Odd News - November 2011 Archive


Odd News Archive - November 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.


November 30th, 2011

How a Chinese cave got listed on the U.S. stock market: China's "Underground Grand Canyon," about an hour's drive outside the smoggy city of Linyi in the eastern province of Shandong, promises visitors 3 km (2 miles) of grand stalactites, multicoloured lights and an exciting luge ride.

Tracing the attraction's ticket receipts back to investors in the United States proves an even more complex labyrinth to navigate. Following the trail sheds light on the lengths some Chinese businesses have gone to secure overseas listings, which bring the companies funding and prestige back home.

"For entrepreneurs, going public gives them a sense of recognition. For employees, going public gives them a sense of achievement," Zhang Shanjiu, the chairman of the company, boasted to a tourism publication four years ago as he embarked on the odyssey to list it....read more from Reuters UK


Firm wants to turn Eiffel Tower into 'giant tree': A French company wants to turn the Eiffel Tower into a heaving, breathing, botanical giant by draping its mass of metal struts and rivets under a mantle made of 600,000 plants.

The plan to transform one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world into a vast environmental curiosity as well is, for now, little more than the dream of an urban planning consultancy that would gain in fame if the dream became reality.

The idea, which has not so far been officially endorsed by Paris City Hall or the company that operates the Eiffel Tower, would transform the three-floor edifice of more than 300 metres (yards) into something akin to a very tall, and growing, Christmas tree....read more from Reuters UK


Using wi-fi on a laptop 'damages sperm', study suggests: (by Andrew Hough) Surfing the internet on a laptop that is connected with wireless technology can damage sperm counts, a study suggests.

Researchers discovered a personal computer using wi-fi that is placed near male reproductive organs reduced sperm quality and the chances of men experiencing fatherhood.

Scientists found sperm placed under a laptop that used wireless technology suffered more damage than specimens kept at the same temperature but away from a wi-fi signal....read more from The Telegraph (UK)


British garbage worms survive in space without human help: (by Anna Leach) A worm family that originated in a rubbish dump in Bristol has successfully returned from a space mission, proving for the first time that worms can survive untended in space.

Studying the effect of space travel on worms has big implications for understanding how humans can survive in space – if and when we have to flee our planet and set up colonies in distant worlds.

Nottingham university researcher Dr Nathaniel Szewczyk has been a part of boffinry teams that have sent worms into space twice before, but this latest mission marks the longest stretch that the microscopic Caenorhabditis elegans worms have survived in space and been recovered. A group of boffins led by Szewczyk sent up the latest batch of space worms with the space shuttle Discovery. The worms have now returned, 12 generations later, records their paper, published today in Interface, a journal of the Royal Society....read more from The Register

November 29th, 2011

South Korean gamers suffer joystick curfew shock: A ban restricting all South Korean gamers under 16 from playing online games between midnight and 6am is now in full affect.

South Korea, boasting the fifth largest broadband penetration rate, is the first country to implement the controversial initiative under the Youth Protection Revision bill.

The bill, variously known as the Shutdown Law or Cinderella Law, had been contested but was eventually passed....read more from The Register


BMW showroom forced to provide umbrellas against seagull bombardment: A BMW showroom was forced to provide umbrellas to customers because of an "aerial bombardment" from seagulls attracted to a nearby waste site.

The gulls have been blamed for peppering the cars and customers with droppings, dive-bombing staff and even dropping leftover chicken carcasses.

The problem has got so bad, bosses at the Vines dealership in Guildford, Surrey [UK], are now handing customers brollies and telling them to beware of the gulls....read more from The Telegraph (UK)

November 28th, 2011

Toilet gaming technology targets urinal boredom: WATCH: BBC Click's Marc Cieslak tries out the urinal-mounted games console for men.

There is not much choice: stare blankly at the wall tiles, focus on shoes with face set in a grimace, or maybe whistle.

When men use a public urinal they are cruelly left in full view, with nothing to do as they answer nature's call.

Until now....read more w/video from BBC News


High-spirited Portugal liquor ad enlivens crisis gloom: Taking a wry swipe at German-led austerity, the maker of Portugal's traditional tipple plastered Lisbon with adverts on Monday depicting Chancellor Angela Merkel with a bottle and assurances that "Portugal is giving its best shot."

The campaign by Licor Beirao is designed to cheer up Portuguese and help struggling local producers by urging customers to "give something national as a Christmas present."

"Dear Angela, Portugal is giving its best shot. Season's greetings!" says a message attached to the bottle held by Merkel....read more from Reuters UK


Lost Disney cartoon shows how Mickey Mouse was originally Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: A long-lost Disney cartoon that features a character who became Mickey Mouse has been discovered in the archives of a British firm.

The cartoon, called Hungry Hobos, was made in 1928 but the original film of it has been missing since before the Second World War.

The black and white film starred Oswald the Lucky Rabbit who was the prototype of Mickey Mouse....read more w/pic from The Telegraph (UK)


Gun club invites children to pose with Santa... and their choice of firearm: It's definitely one way of making sure Christmas goes off with a bang.

A gun club in Scottsdale, Arizona is inviting children to pose for pictures with Santa Claus – and a high-powered firearm.

Each family member carries their choice of weapon, from pistols to $80,000 machine guns....read more w/video from the Daily Mail

November 27th, 2011

Strange town names decorate the Texas map: SAN ANTONIO - Texas is host to hundreds of towns with strange names, including one dubbed Nameless, a folklorist says.

