Odd News Archive - February 2009

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February 27, 2009

Beer and bathtubs are U.S. stimulus ideas: The U.S. public is bubbling over with ideas on how to spend the billions of dollars set to flow to states from the federal stimulus program -- including six-packs of beer, airboats and bathtubs.

Thousands of suggestions have poured into websites states have set up to give residents updated information on the money and where it might be spent, and in some cases asking them to submit their own ideas. Ohio, for example, had received a whopping 11,373 proposals as of Thursday....full story from Reuters UK


Alarm Company: Um, Sir? Your house is on fire: A Connecticut man was so engrossed with the tunes on his iPod that he didn't realize his house was on fire -- until his alarm company called.

Pomfret Assistant Fire Chief Edward Bates says Andrew Riley told him he was listening to music Thursday afternoon when the blaze broke out on the upper floor of his 2 1/2-story house.

Bates says Riley didn't smell smoke or hear the smoke alarm going off....full story from CBS News


Romanian villagers who built own bridge are probed: Tired of waiting for authorities to replace a bridge swept away last July by floods, Romanian villagers have finally given up -- and built their own.

The catch: They didn't have a permit. Now they're the subject of a criminal investigation.

Prosecutor Viorel Damu said Friday that police are trying to identify those who worked on the bridge, which was built in a single day, Feb. 6. The guilty parties could be jailed for three years or fined up to 70,000 lei ($20,800), he said....full story from CBS News


UK's Ryanair to charge toilet fee - or maybe not: Ryanair's chief executive said Europe's largest budget carrier might start charging passengers for using the toilet while flying, but his spokesman cautioned Michael O'Leary often just made things up at will.

"One thing we have looked at in the past and are looking at again is the possibility of maybe putting a coin slot on the toilet door so that people might actually have to spend a pound to spend a penny in future," O'Leary told BBC television....full story from Reuters UK

February 26, 2009

Mystery object tears through Dallas roof: Police say an unidentified falling object dropped out of the sky with enough velocity to tear a hole through the roof and the second floor of a Dallas home.

Senior Cpl. Kevin Janse said Wednesday the six-pound piece of metal with two drill holes in it fell Tuesday evening when the person who reported the incident wasn't home. Janse said there were no injuries....full story from CNews


Man ticketed after he was hit by car: The stepson of a Denver man who was hit by a car while helping two elderly women cross a large street said police ticketed his stepdad for jaywalking.

Ken McDonald, stepson of Jim Moffett, 58, said his stepfather was driving a bus Friday night when he dropped off two elderly women who tried to cross Federal Boulevard to reach their trailer home, the Rocky Mountain News reported Thursday....full story from UPI....UPDATE from CNews: Colorado withdraws ticket issued to good Samaritan


No ice cream in Rome after 1:00 AM: Authorities in Rome said a law to take effect in March bans ice cream, pizza and sandwich vendors from operating after 1 a.m.

Officials said the city council measure was designed to bring the city's nightlife to a close at an earlier hour, ANSA reported Thursday.

"This applies to croissant makers, ice cream makers, cake shops, yogurt shops, sandwich shops, take-aways and rotisseries," city councilor Davide Bordoni said....full story from UPI


Buffalo swallows phone, gets 7 missed calls: This buffalo must have been taken aback when it heard a mobile ringing in its tummy. But not as much as the callers. There were seven missed calls!

This may not ring true. But this incident was reported from Hosarolli village of Bilagi taluka in Bagalkot district in India on Wednesday.

Farmer Ishwar Totager lost his mobile near his cowshed on Monday....full story from The Times of India

February 25, 2009

Topless coffee shop opens in Maine: On Tuesday morning, a small sign hung in front of the log cabin-style building, listing the hours: 6 a.m.-6 p.m.

