Odd News Archive - June 2008

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.


June 30, 2008

King Arthur was English 'propaganda', French claim: French historians are risking a visit by gunboats bearing the white ensign after declaring King Arthur an English legend promoted for "political reasons".

That's according to the organisers of "King Arthur: A Legend in the Making" - a forthcoming conference and exhibition at Rennes university which will "provide ample evidence that the Arthurian legend has continually been updated, often as a sop to English nationalists attempting to revive the Age of Chivalry", as the Telegraph puts it....full story from The Register


Student gets bonus points for using profanity on exam: A student who scribbled an expletive on an English language exam paper was awarded 7.5 percent for accurate spelling and effective communication, The Times newspaper reported on Monday.

The pupil, who wrote "f--- off" after being asked in an English exam to "describe the room you are sitting in", got 2 marks out of 27 and would have got more if he had added some punctuation, chief examiner Peter Buckroyd told The Times....full story from Reuters UK

June 28, 2008

Plane ends up on a villa roof after engine failure: A small plane crashed into a village in Vezenobres, a small town with a population of 1,400 near the Southern coast of France, this afternoon, and ended up perched on the roof a villa.

No one is believed to have been injured in the accident, which happened when the plane's engine failed....full story w/pics from the Daily Mail

June 27, 2008

Mars suitable for growing asparagus: NASA scientists are pretty excited about the initial results of the Phoenix Mars lander's "flawless" first wet chemistry experiment which has revealed the Red Planet's soil to be "a close analog to surface soils found in the upper dry valleys in Antarctica", as wet chemistry lead investigator Sam Kounaves put it.

So much so, in fact, that Kounaves suggested future colonists might be able to use the Martian dirt around the lander "to grow asparagus very well"....full story from The Register


'Manure-Bomb' thieves fall into dung, flee crime scene naked: A woman trying to make "manure bombs" using stockings, slipped into a slurry tank and fled the scene naked, German police said on Friday.

Two women entered a farm in the northern village of Eberholzen on Wednesday evening and started to fill the stockings with manure....full story from Fox News


Woman's 747 dream house finally taking off: The neighborhood already has a house that scientists say looks like a giant atom smasher, and nearby there is another that is perched on a cylindrical tower and looks like a flying saucer. Yet when Francie Rehwald moves into her new digs sometime next year, she'll have them both beat.

Rehwald will be the only person on her block living inside a house built from the recycled parts of a Boeing 747 airliner....full story w/pics from CBS News
Update of original story from April 2006

June 26, 2008

Australian pub patrons get crocked with crocodile: Drinkers at an Outback watering hole found a crocodile at the door - and brought it inside for their session.

The saltwater croc in question was just 24 inches (60 centimeters) long and more a curiosity than a threat to drinkers at the Noonamah Tavern on Sunday, though the species can grow to more than 16 feet (5 meters)....full story from IHT

June 25, 2008

Let air passengers smoke pot, says Denver group: A pro-marijuana group has come up with an ingenious plan to combat air rage - let passengers skin up before flying out of Denver International Airport (DIA) which has become "a hot spot for arrests of drunken, unruly airplane passengers", according to the Denver Post.

Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation, aka SAFER, is on a mission to "educate the public about the fact that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol to both the user and to society"....full story from The Register

June 24, 2008

Rich Russian to send parents into space: "When I told my mother we were going to fly in space, she asked me just one question: 'When?'," the man, Igor Kutsenko, was quoted as saying. He bought the tickets to take his parents and a friend.

"We booked a couple of extra places. Maybe one of our friends will want to come too," said Kutsenko, a 34-year-old who runs an advertising agency....full story from NEWS.com.au

June 23, 2008

American hiker rescued in Alps using sports bra as SOS: An American hiker stranded in the Bavarian Alps for nearly three days was rescued after using her sports bra as a signal, police in southern Germany said Monday.

Berchtesgaden police officer Lorenz Rasp said that he helped lift 24-year-old Jessica Bruinsma of Colorado state to safety by helicopter on Thursday after she attracted the attention of lumberjacks by attaching her sports bra to a cable used to move timber down the mountain....full story from IHT
Anyone remember the movie "Operation Petticoat"?


Earth 'not at risk' from collider: Our planet is not at risk from the world's most powerful particle physics experiment, a report has concluded.

Critics are worried that mini-black holes made at the soon-to-open facility on the French-Swiss border might threaten the Earth's very existence....full story from the BBC


Man celebrates bidding war for his "life": (Update of previous story) A lovelorn man who put his life in Australia up for sale on the internet is one step closer to starting over as bids for his house, job and lifestyle hit $2.2 million today.