The town of Nameless got its handle after several other names for the proposed town were rejected by the U.S. postmaster in 1880, the San Antonio Express-News reported Sunday.

Finally, after the sixth rejection, a resident sent a note to the postmaster saying, "Let the post office be nameless and be damned!" And thus the town of Nameless was born....read more w/map from UPI


Goldfish won at fair survive to 34th birthday: Splish and Splash the amazing fairground goldfish have beaten all the odds to celebrate their thirty-fourth birthday this month.

When Hayley and Matthew Wright each won a fish at the funfair in 1977 they could never have guessed that the new pets would still be swimming around in their tank in 2011.

But that is what has happened and Splish and Splash show no sign of swimming off this mortal coil just yet....read more from The Telegraph (UK)


'Frosty' scuffles with police at parade: A man in a Frosty the Snowman costume apparently forgot to live up to some of the lines in the beloved Christmas song.

No, he wasn't "a jolly happy soul" and no, he didn't pause for a moment when he heard a cop holler, "Stop!"

This Frosty - 52-year-old Kevin Michael Walsh - ended up getting arrested Saturday during the annual Christmas parade in Chestertown, MD and charged with assaulting two police officers and kicking a police dog, the Cecil Whig newspaper reports....read more from CNews

November 26th, 2011

Experts torn on cause of Moscow train sand: MOSCOW - Experts said the buildup of sand that has caused small sandstorms when trains arrive at Moscow stations may have been caused in part by soundproofing efforts.

Passengers at the Belorusskaya, Kievskaya, Chistiye Prudy, Sukharevskaya, Trubnaya, Rimskaya and Ploshchad Ilyicha stations said sand buildup at the stations has recently become so heavy that they often find themselves wading through large piles of sand and are sometimes hit with sandstorms when trains pull in, The Moscow Times reported Friday.

Some experts said the sand may have been building up in ventilation systems for years and was brought to the main areas of the stations by work to soundproof train lines running beneath the renovated Bolshoi Theater....read more from UPI


Turkey flies into restaurant: A wild turkey apparently flew into a restaurant in Pennsylvania on -- of all days -- Thanksgiving.

WTAE.com reported that the 15-pound turkey was found among a pile of shattered glass on the carpet near some booth tables Thursday afternoon.

Fortunately, nobody was inside the restaurant since it was closed for the holiday....read more from CNews

November 25th, 2011

Man uses scuba gear to evade Australia bushfire: A man who stayed behind to defend his home from a bushfire in western Australia used scuba-diving equipment to escape the blaze.

While others in the town of Margaret River fled their homes, Peter Fabrici got his wife to safety and then went back to fire-proof his home.

Seeing houses in the distance going up in flames, he donned wet clothing, an oxygen tank and goggles....read more from BBC News


Russian anchor off air for finger gesture in Obama story: A famous Russian TV anchor has been taken off the air for making an obscene gesture after mentioning U.S. President Barack Obama in a live newscast, the channel said on Thursday.

Tatiana Limanova, an award-winning journalist and host of a news show on the REN-TV private channel, waved her middle finger when presenting a story about the APEC summit in the United States, a moment after mentioning Obama.

The video went viral on the internet, with many viewers speculating the gesture had been meant to insult the U.S. president, who met his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on the sidelines of the summit....read more from Reuters UK


Police charge man over suitcase of cash left in cafe: A man who left a suitcase stuffed with nearly A$1 million (£626,112-US$971,000) in cash in a Sydney, Australia cafe, and was then found dazed and sitting in the rain, has been charged with a number of offences, police said on Friday.

Staff at the cafe in the inner-western Sydney suburb of Burwood noticed the unattended suitcase early on Tuesday after the man came into the cafe but then became nervous and left.

To their surprise the suitcase contained almost A$1 million in cash. Local media said the money ranged from A$100 notes to A$5 notes, bundled into various amounts....read more from Reuters UK

November 24th, 2011

Robo-Guard'RoboCop' guards to patrol South Korean prisons: Robot guards with sensors to detect abnormal behaviour will soon begin patrolling South Korean prisons to ease the burden on their human counterparts, researchers said on Thursday.

A group of scientists has developed the robot warders under a one billion won (US$844,547 - £546,000) project organised by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

The robots – 1.5 metres (five feet) high and running on four wheels – will mostly be used at night....read more from The Telegraph (UK)


ALL US pro basketball to be played by topless strippers: A former NBA superstar was been tugged in by a bunch of hoop-shooting strippers as their head coach ahead of the launch of a basketball league comprised entirely of topless dancers.

The 23-strong Rick's Cabaret International chain of "upscale adult night clubs" set up its league after spotting a hole in the market – due to an acrimonious dispute between the NBA and players that has shut down the league for the last five months.

Rick's Cabaret announced its league last month, and has committed to field a team of topless ball shooting, slam-dunking lovelies from each of its 23 establishments, which the firm explains cater "primarily for businessmen and professionals"....read more from The Register

November 23rd, 2011

BANG! There goes the Belgian postman's bike: Belgium's postal service has asked its delivery men to hand back the batteries on their electric bicycles after one of them exploded.

"Last week, we had one battery on one bicycle, smoke came out and the postman immediately stopped and he took away the battery and it exploded," said a spokesman for bpost on Wednesday.

Around 2,000 Belgian postmen were using electrical bicycles but they have all now been asked to hand back the batteries....read more from Reuters UK


Death of 'thank you': It is considered one of the basics of politeness, but saying "thank you" may be dying out, according to new research.