The outside windows were covered with promotional posters for New England Coffee. Up the entrance ramp to the front door, another sign: "Over 18 only" -- and another at the door: "No cameras, no touching, cash only." A man in a white dress shirt kept watch at the front door....full story from the Kennebec Journal....See video from Associated Press


Florida tests using magnets to repel crocodiles: Florida wildlife managers have launched an experiment to see if they can keep crocodiles from returning to residential neighbourhoods by temporarily taping magnets to their heads to disrupt their "homing" ability.

Researchers at Mexico's Crocodile Museum in Chiapas reported in a biology newsletter they had some success with the method, using it to permanently relocate 20 of the reptiles since 2004....full story Reuters UK


Aussie car thief caught trapped in target vehicle: A bungling Australian car thief was nabbed after accidentally locking himself in the vehicle he was trying to steal, police said on Wednesday.

Police were called to a house in Adelaide after two thieves were heard trying to steal a car. On arrival they were surprised to find a 53-year old man hiding inside the vehicle....full story from Reuters UK


Google apologizes for Gmail outage - porn sites capitalize: GOOGLE today was scrambling to figure out what caused Gmail to crash, leaving millions of people worldwide without access to the free web-based email service for a few hours.

Quick-thinking porn-peddlers capitalised on the situation by creating a Gmail user group titled "Gmail Down" that displayed sex pictures and videos to people that went searching for information about the problem....full story from NEWS.com.au


Australia MP: Stay married, save the planet: Staying married is better for the planet because divorce leads the newly single to live more wasteful lifestyles, an Australian lawmaker said on Tuesday.

Senator Steve Fielding said that divorce only made climate change worse....full story from The Times of India


68-yr-old is world's most married woman: LONDON: A sexagenarian granny, who has tied the knot 23 times, has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most married woman.

Linda Wolfe, 68, first got married at the age of 16.

The mother of seven achieved such a huge tally after becoming "addicted to the romance" of getting hitched....full story from The Times of India

February 24, 2009

Jailbreak: It's the new sound of summer: TWO men escaped from Parklea prison in Sydney, Australia because guards were watching the cricket on TV, Corrective Services Commissioner Ron Woodham said.

Mr Woodham said officers turned off an alarm so inmates could mow the lawn - allowing prisoners Jonathon Silva, 24, and Glenn McMillan, 26, to climb the perimeter fence with a rope made from a tennis net....full story from The Daily Telegraph

February 23, 2009

Chinese teen hot-wires bus, causes chaos: A 13-year-old boy apparently hot-wired a public bus and took it on a joyride in downtown Beijing and crashed it into a dozen vehicles in a scene witnesses likened to a blockbuster movie, state media reported on Monday.

The middle-school student jumped into the driver's seat of city bus No. 404 while it was parked at a terminal, and sped off while the driver was in the bathroom, Xinhua News Agency said....full story from The Times of India


Top 10 floating hotels What could be more relaxing than hearing the waves rolling onto the beach from your hotel bedroom than perhaps hearing the waves rolling underneath you or around you?

Floating hotels have become a trend in recent years, and men's website AskMen.com has compiled a list of the top 10 floating hotels, or hotels on water, that are already open or that are being planned....full story w/list from Stuff.co.nz

February 22, 2009

Notorious Greek prisoner escapes by helicopter-again: Greece's most notorious prisoner escaped from an Athens jail on Sunday in a Hollywood-style helicopter getaway -- for a second time.

Vassilis Palaiokostas, 44, had escaped from the maximum security prison in 2006 in an operation involving helicopters and fast cars....full story from Reuters UK....See Video from Associated Press


9,000 nearly naked men seek sacred wood: About 9,000 men clad only in loincloths joined in a free-for-all at a Buddhist temple in Japan Sunday, trying to secure two pieces of sacred wood.

The event at Saidaiji Temple in Okayama was part of the 500th anniversary of Saidaiji Eyo, described as "one of Japan's three oddest festivals," Kyodo reported.

