Odd News Archive - December 2011

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December 31st, 2011

Caviar cache found in Russian morgue: Even people who think caviar is to die for might lose their appetite when it's stored in a hospital morgue.

But that's where St Petersburg police found a huge stash of the delicacy this week - 175 kilograms stored in the refrigerated space where cadavers are kept.

A morgue employee and a businessman were arrested after the Wednesday discovery, but police said today the matter is still being investigated and it is unclear if the men will be charged....read more from Stuff.co.nz


Sweden: Wedding ring 'found on carrot' after 16 years: A Swedish woman has discovered her wedding ring on a carrot growing in her garden, 16 years after she lost it, says a newspaper.

Lena Paahlsson had long ago lost hope of finding the ring, which she designed herself, reports Dagens Nyheter.

The white-gold band, set with seven small diamonds, went missing in her kitchen in 1995, she told the paper....read more w/pic from BBC News


Next-generation materials for post-Christmas repairs: (by Bill Ray) Toys break, normally within a few days of Christmas, so most parents keep a tube of glue alongside the traditional Christmas battery selection, but that's old hat now. The with-it dad is packing flexible polymer, these days.

Having torn the paper from colourful blocks of plastic found under the Christmas tree children move on to the seasonal tradition of snapping the aforementioned plastic into as many parts as possible, with attendant tears and accusations. But challenged parents now have a formidable range of materials with which to effect a fix that will, one can only hope, last long enough to stem the flowing tide....read more from The Register

December 30th, 2011

Display iPhone swears at 12-year-old: COVENTRY, England - A British mother said she was shocked when an iPhone 4S at a Tesco store told her 12-year-old son to "shut up" with a four-letter profanity.

Kim Le Quesne said her son was testing out the phone's Siri system, which answers spoken questions, at the Tesco store in Coventry, England, and it gave him the obscene answer when he asked it to tell him the number of people in the world, The Sun reported Friday....read more from UPI


Bumcrack bandit'Bumcrack bandit' on shooting spree: Australian police have released CCTV footage of a shapely female butt as the focus of their investigations into the "Bumcrack Bandit".

The below-the-belt female crim is on the wanted list after a Gold Coast shooting spree, in which her tendency to wear low-slung jeans has proved the most revealing feature of security footage.

She was caught on CCTV raiding a bar at the Coomera Lodge Hotel armed with a pistol....read more from Stuff.co.nz

December 29th, 2011

YouTube Slam: viral videos do battle online for users' votes: Videos posted online that are set to become viral hits are to be subjected to a new popularity contest under a new service unveiled by YouTube called "Slam".

The Google-owned clip website announced the new batch of videos would go "head-to-head" each week with users asked to vote for their favourite clip.

Unveiling the new concept, the site described the plans as "a video discovery experiment". Experts said it was designed to keep visitors attracted to the site to view more content....read more from The Telegraph (UK)


Cranky croc steals Aussie zoo worker's lawn mower: (by Kristen Gelineau) SYDNEY, Australia - A giant saltwater crocodile named Elvis with an apparent affinity for household machinery charged at an Australian reptile park worker Wednesday before stealing his lawn mower.

Tim Faulkner, operations manager at the Australian Reptile Park, north of Sydney, was one of three workers tending to the lawn in Elvis' enclosure when he heard reptile keeper Billy Collett yelp. Faulkner looked up to see the 16-foot (5-meter), 1,100-pound (500-kilogram) crocodile lunging out of its lagoon at Collett, who warded the creature off with his mower.

"Before we knew it, the croc had the mower above his head," Faulkner said. "He got his jaws around the top of the mower and picked it up and took it underwater with him."....read more w/pic from the Biloxi Sun Herald

December 28th, 2011

Pig manure deters teenagers from drinking in the woods: Youths have turned their noses up at a woodland drink and drugs den after it was spread with pig dung.

Middlesbrough Council came up with the cheap but effective method of combating anti-social behaviour in woods at Coulby Newham [England].

It said residents had complained about young people smoking drugs in the area and, although there is a slight smell from the pig manure, locals ''would much rather have a pong than a bong''....read more from The Telegraph (UK)


Mexico vote annulled over Juan Manuel Marquez shorts stunt: A local election result in Mexico has been annulled, partly because a boxer wore the logo of the winning party on his trunks in a fight on the eve of the vote, breaking campaign rules.

Juan Manuel Marquez sported the tricolour symbol of the PRI during his clash with Filipino Manny Pacquiao.

The fight in Las Vegas on 12 November was watched by millions in Mexico....read more from BBC News


Chavez muses on US Latin America cancer plot: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has questioned whether the US has developed a secret technology to give cancer to left-wing leaders in Latin America.

Treated for cancer this year, Mr Chavez was speaking a day after news that Argentina's president had the disease.

Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and her predecessor Lula have also had cancer....read more from BBC News

December 27th, 2011

Japanese researchers crack arse-based ID recognizer: (by lain Thompson) Researchers at Japan’s Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology have developed a seat that can identify the user by the shape and heft of their buttocks.

The seat, currently designed for use in the car industry, contains 360 sensors measuring pressure points, on a scale of one to 256, and uses the data to build a US-style fanny fingerprint of the designated driver. The system is 98 per cent accurate, associate professor Shigeomi Koshimizu told Physorg.

If the auto makers take a liking to the technology the seat could be in use by 2014, but it’s not just the car industry that could be interested. Professor Koshimizu suggested that office equipment suppliers could be keen on using the technology to make sure that office staff can forget the tedious business of remembering passwords, and having HR know the size of their bum....read more from The Register


Police: Man shot self while on toilet: NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Police in Connecticut said a convicted felon will face charges after he admitted to accidentally shooting himself while on the toilet.

New Haven police said they responded around 10 p.m. Saturday to an address where Darrel Johnson, 51, claimed to have been shot during a robbery attempt, WVIT, New Britain/Hartford/New Haven, Conn., reported Tuesday....read more from UPI


Uzbeks crack down on undies: Women are going to have trouble getting a change of underwear in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent after a district head banned the sale of lingerie.

Otabek Sadykov, the newly-installed Sergeliysky district head, was “not happy" to see women’s underwear on open display when he inspected the area’s shopping facilities recently, according to Uzbekistan’s Radio Ozodlik....read more from RIA Novosti

December 26th, 2011

Police: Man crashed into station wall: CHICAGO - Chicago Police said no one was injured when an intoxicated man crashed his vehicle into the wall of the Gresham District police station.

Police said there was only minor damage to the building early Monday when Andrew Walker, 36, drove his 1987 Chevy Caprice onto the sidewalk and struck the concrete wall before driving away from the scene, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday....read more from UPI


Giant shrimp invade Gulf of Mexico (by Matthew Tresaugue) A truly jumbo shrimp is causing big worries about the future of the Gulf of Mexico's ecosystem.

The Asian tiger prawn, a foot-long crustacean with a voracious appetite and a proclivity for disease, has invaded the northern Gulf, threatening prized native species from crabs and oysters to smaller brown and white shrimp.

Though no one is sure of the ecological impact, scientists fear a tiger prawn takeover could disrupt nature's balance and turn a healthy, diverse marine habitat into one dominated by an invasive species....read more from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

December 25th, 2011

World doesn't end in 2012 (and other predictions): You read it here first.

Doomsday is not on the 2012 calendar - Mayan, Julian, Gregorian, SUNshine Girl or otherwise.

"Not, repeat not," says Tara Tarot Greene, soothingly....read more from CNews


Christmas card travels for 61 years: A couple of Texas friends may have invented re-gifting more than 60 years ago.

Acker Hanks, of New Waverly, mailed his next-door neighbour Lee Kelley a Christmas card back in 1950. Kelley mailed it back the following year. And it has gone back and forth ever since, reported the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

Hanks has only ever lived in the area, but Kelley criss-crossed the country as a result of his job with the U.S. Forestry Service....read more from CNews

December 24th, 2011

Cannabis Christmas tree lands man in jail: "O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree! much pleasure thou can'st give me," goes a favourite carol. "How often has the Christmas tree afforded me the greatest glee!"

Unfortunately, Ian Richards, who lives in Kent, England, won't find out how much happiness his unique tree will give him.

That's because police found a large cannabis plant resembling a Christmas tree -- complete with brightly-coloured baubles -- while conducting a raid on his home last December....read more from CNews


Russian satellite debris lands in Cosmonaut Street: Fragments of a Russian satellite that failed to launch properly have landed in a street named after cosmonauts in a remote Siberian village, reports say.

The Meridian communications satellite failed to reach orbit on Friday.

Parts crashed into the Novosibirsk region of central Siberia and were found in the Ordynsk district around 100km (60 miles) south of the regional capital, Novosibirsk....BBC News


Spectacular Christmas Comet Amazes Skywatchers in Chile: A stunning comet that survived a recent brush with the sun is amazing astronomers again, this time in dazzling new photos captured just before sunrise over Chile.

This beautiful dawn photo of Comet Lovejoy over Santiago de Chile was taken by ESO Photo Ambassador Yuri Beletsky on 22 December 2011 at 05:00 in the morning. The comet Lovejoy may not be the famed Star of Bethlehem, but it still provided a jaw-dropping sight for astronomer Gabriel Brammer, photographed the comet rising ahead of the sun on Dec. 22 at Paranal Observatory in Chile's high Atacama Desert....read more w/video and pics from Space.com

December 23rd, 2011

AP Poll: Santa Claus Still Important to Americans: WASHINGTON — Why do kids believe a chubby guy in a flying sleigh can deliver joy across America? Because their parents do. A whopping 84 percent of grown-ups were once children who trusted in Santa's magic, and lots cling to it still.

