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Odd News Archive - March 2011

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, 2011

Bronx Zoo's missing Egyptian cobra found: The Bronx Zoo's missing deadly Egyptian cobra has been found "alive and well".

The 20in (50cm) venomous snake was discovered in the zoo's reptile house on Thursday morning, nearly a week after it escaped.

Officials say the cobra was coiled in a dark corner of the reptile house and that it is in good more from BBC News

'Obama Robber' arrested: A man known for robbing banks while wearing a mask of President Barack Obama has been arrested shortly after another robbery, according to Austrian police.

The suspect, was believed to be the same man who has already robbed half a dozen banks in Upper Austria province since 2008, always wearing a mask of the US president.

On Thursday, the man, nicknamed the "Obama-robber" by the media, struck at another branch near the town of Voecklabruck and held a bank employee at gunpoint before fleeing in a car, according to more from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

March 30, 2011

Driver chokes on apple, crash saves his life: A U.S. trucker was saved from choking to death on an apple by slamming into a median.

Richard Paylor, 55, blacked out and smashed his tractor-trailer into a concrete barrier in Reading, Penn., on Tuesday as he choked on a piece of fruit, police said.

The impact is believed to have dislodged the apple chunk from his more from CNews

FBI asks for help to crack mystery code in 12-year-old murder case: FBI experts are seeking the help of the public to make sense of two encrypted notes found on a murder victim that have stumped detectives for years.

Ricky McCormick, 41, was found dead in a field in St Louis, Missouri, back in June 1999. Two encrypted notes found in his pockets have defied the best efforts of detectives and FBI cryptoanalysts to make sense of them ever since.

The handwritten notes, written by the victim himself up to three days prior to his demise, contain a mixture of "letters, numbers, dashes, and parentheses" that have defied traditional cryptanalysis more from The Register

Flatulent farm animals would benefit from change in diet, study claims: A change of diet could help flatulent farm animals reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, a study said today.

Government-funded research aimed at helping farmers cut their contribution to climate change shows how to reduce the amount of methane produced by cows and sheep belching and breaking wind.

Researchers at Reading University and the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences found that dairy cows could emit 20 per cent less methane for every litre of milk if fed crushed more from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

'Lifesize train set' for sale in New Zealand: (by Paul Chapman) It's the ultimate big boy's toy: a lifesize train set is being offered for sale on a New Zealand auction website.

With the 120-year-old steam locomotive come two beautifully wood-panelled passenger carriages, a kitchen van, several goods wagons, almost nine miles of track, a pub, and a railway station.

The Kingston Flyer has languished in an uncovered yard, 25 miles from the South Island adventure tourism capital of Queenstown, since its last owners went into receivership in November more from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

March 29, 2011

Missing cobra gets Twitter account: A cobra that is missing from a New York zoo now has a Twitter account.

The @BronxZoosCobra account says the reptile is "not at the Bronx Zoo" and is "an Egyptian cobra out on the town."

The tweets include stops at Ray's Pizza and Rockefeller Plaza, the snake considering taking in a Broadway show and a comment at Charlie Sheen where the snake says "know what's better than tiger's blood? Cobra venom" more from CNews

Chilean clock-cooking could cause computer chaos: (by Lester Haines) In what promises to provoke an entertaining IT apocalypse, the Chilean government has decided to postpone the end of daylight saving time by five weeks.

The clocks were due to go back an hour this weekend, but the powers that be have reset the date to 7 May.

According to interior minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter, the extra 60 minutes of daylight in the evening will "save energy, reduce crime and traffic accidents and improve Chileans' quality of life" more from The Register

Message in a bottle answered after 24 years: A German boy who tossed a message in a bottle off a ship in the Baltic 24 years ago has finally received an answer.

A 13-year-old Russian, Daniil Korotkikh, was walking with his parents on a beach when he saw something glittering lying in the sand.

"I saw that bottle and it looked interesting," he said. "It looked like a German beer bottle with a ceramic plug, and there was a message inside."

His father, who knows schoolboy German, translated the letter, carefully wrapped in cellophane and sealed by a medical more w/pics from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

March 28, 2011

Russia stops clock change: it stresses the cows: Russia has permanently switched its clocks to summer time in a change backed by President Dmitry Medvedev, who has said people and even cows suffer stress from getting up at a different time.

The move, which came into force today, means that Moscow will be permanently four hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), but experts said people suffer no ill-effects from changing clocks and questioned the need for the reform.

Medvedev announced in February that Russians would not put their clocks back this northern autumn, saying that the change from daylight saving time caused "stress and illness" and "disturbs the human biorhythm" more from

HMS Ark RoyalBritish put aircraft carrier, destroyers up for auction: The aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal is up for sale on the Ministry of Defence's auction website.

The Royal Navy's former flagship was decommissioned two weeks ago after 25 years in service as part of the government's defence budget review.

Proposals for it include turning it into a commercial heliport, a base for security personnel during the London Olympics, or a school and nightclub.

But it could also be sold for scrap like its sister ship HMS more from BBC News

March 27, 2011

Australian discovers crocodile in swimming pool: A 2m [6-1/2ft] crocodile has been found swimming in the pool of a Darwin city home. But mystery surrounds how the 1.8m freshie got into the pool, which was fully fenced off, The Sunday Territorian reports.