Whoever got out with the two chunks of wood, if not his "fundoshi" or white loincloth, was to be proclaimed by the temple's monks as "the man of fortune for the year....full story from UPI

February 21, 2009

Woman, 86, gets $1,000 phone sex bill: The family of an 86-year-old Nebraska woman who was billed for over $1,000 in phone sex calls suspects identify theft.

Arlene Hald recently received a credit card bill addressed to her husband, Sylvester, who died nearly 20 years ago. Hald said they never had a credit card, yet an account in his name was charged....full story from The Times of India


Google dismisses 'Atlantis find': The Lost City of Atlantis is still lost - despite hopes that Google Earth had located the fabled city on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.

Observers noted what seemed to be a grid of streets and the outlines of a big city on the sea floor about 960km (600 miles) off the African coast.

Experts had said this was one of the possible sites of the city described by Plato, the Greek philosopher....full story from the BBC


Police banned from brothel raids in New Zealand: A top policeman has banned officers from accompanying Immigration officials on potentially illegal brothel raids after a man leapt out of a window, suffering fatal injuries, during a raid being filmed for reality television.

The man panicked and jumped seven metres from the window after uniformed police, Immigration officers and television cameras stormed Auckland bordello Salon 33 in what has been described as an "unlawful breaking and entering....full story from The Dominion Post [NZ]

February 20, 2009

NASA talks little green men with Vatican: It's a good time to be a Catholic and a cosmologist. Heretic stake burnings are at an all-time low, and the Vatican has even warmed to the idea of ETs out there in the infinite expanse.

So, it was a notably un-charred and still-communicated Father George Coyne, former director of the Vatican Observatory, who stopped by NASA's Ames Research Center Thursday night to chat about the possibility of life on other plants.

The verdict's still out of course, pending solid evidence or otherworldly visitation, but Coyne seems extremely open to the possibility....full story from The Register

February 19, 2009

German forgets thousands of euros in restroom: A German businessman lost more than 10,000 euros (9,000 pounds) in a plastic bag after forgetting the cash in a public toilet, authorities said Thursday.

Hesse state police said the man took the "five-figure" sum with him as he stopped to relieve himself in a motorway service station near Haiger in western Germany. He then drove off....full story from Reuters UK


Norway mobilizes against IE 6: Norwegian web sites are campaigning to have users dump Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 for a modern browser.

Two of the country's three largest newspapers as well as local newspapers, search engines and ISPs, the Yellow Pages, and other communities have posted a message that ask users to upgrade. Microsoft is also reported to be supporting the effort....full story from The Register


US teen cuffed for disorderly classroom texting: A text-happy Wisconsin teen who refused to stop messaging during a high school maths lesson was arrested, charged with disorderly conduct, and now faces a court appearance for her trouble.

The unnamed 14-year-old girl was busted last Wednesday at Wauwatosa East High School. According to the rap sheet posted on The Smoking Gun, the SMS-crazed ne'er-do-well declined not only to cease her texting, but also to surrender her Samsung Cricket....full story from The Register

February 18, 2009

Man tries to steal 6-story building: A New York man is facing charges he stole a six-story apartment building and then tried to get a $1 million mortgage on it, city officials said Wednesday.

Fernando Maldonado, 47, of Brooklyn allegedly filed a phony deed with the New York City Finance and Buildings departments and then tried to defraud a lender, the city said in a news release. He now faces numerous charges that could land him behind bars for years, city officials said....full story from UPI


Rail workers get shirty with see-through blouses: Female staff on the UK's National Expres East Coast line connecting London and Edinburgh have refused to sport new uniforms because the blouses leave "little to the imagination" of passengers, the Daily Mail reports.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association said that staff had returned the offending clothing to the company demanding a less transparent alternative. Official Brian Brock explained that National Express chief exec Richard Bowker is "famous for not wearing jackets or ties", and added: "But he doesn't wear see-through shirts and we don't see why our female members should wear see-through blouses. The blouses are simply too thin and too cheap. This is yet another example of National Express cutting costs at every corner....full story from The Register


Man renovating old house finds hidden room: A man who's renovating a 120-year-old house in Terre Haute, Indiana, has discovered a hidden room in its basement - a find he said shows that some old buildings definitely hold secrets.