Ian Usher, a 44-year-old from Yorkshire in England, launched the unusual auction after announcing on his blog: "I have had enough of my life! I don't want it any more! You can have it if you like!....full story from NEWS.com.au
Update of previous story
Final Update 29 June 2008: Man auctions off his life, sale price disappoints


Man in wheelchair charged with drunk-driving: Police in Australia have charged a man for drink driving in a motorised wheelchair after he was found to be six times over the legal alcohol limit, local media reported on Monday.

Police in the tropical northern Queensland city of Cairns said the man had a blood alcohol reading of 0.31, and was so drunk he was asleep at the controls of his motorised wheelchair in a turning lane of a major highway....full story from Reuters UK

June 21, 2008

UK police chopper chases UFO after near collision: The pilot of a police helicopter was forced to take evasive action to avoid a collision with a UFO as the aircraft was returning to the Ministry of Defence base of St Athan, near Cardiff.

The three airmen described the unidentified flying object as "saucer-shaped", and proceeded to pursue, getting as far as the North Devon coast....full story from The Register
-Bet you know the ending to this one already....

June 20, 2008

In Moscow, dinner invite includes a shower: For many of Moscow's residents summer means dinner parties that revolve around having a shower.

Moscow authorities have switched off the hot water for annual repairs to the Soviet-era pipeline system, forcing millions of Muscovites to shiver through cold showers, shower at a friend's house - or not shower at all....full story from the Dominion Post


Russian drunk driver takes traffic cop for a ride: A Russian drunk driver knocked over a traffic policeman then drove for about 1 km (0.6 miles) with the officer clinging to the roof of his car, local police said on Friday.

The motorist only came to a halt after the policeman on the roof fired eight rounds from his pistol, police in the Khabarovsk region, on Russia's Pacific coast, said in a statement....full story from Reuters UK

June 19, 2008

Australian ire over TV chef's F-words: The oaths and expletives for which colourful British TV chef Gordon Ramsay is famed have brought him to the attention of Australian lawmakers.

An inquiry was initiated by Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi, after he watched Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares programme....full story from the BBC


Net addiction a 'clinical disorder', says psychiatrist: A US psychiatrist has declared internet addiction a "clinical disorder" with some sufferers so hooked on cyberspace they "required medication or even hospital treatment to curb the time they spent on the web".

Dr Jerald Block, of the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, describes in an editorial in the American Journal of Psychiatry the four symptoms of hopeless addiction: victims "forget to eat and sleep"; they crave more advanced tech and more time online as they're numbed by "resistance" to the kicks they get from their current system; prising them away from their computer results in "genuine withdrawal symptoms"; and they begin to become more argumentative, more fatigued, more isolated from society, and perform worse in tests....full story from The Register


Lightning record: 7 strikes in a day: South Florida, which holds the title of the lightning capital of the world, set a record Wednesday: Bolts struck at least seven residences in Miami-Dade in one day, according to Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue.

"This is the rainy season. We've started it out with a bang," said Lt. Eddy Ballester, spokesman with Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue....full story from the Miami Herald


Porsche driver charged over gasoline theft: A man driving a $120,000 Porsche in New Zealand has been charged with theft after filling the vehicle with petrol worth $169 and driving away, despite being challenged by service station staff.

Forecourt attendants at Paekakariki BP called Wellington police - after threatening to siphon the gas back out of the vehicle - when the man allegedly refused to pay and drove off....full story w/pic from the Dominion Post

June 18, 2008

EU states oppose plan to end "bent cucumber" rule: Bent courgettes and cucumbers, misshapen garlic, warped leeks and onions? Who sets the rules?

One of the most popular jibes about EU over-regulation, where zealous Brussels bureaucrats are portrayed as wanting to set permitted sizes, lengths -- and "bendiness" -- for household fruit and vegetables, has come back to haunt the European Union....full story from Reuters UK


US woman sues over exploding thong: A 52-year-old US woman has filed suit against Victoria's Secret claiming that an attempt to spice up her underwear drawer ended in corneal trauma after a "decorative metallic piece" flew off an example of the lingerie giant's "Sexy Little Thing" low-rise v-string as she was slipping into the come-hither apparel and gave her an eyeful.

That's according to The Smoking Gun, which notes that Los Angeles Department of Transportation traffic officer Macrida Patterson's lawsuit, presented on 9 June in Los Angeles Superior Court, is seeking unspecified monetary damages over the "design problem"....full story from The Register

June 17, 2008

Internet-connected coffee maker has security holes: An Australian man has discovered security vulnerabilities in his Internet-connected coffee maker that could allow a remote attacker to not only take over his Windows XP-based PC but also make his coffee too weak.