Matt Lynch, 22, yesterday said he thought someone had put a fake croc in the pool of his home at Larrakeyah.

"Then we poked it with a pole," he said. "And it was real." more from

Deadly cobra missing at N.Y. zoo: The reptiles exhibit at a Bronx zoo was shut down after staff discovered a venomous Egyptian cobra escaped from its enclosure.

Upon learning the half-metre long adolescent serpent was missing from an off-exhibit enclosure Friday, officials immediately secured the area and began a search, said Mary Dixon, zoo spokeswoman, in a release.

Dixon said snakes prefer closed-in spaces, and zoo experts say the reptile likely found an isolated area to hide within the building.

This isn't the first time an Egyptian cobra has slithered from its enclosure and caused more from CNews

March 26, 2011

Aussie club's breast-enhancement offer may be a bust: SURFERS PARADISE, Australia - An Australian beach resort nightclub is under investigation for offering breast-enhancement surgery as a prize, authorities say.

Flyers for Sin City in Surfers Paradise promise contestants the chance to "win a boob job valued at $10,000," although the fine print clarifies the prize is really cash for any use.

But since the ad suggests the money be spent on plastic surgery, it may violate Queensland's ban on promoting cosmetic surgery as a prize, the Sydney Morning Herald more from UPI

March 25, 2011

Naked man falls through woman's ceiling: A Mississippi woman got a shock Tuesday when a naked man came tumbling through her ceiling and asked her for clothes.

The woman, Keleigh Townsend, denied his request, so he then grabbed a coat off a hook and ran out the front door.

Police say the man was a wanted fugitive hiding out in the apartment complex, according to a report from the Hattiesburg more from CNews

Defecating dog sparks US shootout: Two neighbours in the US state of Mississippi drew weapons and fired at each other as an argument over a defecating dog ran out of control.

Associated Press news agency said Jerry Blasingame, 60, has been charged with assault for shooting Terry Tehnet, 52, with a shotgun.

Mr Tehnet was angry because he thought Mr Blasingame's dog had defecated on his lawn, in a rural part of the state.

Mr Tehnet, whose injuries are not life-threatening, may also be more from BBC News

Alina KabaevaRussian Members of Parliament 'banned from wearing miniskirts': Russian MPs and their aides will soon have to follow a new ethics code forbidding miniskirts and indiscreet behaviour that may tarnish the image of parliament, a report said on Friday.

The so-called Code of Ethics impacts everyone working in the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, including deputies and their staff members, the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily said.

The code recommends a "business style marked by formality, restraint, tradition, and neatness", which might spell the end of miniskirts and low-cut blouses for many parliamentary assistants, the paper more from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

British towns increase parking fees to force diesel cars off the roads: (by David Millward) Owners of diesel cars face higher charges for annual parking permits in major cities amid growing concern over their effect on air quality.

Councils have begun to raise the cost for the vehicles, which were previously considered more environmentally friendly because of lower carbon emissions.

A motorist with a typical family diesel faces paying more than £150 [US$241]a year to park outside his or her home....full story from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

Ohio man gets a $16.4 million cable bill: You may have heard the story about the man living in a 14x60 trailer who got a $12,864 electric bill, or the Corpus Christie man who was billed $7.7 million by his water company, or the Canadian whose cell phone provider hit him up for $85,000--the list truly goes on and on and on. Now the outrageous bill receivers club has a new member in Daniel DeVirgilio.

Yes, based on the cable bill that DeVirgilio received this week, he's either the king of pay-per-view, or the victim of one of the most extreme computerized billing glitches in the history of computerized billing glitches. Fortunately for him, it looks like it's the more from Yahoo News

'Birthing tourism' center in San Gabriel shut down: Pregnant women came from China to three identical townhouses to receive care before and after giving birth to U.S. citizens at local hospitals.

From the outside, they looked like other recently built San Gabriel townhouses — two stories, Spanish style, with roofs of red tile.

Inside they were maternity centers for Chinese women willing to pay handsomely to travel here to give birth to American more from the Los Angeles Times

Marshall Islands prez 'legalises cocaine': (by Lester Haines) The government of the Marshall Islands has expressed its surprise that president Jurelang Zedkaia has issued an executive order legalising cocaine and introducing "a no-visa unrestricted entry programme for foreign nationals of any country".

The bold initiative was apparently provoked by the need to raise cash to defend the islands against rising seas which could see the Pacific archipelago swallowed by 2040.

The "visibly emotional" Marshallese prez lamented the destruction of 1,000 years of civilisation which began when the white man first set foot on the Marshall Islands' sun-kissed more from The Register

Man pulled through CD-sized gap and lives: A British man has miraculously survived after being dragged through a gap the width of a CD case in a freak workplace accident.

Matthew Lowe, 25, was grabbed by a high-powered conveyor system at the Compass Engineering factory where he worked in Barnsley, northern England, and squeezed through a five-inch gap from his shoulders to his feet, The Sun reported.

He broke his back, ruptured his stomach and bowel, shattered his pelvis and fractured both hips, his right arm and several more from

March 24, 2011

Boston woman finds dog alive in burned-out home: A Pet owner who thought her beloved dachshund was gone forever after a fire destroyed her apartment a month ago has found the pet living in the wreckage of her burned-out home.