A friend of Carl Thoms was working recently on plumbing in the 1890 home's basement when he noticed that he could see around those pipes into a hidden room covered in tiles....full story from The Times of India


Australia to levy toilet tax per flush: Householders in Australia would be charged for each flush under a radical new toilet tax designed to help beat the drought, reports Perth Now.

The scheme would replace the current system, which sees sewage charges based on a home's value -- not its waste water output. CSIRO Policy and Economic Research Unit member Jim McColl and Adelaide University water management professor Mike Young plan to promote the move to state and federal politicians and experts....full story from The Times of India


Wedgie used to hold down suspect: It took a wedgie and a headlock to pin down a man suspected of breaking into a car in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Yvonne Morris, a technician at the Brickyard Animal Hospital, says she chased a man who broke into a co-worker's car, but he kept squirming away from her. Morris eventually grabbed the man's boxer shorts and pulled....full story from CNews

February 17, 2009

Train station bans kissing: Stop smooching.

That's the message of a new sign that went up outside a train station in northern England on Monday.

The sign shows a profile of a couple kissing, with a diagonal red line across their image....full story w/pic from CNews


Letter informs woman of her 'death': A Swedish woman undergoing treatment for cancer said she was shocked to receive a letter from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency declaring her dead.

The Boden, Sweden, woman said she received the letter just as she was beginning treatments for cancer and the insurance agency has since apologized for the mix-up, Swedish news agency Tidningarnas Telegrambyra reported Tuesday....full story from UPI


Beer and burgers hold up traffic in Utah: The Utah Highway Patrol said a truck lost its load of hamburgers on Interstate 15 Tuesday and another truck dumped beer on Interstate 84.

Trooper Cameron Roden said the driver of the semi-tractor trailer rig carrying the hamburgers fell asleep behind the wheel on his way out of the Salt Lake City area just after 5 a.m. Tuesday and struck a wall and an overhead sign. The hamburger patties in the back of the trailer spilled out onto the north and southbound lanes of I-15, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Tuesday....full story from UPI

February 16, 2009

Mexico City police corral fugitive buffaloes: Mexico City residents are thankful to have a home where the buffalo no longer roam.

Police say residents of a west-side neighbourhood called to report buffaloes standing in the street....full story from CNews


Cat nips owner's lung cancer: This was no ordinary CAT scan.

But Lionel Adams believes it saved his life.

Now recovering from surgery to remove cancer from his lung, Adams, 59, is crediting his eight-year-old feline friend Tiger for alerting him and his family doctor to a mass in his lung....full story from CNews


Heart pill to banish bad memories: Scientists believe a common heart medicine may be able to banish fearful memories from the mind.

The Dutch investigators believe beta-blocker drugs could help people suffering from the emotional after effects of traumatic experiences.

They believe the drug alters how memories are recalled after carrying out the study of 60 people, Nature Neuroscience reports....full story from the BBC

February 15, 2009

Banker hands out $60 million to workers: Past and present employees of Miami banker Leonard Abess Jr. say they were surprised when he gave his workers $60 million of his own money.

The Miami Herald reported Saturday that Abess passed out the $60 million to 399 current staff members and 72 former employees after selling his majority stake in National Bancshares. (OTCPK:NABA)

The impromptu bonuses exceeded more than $100,000 in certain cases....full story from UPI

February 14, 2009

Kissing: It really is all about chemistry: Valentine Lotharios beware: There's a lot riding on a kiss, new studies on the science of smooching suggest.

Researchers said kissing sets off a complex set of chemical reactions, and in some cases, a bad kiss could be the kiss of death for a burgeoning romance.