Craig Wright, a risk advisory services manager at professional services firm BDO, found several security holes, including a buffer overflow in the Internet Connection software that links his Jura F90 coffee maker to his PC....(full story from CNET News)....Or in Mr. Wright's own words in an exclusive interview with Humor Etc:

"The F90 is an Internet connected appliance. As more and more appliances come to be online, hackers will find new and novel ways to attack systems. Something that has not been thought of in the past are household appliances.

I have a Jura F90 Coffee maker with the Jura Internet Connection Kit. The idea is to:

'Enable the Jura Impressa F90 to communicate with the Internet, via a PC. Download parameters to configure your espresso machine to your own personal taste. If there's a problem, the engineers can run diagnostic tests and advise on the solution without your machine ever leaving the kitchen.'

Guess what - it can not be patched as far as I can tell ;) It also has a few software vulnerabilities.

Fun things you can do with a Jura coffee maker: 1. Change the preset coffee settings (make weak or strong coffee) 2. Change the amount of water per cup (say 300ml for a short black) and make a puddle 3. Break it by engineering settings that are not compatible (and making it require a service)

The connectivity kit uses the connectivity of the PC it is running on to connect the coffee machine to the internet. This allows a remote coffee machine "engineer" to diagnose any problems and to remotely do a preliminary service.

Best yet, the software allows a remote attacker to gain access to the Windows XP system it is running on at the level of the user."

Compromise by Coffee.

Russian air force bombs house with cement: Russian air force planes dropped a 25-kg (55-lb) sack of cement on a suburban Moscow home last week while seeding clouds to prevent rain from spoiling a holiday, Russian media said on Tuesday.

"A pack of cement used in creating ... good weather in the capital region ... failed to pulverize completely at high altitude and fell on the roof of a house, making a hole about 80-100 cm (2.5-3 ft)," police in Naro-Fominsk told agency RIA-Novosti....full story from Reuters UK


Lizards and kites hold up flights in New Delhi: Around 100 flights were delayed in India's capital city after monitor lizards, jackals and birds strayed onto the runway, a day after the monsoon hit, The Hindustan Times reported on Tuesday.

A family of monitor lizards were first noticed by a pilot on the secondary runway on Monday morning, forcing authorities to delay flight operations for about an hour....full story from Reuters UK

June 16, 2008

Romanian village re-elects dead mayor: The residents of a Romanian village knowingly voted in a dead man as their mayor in Sunday's municipal election, preferring him to his living opponent.

Neculai Ivascu, 57, who ran the village for almost two decades, died from liver disease just after voting began -- but still won the election by a margin of 23 votes....full story from Reuters UK


UK House of Lords hits YouTube: The House of Lords has released a series of short films on YouTube to explain its work.

The five films, released on 13 June 2008, aim to improve understanding of the upper chamber. The first, House of Lords: What's it all about?, is a four-minute film, in which members of the public appear in black and white - some expressing ignorance of the institution, with comments including "I haven't got a clue" - and members of the chamber including Lord Puttnam and Baroness Williams of Crosby appearing in colour, explaining what they do....full story from The Register


US State Department tells staff to lay off hookers: The U.S. State Department has issued its annual report on human trafficking, analyzing 170 countries' efforts to fight trafficking for prostitution, forced labor and other purposes.

But Newsmax has learned that the Department has also issued a directive to its own employees warning them not to contribute to the problem by enlisting the services of a prostitute....full story from Newsmax


Italian kidnaps ex-girlfriend to get ironing done: An Italian man was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend from a pub, taking her home and forcing her to iron his clothes and wash the dishes, police said on Monday.

The 43-year-old man dragged the woman out of a pub in the port city of Genoa, shoved her into a car and took her to his home where he made her iron and wash dishes after threatening her, they said....full story from Reuters UK

June 15, 2008

Couple cuffed together after bedroom antics: Swedish police said they received an unusual call for help when a couple became locked in handcuffs during bedroom antics.

The amorous pair contacted police in Linkoping, Sweden, when their keys wouldn't open the handcuffs, the Swedish News Agency TT reported Sunday....full story from UPI

June 13, 2008

Girl survives lightning strike, then wins Lottery: No one quite understands the term "striking it lucky" better than 16-year-old BreAnna Helsel. The Michigan teen survived being struck by lightning and went on to win $20 in the lottery the next day.

