of the station. A member of staff told me it was because the decibel levels were too high. It was complete madness. Thousands of people were stuck and it was utter confusion. Some people were just laughing when the staff told them what was going on. It is health and safety gone mad....full story from The Register

Chinese police hot-wire sleepy drivers with chilli: Police in southwest China are spicing up drivers with raw chilli in a bid to stop them falling asleep at the wheel, a newspaper said Wednesday.

Police in the Chongqing region have started serving drivers chilli peppers at highway service stations, holding to the traditional Chinese belief that people often feel more sleepy in the Spring, the Chongqing Evening News said....full story from Reuters UK

Museum finds "secret" message in Lincoln's watch: A gold watch owned by Abraham Lincoln bears a message marking the start of the U.S. Civil War, but the president never knew of the "secret" inscription uncovered on Tuesday at the National Museum of American History.

The engraving, by watchmaker Jonathan Dillon, is dated April 13, 1861, and reads in part: "Fort Sumpter was attacked by the rebels" and "thank God we have a government."....full story from Reuters UK

Lookout below! Airplane parts land in Queens: An American Airlines plane bound for Chicago made a safe emergency landing at Kennedy Airport this morning after the pilot reported "engine trouble," officials said.

American Airlines Flight 309 took off from LaGuardia Airport just before 8 a.m., but returned to John F. Kennedy International Airport about 15 minutes into the flight when the pilot reported a problem in the right engine of the MD-80 aircraft.

The Port Authority said there were reports of falling debris from the plane on 123rd Street in College Point, Queens.

No injuries were reported, according to Port Authority spokesman Pasquale DiFulco....full story from the New York Post

March 10, 2009

Real-life 'Cheers' bartender gets laid off: Eddie Doyle was the guy who really did know everybody's name, at least when he started working at the tavern that inspired the television show "Cheers."

To the tens of thousands of tourists that later passed through, Doyle remained behind the bar to offer a smile, a beer and tips about where to find the Boston that wasn't shown on TV....full story from CNews

Magician ships himself from NY to Vegas: Federal authorities are investigating a professional magician's claim that he successfully shipped himself in a crate from upstate New York to Las Vegas by the United Parcel Service.

A spokesman for UPS says the company believes Wade Whitcomb's claim is a hoax....full story from CNews

Man says he moved pot plants to keep burglars away: Authorities said a man stopped with 17 marijuana plants in the bed of his pickup told police he was moving them to protect them from burglars who robbed his house the night before. Police said they arrested a 26-year-old man after receiving a tip that two men were loading pot plants onto a truck around noon Saturday. Police reported finding the plants beneath a cover in the truck bed....full story from CBS News

March 9, 2009

Coffee taster's tongue worth £10m: 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....full story w/video from the BBC

Kangaroo intruder terrorizes Aussie sleeping family: An Australian couple thought they were being attacked by an intruder when a kangaroo crashed through their bedroom window and started jumping on them.

"My initial thought, when I was half awake, was it's a lunatic ninja coming through the window. It seems about as likely as a kangaroo breaking in," Beat Ettlin told local media on Monday.

The three metre (9 feet) kangaroo smashed through the window in Ettlin's Canberra home on Sunday night....full story from Reuters UK

March 8, 2009

Inmate arrested trying to get back in jail: WOODBINE, Ga. - Authorities in Georgia say they arrested an escaped jail inmate trying to sneak back into the lockup with cigarettes allegedly stolen from a nearby store.

Sheriff Tommy Gregory said Saturday that 25-year-old Harry Jackson had opened a door to the exercise yard and climbed the outer fence....full story from CNews

March 7, 2009

Firefighters in Montana rescue St. Bernard from icy pond: BILLINGS, Mont. - There was a rescue involving a St. Bernard, but this time it was the humans who saved the day.

A 16-month-old St. Bernard named Duke apparently fell through the ice on a golf-course pond in Billings, Mont., after escaping from his yard. He was able to pull himself out but ended up getting frozen to the ice....full story w/pic from CNews

Police seek dancing trucker: European authorities say they are searching for a Romanian truck driver who released a video of himself dancing in his cab as he sped along a highway.

The truck driver, who works throughout Europe, gave the video to a television station and posted it on the Internet site YouTube, The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.