"A kiss is a mechanism for mate assessment," said Helen Fisher of Rutgers University in New Jersey, who is presenting her findings on Saturday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago....full story from Reuters UK

February 13, 2009

Man gets 20 weeks in jail for whistling: A Wingerworth, England, man has been sentenced to 20 weeks in prison after he repeatedly whistled the theme to "The Addams Family" TV show at his neighbors.

Leopold Wrobel, 51, was convicted of violating an antisocial behavior order directing him to cease whistling the tune at neighbors Michael and Kathleen Sharpe. Magistrates at a Chesterfield, England, court also found him guilty of two counts of harassment, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday....full story from UPI


Travellers tricked by tourism ad: A tourist board has come under fire for "tricking" travellers by using a picture of a picturesque tropical island to advertise Spanish beaches.

The ad claims to show a woman on the sand of Spain's Costa Brava beach however it has been revealed as a photo of the Bahamas.

The tourist board has denied cheating in the campaign, which was launched last month, despite admitting that the photo came from a Getty Images series shot on a topical beach 8000 kilometres from Spain....full story from NEWS.com.au

February 12, 2009

Nude nuptials in flash wedding as part of B105 radio stunt: Ellie Barton and Phil Hendicott will bare all when the couple tie the knot au naturel as part of an Australian radio station's naked wedding competition in Brisbane.

And for Ellie, at least, it will be a welcome relief from the daily fitness workouts the couple have endured in the lead-up to their flesh-fest nuptials, which will take place before 250 (fully clothed) guests at Brisbane's upmarket Gianni's Events restaurant at Portside....full story w/pic from NEWS.com.au


Truck rolls away, re-parks itself: A California man who called police after his truck disappeared from a convenience store said security video revealed the vehicle had effectively stolen itself.

Michael Otero said he left the keys in the ignition and the doors unlocked when he exited the red pickup truck to enter a 7-Eleven store Sunday in Laguna Beach, so he feared the worst when he came out of the store to find no trace of his vehicle, the Orange County (Calif.) Register reported Thursday.

Otero said police arrived and screened surveillance camera footage to find a most improbable explanation for the mystery. The video shows the manual transmission truck -- which Otero said had been put into first gear with the parking brake on -- rolling in reverse from its parking space and heading toward the street until it curved and slid into an empty parking spot in an adjacent lot....full story from UPI


Flying thief caught again at age 83: A notorious 83-year-old Hungarian thief with a criminal record dating back six decades, was caught by police on Thursday at the scene of a break-in.

Kosztor Sandorne, dubbed "Flying Gizi" by Hungarian media, was arrested after she entered a house in Komarom, a town in the northwest.

Sandorne, who earned her nickname because she liked to flee her crime scenes by taking commercial flights, said she was in the house because she was trying to save money....full story from Reuters UK


Massachusetts city misspells 'offcial' to catch bag cheats: No, managers with Gloucester's Public Works Department aren't idiots. They're just trying to catch cheats. When the Massachusetts city unveiled its new $2 purple trash bags that all residents must use when disposing of household waste, the word 'official' was deliberately spelled 'offcial.'

Recycling coordinator Kathy Middleton tells The Gloucester Daily Times the intentional misspelling is supposed to make it easier to catch people who try to counterfeit bags. Middleton says counterfeiting has been a problem in the past....full story from CBS News

February 11, 2009

EU warns of 'pretty blonde spies': The European Commission says it is being targeted increasingly by spies, who may include a "pretty trainee with long legs and blonde hair".

The warning came in a security note circulated to human resources staff at the commission - the EU's executive arm, which drafts legislation.

Commission spokeswoman Valerie Rampi said the note gave advice on the recruitment of non-EU nationals....full story from the BBC


China demands return of Yves Saint Laurent treasures: China Thursday demanded the immediate return of two bronze sculptures taken during the Opium Wars in the 19th century and now up for auction by the estate of late French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.