Rather than failing to show gratitude, however, we are simply using other words. In fact, one in three people say they usually use another word to express gratitude.

Among the most popular phrases were the less formal “ta" and “cool" as well as the French word “merci"....read more from The Telegraph (UK)


Three plead guilty in Florida toilet paper fraud: Florida scam artists told elderly victims the government had changed the laws regulating toilet paper and that their septic tanks would be ruined unless they bought specially formulated rolls, court documents said.

"Through this scheme, some elderly customers were defrauded into purchasing more than 70 years worth of toilet paper," federal prosecutors in Miami said in a news release.

Three defendants pleaded guilty this week to charges of conspiring to commit wire fraud, part of what prosecutors said was a $1 million (644,371 pounds) scheme to sell unnecessary septic tank products....read more from Reuters UK


O Christmas tree, how costly are your branches: One Tokyo Christmas tree has a special glow even amid the global economic gloom -- it's made of pure gold, and valued at $2 million.

A jewellery store in Tokyo's posh Ginza district teamed up with flower arrangement artist Shogo Kariyazaki to create the lavish Golden Christmas Tree.

Twelve kg (26 lb) of gold were used to make the 2.4 metre (8 foot) tree, which is adorned with ribbons, hearts and orchids, also made of gold....read more from Reuters UK

November 22nd, 2011

Santas compete in Sweden: GALLIVARE, Sweden - A 24 year-old Dutch man bested eight other competitors from various countries to win the 2011 Santa Games in Sweden.

Stefan Veronderd, who wowed the judges with his rendition of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," also set himself apart from competitors hailing from other countries including Japan, France and Colombia in events that included porridge eating, the Santa-sack race and the Candy Cane spree, The Local reported Tuesday.

"It feels great. I really didn't expect it. Now I have to come back and defend my title next year," Veronderd said....read more w/slideshow from UPI


Russian diplomat caught driving while 15 TIMES over booze limit: (by Joe Fay) A Russian diplomat was an epic 15 times over the drink-driving limit when he was collared by Polish cops on Sunday.

The unnamed cunning linguist drove erratically until he was stopped by cops in the Pomerania region, the Moscow Times reports.

Cops felt the foreign service operative was behaving in a "strange" manner, the Times adds, and decided to test him for being under the influence....read more from The Register


Oklahoma City woman ticketed in late-night vacuuming: A late-night vacuuming session ended with a northwest Oklahoma City woman being cited for excessive noise, according to a police report.

Shelly Lea Armstrong, 42, was cited after her neighbor, Joe Wayne Green, 74, called police on Nov. 15 to report Armstrong had been running a vacuum cleaner in the apartment next door for about an hour after midnight....read more from The Oklahoman


New York Griswolds shun film's decorations: NEW YORK - New Yorkers with the same last name as the Griswold clan from "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" say they won't emulate the movie family's holiday display.

The New York Daily News said it contacted city residents sharing the last name of Chevy Chase's protagonist in the 1989 film, Clark Griswold, and none of them expressed plans to emulate the over-the-top holiday decorations from the movie.

"I don't even watch Chevy since he made these movies," New Yorker John Griswold said. "This name has been in this country since the revolution, and I'm pissed off."....read more from UPI

November 21st, 2011

Ring finds its way back to nun: BUFFALO, N.Y. - A New York nun who gave her jewelry to a relative when she joined the convent 25 years ago said she was shocked to hear one of her rings was found in a park.

Sister Brenda Whelan, director of pastoral care at Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo, said she gave her 1985 D'Youville College class ring to her niece when she became a nun.

Sister Whelan said the Niagara Frontier Relic Hunters Club contacted her recently to say the ring had been found at Beaver Island State Park on Grand Island, The Buffalo News reported Monday....read more from UPI


Man sues boss for 'condemning him to eternal damnation': (by Joe Fay) An American man has brought a wrongful dismissal suit over his former employer's attempt to make him wear the number of the beast - in the guise of a safety record sticker.

Billy E Hyatt alleges that he was fired from the Pliant Corp plastics factory in northern Georgia for refusing to wear a sticker declaring the factory had been accident free for 666 days, Courthouse News reports.

While that number is no doubt a testimony to Pliant's workplace safety practices, it's also, of course, the number of the beast in the Book of Revelation....read more from The Register


San Diego Baywatch rules out exploding dead whale: (by Brid-Aine Parnell) A dead beached whale in San Diego is going to be sticking around for another few days as authorities wait for better tides to help them shift the 50-foot (15m) cetacean.

The fin whale, which was discovered on Saturday at 2pm local time by workers from the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant, probably won't be shifted until Tuesday or Wednesday, lifeguard Greg Buchanan (presumably no relation to the Hoff's Baywatch character) told SignOnSanDiego.com.

The lifeguard service is coordinating the removal with agencies like the Coast Guard, San Diego Parks and Recreations Department, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service, which is trying to figure out how the whale died....read more w/video from The Register

November 20th, 2011

Dog caught driving in Australia: DARWIN, Australia - A dog allegedly was spotted driving a mobile home down the street in Darwin, Australia, after learning how to drive by observing his owner, observers claim.

Woodley, a 2-year-old German Koolie, allegedly took the mobile home for a spin while his owner, Richard McCormack was in a store, The Sun reported.