Terisa Acevedo moved in with relatives after the February 23 fire.

She returned to the apartment on Monday after her landlord asked her to turn off the alarm on a vehicle in the more from

Omaha Mayor pushes Washington for federal toilet paper tax: Mayor Jim Suttle went to Washington Tuesday flush with ideas for how federal officials could help cities like Omaha pay for multibillion-dollar sewer projects.

Among the items on his brainstorming list: a proposal for a 10-cent federal tax on every roll of toilet paper you buy.

Based on the four-pack price for Charmin double rolls Tuesday at a midtown Hy-Vee, such a tax would add more than 10 percent to the per-roll price, pushing it over a buck.

The idea came from a failed 2009 House measure by an Oregon congressman to help cities and the more from the Omaha World-Herald

WWII vet discovers he’s not a U.S. citizen: Ninety-five-year-old Leeland Davidson discovered recently that he's not considered a U.S. citizen, despite living nearly 100 years in the country and serving in the U.S. Navy during WWII.

Davidson, from Centralia, Washington, told KOMO News that he discovered he wasn't a U.S. citizen when he was turned down for an enhanced driver's license he needed for a trip to Canada to visit relatives.

"We always figured because he was born to U.S. parents he's automatically a U.S. citizen," said Davidson's daughter, Rose more w/video from Yahoo News

Artificial clouds could help cool 2022 Qatar World Cup: Scientists at Qatar University claim to have developed artificial clouds to provide shade for stadia and training grounds at the 2022 World Cup.

The fierce summer heat in the Gulf has led to concerns about conditions for players and fans at the tournament.

Temperatures in June and July can reach up to 50C [122F] more w/video from BBC News

March 23, 2011

Detroit's Population Crashes: DETROIT—The population of Detroit has fallen back 100 years.

The flight of middle-class African-Americans to the suburbs fueled an exodus that cut Detroit's population 25% in the past decade to 713,777, according to Census Bureau data released Tuesday. That's the city's lowest population level since the 1910 census, when automobile mass production was making Detroit Detroit.

The decline, the fastest in city history, shocked local officials, who had expected a number closer to 800,000. Mayor Dave Bing said the city would seek a more from The Wall Street Journal

Russia's Medvedev hosts his idols Deep Purple: Ardent British rock fan Dmitry Medvedev got his wish on Tuesday night when the Russian president hosted Deep Purple at his luxurious residence near Moscow, the Kremlin said.

Medvedev, 45, dressed in jeans and a black jacket, drank tea with the rock idols he has followed since he was a young boy, when he listened to the band in his tiny flat in Saint Petersburg, locked behind the iron curtain of the Soviet Union.

"Of course when I started listening to Deep Purple I could not imagine that I would be sitting here with you at this table like this," Interfax news agency quoted him as telling the more from Reuters UK

Syracuse tries to trademark 'Orange', other orange schools don’t like it: You can trademark anything these days. Pat Riley, of course, owns "three-peat." Michael Strahan has "Stomp You Out." Jared Allen registered "Got Strange?" But owning a swath of the color spectrum is mighty presumptuous. Since Syracuse dropped the "men" from "Orangemen," the school has been trying to do just that. Other schools that have orange in their names or uniforms don't much like it . Among them: Boise State (which already owns blue astroturf), Tennessee, the University of the Pacific, Oklahoma State, Clemson, Florida and more from Deadspin

March 22, 2011

Chavez says capitalism may have ended life on Mars: Capitalism may be to blame for the lack of life on the planet Mars, Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday.

"I have always said, heard, that it would not be strange that there had been civilization on Mars, but maybe capitalism arrived there, imperialism arrived and finished off the planet," Chavez said in speech to mark World Water Day.

Chavez, who also holds capitalism responsible for many of the world's problems, warned that water supplies on Earth were drying more from Reuters UK

Related: from Scientific American....Giant Asteroid Flattened Half of Mars, Studies Suggest

Tortoise starts New York fire: A pet tortoise sparked a fire in a New York City flat after crawling out of its tank and knocking over the terrarium's heat lamp.

Giovani, a six-year-old African tortoise about the size of a football was unharmed, but one firefighter and three police officers suffered smoke inhalation during the fire in Bay Ridge Brooklyn.

Another turtle that lived in a water tank was also killed, according to the New York more from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

March 21, 2011

NASA tests Mars space suit in Argentine Antarctica: A NASA team has tested a space suit in a setting with extreme conditions akin to some of those found on Mars -- an Argentine base in Antarctica -- for possible use on a visit to the Red Planet.

The NDX-1 space suit, designed by Argentine aerospace engineer Pablo de Leon, endured frigid temperatures and winds of more than 47 mph (75 kph) as researchers tried out techniques for collecting soil samples on Mars.

"This was the first time we took the suit to such an extreme, isolated environment so that if something went wrong we couldn't just go to the store" and buy a repair kit, De Leon told Reuters recently after returning from the one week more from Rueters UK

Reporter says pay cut forced him to set up prostitution ring: An award-winning sportswriter pleaded guilty to setting up a prostitution operation, telling the court he did it to make extra money after a slump in the newspaper business forced him to take a pay cut.