Things are changing fast these days, with toddlers wishing for iPads, grade schoolers emailing their Christmas lists and moms wrestling over bargain toys at midnight sales. Despite all the pressures on the rituals of the season, an AP-GfK poll confirms that families are sticking by old St. Nick.

"It's important for kids to have something to believe in," says great-grandmother Wanda Smith of Norman, Oklahoma....read more from Newsmax


Rocky Road: Ice cream spills onto I-69: (by Archie Ingersoll) FORT WAYNE, Indiana – No hot fudge. No sprinkles. No cherries. It was just a lot of ice cream that spilled onto Interstate 69 after a tractor-trailer rig tipped over sundae – I mean, Friday.

The rig carrying 40,000 pounds of Edy’s had just come off an onramp and gotten onto the interstate when it crashed shortly before 4 p.m.

Fort Wayne police Sgt. Carl Egly said the truck was either going too fast coming out of the onramp’s curve or its load shifted....read more w/video from the Fort Wayne Jounal Gazette

December 22nd, 2011

Cat survives 200-mile ride under hood of car: The cat survived the trek from Xenia, southwest Ohio, to Cleveland with only burns on his right side.

The driver, who was not the cat's owner, had left it on his drive before beginning his journey. He stopped at a rest area south of his destination when he smelled something, according to local reports.

A state trooper then found the man with the hood of his vehicle up and the large black and white cat in the engine compartment....read more from The Telegraph (UK)


Man wins Lamborghini and then crashes it: A Man won a $378,000 Lamborghini in a contest and crashed it just six hours later.

The lime green Murcielago Roadster is on its way to a Las Vegas body shop for repairs.

"Yeah, I got it on Saturday and I wrecked it on Saturday," David Dopp told local television....read more w/pic from NEWS.com.au

December 21st, 2011

Humans, insects set to obliterate frankincense supply: (by lain Thompson) Scientists are warning that frankincense supplies are failing fast, and that 90 per cent of the world’s supply could be gone in the next 50 years, thanks to some spectacularly unwise men.

Teams from Wageningen University in the Netherlands and Ethiopia have published results from the first large scale study of frankincense production and concluded that human activity and insect attack will cripple the production of what was once one of the most valuable substances known to mankind. It was imported into Europe by Frankish crusaders for use in incense for religious ceremonies, thus the name, and is noted in the bible as one of the gifts for the infant Jesus....read more from The Register


Universities look to keep their names out of the hands of pornographers: Over the past few months, officials at colleges and universities nationwide have been spending an unusual amount of time talking about online pornography.

Higher education institutions, including several in Oklahoma, have been snapping up adult-content domain names that match their brands — not to use them, they say, but essentially to do nothing with them.

The idea behind the new .xxx domain, which was announced earlier this year, was to create a space to corral pornography. But university officials worried the new domains could have unintended consequences for them if their brands somehow wound up connected to content they'd rather not be associated with....read more from The Oklahoman

December 20th, 2011

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow: Google brings in Christmas with sneaky trick: (by Claire Connelly and Lee Taylor) Google is helping searchers get into the Christmas spirit by offering a sprinkling of snow on their computer monitor.

When typing the words “let it snow" into the popular search engine, a flurry of snowflakes trickle down the screen, followed by frost.

You can wipe away the frost by clicking the left button on your mouse as an ice scraper or pressing the "Defrost" button, which appears in place of the blue "Search" button....read more from NEWS.com.au


UK police 'trialling' laser designed to temporarily blind criminals: In films, it's usually the villain who tries to wreak havoc with a super weapon.

But now it’s the good guys who’ve got their hands on a “frickin’ laser beam".

Police in the UK are trialling a weapon designed to temporarily blind criminals, the BBC reports....read more from NEWS.com.au

December 19th, 2011

In tough economic times, U.S. women buy nail polish: (by Andrea Burzynski) For the first ten months of 2011, sales of nail polish and products were up 59 percent from the same period in 2010, according to market research firm NPD Group, which also showed sales have grown since the onset of the economic downturn.

"Nail colour is an affordable indulgence," said Karen Grant, vice president and global beauty industry analyst at NPD. "It's an easy way to be on-trend and to make a statement."

Although NPD's research focused on department stores, Grant said the trend extends to the mass market as well....read more from Reuters UK

December 18th, 2011

School hires etiquette coach to teach pupils manners: (by Josie Ensor) A state school is to draft in an etiquette expert to teach its teenagers manners and deportment, in a bid to make them more employable.

Parents at Bishop Heber School, in Malpas, Cheshire, will be asked to pay towards the cost of teaching their 16 to 18-year-old children table manners, how to enter a room and how to greet people correctly.