Helsel was at her home in Blanchard, about 50 miles northeast of Grand Rapids, watching thunderstorms roll by on June 6 when she noticed rain entering an open kitchen window....full story from CBS News


Japan legislates waistlines: Japan, a country not known for its overweight people, has undertaken one of the most ambitious campaigns ever by a nation to slim down its citizenry.

Summoned by the city of Amagasaki one recent morning, Minoru Nogiri, 45, a flower shop owner, found himself lining up to have his waistline measured. With no visible paunch, he seemed to run little risk of being classified as overweight, or metabo, the preferred word in Japan these days.

But because the new state-prescribed limit for male waistlines is a strict 33.5 inches, he had anxiously measured himself at home a couple of days earlier. "I'm on the border," he said....full story from The New York Times

June 12, 2008

Friday 13th not more unlucky, Dutch study shows: Unlucky for some? Dutch statisticians have established that Friday 13th, a date regarded in many countries as inauspicious, is actually safer than an average Friday.

A study published on Thursday by the Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics (CVS) showed that fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occur when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday than on other Fridays....full story from Reuters UK


Lightning levels ticket-writing officer: It's hard to know what message to take away from yesterday's fateful lightning strike during a fierce thunderstorm in Hampton, New Hampshire.

Lightning came so close to hitting Officer Alex Reno that he was knocked from his feet just as he was about to issue a ticket to a guy stopped in the middle of Route 1A snapping pictures of the heavenly sky show....full story from the UnionLeader (New Hampshire)


NZ drivers turn to blow-up dolls to beat traffic rules: Drivers in New Zealand's largest city of Auckland are turning to inflatable passengers to try and beat transit lane rules.

Blow-up dolls, shop mannequins and dogs dressed up as children have all been used to try and justify driving in lanes where vehicles are required to have at least three occupants....full story from Reuters UK

June 11, 2008

'Unicorn' deer spied in Italian nature preserve: A deer with a single horn in the center of its head - much like the fabled, mythical unicorn - has been spotted in a nature preserve in Italy, park officials said Wednesday.

"This is fantasy becoming reality," Gilberto Tozzi, director of the Center of Natural Sciences in Prato, told The Associated Press. "The unicorn has always been a mythological animal....full story from USA Today


Man feels fine after being shot in head by nailgun: George Chandler said he feels fine, even though a nailgun fired a 2.5 inch nail into the top of his head on Friday. Chandler and a friend were doing a project in a backyard when the nailgun hose became tangled, causing the tool to fire one nail.

Chandler said Monday he told his friend he didn't know where the nail went, but he felt a sting on the top of his head....full story from CBS News

June 10, 2008

Short Indian leader demands taller statue: She may be diminutive, but the fiery leader of India's most populous state has no patience for short statues of herself.

Mayawati, the 5-foot tall chief minister of the northern India state of Uttar Pradesh, ordered officials to replace a 12-foot bronze statue of herself with a larger one because it was 3 feet shorter than nearby statues of other leaders....full story from IHT


Fireman drives trucks 20 years without license: A fire-fighter in Japan lost his job after city officials found out he had been driving ambulances and firetrucks for over 20 years without a driver's license, an official in Takaoka City, central Japan, said on Tuesday.

The case came to light when the fire-fighter, in his 40s, who had been working for the city for over 25 years, hesitated to show his driver's license during a regular inspection last week, said Shigeru Sawasaki, a Takaoka City official....full story from Reuters UK

June 9, 2008

McDonald's workers catch chicken: Employees of a Temecula, Calif., McDonald's said they have captured a chicken that had terrorized the restaurant's drive-through lane for nearly four months.

The employees said the brave fowl would anger customers by blocking the drive-through lanes and bother employees by shedding feathers around the premises, the Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise reported Monday....full story from UPI


Antarctica base gets 16,500 condoms before darkness: One of the last shipments to a U.S. research base in Antarctica before the onset of winter darkness was a year's supply of condoms, a New Zealand newspaper reported on Monday.

Bill Henriksen, the manager of the McMurdo base station, said nearly 16,500 condoms were delivered last month and would be made available, free of charge, to staff throughout the year to avoid the potential embarrassment of having to buy them....full story from Reuters UK

June 8, 2008

Stranded divers chase off dragon: European scuba divers swept away in strong currents survived 12 hours in shark-infested waters and then scrambled onto a remote Indonesian island where they faced yet another threat: a Komodo dragon.