The CNHI news service says Kevin Provencher, 52, of Manchester, N. H., admitted to a Massachusetts court that he recruited and took financial support from prostitutes plying their trade in hotels in Massachusetts and New more from USA Today

Tokyo earthquake hit as plane was on runway: pilot tells what it was like: A commercial airline pilot tells what it felt like in his plane as the magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit in Japan at 5pm on March 11th.

"I was taxi-ing out for departure from Narita to Fukuoka, with a full load of passengers, after push back when I noticed something was wrong with the nosewheel steering - well that's what I thought the problem was," he wrote.

"The plane wanted to move across to the right side of the taxiway, and I had to use the tiller to try to bring it back, then it wanted to move quickly over to the left side, so I decided to stop, and return to the gate to get the steering checked out.

That was when ATC announced "Jishin, jishin! [Earthquake, earthquake!] All aircraft stop in present position. more from the Australian Business Traveler

March 20, 2011

California woman nabbed in odd mail attempt: COSTA MESA, Calif. - A California woman was arrested after driving her car into a motor vehicle facility to mail a letter, police said.

Sgt. Stephanie Selinske of the Costa Mesa police told the Orange County Register that Tamera Grant ran inside the DMV office Saturday and refused to come out for two more from UPI

March 19, 2011

Woman with shears chases would-be thief: HOUSTON - A knife-wielding would-be car thief was foiled by a 63-year-old woman armed with hedge clippers, police in Texas said.

Police said two sisters, one 63 and the other 65, were working in their yard Wednesday when a man demanded the keys to their vehicle, the Houston Chronicle more from UPI

Libyan rebels shoot down own plane: A warplane was shot down on Saturday over the Libyan city of Benghazi and an opposition activist said it was a rebel fighter jet hit by accident.

Azeldin al-Sharif, an opposition activist, said rebel forces had brought the plane down by mistake over the city of Benghazi.

The city came under attack from forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi on Saturday, including air strikes by planes loyal to the more from Reuters

March 18, 2011

US man convicted of minting his own currency: STATESVILLE, NC - Bernard von NotHaus, 67, was convicted today by a federal jury of making, possessing, and selling his own coins, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Following an eight-day trial and less than two hours of deliberation, von NotHaus, the founder and monetary architect of a currency known as the Liberty Dollar, was found guilty by a jury in Statesville, North Carolina, of making coins resembling and similar to United States coins; of issuing, passing, selling, and possessing Liberty Dollar coins; of issuing and passing Liberty Dollar coins intended for use as current money; and of conspiracy against the United States. The guilty verdict concluded an investigation which began in 2005 and involved the minting of Liberty Dollar coins with a current value of approximately $7 more from the FBI

Burglar feels the heat dangling over hot oil vat: NEW YORK - Police answering cries for help Friday found a screaming burglar dangling from a ceiling air vent over a hot fat fryer at an upstate New York restaurant.

“He said he thought he was going to die,” said Lt. Michael Brown, spokesman for the police in Rotterdam, New York.

A grease-covered Timothy Cipriani, 46, of nearby Schenectady was pleading for help when he was discovered wedged into the ventilation duct at Paesan’s Pizza in the early hours of the more from CNews

Utah names official state firearm: Utah has become the first US state to designate an official state firearm.

The Browning M1911 joins the state fossil (allosaurus), fruit (cherry), gem (topaz), bird (sea gull) and other symbols with official designation.

The gun was designed by Utah native John Browning. The law's sponsor said it symbolised freedom and more from BBC News

Woman fingers ex in 15-foot strip pole theft mystery: A Florida woman has turned on her ex-boyfriend after the sudden disappearance of her 15-foot "expert dancing pole" following the couple's breakup.

NBC Miami reports that the 19-year-old woman discovered the $400 pole had vanished into thin air when she returned to her ex-boyfriend's apartment to retrieve her stuff in the wake of their split.

For his part, the boyfriend told police he'd been out shopping and that someone must have broken in and swiped the pole along with unspecified more from The Register

Property ad calls locals 'smelly': (by Nick Britten) We’ve all found ourselves on the end of an estate agent’s rhetoric, whether looking at a house that is cosy (small), conveniently located (near a busy road) or one that offers an “opportunity for renovation" (it needs knocking down).

But one agent trying to offload a three-bedroom house has been accused of going too far in his efforts for a quick sale, or indeed any sale, and has found himself accused of calling local residents “pond life”, “scruffy” and “smelly”.

Ian Bebbington wrote an extraordinary advertisement for the semi-detached property in Prospect View, Northallerton {UK], and had intended to highlight the large back more from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

March 17, 2011

Is this Britain's unluckiest woman?: A woman who dumped her truck-driver boyfriend for being dull, only to see him scoop a Lotto fortune, has been branded Britain's unluckiest woman.

Kerry Graves, 31, has known self-confessed Mr Boring Matthew Breach, 37, since schooldays.

They were a couple for 14 years but Ms Graves then walked out, telling pals she wanted "lots of sex" more w/pic from

Texas bank robber asked for ID: (by Lester Haines) A Texas master criminal's attempt to rob a Dallas bank ended badly after the teller requested two forms of ID before handing over cash.

Nathan Wayne Pugh, 49, was on parole for two previous aggravated robberies when he marched into a branch of Wells Fargo to make an illegal withdrawal.