"I came out and saw the bus going down the road. I couldn't believe it," McCormack said....read more from UPI


Strip poker art exhibit wraps up in NYC: NEW YORK - New York artist Zefrey Throwell wrapped up his latest performance art piece that featured poker players stripping down for passersby on the street.

The installation project, titled "I'll Raise You One," was staged at Art in General's storefront project space in Tribeca, the New York Daily News reported.

For seven days from 10:30 a.m. until 6 p.m., people on the street were able to watch project participants playing a game of strip poker....read more from UPI


Delaware names 'Ambassador to Mars': NASA hasn't yet determined if Mars can sustain life, but that isn't deterring one American state from forging political relations with the Red Planet.

On Friday, Delaware Governor Jack Markell named Dr. Noureddine Melikechi, the vice president for research at Delaware State University (DSU), the state's “Ambassador to Mars" in recognition of his achievements and role in the launch of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) planned for this Saturday.

“As Delaware’s new Ambassador to Mars, we would very much appreciate it if you could let any Martian tourists or investors know that Delaware is conveniently located on the East Coast with a great port, strong community, excellent workforce and top-notch research facilities," Markell wrote in a letter to Melikechi. “We have beautiful beaches, important historic sites and, of course, tax-free shopping."....read more from CNews

November 19th, 2011

Doorways cause forgetting: study: Ever walked into a room to get something only to forget why you went there in the first place?

New research from University of Notre Dame psychology professor Gabriel Radvansky suggests that passing through doorways is the cause of these memory lapses.

"Entering or exiting through a doorway serves as an 'event boundary' in the mind, which separates episodes of activity and files them away," Radvansky said in a statement. "Recalling the decision or activity that was made in a different room is difficult because it has been compartmentalized."....read more from CNews


SoCal turkeys put up for adoption: PALMDALE, Calif. - An animal-rights group in California says don't get any sneaky ideas about adopting a pet turkey in time for Thanksgiving.

The Farm Sanctuary says it is looking for homes for 25 baby turkeys someone dropped off at its facility in Palmdale, and Thanksgiving chefs need not apply.

"Not wanting to eat them is the No. 1 thing we're looking for," shelter director Susie Coston told the Los Angeles Times....read more from UPI


Deputies: Drunken driver chased pink limo: NAPLES, Fla. - Authorities in Florida said a man driving a Porche was arrested on a drunken driving charge after chasing a pink limo carrying two women who took his money.

The Collier County Sheriff's Office said Thomas Richard Canham, 53, of Evanston, Ill., gave the women money early Tuesday after they said they would go to his house if he paid for them to use the Hummer limo for 2 more hours, the Naples (Fla.) Daily News reported Friday....read more from UPI

November 18th, 2011

Leapin' leprechauns, it's Guinness records day: Irish leprechauns, tea-sipping Britons, Australian ABBA impersonators and the oldest yoga teacher on the planet were just some of the people setting world records on Thursday.

More than 300,000 people around the world took part in the seventh annual Guinness World Records Day, in which a number of records have already been confirmed.

They included the largest cream tea party (334 participants) in Essex, England; the largest gathering of people dressed as leprechauns (262 participants) in Dublin; the oldest yoga teacher (91 years old) and the largest hula hoop workout (221 children) both in Florida....read more from Reuters UK


Irish website promises you'll never miss a funeral again: Irish netizens and their country's diaspora need never miss an important demise in their homeland again, after the launch of DeathIreland.com.

The site promises to keep subscribers "up to date with all the deaths in your town, city or county - and much more". The much more appears to be interactive mapping to every church and cemetery in Ireland.

Subscribers have the option of tracking ten names a year for a mere €10. Or they can spend the same amount on tracking permanent retirements in an entire organisation, or three towns or districts....read more from The Register

November 17th, 2011

US nuclear aircraft carrier George Bush crippled by toilet outages: (by Lewis Page) The US Navy's newest and mightiest nuclear aircraft carrier, the USS George H W Bush, has been plagued by continual failures in its lavatories, according to reports. Sailors have been forced into increasingly desperate measures to relieve themselves.

The Navy Times, following up initial stories of the problems appearing on blogs, quotes members of the 5,000-strong ship's complement as stating that at times there hasn't been a single working head – as lavs are known at sea – anywhere aboard the entire mighty hundred-thousand-ton warship. Reportedly the Bush is fitted with no less than 423 thrones, but it appears that problems with the suction flushing system can easily knock out large numbers of these at once – or even all of them....read more from The Register


Pilot locked in restroom during flight: NEW YORK - The pilot of a flight from North Carolina to New York accidentally caused a terror scare when he became locked in a restroom and asked for help.

Chatauqua Airlines said the pilot, who was flying Wednesday from Asheville, N.C., to LaGuardia Airport, took a bathroom break shortly before the plane's scheduled landing and the latch on the door jammed, the New York Post reported Thursday.

The captain called for help, and a man sitting in the front row of the plane responded. The pilot asked the passenger, who had a foreign accent, to alert the crew in the cockpit to the situation....read more from UPI


Swearing doesn't help pain if you do it too much: (by Richard Chirgwin) Potty-mouths the world over were celebrating a couple of years ago, when a bunch of boffins demonstrated that swearing relieved pain. Now, the same boffins have turned party-poopers with a new paper.