The school’s headteacher organised the course, scheduled to take place next month, after a talk on the importance of social skills from an outside speaker....read more from The Telegraph (UK)


Smurf VillageSpanish village painted blue for Smurfs film votes on keeping theme: (by Nick Squires) The inhabitants of a Spanish village which was painted entirely blue for the filming of a Smurfs movie voted on Sunday on whether they want their houses to remain a vivid shade of azure or to return to traditional white.

Juzcar, inland from Malaga, was transformed six months ago when it was chosen as the set for The Smurfs 3D, becoming the world's first official Smurf Village.

Sony, which made the film, had promised to return the village to its original state, with homes painted in dazzling white, as is typical of southern Spain....read more from The Telegraph (UK)

December 17th, 2011

Burglary suspect found in chicken coop: HALLENDALE, Fla. - Authorities in Florida said deputies responding to a call about a burglary found the suspect hiding in a chicken coop.

The Broward Sheriff's Office deputies responded to a 9:30 a.m. call about a burglary Friday near Hallendale and chased the suspect on foot until he was found hiding in a chicken coop about a block away from the burglarized home, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Friday.

"It was a tiny chicken coop and the district chief said it was amazing he was able to fold himself in half and squeeze himself in there," Broward Sheriff's spokesman Jim Leljedal said....read more from UPI


Beach Boys to reunite for 50th anniversary: US band The Beach Boys have announced plans to reunite for their 50th anniversary next year.

The five-piece, which includes founding members Brian Wilson, Mike Love and Al Jardine will embark upon a 50-date world tour and record a new album.

Jardine said they will appear at the Grammy Awards on 12 February and "do something really exciting"....read more from BBC News

December 16th, 2011

Jedi light-sabre beats Taser in Oregon parking-lot fracas: (by Lester Haines) For those of you who've ever wondered, like you do, whether the Jedi lightsabre or the Taser is the more effective weapon, we're delighted to report that the electric dispenser of justice is no match for Obi-Wan Kenobi's mighty glowing tool.

For proof, look no further than the case of David A. Canterbury, who earlier this week went on the rampage at a Portland Toys R Us store, assaulting three customers with a plastic replica of the Jedi weapon.

Cue swift intervention by law enforcement operatives, who found 33-year-old Canterbury wandering in the parking lot, "talking incoherently", and still swinging his Star Wars stick of merchandise in a manner evidently threatening a severe disruption to the balance of The Force....read more from The Register


Chinese fugitive evades arrest for 13 years, appears in more than 30 TV shows: A Man who has appeared in more than 30 television shows has been arrested over the assault of a police officer 13 years ago.

Ji Siguang was seized by police during filming for the new series Shaolin Tigers, The Guardian reported.

He is accused of assaulting a police officer and taking his gun in a 1998 street robbery in Qiqihar....read more from NEWS.com.au


British police invite partiers to Drunken Disorderly Inn: A British police force is adding a little humour to their fight against people getting drunk and rowdy in public.

Manchester police have opened the Drunken Disorderly Inn and a poster for the accommodations notes they are "now taking bookings for Christmas and New Year."

It advertises "minimalist chic" bedrooms and warm food, which is delivered to your room and "lovingly reheated in seconds, served on real plastic plates with plastic cutlery."....read more from CNews


Neighbourhood bans mom and daughter: A British mother and daughter have been banned from their neighbourhood because of their drunken antics.

Kim Ohoro, 39, and her 17-year-old daughter, Katie Scott, harassed and distressed neighbours in Burnley, located 50 km north of Manchester [England]. They have been banned from their home in the area for three months and risk a fine of $8,000 if they go back.

Police said over the past three months, they and town council have received more than 20 complaints about the mother and daughter's drunken behaviour, which included swearing, shouting, fighting, parties and loud music....read more w/pics from CNews

December 15th, 2011

Thieves pocket-dial 911: Cops: Two thieves could be heard bragging about stealing DVDs and computer games from a Madison, Wisconsin, Target after they accidentally pocket-dialed 911, police say.

Police said the two men entered the Target store Tuesday afternoon. When they got into their SUV after the heist, 911 got a call and the dispatcher listened in as they "yakked, jawed, and chortled about all they had done."

In the nearly one hour call, police said the men bragged about what they stole, described the vehicle they were in and where they were going next....read more from CNews


Sky apples stun English motorists: (by Michail Vafeiadis) Sky Apples? Motorists in England were pelted by apples falling from the sky, and were left to speculate as to the cause.

In the make-believe town of Chewandswallow, it rains soup and juice, and sometimes it snows ice cream. But who would have imagined that the world created by Judi Barrett in her bestselling children's book "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" would come true one evening in Coventry, England?

On Monday night, it started raining apples....read more from The Christian Science Monitor

December 14th, 2011

Baby seal wanders into New Zealand home: A New Zealand woman has had an unexpected visitor; a baby fur seal wandered into her house and was found resting on her sofa.

The fur seal, nicknamed Lucky, managed to walk across a busy road, through a cat flap, and up some stairs into the kitchen before climbing on the sofa in Annette Swoffer's lounge.