Confronted by the teller's demand for identification, he obligingly whipped out his Wells Fargo debit card and a Texas state ID "bearing his name", as local KWTX more from The Register

Malaysian police recover 700,000 stolen condoms: KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Malaysian police say they have recovered about 700,000 condoms that were stolen while being shipped to Japan two months ago.

Mohamad Shukri Dahlan, police chief of Malaysia's northern Perak state, says authorities found hundreds of boxes of condoms at a warehouse and a home last more from Associated Press

March 16, 2011

Bloke with hammer fixes London's Olympic clock: (by Lester Haines) We're delighted to report that London's high-tech Olympic chronometer is once again counting down to the opening of next year's celebration of performance-enhancing drugs sporting excellence.

The OMEGA London 2012 countdown clock clapped out yesterday less than 24 hours after it was switched on to a backdrop of fireworks, despite the fact it was "developed by our experts and fully tested", as a Swatch spokesman put it.

He added: "We are currently looking into why this happened and expect to have the clock functioning as normal as soon as possible."

Cue a bloke with a hammer backed by his youthful assistant, helpfully holding the spare AA more w/exclusive photo from The Register

March 15, 2011

The magic of North Korea: a disappearing plane: North Korea, renowned for its secrecy and incredible artistic performances, is now planning the ultimate magic show -- complete with disappearing aircraft.

The North's state-run KCNA news agency reported that the capital Pyongyang would host a "new form" of magic show in which the aircraft, a bus full of passengers and elephant would be made to disappear.

The Pyongyang Circus, which has conducted 250 tours around the world, has won more than 70 awards including 36 gold prizes at 38 international circus festivals, KCNA more from Reuters UK

London 2012 countdown clock stops in Trafalgar Square: The digital clock in central London which has been counting down to the 2012 Olympics has stopped, less than 24 hours after it started.

The timer was unveiled in a ceremony in Trafalgar Square on Monday to mark the 500th day before next year's Games.

But the 6.5m (21ft) display became stuck on 500 days and more w/video from BBC News

Adverts will target individuals to prevent channel-hopping: (by Andrew Hough) Television viewers face watching “personalised advertisements” under a new scheme that is will target people depending on their consumer habits, it has emerged.

Broadcasters are set to introduce advertisements based on personal tastes to halt the growing shift from television to the internet.

The “personalised” advertisements would use information gathered from viewer preferences, where they live and other “customer research”. Experts said yesterday the schemes would likely end of the traditional "one size fits all" advert more from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

Snake dies after biting model's breast: A Snake who bit Israeli model and actress Orit Fox in the chest died after being poisoned by an unusual venom - the silicone in the buxom blonde's surgically enhanced breasts.

Spanish TV channel Telecinco's footage of Fox's encounter was racking up YouTube hits Monday, with some users lamenting, "R.I.P. snake," and the less-informed commenting: "I wish I was that snake!"

The video shows the model fondling and licking the serpent for a feature in Israeli DJ Shmulik Tayar's radio show, before the snake got fresh with Fox and latched on to her bountiful left more w/video from

March 14, 2011

Russian bomb squad called in to defuse sex toy: Anti-terrorist bomb squad experts were called to a post office in the northwest of Russia to make safe a package from which a strange ticking sound was coming, local police said on Monday.

They found a vibrator.

The incident took place at Petrozavodsk in the republic of Karelia and followed a call from a postal worker who had identified a suspect package, a police spokeswoman told AFP by more from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

March 13, 2011

Quake moved Japan by 2.4 metres: Japan's recent massive earthquake, one of the largest ever recorded, appears to have moved the island by about 2.4 metres, the US Geological Survey said yesterday.

"That's a reasonable number," USGS seismologist Paul Earle told Agence France Presse: "Eight feet, that's certainly going to be in the ballpark."

Friday's 9.0 magnitude quake unleashed a terrifying tsunami that engulfed towns and cities on Japan's northeastern coast, destroying everything in its path in what Prime Minister Naoto Kan said was an "unprecedented national disaster" more from

March 12, 2011

Lost city of Atlantis, swamped by tsunami, may be found: (by Zach Howard) A U.S.-led research team may have finally located the lost city of Atlantis, the legendary metropolis believed swamped by a tsunami thousands of years ago in mud flats in southern Spain.

"This is the power of tsunamis," head researcher Richard Freund told Reuters.

"It is just so hard to understand that it can wipe out 60 miles inland, and that's pretty much what we're talking about," said Freund, a University of Hartford, Connecticut, professor who lead an international team searching for the true site of more from Reuters UK

March 11, 2011

India catches 57 pilots over alcohol limit, only grounds 11: India's airline authorities caught 57 pilots over the alcohol limit about to take to the cabin of passenger-carrying jets over the past two years, but most were cleared to fly again, media said on Friday.

Only 11 of the pilots found to be under the influence of alcohol in random pre-flight medical tests between January 2009 and November 2010 lost their job, the Times of India newspaper said, citing a statement by Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi to lawmakers.

The rest were hit with varying punishments determined by their airline, such as warning letters or a more from Reuters UK

Dude, where's my house?: A Malaysian landlord was shocked to find his double-storey wooden house missing while making his rent call, local daily The Star reports.