It appears, on further research, that yelling "s**t!" when your hammer lands on a thumb instead of a nail works best for shy and retiring types who rarely express expletives. If, on the other hand, you’re the kind of person for whom profanity serves as punctuation, swearing won’t serve as a replacement for paracetamol....read more from The Register


Swiss court upholds fine against nude hiker: (by Catherine Bosley) Hikers crossing the Alps in the nude may get more than just a chill after Switzerland's top court ruled they may be fined, validating a conservative region's bid to quash the practice.

On Thursday a court rejected the appeal of a man slapped with a 100 Swiss franc (69 pound) fine. The man had walked naked past a family with small children at a picnic area and a Christian rehabilitation centre for drug addicts one Sunday afternoon in the eastern canton (state) of Appenzell Ausserrhoden....read more from Reuters UK

November 16th, 2011

Bishop to bless road salt supplies for added winter safety: Supplies of road salt held at council depots in Lincolnshire are to be blessed by senior church figures in the hope that this will help in the expected winter battle against snow and icy roads.

The Louth Leader has the story, reporting that no less an ecclesiastical figure than the Right Reverend Christopher Lowson, Bishop of Lincoln, will lead the blessing ceremony tomorrow at the Sturton by Stow gritting depot tomorrow. Other unnamed priests will bless the salt held at the other seven depots across Lincolnshire.

"We are enormously grateful for the hard work of those who salt the roads in all hours and in all weathers," the bish told the paper....read more from The Register


Doomsday 2012 Mega Volcano 'Unlikely' - NASA: (by Lewis Page) US space agency NASA, in its self-appointed role as 2012 apocalypse denier to the world, has issued another statement regarding a terrifying catastrophe which in its opinion will not befall the Earth and the human race.

This time the possible planetary catastrophe is the menace posed by gigantic so-called "supervolcanoes", colossal eruptions thousands of times more powerful than any in recorded history which could cleanse entire continents of life.

As usual we're indebted here to the knockabout press staff of the Goddard Space Flight Centre. They've put out their usual not-so-reassuring reassurance on supervolcanoes....read more from The Register


German firm starts selling space travel insurance: A German firm is to start offering space travel insurance, hoping to cash in on a new wave of 'ordinary astronauts' ahead of next year's first commercial space trips.

Insurance giant Allianz will start offering its new space travel policies from the start of next year to coincide with the launch of Virgin Galactic, the spaceflight company owned by Richard Branson's Virgin Group.

So far about 450 people have reserved seats for the $200,000 (126,767 pound), five-minute trips into 'sub-orbital' space, the point where weightlessness kicks in and the curvature of the earth and blackness of space can be seen....read more from Reuters UK

November 15th, 2011

Kelly Brook's Twitter account is real and she'll strip to prove it: You're an attractive C-List star with a TV series to promote but it's sci-fi and the title is an instant turn-off to anyone who hasn't seen the inside of a comic shop.

Luckily, a comedian has questioned the veracity of your Twitter account, giving you the opportunity to grab some space in the tabloids.

You could threaten to quit Twitter, a la Ashton Kutcher, but what if no one notices?....read more w/pics from NEWS.com.au


US anti-hacking law turns computer users into criminals: (by Dan Goodin) A commonly invoked anti-hacking law is so overbroad that it criminalizes conduct as innocuous as using a fake user name on Facebook or fibbing about your weight in a Match.com profile, one of the nation's most respected legal authorities has said.

George Washington University Law School Professor Orin S. Kerr said he hopes the critique will spur changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a law that's frequently invoked against people who exceed authorized access of websites and computers. He released written testimony (PDF) on Monday, one day before he's scheduled to appear before a US House of Representatives subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security....read more from The Register

November 14th, 2011

Israeli air raid vs Iran nukes boardgame out in time for Xmas: (by Lewis Page) Speculation regarding a possible Israeli air campaign against Iran's nuclear facilities has been rife for years – a pair of MIT students wrote an analysis on the subject back in 2007, and countless articles have appeared before then and since. Now, however, it's possible to do more than simply talk about such a battle: should you wish to, you can set aside the Monopoly or the chess set in favour of a rousing boardgame pitting one player as Iran against another as Israel, with preservation or destruction of Tehran's nuclear capability as the prize.

The game is called – perhaps inevitably – Persian Incursion, and is the brainchild of technothriller writer Larry Bond, formerly well known as a designer of tactical combat games (Bond has collaborated with Tom Clancy, and it's said that his games were used extensively in development of such seminal Cold War works as The Hunt for Red October and Red Storm Rising)....read more from The Register


Vacuum cleaner set Swedish nuke plant on fire: (by Lewis Page) A nuclear powerplant in Sweden was put out of action for seven months at a cost of 1.8 billion kronor (£170m) after a vacuum cleaner was mistakenly left inside its containment vessel during tests, according to reports.

Swedish English-language journal The Local reports on the revelations which have followed the fire which broke out at the Ringhals powerplant south of Gothenburg in May, during pressure tests on the No 2 reactor's containment....read more from The Register


Dud Mars probe's explosion will spare Earth's cities: (by Brid-Aine Parnell) The chief of the Russian space agency has assured the public that the stalled and uncommunicative Mars probe Phobos-Grunt will not smash into a populated area of Earth.

Vladimir Popovkin, head of Roscosmos, told reporters that if the wayward spacecraft re-enters the Earth's atmosphere, which he believes is still the worst-case scenario, it won't harm anyone.