Conservation workers managed to get Lucky off the couch, and he was released back into the sea....read more w/video from BBC News


Prisoners hunger strike over prostitutes: Inmates at several prisons in Kyrgyzstan have launched a hunger strike over new restrictions barring them from being visited by prostitutes, a state official says.

"Prisoners at seven prisons have refused to take their meals," said Joldochbek Bouzourmankoulov, spokesman for the country's prison sentencing agency.

He said the protest was tied to new limits on prisoner visits....read more from NEWS.com.au


Chinese man arrested for hiring wedding strippers: Chinese police have arrested a man who hired two strippers to perform at his son's wedding after the performance was mobbed by villagers, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Zhang Cheng, from Xuzhou in eastern Jiangsu province, had originally wanted a band to play at the nuptials, but was then advised he could get performers whose show would have "special features," the Global Times said....read more w/pic from Reuters UK

December 13th, 2011

Man claims licence to grow pot lost in mail: WINNIPEG -- Gregory Schellenberg had already been approved to grow medicinal marijuana when police raided his Winnipeg home.

Unfortunately for Schellenberg, he didn't have a licence to show police, as it was lost in the mail, a casualty of last summer's postal strike.

Schellenberg pleaded guilty to one count of production of marijuana Tuesday and was fined $1,500....read more from CNews


Dumpster bear bums ride in B.C.: VANCOUVER - Conservation officer Alex Desjardins couldn’t believe the call he was dispatched to during Monday rush-hour — a black bear was making its way through downtown.

Originally from the North Shore, the male bear had been picking through a dumpster when a garbage truck driver unknowingly dropped the bin’s contents into the truck — bringing the one-year-old with him.

Desjardins said the bear was “peeking over the edge" of the truck as it wound through the streets and alarming passersby, who alerted the driver to pull over....read more from CNews


Green plastic sheep fool drivers: Six green plastic sheep on a West Sussex [England] roundabout have been put behind bright yellow safety barriers to stop drivers thinking they are real.

The fake flock was installed at the junction on the A283 in Shoreham at the end of November to reflect the South Downs National Park status.

West Sussex County Council said the sheep had also been painted green to stop drivers thinking they were real....read more from BBC News

December 12th, 2011

Croat's Christmas now comes with a million lights: Zlatko Salaj has come a long way from the bleak Christmases of his youth.

The 67-year old former telecommunications engineer has turned his country estate in Grabovnica, central Croatia, into a festival of light and colour that attracts thousands of visitors every year.

Starting in 2002 with 70,000 light bulbs hung on each of the hundreds of small trees and shrubs on his 7-hectare (17 acres) estate, Salaj has this year lit 1.2 million lights, many in the shape of Santa Claus, his sleigh and reindeer....read more from Reuters UK


Google execs eye NASA's Hangar One to park their air fleet: (by Kelly Fiveash) Google's co-founders are on a mission to save NASA's Hangar One, which once housed the US Navy's airships at Moffett Field but has latterly been rented by the Chocolate Factory's top brass to provide a shelter for - among other things - a fighter jet.

Mountain View's troika of execs - Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt - own a fleet of eight private jets and their privately held company, H211, wants to park the aircraft at Hangar One.

Now the men want to give $33m to NASA to give the hangar a full makeover - and the US space agency is mulling over Google's offer, according to the [San Jose] Mercury News....read more w/pics from The Register


Zimbabwe PM fined for taboo 'wedding': A traditional court in Zimbabwe has fined Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for breaking a cultural taboo by paying a bride price in November.

He was ordered to pay two cows, two sheep and 10 metres of cotton cloth.

The prime minister refused to attend the hearing because it was "manifestly illegal", his lawyer said....read more from BBC News

December 11th, 2011

Missing submarine washes up on Sunshine Coast beach: (by Richard Chirgwin) A remote-control robot submarine lost by university researchers has washed up on a beach on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

The Sydney University researchers were more than a little upset at losing track of the vehicle, which they were using for kelp and coral mapping on the sea floor east of Moreton Island. They were devastated: the unit, which belongs to the university’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics, is worth a handy half-a-million dollars....read more from The Register


Man sends funny greeting card posthumously: PITTSBURGH - Friends of a deceased advertising executive from Pittsburgh say they got an unexpected holiday greeting from him.

"Hello, please don't call. I recently moved to a quiet neighborhood and ...," read the front of the card from Bob McCully, who died in August at age 88. Inside the card was a photo of the gates of Allegheny Cemetery in Lawrenceville, where McCully was buried alongside his wife, with the message "My new place doesn't have a phone and our gates close after dark."

"It was the strangest feeling getting that card. It was almost eerie. But when I opened it, I laughed out loud. It was the ultimate Christmas card," David Newell, a longtime friend of McCully's, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review....read more from UPI

December 10th, 2011

Found money produces many claimants: DULUTH, Minn. - A Duluth, Minn., newsman who found some cash says the ad he ran in the newspaper produced no fewer than 18 calls from folks claiming they lost money recently.