The British newspaper said the video shows the man dancing in his cab, waving both hands and barely looking at the road ahead....full story from UPI....See Video

March 6, 2009

Lawyer uses magic to make cases disappear: PHILADELPHIA - Defence lawyers get paid to make clients' cases disappear.

But lawyer Steven Leventhal can really make things vanish. Leventhal is a self-trained magician who sometimes practises his craft in court. He uses dollar bills, playing cards and other tools of the trade to remind jurors that what we think we see might just be an illusion....full story from CNews

Bears come out early in Alaska: Residents of the Anchorage, Alaska, area say black and brown bears have been seen walking around this week, nearly a month before the usual end of hibernation.

A snowmobile rider reported seeing a brown bear Saturday on the Fur Rondy trail in East Anchorage and a couple walking their dog in Anchorage's Bicentennial Park snapped a picture of a black bear the same day, the Anchorage Daily News reported Friday.

Amy Green of Anchorage said she saw a black bear wandering in her Hillside neighborhood Monday....full story from UPI

McDonald's memorabilia sells for $11,500: LONDON: A British boy made a big deal out of Happy Meals.

Luke Underwood, 11, had his 5,000-piece collection of posters, Happy Meal boxes, toys, and promotional displays auctioned on Wednesday night, selling for USD 11,500, which includes a 15% buyer's premium....full story from The Times of India

Australia: Two drinks a day could be okay under new guidelines: Children under 15 should never touch alcohol while anyone having four drinks in a session is causing themselves damage, new consumption guidelines from the National Health and Medical Research Council reportedly say.

Four standard drinks in a row may no longer be regarded as a reasonable daily intake, with suggestions the new guidelines might recommend four drinks as acceptable only in a celebration.

The guidelines also reportedly reverse the suggestion that youths aged 15-17 should be able to have a drink under parental supervision, while strongly advising not to let the under 15s anywhere near alcohol, the Courier-Mail reported....full story from

March 5, 2009

Fake alcohol turns drinkers to homebrew: A rash of discoveries of fake alcohol production rings has driven Vietnamese drinkers to homemade vodka, state-run Voice of Vietnam radio said on Friday.

Vodka distilled at home, often made from sticky rice or corn, now accounts for nearly 80 percent of the total output of alcohol in Vietnam, while imported brands make up just 4 percent, the radio quoted Nguyen Van Hung, deputy head of the Vietnam Beer, Alcohol and Beverages....full story from Reuters UK

Man accused of stealing police car, driving drunk: A 29-year-old man in Edmond, Oklahoma, was arrested about 5 minutes after allegedly stealing a police car and driving drunk. Spokeswoman Glynda Chu said an officer on patrol shortly before 2 a.m. Thursday was flagged down by a man who said something suspicious was going on at a nearby bar. Chu said the officer got out of the car to investigate and the man jumped in and sped away.

The man was arrested outside a fast food restaurant about three miles away where the patrol car rolled over a curb and a stop sign....full story from CBS News

Police: Man climbs pole to test new shoe spikes: A man who begged neighbors not to call police was arrested after he was rescued dangling from a utility pole in Kokomo, Indiana. Sgt. Bruce Rood said a 26-year-old man used shoe spikes to climb more than 20 feet up the pole when he become stuck Tuesday night. Neighbors called 911 despite his protests and when officers arrived, they found him hanging from a climbing strap around his waist....full story from CBS News

March 4, 2009

Bionic eye gives blind man sight: A man who lost his sight 30 years ago says he can now see flashes of light after being fitted with a bionic eye.

Ron, 73, had the experimental surgery seven months ago at London's Moorfield's eye hospital.

He says he can now follow white lines on the road, and even sort socks, using the bionic eye, known as Argus II....full story w/video from the BBC

Spanish PM an Internet star after F word slip-up: A video of Spain's prime minister became one of the world's most talked about internet clips on Wednesday after he accidentally uttered the F word in a news conference with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was outlining a Spanish-Russian plan to promote tourism between the two countries during Medvedev's state visit when the verbal faux pas slipped out....full story from Reuters UK

Indonesian district orders newly weds to buy trees: A cash-strapped Indonesian district in West Java has ordered couples planning to get married to provide 10 trees to local authorities for a reforestation program, an official said on Wednesday.

Anyone filing for divorce in Garut in West Java would also have to fork out for at least one tree, said Wibowo, the district secretary, who like many Indonesians goes by one name....full story from Reuters UK

Bill Gates bans iPhones and iPods at home: Microsoft founder Bill Gates has banned iPods and iPhones from his household, the software billionaire's wife, Melinda, has revealed.