“There are 7.5 metric tons of fuel in the aluminium tanks on board. We have no doubts that they will explode [and destroy the probe] upon re-entry," Popovkin said, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. “It is highly unlikely that its parts would reach Earth."....read more from The Register

November 13th, 2011

Homeowner helps stop burglary: WILMINGTON, Del. - A Wilmington, Delaware resident who was stopping home for lunch offered to help a man carry a television before realizing it was stolen from his home, police say.

The resident saw another man carrying a flat-screen TV down the street and asked him if he needed help Thursday, The (Wilmington) News Journal reported.

He then recognized the television as his own and noticed the door to his home ajar, said Master Sgt. Adam Ringle....read more from UPI


NYC marathon runner loses car for 2 days: NEW YORK - An Albany, N.Y., man says he finished the New York City Marathon only to realize he couldn't remember where he parked his car for two days.

Charles Petraske, 34, parked his hybrid Hyundai Sonata in a Manhattan garage Nov. 6 and boarded a charter bus to the Staten Island start line. He took only the key to his car and $40 with him, leaving the parking ticket on the dashboard in his car, the New York Post reported Sunday.

Petraske took a cab back to Bryant Park after completing the race but couldn't remember where he parked his car.
"I was completely disoriented," he told the newspaper....read more from UPI


Alleged burglar puts up Xmas decorations: If every burglar behaved like Terry Trent, breaking and entering wouldn't be such a bad thing.

The Vandalia, OH, man is currently being held in a jail for breaking into a family's home Friday and putting up Christmas decorations while they were out.

Quoting police, WHIO-TV reported that an 11-year-old child came home and found a stranger sitting on the couch....read more from CNews

November 12th, 2011

Man wades through dump to find ring: MARGATE, Fla. - A Florida man who accidentally threw out his wife's $10,000 engagement ring said he waded through more than 8 tons of trash to find it.

Brian McGuinn of Margate said he accidentally threw the ring away with a disposable razor and dreaded telling his wife of five years, Anna, WTVJ-TV, Miami, reported Friday.

"I just started crying and I would stop crying, and remind myself that jewelry is replaceable," Anna said....read more from UPI

November 11th, 2011

Rescued St. Bernard chases burglar: HILLSBORO, Ohio - A St. Bernard dog rescued by an Ohio couple returned the favor a few hours later when he alerted them to a burglar who had cut their phone line.

Robert "Lee" Littler told The Times-Gazette of Hillsboro he and his wife, Elizabeth, now have a dilemma. The couple already had four dogs when they brought Hercules home and were not planning on keeping the 135-pound animal permanently in their Hillsboro home.

"Originally, we adopted him because we didn't want him to be euthanized....read more from UPI


Cashier's error nets man $1 million: THIBODAUX, La. - A Louisiana man won $1 million in the lottery due to a mistake made by a cashier with the same last name in a town with the same name and rewarded the woman.

Robert Thibodaux Sr., 70, said he told Jaime Thibodaux, a cashier at the Shop-Rite store in Thibodaux who is not related to him, that he would return to the store if the ticket she sold him was a winner, WGNO-TV, New Orleans, reported Friday.

Thibodaux said the cashier's error, selling him a power-play option, turned what would have been a $200,000 jackpot into a $1 million win....read more w/video from UPI


Toilet maker flush with pride after biogas bike run: Enter the Neo. Part motorcycle and part toilet, it runs on eco-friendly biogas produced from sewage -- and recently completed a journey of more than 1,000 km (600 miles) across Japan.

The three-wheeled vehicle, developed by Japanese toilet maker Toto, features a toilet for a seat and has a giant roll of toilet paper mounted on the back that flutters in the breeze as the bike cruises along.

But there are no plans to put the bike on sale. Toto intends to put it on display....read more from Reuters UK


Thirsty fugitives turn up for free beer: Other police stations have offered the lure of free TVs to nab suspects, but British police appealed to suspects' thirsty sides, offering free beer.

In the ruse, Derbyshire police offered dozens of suspects a free case of beer -- all they had to do was pick it up.

The month-long campaign, dubbed Operation Rocky, nabbed 19 suspects....read more from CNews

November 10th, 2011

Wild weather: 'Golf ball' sized hail thrashes Melbourne, Australia: THE SES has rescued of three staff at a conference centre near Woodend in the state’s northwest.

The workers at Cammreay Waters’ conference centre were stranded when trees and power lines fell across a main road leading into the centre.

Staff member Jennifer Shepherd said the SES worked out a route for the three stranded women, gave them a map and escorted them through the nearby pine forest....read more from NEWS.com.au


British consuls 'not a concierge service': LONDON - British expatriates and travelers have turned to their consuls for everything from domestic advice to Prince Charles' shoe size, officials said Thursday.

Jeremy Browne, minister for consular affairs, said the list of questions was released to teach travelers what consular offices are -- and are not -- for.

"Our priority is to help people in real difficulty abroad and we cannot do this if our time is diverted by people trying to use us as a concierge service," he said....read more from UPI

November 9th, 2011

Parents pray, jets grounded for Korea college exam: Jets will be grounded across South Korea and anxious parents will pray while their children take annual exams that could lead them to one of the country's top universities and eventually a good job for life.

As well as prayers at churches and temples in this country of 50 million people, the 690,000 students who sit the exams on Thursday have been boosting their chances by eating toffee, to help the right answers stick, and staying away from bananas and seaweed, that might make them slip in the tests.