Jaime DeLage, a night editor at the Duluth News Tribune, said in a column Saturday that he placed the ad recently after finding some money in the street while walking his dogs.

"It wasn't much," he wrote, "but I live in a pretty close-to-the-bone neighborhood and I pictured some single mom dropping it while wrestling with a baby and a couple of shopping bags. So I placed the ad....read more from UPI


Alarm-pulling squirrel mentioned by board: ELLENTON, Fla. - Officials in a Florida school district cited the case of the fire alarm-pulling squirrel in defending the district's maintenance contingency fund.

The squirrel, which was caught on camera pulling the fire alarm at Blackburn Elementary School in Ellenton, Fla., in August 2010, was mentioned at this week's Manatee County School District school board meeting as an example of what could go wrong in a district with 60 schools and 44,000 students, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported Friday....read more from UPI

December 9th, 2011

Famous witches coven found?: A mummified cat entombed in the walls of a recently unearthed 17th century English cottage has historians speculating whether the building might once have played a part in Britain's most notorious witch trials.

Nearly 400 years after the "Pendle witches" were hanged on the moors outside nearby Lancaster for witchcraft, workers on an engineering project in the shadow of Pendle Hill, in Lancashire, northern England uncovered the old cottage with the cat bricked up inside its walls.

Some historians have speculated as to whether the cottage could have been the fabled meeting point of the Pendle witches....read more from Stuff.co.nz


Polydactyl cat rescues US animal shelter: An unusual cat is helping a Wisconsin animal rescue centre raise money to relocate to a new building.

The orange-and-white tabby, named Daniel, has two extra toes on each paw as a result of a mutation called polydactylism. He has a total of 26.

Milwaukee Animal Rescue Center, which will see its rent doubled on 1 January, asked for small donations of $26 (£17), one dollar for each toe....read more w/pics from BBC News


BarBe QBusty Ohio mannequin survives assassination attempt: (by Lester Haines) A busty Ohio mannequin with political pretensions has survived a terrifying assassination attempt, local new outlets report.

BarBe Q (in all her mamtasic glory, above) is the big up front for KT's Barbecue in Reading, and recently ran for mayor of the town, after diner owner Kenny Tessel evidently threw a strop at the local authorities' attempt to clamp down on his jubtastic promotion.

In 2009, Tessel had a bit of a run-in with the powers that be over his asset-heavy attraction, when residents complained about the plastic strumpet dressed in "under-sized halter top and Daisy Duke short shorts"....read more w/pic from The Register


Warning on laziness sends Chinese officials to sleep: BEIJING - Five Chinese officials have been suspended from their jobs after they were observed sleeping or reading newspapers during a video conference on stamping out laziness at work, state media reported on Friday.

The officials, all high-level workers at tax bureaux in the northern province of Shanxi, were supposed to be participating in a meeting to push better work discipline, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

It did not say for how long they would be suspended....read more from Reuters UK

December 8th, 2011

World's oldest dog dies in Japan: The world's oldest dog according to Guinness World Records has died in Japan at the age of 26 years and eight months.

Owner Yumiko Shinohara said at her home in Sakura, a city outside Tokyo, that Pusuke, a fluffy tan Shiba mix, died on Monday after suddenly falling ill and refusing to eat.

Shinohara told TV network FNN that she "would just like to thank him for staying alive so long." The report said Pusuke's life span would have been the equivalent of about 125 years for a human....read more from The Telegraph (UK)


Cannonball holeCannonball hits house after TV experiment goes wrong: A cannonball crashed through a home in California on Wednesday after an experiment for MythBusters, a US TV show, went awry.

The Discovery Channel’s MythBusters were filming an episode in which they tested projectiles shot from a cannon and whether they would pick up the same speed and have the same impact as the ball.

The show’s hosts had been shooting the cannon at a rock quarry in northern California....read more w/pics from The Telegraph (UK)


Woman arrested after trying to make meth inside Walmart: TULSA, Okla. - Tulsa Police say a woman tried to make a meth lab inside a south Tulsa Walmart.

According to police, Alisha Halfmoon, 45, began taking items used to make meth off of shelves at the Walmart located at 81st and Lewis in south Tulsa. She then began trying to make the drug while still inside the store.

Loss prevention officers called police....read more w/video from KJRH-TV (Tulsa, OK)


Scientists kick off debate over barefoot running: (by Kate Kelland) Despite the cold and many other potential hazards, naked from the ankle down is the way Anna Toombs likes it, and she gets plenty of catcalls in the street as a result.

The 35-year-old co-founder of the personal training company Barefoot Running UK says she's lost count of the times people yell "where are your shoes?" as she and partner David Robinson negotiate London's parks and pavements to indulge their passion and train their clients.