The sculptures, of a rabbit and a rat head, are due to be auctioned in Paris later this month, but China wants them back....full story from Reuters UK


Venezuela military tells voters: don't eat your ballot: In Venezuela, it's illegal to eat your vote.

Rebellious voters could go to jail if they protest leftist President Hugo Chavez by munching on paper voting machine receipts in a referendum on Sunday on allowing him to run for re-election....full story from Reuters UK


Deputies: Ohio teacher cut class for prostitution: Authorities say an Ohio fourth-grade teacher had a side job as a prostitute, and even skipped class after using a school computer to arrange an afternoon tryst at a motel.

Logan County sheriff's officials say 35-year-old Amber Carter was arrested Tuesday at a motel parking lot in Bellefontaine (behl-FOWN'-tin) in central Ohio. She's charged with misdemeanor prostitution and a felony, unauthorized use of property, regarding the computer....full story from CBS News

February 10, 2009

Injured deer stumbles into Ohio vet clinic: Workers at an Ohio pet shop are used to worried pet owners bringing their animals in to be treated in the store's clinic.

But an unaccompanied visit Saturday by a deer to the PetSmart in Rossfield was a first for the store....full story from CBS News


UFO ruled out of wind farm prang: An examination of the turbine at Conisholme wind farm in Lincolnshire which last month shed one of its blades has disappointingly revealed no extraterrestrial involvement in the incident.

According to the Telegraph, turbine manufacturer Enercon's interim report says bolts holding the blade to the hub failed, and it's now "carrying out further tests to establish what caused the bolts to come loose, focusing on the blade and hub components to which they were attached"....full story from The Register

February 9, 2009

Man, 71, taken to court for rollerblading: A 71-year-old British man whose inline-skates were confiscated by police asked supporters to attend his trial for allegedly posing a hazard to pedestrians.

Geoff Dornan, 71, said his health suffered after police took away his blades last year for allegedly skating in a restricted area in Southport, England, The Sun reported Monday....full story from UPI


Software glitch leads to 1-cent gas in Dutch town: Nighttime was the right time to get tanked Friday in the Dutch town of Genderen.

An unmanned gas station began offering customers gas for 1 euro cent per litre, or about 1.5 cents Cdn per litre, due to a software glitch that occurred around midnight. That was a discount of more than 99 per cent....full story from CNews


Fists fly as Chinese police chase the dragon: Three Chinese police officers and more than ten civilians were injured in a clash after police tried to stop a traditional street dragon dance, state media said on Monday.

The local government in Dejiang county in south-western Dewing province banned the dragon dance in the downtown area over safety concerns, Xinhua news agency said.

Dancers were only allowed to perform in the suburbs....full story from Reuters UK


Singapore hotel lets guests pay what they want: An international budget hotel chain is offering guests the chance to pay what they want at their Singapore property as the global financial crisis hits travel.

Rooms at the Singapore Ibis, a member of the chain with the same name, normally start at 138 Singapore dollars (NZ$175) but, as part of a promotional campaign ahead of its February 12 opening, guests can log onto a website (www.paywhatyouwant.com.sg) to put in the price they want to pay for a limited time each day....full story from Stuff.co.nz

February 8, 2009

Man retires with car he drove on 1st day: A British retiree who drove to his last day on the job Friday in the same '36 Ford he drove on his first day 48 years ago says it was "almost like it was fate."

Graham Rudd, who turns 65 Monday, retired from the William Clowes Ltd. printing factory in Beccles, Suffolk, where he had worked since 1961, the Daily Mail reported. He bought the 1936 Ford Popular a few months before going to work at Clowes....full story from UPI


Milkman delivered marijuana to elderly: A 72-year-old English milkman who claimed he provided marijuana for customers who needed it to ease their pain has received a suspended sentence.