Zuria Ali, 30, said he was greeted by the sight of scattered wood, a damaged television set and twenty-four concrete pillar holders when he went to the site of his house in Malaysia's northern Perlis state bordering Thailand.

"I had heard that my house had vanished and was curious to find out the truth," Mr Zuria was quoted as saying by the more from ABC News (AU)

March 10, 2011

NASA aims for space tests of Mars-in-a-month plasma drive: NASA will work with a firm started by a former astronaut to build a spaceworthy plasma drive capable of revolutionising travel beyond Earth orbit. However it appears that the space tests may not take place aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as had been planned.

The Ad Astra Rocket Company, headed by Dr Franklin Chang Díaz. has already built an experimental prototype version of its Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR). The VX-200, (VASIMR eXperimental 200 kilowatt) unit works fine in a vacuum chamber on Earth. Now Ad Astra has announced an agreement under which it will work in partnership with NASA to produce the VF-200 flight version, which has long been planned for installation aboard the International Space more from The Register

Business booms in NZ for oldest profession after quake: Christchurch sex workers are reportedly enjoying a boom in trade after last month's earthquake as stressed emergency workers turn to the world's oldest profession.

Prostitutes in the New Zealand city said an influx of foreigners helping relief efforts after the devastating 6.3-magnitude quake had left them run off their feet, the Christchurch Press reported.

It said one sex worker, "Candice", reported earning up to NZ$1400 ($1030) a night soliciting just outside the city's cordoned-off downtown more from

Himmler's crystal skull found in Germany: BERLIN - A Swiss journalist said a crystal skull believed to have belonged to Nazi SS chief Heinrich Himmler was found hidden in a German home.

Journalist Luc Burgin said the skull, found hidden on a roof beam in the home of a woman who was once married to a high-ranking SS officer, appears to be one of a series of skulls revered by the Mayans in ancient Mexico, The Daily Mirror reported more from UPI

Urgent mail delivered in Pakistan after 20 years: ISLAMABAD: An urgent mail sent from Pakistan's Toba Tek Singh town to Karachi 20 years ago in 1991 has finally been delivered.

The urgent mail reached on Wednesday, Dawn reported on Thursday.

Rafiq Chishti, who had waited endlessly to receive the mail, said his parents had sent his academic certificates to him in Karachi in 1991. He was studying in a seminary and the documents were required to apply for a more from The Times of India

Bank robber busted by urine sample: A Swedish bank robber forgot to cover his tracks and left three bottles of urine behind after hiding inside a bank vault in Copenhagen for three days.

The 27-year-old man and his accomplice used the bottles to relieve themselves after sneaking into the vault on a Friday in May and remaining there until the bank opened again the following Monday.

While inside, the robbers emptied 140 safety deposit boxes of at least $500,000 in cash and more from

March 9, 2011

Lady Gaga may sue over breastmilk ice cream name: Pop singer Lady Gaga has threatened to sue a specialist ice cream parlour in London for naming its breast milk ice cream "Baby Gaga," the shop's owner said on Wednesday.

Matt O'Connor, founder of The Icecreamists in London's Covent Garden, said he had received a letter from Lady Gaga's lawyers informing him that the singer planned to sue him over the name.

"She's threatening to bankrupt us and she's also threatening me personally, saying she'll seize my personal assets and property," he said.

Lady Gaga's London solicitors, Mishcon de Reya, said they would not more from Reuters UK

Drunken chefs busted during snack preparations: SUDBURY, Ont. - No doubt it seemed like a good idea at the time.

One of two northern Ontario men on a drinking binge and popping Oxycontin pills was sentenced for breaking into a chip stand and cooking up some onion rings and hot dogs, among other charges.

Court heard Wednesday that Jesse Jahn was 21-years-old when he and a 17-year-old, who can't be named due to the Young Offender Act, split a case of beer and robbed the chip stand in Sudbury, Ont., in the early-morning hours of Aug. 11, more from CNews

Rude awakening for sleepy U.S. students: Chronically tardy and truant students at a Massachusetts high school are getting a rude awakening -- a pre-recorded morning wake-up call from their school principal.

The so-called "robo-calls" that began on Wednesday are aimed at rousting about 500 students, the worst-offending sleepyheads, from bed and getting them to school on time.

"It's 6:15 and it's Durfee High School calling," booms the voice of Principal Paul Marshall of B.M.C. Durfee High School in Fall River, according to Vice Principal Ross more from Reuters UK

March 8, 2011

U.K. judge tackles escaping prisoner: LONDON - A judge sporting full robes and a wig rugby-tackled a sex offender to the floor to prevent him from fleeing the court where he was on trial, the Press Association reported on Tuesday.

Judge Douglas Marks Moore, 60, wrestled with 34-year-old Paul Reid as he tried to escape from Woolwich Crown Court in London.

"The jury were just leaving when the defendant jumped up and ran across the clerk's bench to get to the judge's door," said prosecutor Rupert more from CNews

Rampaging goats accused of Nigeria election sabotage: A Nigerian opposition party accused its political rivals of sabotage on Tuesday after its vice presidential candidate was forced to make an emergency landing due to a runway invasion by rams and goats.

Fola Adeola, vice presidential candidate for the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and other party chieftains made the forced landing, damaging their plane, after airport staff in the northern city of Bauchi failed to control the beasts.