"People give you a lot of weird looks," says Robinson....read more from Reuters UK

December 7th, 2011

Indonesian policeman who became internet hit is sacked: An Indonesian policeman who became an internet sensation when he was filmed singing and dancing in uniform has been sacked after failing to go to work.

Norman Kamaru was absent from work for several months.

The video of him miming and shimmying to a Bollywood hit went viral on YouTube in April and attracted legions of fans....read more from BBC News


Maldives 'Rubbish Island' is 'overwhelmed' by garbage: (by Charles Haviland) The government of the Maldives has temporarily banned the depositing of rubbish from its hotels onto an island used almost entirely as a garbage dump.

Thilafushi, an artificial island 7km (four miles) from the capital, is nicknamed Rubbish Island.

The accumulation of garbage there has become so acute that it has begun spilling into its lagoon....read more from BBC News


I don't know how $3 million in cash got in my roof: (by Katherine Danks) The sister of Kings Cross identity John Ibrahim had no idea how nearly $3 million in cash was found hidden in the ceiling of her house, a court heard.

Maha Sayour, 41, has pleaded not guilty to dealing recklessly with the proceeds of crime after the stockpile of banknotes was seized during two police raids at her South Wentworthville [Australia] home, The Daily Telegraph (AU) reported.

In the Crown's opening address at the District Court in Sydney, prosecutor Jose Crespo said $2.86 million was found in 95 heat-sealed plastic bags in a ceiling cavity during a second raid on April 29, 2009....read more from NEWS.com.au

December 6th, 2011

Ukrainian town asks $100,000 for Lenin statue: Officials in the western Ukrainian city of Uzhgorod are threatening to melt down a three-ton statue of Lenin if local Communist party members don't buy it for 75,000 euros ($100,370), Segodnya.ua reported on Tuesday.

If they can't sell the bronze statue of Lenin, which was dismantled 20 years ago, city hall plans to melt it down for use in a monument to Andrey Bachinsky, an 18th century bishop famed for his educational activities....read more from RIA Novosti


Officials: No plant plan for Eiffel Tower: PARIS - Paris city officials said a reported plan to cover the Eiffel Tower with 600,000 plants is only a proposal that has not been reviewed by the government.

The Societe d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, or Sete, which runs the Eiffel Tower on behalf of the city government, said the report in newspaper Le Figaro about the $93 million plan to attach shrubbery baskets to the tower to make it appear to be a giant tree did not come from official sources, The Connexion reported Tuesday.

Jean-Bernard Bros, president of the group, said the proposal came from engineering firm Ginger, but it has "not been looked at" by officials....read more from UPI


Sexist jokes 'make women worse drivers': (by John Bingham) Sexist jokes make women worse drivers, psychologists have claimed.

They have come up with a new explanation for why some women struggle to read maps or fit into narrow parking spaces – it is the fault of men.

Women behind the wheel have been the butt of sexist barbs by their male counterparts for decades....read more from The Telegraph (UK)

December 5th, 2011

Mozambique menaced by flesh-eating bananas: (by Lester Haines) Banana sales in Mozambican capital Maputo have taken a serious hit as a result of email and text message warnings of the dire consequences of contact with killer plantains.

In response to a hoax alert that bananas imported from KwaZulu-Natal province in neighbouring South Africa were carrying the necrotizing fasciitis bacterium, "panic-striken" consumers have been avoiding the flesh-eating fruit like the plague.

The messages advised people not to touch bananas for the next three weeks, and to seek medical help if they were foolish enough to tuck in and developed a fever as a result....read more from The Register


Drivers' No.1 problem a wee bit serious: Matthew Lewis' study wins Ig Nobel Prize: IT may appear to be a wee problem, but when you really "need to go" it can be dangerous.

Melbourne researchers won an Ig Nobel Prize for medicine for discovering that the need to go to the bathroom is as distracting as having a .05 blood-alcohol level or major sleep deprivation.

Caulfield Hospital's aged psychiatry research co-ordinator Dr Matthew Lewis said it had a negative effect on attention and memory....read more from NEWS.com.au


Dangers of public sex #76 - The Waterslide: IT'S not quite a mile but they've gone pretty high to join the club.

This Polish pair's ride gave them a double thrill at a water park in Opoczno, the Daily Mail reports.

The exhibitionists were caught on CCTV footage taking five minutes to "get ready" for their trip down the chute....read more w/pic from NEWS.com.au

December 4th, 2011

Russians brave cold, vote in swimsuits: MOSCOW - Members of a Siberian swimming club say they went straight from the pool to the polls to vote in Sunday's Russian elections.

All 10 of the swimmers were allowed to cast their ballots when election officials decided they were dressed appropriately for voting if not for the brutal winter conditions....read more from UPI


Unusual ballot box eaten at Central Election Commission's HQ: Vladimir Churov, the head of the Russian Central Election Commission, treated those present at the commission’s headquarters with a ballot box made of Tula pryanik cakes on Sunday evening.