Robert Holding of Burnley, who had already pleaded guilty, was given a 36-month prison sentence at a hearing Friday, The Daily Mail reported. Judge Beverly Lunt said Holding was spared jail because he visits his wife, who has Alzheimer's disease, daily....full story from UPI

February 7, 2009

Fugitive found in judge's trunk: A 16-year-old inmate who escaped from a holding cell in the Macomb County Courthouse in Michigan Friday was found an hour later hiding in a judge's car.

After Macomb County Sheriff's deputies combed the downtown area of Mount Clemens for nearly an hour looking for the youth, he was found in the trunk of the Circuit Judge Peter Maceroni's 2002 Lincoln Continental, The Macomb (Mich.) Daily reported Saturday....full story from UPI


Fraudster's Star Wars Lego spree: A student who fraudulently used credit cards to buy collectible Star Wars Lego at astronomical prices found the force of police with him.

Yiu Fung Cheng, 24, has been sentenced in Wellington [New Zealand] District Court after earlier admitting five charges of deception and using a computer for dishonest purposes at his parents' home in Churton Park last year....full story from The Dominion Post

February 6, 2009

Putin denies dancing to Abba hits: An Abba tribute band says it has performed a private concert for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Bjorn Again says it was paid £20,000 to play the gig 200 miles (320km) north of Moscow on 22 January.

Bjorn Again's manager Rod Stephen and other band members said Mr Putin danced to Abba hits and shouted "Bravo!"....full story from the BBC

February 5, 2009

Woman fails driving test 771 times: An elderly woman in South Korea has failed her driving test a staggering 771 times, according to police.

But the 68 year old has apparently told the local media she has no intention of giving up....full story from Sky News


Mayor: New York's maple syrup mystery smell solved: A mysterious, maple syrup-like odour that has periodically wafted over New York City since October 2005 has been linked to New Jersey fragrance processing plants, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Thursday.

The city had assured residents that the odour was not harmful, but it was not able to explain its source until now....full story from Reuters UK


Gates looses mosquitoes on tech conference: Bill Gates opened a jar of mosquitoes on stage at a conference for elite technology bloodsuckers on Wednesday to make a point about the spread of malaria.

"Malaria is spread by mosquitoes," Gates said before unleashing the insects at the Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) conference in Long Beach, California. "I brought some. Here, I'll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected....full story from The Register


Armenia hopes lottery will stamp out tax evasion: Armenia is offering thousands of dollars in lottery prizes to consumers who take receipts for their purchases to try to tackle rampant tax evasion in the former Soviet republic.

The initiative began on January 1 and the first prizes will be awarded this month, after authorities said the threat of prosecution had failed to encourage shopowners and market sellers to install cash registers and provide receipts....full story from Reuters UK

February 4, 2009

Pranks involving electronic signs stir worry: Hackers are messing with electronic road signs in some states, warning of zombies and raptors down the road. Traffic safety officials aren't amused.

The latest breach came during Tuesday morning's rush hour near Collinsville, Ill., east of St. Louis. That's where hackers changed a sign along southbound Interstate 255 to read, "DAILY LANE CLOSURES DUE TO ZOMBIES."....full story from CNews


Man robs convenience store with Klingon sword: Colorado Springs police are on the lookout for a man who attempted to rob two 7-Eleven convenience stores early Wednesday with a Klingon bat'leth sword.

The first robbery was reported at about 2:00 AM after a man described as wearing a black mask, black jacket, and blue jeans entered the store brandishing the traditional Klingon crescent-shaped blade. After demanding money, the crook left with an undisclosed amount of cash and fled on foot, police said....full story from The Register


London restaurant says 'pay what you want': A London restaurant is asking customers to pay only what they want for meals in a bid to beat the credit crunch.

The Little Bay restaurant in central London will present diners with absolutely nothing when they ask for the cheque during February, leaving it up to them to decide what the meal was worth....full story from NEWS.com.au


Hamster labelled a murder suspect: A Blunder in a television news report has seen a hamster labelled as a murder suspect. WFSB TV in Hartford, Connecticut was reporting on police interviewing a suspect in the 2000 disappearance of teenager Molly Bish.