"Is it possible for President (Goodluck) Jonathan ... to be involved in such a situation where the runway he is to land on will be filled by rams," campaign spokesman Ibrahim Modibbo said, adding Adeola and others on board had "narrowly escaped death." more from Reuters UK

Sex gift wasn't a bribe, says officer: An Austalian council building inspector received sexual services as a gift from developers - and claimed overtime for the pleasure.

But far from viewing it as a bribe, Willoughby Council's Edward Karkowski told an inquiry into his behaviour that it was a "gesture of thank you", The Daily Telegraph [AU] reported.

Karkowski, who handles large commercial developments in the Chatswood CBD, appeared before the Independent Commission Against Corruption facing allegations of living a life of lunching on expensive meals, drinking $80 bottles of wine and receiving sexual favours from a raft of women working at brothels, gifted to him by developers whose projects he was more from

March 7, 2011

Police: Greeter, 83, robbed Walmart store: STATESVILLE, N.C. - Police in North Carolina say an 83-year-old man was arrested after allegedly robbing the Walmart store where he works as a greeter.

Police in Statesville said George Plane Jr. of Mooresville was working at the Crossroads Shopping Center Walmart Sunday evening and at about 7 p.m. he went outside and put on a disguise from his car, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer reported Monday.

Investigators said Plane approached a garden center employee, pointed a gun at the worker and demanded money from the cash register. Police said the suspect fired at least one shot into the air before fleeing with the more w/video from UPI

German radio runs controversial funeral contest: A German local radio station is offering a competition prize much closer to home than an exotic holiday or tickets for a celebrity concert.

How about a cheque to cover your own funeral? That is what the lucky winner will get in Radio Galaxy's competition in Aschaffenburg, north Bavaria.

More than 600 contestants have sent in their own epitaph for their headstone. The winner will be chosen on more from BBC News

March 6, 2011

RockyMan auctions boulder that crashed through his house: Rocky. That's the name of a 25-tonne rock that crashed through a New Zealander's house when a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck the country last month.

But now, with the help of a local hotel and airline, the creative businessman is selling what he's now dubbed a "landscape feature" for more than $5,000.

"He is in pristine condition - just a little bit of concrete dust," he wrote on Tademe, a New Zealand-based auction website similar to more from CNews

Nude cyclists shock Melbourne streets: More than 150 naked cyclists coursed their way through inner-city Melbourne in support of bike activism on Sunday.

Melbourne's fourth annual Naked Bike Ride kicked off at the Edinburgh Gardens in North Fitzroy and took riders on a 10-kilometre trip through the city's streets.

Organiser Heidi Hill says the ride protests in favour of bike activism, as well as naturism, environmentalism and more from ABC News (AU)

March 5, 2011

NASA scientist claims evidence of alien life on meteorite: (by Garrett Tenney) We are not alone in the universe -- and alien life forms may have a lot more in common with life on Earth than we had previously thought.

That's the stunning conclusion one NASA scientist has come to, releasing his groundbreaking revelations in a new study in the March edition of the Journal of Cosmology.

Dr. Richard B. Hoover, an astrobiologist with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, has traveled to remote areas in Antarctica, Siberia, and Alaska, amongst others, for over ten years now, collecting and studying meteorites. He gave early access to the out-of-this-world research, published late Friday evening in the March edition of the Journal of Cosmology. In it, Hoover describes the latest findings in his study of an extremely rare class of meteorites, called CI1 carbonaceous chondrites -- only nine such meteorites are known to exist on more from Fox News

White House brewing its own beer: U.S. President Barack Obama has asked his staff to brew beer in the White House.

The blog Obama Foodoramaa, which reports on Obama's food initiatives, said this week the president and First Lady asked their chefs to take up the popular hobby. The couple presented the first batch of the homebrew -- the White House Honey Ale -- to guests at their SuperBowl party in February. Close to 100 bottles were produced and there were no leftovers after the party.

White House curator Bill Allman told the blog there is no record of beer brewing at the White House but Obama is not the first president to craft his own more from CNews

March 4, 2011

Man steals $244,000 sneaking into cargo hold by toilet: (by Emanuelle Degli Esposti) The mid-air theft took place on an Air Antilles flight from the French island of Guadeloupe to the Franco-Dutch island of Saint Martin, which was carrying a total of 1.2 million euros on behalf of Brink’s Security Company.

Pretending to be ill, the man spent the majority of the 40 minute flight in the lavatory, where he succeeded in removing several wall panels to gain access to the hold in the rear of the plane. It wasn’t until the plane landed that it was discovered that 172,000 euros (US$244,000 - £148,000) were missing from the cargo.

Shortly before landing, the unnamed man – who was travelling with a woman – asked a hostess for an ambulance to meet him on the tarmac, witnesses more from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

Spider who likes gasoline behind Mazda recall: A spider that likes the smell of gasoline so much it chooses to build its webs in car emission systems was behind the recall of thousands of Mazda cars in the United States.

Mazda Motor Corp said on Thursday it was recalling 52,000 cars after the National Highway Safety Commission said the spider webs may restrict a vent line, which could cause the emissions control system to increase pressure in the fuel tank.

The build-up of webs in the emission systems could lead to fuel tank cracks and possible more from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

US Water Polo TeamCheeky Brits copy American Water Polo Team: Back in October, the lovely All-American lasses on the US Water Polo team graced the cover of the ESPN the Magazine the Body Issue in their collective birthday suits. Tastefully, of course.