"I have been so stressed just looking at other mothers send their children off to good colleges," said Kwon Jeong-hee, whose son is taking the so-called CSAT tests for the second time....read mroe from Reuters UK


ICANN accepts applications for .XXX adult entertainment industry domains: THE world wide web is about to get a red-light district. After more than a decade of debate, rejections and legal challenges, the internet's governing body today began accepting applications for .xxx websites from the adult entertainment industry.

The so-called "landrush" phase signifies the true launch of .xxx websites, which are designed to provide more transparency around internet pornography.

But while its sponsor describes the new adult addresses as responsible "signposts" for pornographic material that let web surfers make informed decisions, experts have slammed the scheme as a money-grab that has been "grossly oversold" as a way to block porn and protect children....read more from NEWS.com.au


Australian escort agency selling 19-year-old's virginity: A Sydney escort agency is offering the virginity of a teenage girl for $15,000, prompting outraged community groups to describe the move as "putting women's liberation back centuries".

An investigation by sex industry consulting firm Brothel Busters has found MyOutCall Australia is offering the Chinese 19-year old student for four days in exchange for the $15,000 sum, The Daily Telegraph (AU) reported.

Brothel Busters has found the escort agency wants $2000 to be paid as a deposit, with the balance to be paid on receipt of services from the girl, who is claimed to be at Sydney University....read more w/video from NEWS.com.au

November 8th, 2011

Woman, 85, reels in 849-pound marlin: COOKTOWN, Australia - An 85-year-old Australian woman said she "didn't feel 85" when she reeled in a 849-pound marlin off the north coast of Queensland.

Connie Laurie, a grandmother who said she has been fishing all her life, said she was on a fishing charter trip during the weekend off the coast of Cooktown when she caught, and then released, the hefty marlin....read more from UPI


US Supremes liken GPS tracking to 1984's Big Brother: (by Dan Goodin) If the Obama administration wins a crucial case testing when police may use GPS devices to track American's whereabouts, investigators would be free to attach them to all nine members of the nation's highest court without a warrant.

That blunt assessment came not from one of the many critics blasting the controversial practice, but rather from Michael Dreeben, the deputy US solicitor general who argued the case on Tuesday before the Supreme Court. According to legal scholar and blogger Orin Kerr, who attended the hearing, the justices had mixed reactions to that specter, with some comparing the continuous monitoring to a chapter out of George Orwell's 1984 and others struggling to find a way to deem it reasonable....read more from The Register


Secret US 'Jedi' ghost-copters kept out of bin Laden raid: (by Lewis Page) The top-secret "Stealth Hawk" helicopters aboard which elite US Navy SEAL operatives travelled into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden were by no means the most sophisticated aircraft available, according to a new book on the operation. Apparently, even stealthier "Ghost Hawks" - also known as "Jedi rides" - were kept out of the mission as it was feared that the secrets of their advanced technology might be revealed to other nations.

The suggestions come in the new book Seal Target Geronimo, by Hollywood scriptwriter and author Chuck Pfarrer. Before becoming a writer, Pfarrer was himself a Navy SEAL in the 1980s, and served with the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (aka DevGru, or formerly SEAL Team Six - the specially chosen "Tier One" elite-within-an-elite whose operatives made up most of the team sent against bin Laden's Abottabad compound)....read more from The Register

November 7th, 2011

Home being built with shipping containers: CALGARY, Alberta - A former carpenter says he intends to live "off the grid completely" in a house he's constructing out of shipping containers on land in Alberta.

"It's just going to look like a regular home," Bill Glennon said.

Glennon said the inspiration behind his intended 5,000 square-foot, four-story, four bedroom, five bathroom home -- complete with garage, workshop and media room -- came from his wife, Roseanne who spotted a newspaper article about someone else's shipping container home years ago, the Calgary Herald reported Monday....read more w/video from UPI


Strapped county sacks Santa to save $660: Faced with the difficult task of balancing a budget in austere times, officials in New York's Suffolk County said on Friday they had no choice: they had to sack Santa Claus.

The county executive said he could not justify carving out $660 (411.37 pounds) from his $2.7 billion budget to pay David McKell, 83, a World War II veteran and former homicide detective, to don his Santa suit for the tenth year running and greet children on Long Island.

"How do you justify that expenditure when a health centre is losing money?" Steve Levy, the Suffolk County Executive, said in an interview....read more from Reuters UK

November 6th, 2011

Deer goes buck wild in Quebec pharmacy: REPENTIGNY, Quebec - A deer broke into a pharmacy northeast of Montreal Saturday morning and terrorized employees for a few minutes, before being subdued by wildlife ministry officials.

The animal jump-kicked a window to enter the store, then ran roughshod through the aisles knocking over products and startling employees....read more from CNews


Fears as sex workers cash in on the new mining boom: They are the coal girls happy hookers striking it rich in booming mining towns across the state.

Fly-in, fly-out "working girls" travelling from as far away as New Zealand to the resource-rich regions of Queensland and Western Australia are making as much money in one or two days as mine labourers earn in a week.

But the booming unregulated sex industry is ringing alarm bells, with fears for the women's safety and concerns over rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases, The Sunday Mail reported....read more from NEWS.com.au

November 5th, 2011

Martial arts competitors foil LA robbery: LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles police tipped their hats to martial arts experts from Oregon who foiled an attempted stickup at their motel.

Billy Denney and Brent Alvarez, both of Eugene, Ore., were in Southern California for a jujitsu tournament and came upon an alleged holdup at the front desk of their motel.