The rivalry between Microsoft and Apple, and Gates and Apple founder Steve Jobs, is legendary, but the pair have made valiant efforts to conceal any animosity. A rare public appearance together at a conference in 2007 was described by journalists as a "love fest".

But behind the scenes, Apple is the forbidden fruit in Microsoft quarters....full story from

March 3, 2009

University offers first Beatles degree: A university in Liverpool has launched a Master of Arts degree in The Beatles, the city's most famous sons, and called the qualification the first of its kind.

Liverpool Hope University says on its website that the course entitled "The Beatles, Popular Music and Society" consists of four 12-week taught modules and a dissertation....full story from Reuters UK

Aussie builds Get Smart shoe phone: Forty years after clumsy agent Maxwell Smart immortalised the shoe phone, an Australian computer scientist has developed a real-life version and published detailed step-by-step instructions online.

It may seem like an impractical novelty in a world of iPhones and tiny bluetooth headsets but the inventor, Paul Gardner-Stephen, insists there are practical applications - including, surprisingly enough, helping the elderly....full story from

Police: Green Ford Escorts targeted for arson: Authorities in Oregon said an arsonist appears to be targeting green Ford Escorts, with three of the vehicles going up in flames during the past month.

Medford police said the most recent incident occurred Sunday, when a 1995 green Escort parked outside of a home was found destroyed after someone broke a window, poured flammable liquid into the car and set it on fire, KTVL-TV, Medford, reported Tuesday....full story from UPI

Florida woman calls 911 over McNuggets: Authorities say a Florida woman called 911 three times after McDonald's employees told her they were out of Chicken McNuggets.

According to a police report, 27-year-old Fort Pierce resident Latreasa L. Goodman told authorities she paid for a 10-piece last week but was later informed the restaurant had run out....full story from CNews

March 2, 2009

Microsoft creates virtual assistant: Researchers at Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, Washington, have unveiled Laura, a virtual personal assistant designed to detect impatience and other feelings.

Laura -- which requires a server-quality chip with eight processor cores to handle its artificial intelligence and graphics -- is designed to book meetings and schedule flights while using its decision-making power to determine whether the person using the program seems impatient, and to judge when the user would prefer to schedule an appointment, The New York Times reported Monday....full story from UPI

Dude, where's my stuff? Wisconsin apartment cleaned out: A man left his apartment for five hours and came home to find everything gone. An efficient burglar? No, police say, just a landlord's error. Police said the landlord manages different properties, and meant to have an apartment cleaned out that had the same number in a different building....full story from CBS News

New headstone a mystery at Virginia cemetery: The appearance of a new headstone honoring a man who died in 1779 has officials at an Isle of Wight, Virginia, cemetery confused, a church historian says.

Church historian Pam Glanville said no one knows where a white marble headstone honoring a Revolutionary War soldier came from and equally mysterious is if the late soldier was ever buried at St. Luke's Cemetery, The (Newport News, Va.) Daily Press said Monday.

The headstone was first noticed at the cemetery in early February in the wake of a cemetery official's annual walk-through of the site....full story from UPI

Los Angeles County bans swearing: Pay no attention to that eerie silence in America's most populous county this week; it will simply be the sound of 10 million people not swearing.

At least that's the result McKay Hatch is hoping for once his campaign to clear the air is recognized by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors....full story from CNews

March 1, 2009

SoCal robbery suspect tries to become policeman: Authorities in California say a man wanted for a store robbery was arrested when he showed up to take a test to become a police officer.

Chula Vista police spokesman Bernard Gonzales said investigators had identified Romeo Montillano as a suspect in a Dec 8 robbery at a Kmart....full story from The Times of India

Welsh town ends ban on Monty Python film: Monty Python's "Life of Brian," a spoof of religious movies, is to be shown openly in a Welsh town this month for the first time in 30 years.

The movie -- which tells the story of a boy born in the next stable over from Jesus Christ and ends up crucified while singing "Always look on the bright side of life" -- was banned in Aberystwyth [Wales, UK] soon after its release in 1979. As near as anyone can remember, a committee of local religious leaders decided the film was blasphemous.

As it happens, the town's current mayor, Sue Jones-Davies, was in the film, the BBC reported....full story from UPI

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