Well, leave it up to the no good British to seize on the opportunity to flat out copy the shoot.

Only, in typical Euro fashion, their image appears to be much more grimy and dingy, and is much tougher on the more w/pics from Hugging Harold Reynolds

Las Vegas strip may get colossal Ferris wheel: A 500-foot (152 meters) Ferris wheel, which would be the tallest in the Western Hemisphere, may be built on the famed Las Vegas strip, officials said.

A developer won permission to construct the Ferris wheel as the centrepiece of an amusement park and retail centre planned for a vacant plot of land on the Strip, opposite the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.

If built, it would be the third-tallest Ferris wheel in the world and, at 500 feet, would be the maximum allowed by the U.S. Federal Aviation more from Reuters UK

March 3, 2011

Topless pic cops did nothing wrong - union: On-duty police officers who posed for a photograph with a woman who flashed her breasts in an inner Brisbane [Australia] party district did nothing wrong and should not have been punished, their union says.

Five officers - ranking from sergeant to constable - were involved in or were supervising the photo shoot in which the woman revealed herself in the Fortitude Valley mall in September last year.

At the same time, several digital photographs were taken and kept by the more from

March 2, 2011

Ukraine protest over NZ 'win a wife' competition prize: Ukrainian women's rights activists have held a protest over a New Zealand radio station's competition for listeners to "win" a Ukrainian wife.

Nine women protested topless outside Kiev's marriage registration office, holding banners with slogans such as "Ukraine is not a brothel".

The Rock FM announced the prize winner on Monday as a winemaker named more from BBC News

Sci-fi 'tractor beams' could work: A laser can act as a "tractor beam", drawing small objects back toward the laser's source, scientists have said.

It is known that light can provide a "push", for example in solar sails that propel spacecraft on a "wind of light".

Now, in a paper on the Arxiv server, researchers from Hong Kong and China have calculated the conditions required to create a laser-based "pull" more from BBC News

Health experts flip over McDonalds's burger-flip toy: (by Lester Haines) Parents of kids who have a penchant for burgers and an academically average school record might be interested in the McDonalds Drive Thru Food Cart Playset – guaranteed to provide "endless hours of make-believe fun", with the added advantage of offering vital training for a future career

As is to be expected, health experts aren't all that impressed with the fast food fun centre. Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, told the Sun: "It's yet another example of big business infiltrating the minds of more w/video from The Register

Fire Tornado in HungaryFire tornado caught on camera in Hungary: (by Emanuelle Degli Esposti) Striking photos were captured during a huge fire at a plastic processing plant in Kistarcsa, a suburb of the Hungarian capital Budapest.

Around 70 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze, which engulfed an entire industrial unit and sent a terrifying tower of flames swirling into the sky.

A witness at the scene said that 15 foot high flames also ravaged the building, and several explosions were more from The Daily Telegraph (UK)

Fangin' on a freeway - snake gets a lift then strikes: As he drove along the F3, Troy Vella was troubled by a banging noise from beneath his car.

When he arrived at work at Mascot, he got out to inspect what he thought would be a tree branch.

Instead, he was confronted by a 2m red-bellied black snake - which bit him on the leg.

"I heard this banging noise coming from under the car as I drove down," Mr Vella, 44, said from his bed at the Prince of Wales Hospital [Sydney, Australia], where his condition is more w/video from The Daily Telegraph (AU)

March 1, 2011

California woman sues after slipping on banana peel: A banana peel, the torment of many a cartoon character, has allegedly become the real-life downfall of a woman in California. Ida Valentine, 58, is suing the 99 Cents Only store where she slipped on one last April.

She said that she suffered a herniated disk and tissue damage, spent $9,000 on medical bills and is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

"She fell and landed on her backside," said Courtney Mikolaj of the Quirk Law Firm in Ventura, California, which is representing more from Reuters UK

Hindu festival of ShivaratriNepal holy men banned from selling dope: Thousands of sadhus - or holy men - have been banned from selling cannabis to festival-goers at an ancient temple in Nepal.

They are gathering at Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu to celebrate the Hindu festival of Shivaratri.

Sadhus - Hindus who renounce the world around them - traditionally celebrate Shivaratri by smoking more from BBC News

US man accused of pizzeria 'mouse sabotage' attempt: A pizzeria owner in Pennsylvania sought to sabotage competing shops by infesting them with mice, police say.

Nikolas Galiatsatos has been charged with animal cruelty and other offences in Upper Darby, near Philadelphia.

He was arrested after officers found a man had stuffed a sack containing live mice into the space above a ceiling panel in a pizzeria more from BBC News

UK Council busts breast milk ice cream parlour: A Covent Garden designer ice cream parlour has earned itself a bust from Westminster council for punting potentially life-threatening breast milk ice cream.

Municipal operatives relieved Icecreamists of its Baby Gaga blend of jub juice, vanilla pods and lemon zest, the Evening Standard reports.

Brian Connell, Westminster's cabinet member for business, explained: "Following two complaints from members of the public and concerns from the Health Protection Agency and Food Standards Agency, our officers visited the premises and removed all ice cream being sold as containing breast more from The Register

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