Even though the suspect allegedly had a gun, the Oregonians set down their bags and quickly apprehended him as he tried to leave....read more from UPI


Couple allegedly stole police car for sex: WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A man and woman charged with stealing a police car left running outside a Florida convenience store apparently wanted it for a quickie sexual encounter.

Alexander Pratt, 59, and Clara Pearson, 53, both Lake Worth residents, were charged with grand theft auto, The Palm Beach Post reported. They allegedly grabbed a Honda Civic belonging to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office that was being used by plainclothes detectives from the auto theft division....read more from UPI

November 4th, 2011

Rattlesnakes slither into college building: OGDEN, Utah - Officials at Weber State University in Utah said four rattlesnakes have slithered into a building in separate incidents during the past week.

Weber State University spokesman John Kowalewski said the snakes were found on separate days in different areas of the Receiving and Distribution Building, KSTU-TV, Salt Lake City, reported Thursday....read more w/video from UPI


Deer crashes into Idaho elementary school: KETCHUM, Idaho - The principal of an Idaho elementary school said the building custodian arrived for work to find a deer had crashed through a glass door into the building.

Principal Don Haisley of Hemingway Elementary School in Ketchum said the custodian arrived at 5:30 a.m. Monday and found the deer had crashed through a glass door and was still inside the building, KTVB-TV, Boise, reported Thursday....read more from UPI

November 3rd, 2011

Lawn-chair balloonist to fly in Iraq: BEND, Ore. - A Bend, Ore., man known for traveling 235 miles in a lawn chair lifted by balloons is planning a two-man journey over Baghdad.

Kent Couch, a Bend gas-station owner, was contacted by Fareed Lafta, known as the Iraqi "superhero," about the flight in Iraq, KTVZ-TV, Bend, reported.

"I got an e-mail from a guy that looked at our Web site, and he said he was wanting to do this to help the Iraqi youth," Couch said Wednesday....read more w/video from UPI


Strapped Harrisburg hopes to cash in its Wild West collection: (by Mark Shade) If Pennsylvania's fiscally battered capital city wants to stage a Wild West-like battle with the creditors demanding every penny of the millions they are owed, it has enough muskets, stage coaches, sheriff's badges and ammunition to get the job done.

Whether any of it would work is questionable.

Desperate to rid itself of more than 8,000 artifacts and to climb out of a $300 million (187 million pounds) debt crisis, Harrisburg has allowed appraisers and auction houses into a storage space where the bits of Americana have been gathering dust for years....read more from Reuters UK


US Army orders more Judge Dredd smartgun ammo: (by Lewis Page) The US Army has assigned an extra $24m of funding to the futuristic XM-25, a high tech personal weapon which can hit and kill an enemy even if he is hiding behind a rock, in a trench or round a corner.

The XM-25 can do this because it doesn't fire ordinary bullets but small 25mm-calibre exploding shells whose precision time fuses are set wirelessly by the gun's systems at the moment of firing. This, combined with the weapon's accurate laser rangefinder and computing gunsight, allows its user to make the shells explode above an enemy's head if he is behind a rock or a wall, showering him with deadly shrapnel despite his frontal hard cover. Likewise a target around a corner can be hit by making the shell explode in the right place....read more from The Register

November 2nd, 2011

Catholic Bishops: 'Would you mind not bringing guns to church?': (by Joe Fay) Wisconsin's Catholic hierarchy have told the faithful that they'd really prefer them not to pack heat when they go to Mass, after the state enacted a new law authorising the carrying of concealed weapons.

But, the Bishops add, if parishoners do want to come to mass with guns, tasers, knives and billy clubs, well, that's OK too.

The newly enacted law allows the State's residents to carry a concealed weapon, as long as they have the appropriate licence and training, are over 21 and not banned from possessing a weapon because of legal problems, mental incapacity, etc. Emergency licences are also available....read more from The Register


20 boxes of pigs' feet stolen from train: VICTORVILLE, Calif. - Authorities in California said they were searching for bandits who took 20 boxes of frozen pigs' feet from a train during an emergency stop.

Union Pacific Railroad police said the train made an emergency stop Friday in Victorville for undisclosed reasons and thieves broke into a railcar and took the 20 boxes of frozen pigs' feet, the Victorville Daily Press reported Tuesday....read more from UPI


Lingerie store workers' bra sizes on display: Staff at a chain of lingerie shops in Sweden are up in arms over employee name tags that display their bust sizes.

Workers at Change say they are forced to wear the tags and get demerit points if they don't, reports Sweden's The Local.

But company CEO Susann Haglund insists the tags are voluntary and are intended to show customers what size might be right for what body shape....read more from CNews

November 1st, 2011

30-year-old dynamite found in trunk: VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Authorities in Virginia said they destroyed five sticks of 30-year-old dynamite that had spent years in the trunk of a broken-down vehicle.

The Virginia Beach Fire Department said the homeowner had used dynamite for land clearing before retiring and had forgotten the dynamite was stored in the trunk of the vehicle in his back yard until he rediscovered it Monday morning....read more from UPI


Naked and drunk motorist crashes into 17 cars: MOSCOW - A naked and drunk motorist sped through central Moscow on Sunday, crashing into 17 cars before being stopped by police who chased him across a large part of the capital, state television said.

"When police made him open his door, it became clear he was completely naked," said state TV, showing lines of cars with shattered windscreens and battered sides.

Local media said the man, who appeared to be in his 40s, was from Moldova and showed a picture him grinning in the back seat of a police car....read more from CNews

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