The unusual ballot box was made in Tula, which Churov visted earlier on Sunday to monitor elections in the region.

“I invite journalists and everyone else to break off [the box’s] pieces and eat them," Churov said....read more from RIA Novosti


Skeleton at London Dungeon found to be real: A skeleton at the London Dungeon's popular "creepy crypt" exhibit has been found to be real.

It is believed that the bones could have been displayed at the attraction since it opened in 1975.

Now the skeleton has been found to be genuine, it must be licensed by the Human Tissues Authority at a cost of 2,000 [US$3,127] pounds a year....read more from The Telegraph (UK)

December 3rd, 2011

Stick shift foils carjackers: ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Two would-be carjackers in St. Petersburg, Fla., had to make a getaway on foot because they were unable to drive a stick shift.

The robbery occurred at about 1 a.m. Friday at a business with a locked gate, the St. Petersburg Times reported. The victims were a man who had dropped off a work truck there and his girlfriend, who had come to pick him up driving her manual transmission Nissan....read more from UPI


Elf resigns and fairies sworn at as Groupon mix-up spells trouble in Santa's grotto: (by John Bingham) Thousands of families flocked to York [England] city centre when they were promised a spectacular half price Christmas grotto, complete with a magical train, by Groupon, the discount website.

But their festive cheer turned into furious scenes last week when the attraction billed as a "snowy portal to the Christmas Realm" turned out to be a simple marquee with no festive rides or special attractions.

As a queue began snaking around the square emotions soon ran high, some disgruntled parents began shouting and swearing at elves, fairies and even a women dressed as a Christmas tree....read more from The Telegraph (UK)


Lobster tag lost in 'Perfect Storm' crosses Atlantic: A tag from a lobster pot that was swept off the New England sea floor two decades ago during what came to be known as "The Perfect Storm" has washed up 4800 kilometres away in Ireland.

The pot that held the tag with Cohasset lobsterman Richard Figueiredo's name on it was one of hundreds he lost when the vicious storm on the Atlantic Ocean struck off New England in 1991.

Rosemary Hill of Waterville in County Kerry found the tag on a beach last year, but the 39-year-old beachcomber put it aside with other beach souvenirs. Last week, she decided to try to contact Figueiredo and found him through his son Rich's Facebook account....read more from Stuff.co.nz

December 2nd, 2011

Rampant porn if Saudi women allowed to drive: Report: Allowing women to drive in Saudi Arabia would cause rampant sex, porn and homosexuality, according to some of the country's scholars.

Academics at the country's highest religious council submitted a report to the legislative assembly warning of the dangers of letting women behind the wheel, reports the Daily Telegraph....read more from CNews


Man who tried to rob closed bank in Germany jailed: A man who tried to hold up a bank that had been closed for years has been jailed by a court in Germany.

The man tried to hold up the branch in the northwestern town of Walchum in May with a toy gun and robbed a passer-by.

But the branch moved years ago, with only cash machines left. After first demanding a 10,000 euro (£8,600) ransom for the woman, he forced her to withdraw 400 euros and fled....read more from BBC News

December 1st, 2011

Swiss relax nuclear shelter construction law: Switzerland has agreed to relax its civil protection laws so that only large buildings will have to provide nuclear shelters, more than 20 years after the end of the Cold War.

At the height of the Cold War in the 1960s, Switzerland, began requiring space in a nuclear fallout shelter for each resident.

Yet with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the threat of a nuclear war having subsided, many bunkers -- often in cellars of houses and apartment blocks -- are used to store wine, sports equipment and unwanted household junk....read more from Reuters UK


Pole dancing: Seedy show or Olympic sport?: (by Leila Macor/AFP) POLE dancing may conjure up images of men in seedy clubs leering at semi-naked women, but it has a growing following in the US as a way to keep fit - and even aspires to be an Olympic sport.

The sensual dance form began to appear as a variant of aerobics or "step"-type workouts about a decade ago, changing its name to "pole fitness" to distinguish it from the erotic nightclub version.

Since then, some 500 pole dancing/fitness studios have sprung up across the country, and it is often difficult to determine which ones are purely fitness and which ones have elements of erotic dance....read more from NEWS.com.au


The end of the world not happening - for now says expert: The end is not near. At least that's according to a German expert who says his decoding of a Mayan tablet with a reference to a 2012 date denotes a transition to a new era and not a possible end of the world as others have read it.

The interpretation of the hieroglyphs by Sven Gronemeyer of La Trobe University in Australia was presented for the first time Wednesday at the archaeological site of Palenque in southern Mexico.

His comments came less than a week after Mexico's archaeology institute acknowledged there was a second reference to the 2012 date in Mayan inscriptions, touching of another round of talk about whether it predicts the end of the world....read more from The Telegraph (UK)

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