The anchor told viewers a man being held in a Florida prison on suspicion of murder had been linked to kidnapping the 16-year-old.

But instead of showing a picture of the man, Rodney Stanger, the television station showed a picture of a hamster....full story w/video from NEWS.com.au

February 3, 2009

Man caught smuggling pigeons in underwear: An alleged bird smuggler has had his feathers ruffled after airport customs officers seized two live pigeons stuffed in his underwear.

The 23-year-old Meadow Heights [Australia] man arrived Melbourne Airport on Sunday from Dubai and customs and border control officers found two birds eggs in his pocket....full story from LIVENEWS.com.au


Austrian woman jailed over 24,000-euro parking fine: An Austrian woman has begun a 500-day jail sentence for ignoring parking tickets and failing to pay a cumulative fine of around 24,000 euros ($31,000 - £21,440), police said on Tuesday.

They said the 38-year-old civil servant from the southern city of Graz was jailed after ignoring 700 attempts by local authorities to notify her of the fines over a 2-year period....full story from Reuters UK


Protester throws shoe at Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Britain: A Speech by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at Britain's Cambridge University has been interrupted by a protester who threw a shoe at him and shouted: "This is a scandal".

Security staff bundled the protester out of a concert hall at the university, where Mr Wen was giving the speech on the last day of a five-nation tour of Europe.

The shoe landed on the stage about a metre from Mr Wen....full story from NEWS.com.au

February 2, 2009

Another bank feeling the effects of the economy... Applications from would-be donors at a Loveland sperm bank have spiked in recent months, jumping from about 150 applications in a year to 400 since September. Betsy Cairo of CryoGam Colorado told Denver station KMGH-TV that there have been 172 applicants in January alone. Cairo says it's the economy, adding that there aren't that many applications during good times....full story from CBS News


Groundhog bites NYC mayor: Chuck, one of those weather-forecasting groundhogs, chomped on the finger of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg Monday.

"He got my finger pretty good," the mayor said.

Bloomberg was wearing gloves at the time so the damage wasn't very severe. He covered the cut with a napkin until a doctor could take a look at it, the New York Daily News reported....full story from UPI


Comcast investigating Super Bowl porn feed: Comcast continued this morning to investigate how pornography interrupted its feed during the final quarter of the Super Bowl on Sunday.

It is unclear how many viewers were affected by the clip, which lasted about 30 seconds, and featured full male nudity, said Kelle Maslyn, a Comcast spokeswoman.

"We are mortified by last evening's Super Bowl interruption, and deeply apologize to our customers for the inappropriate programming," Maslyn said in a statement....full story from the Arizona Daily Star

February 1, 2009

Lost thief holes up in French bank lavatory: A hapless thief drilled his way into a French bank at the weekend, but missed the safe and instead found himself in a lavatory where he was promptly arrested, a French newspaper reported Sunday.

The 21-year-old broke into a building adjoining a branch of Banque Populaire in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille in the early hours of Saturday morning, La Provence newspaper said....full story from Reuters UK


'Human error' halts Google search: People using the internet search page Google were stunned to see erroneous messages reporting that every site turned up in their results might be harmful.

Google blamed the problem, which occurred between 1:30am and 2:25am last night, on human error and apologised to users and site owners whose pages were incorrectly labelled, AP reported....full story from NEWS.com.au


Wreck of HMS Victory 'recovered from Channel': The shipwrecked predecessor to Lord Nelson's HMS Victory, which is thought to contain millions of pounds' worth of gold, is thought to have been found at the bottom of the English Channel.

The ship, the fourth of six HMS Victories, sunk with its 1,150 sailors in October 1744 around The Casquets, a group of rocks off the Channel Islands. Among other valuable artefacts, it is thought to contain 100,000 gold coins....full story w/pic from the Telegraph

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