The divers - three from Britain and one each from France and Sweden - came face-to-face with the giant, carnivorous lizard on Rinca island's palm-fringed beach, and fought it off by pelting it with rocks and pieces of wood, port official Pariman said Sunday....full story from IHT

June 7, 2008

Cubans guard glasses on John Lennon statue after thefts: Ever since thieves twice swiped the iconic round-rimmed spectacles from Havana's John Lennon statue eight years ago, four retirees have rotated 12-hour, round-the-clock shifts to ensure they don't go missing again.

"You have to be here every day because the day you aren't, there the glasses go," said watchman Juan Gonzalez, an 89-year-old retired filing clerk who smokes up to seven cigars a day guarding the bronze statue from a nearby bench....full story from Yahoo News


Democrats resort to unusual fund-raising methods in Wyoming: Republicans will get a rare opportunity this weekend to show beyond any doubt that Democratic candidates are all wet. All they need is $5 and a good throwing arm.

The Converse County Democratic Party will host a "Dunk a Democrat" booth at Jackalope Days in Douglas (@115 miles north of Cheyenne) on Saturday. Wyoming's four candidates for federal office _ House candidate Gary Trauner and Senate candidates Chris Rothfuss, Nick Carter and Keith Goodenough _ all have volunteered to perch themselves above what promises to be chilly water.....full story from the Casper Star-Tribune

June 6, 2008

Typo on diplomas embarrasses Ohio principal: A Cleveland-area principal says he's embarrassed his students got proof of their "educaiton" on their high school diplomas.

Westlake High School officials misspelled "education" on the diplomas distributed last weekend. It's been the subject of mockery on local radio....full story from CBS News

June 5, 2008

New Zealand sees breakthrough in animal gas problem: New Zealand believes it has made a breakthrough in its plan to cut methane emissions from its livestock, part of a strategy to tackle greenhouse gasses, the farming nation's trade minister said on Wednesday.

"Our agricultural research organisation just last week was able to map the genome ... that causes methane in ruminant animals and we believe we can vaccinate against (that)," Phil Goff told a conference in Paris....full story from Reuters UK


Canada offers cash and bicycles to scrap cars made before 1996: Canadians will be offered bicycles, public transit passes or cash if they agree to scrap their old gas-guzzling vehicles, the government said on Wednesday.

Ottawa says five million of the 18 million cars and trucks in Canada were made before 1996, when tougher emissions standards were introduced. The older vehicles produce about 19 times more pollutants than newer models, the government said....full story from Reuters UK


Brits are bottom of tourist heap: If you think the world's worst tourists are loud-mouthed Americans or Germans who grab all the banana lounges, think again.

The travellers that hoteliers everywhere say are a real nightmare are the British.

They are notorious for drunken behaviour, general rudeness and for not being able to speak a word of the local language....full story from NEWS.com.au

June 3, 2008

TV, guns, fridges -- Brazil prisoner had it all: With a plasma TV, a DVD player, $172,000 in cash, gym equipment, two refrigerators and a couple of guns, Genilson Lino da Silva had everything he needed for a luxurious life -- in his Brazilian prison cell.

It came to an end on Monday when his cell, which also contained a king-sized bed, was raided in a police operation against drug traffickers in the northern city of Salvador....full story from Reuters UK


World Youth Day 'will be a boost for sex industry': The sex industry is expected to be blessed with an increase in customers thanks to the most unlikely of sources - World Youth Day.

A report by Industry analysts IBISWorld predicted the 2008-09 financial year would see strong growth for brothels, strip clubs and prostitutes, primarily on the back of a marked increase in tourism levels to Sydney, Australia, as a result of the Catholic Church's World Youth Day....full story from NEWS.com.au


Ohio city OKs jail time for failing to mow lawn: Homeowners who don't mow their grass in Canton, Ohio, now face stiffer penalties....including possible jail time.

The city council unanimously passed a law Monday that makes a second high-grass violation a fourth-degree misdemeanor carrying a fine of up to $250 and as many as 30 days in jail....full story from CBS News


Couple in India "divorced without knowledge": A happily married couple in northern India got the shock of their lives when they learned they had divorced 10 years ago, the Times of India reported on Tuesday.

Meena Verma, a mother of two children, tried to file a case against her in-laws for violence, only to be told by a court in Haryana state that she had been divorced for a decade....full story from Reuters UK


Japanese told to speed up bathing and save energy: Speedier family baths could help Japanese cut their burgeoning energy consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a government report said on Tuesday.

Japanese households consume less energy than their U.S. and European counterparts, but consumption has been sharply increasing --jumping 44 percent between 1990 and 2005 -- a big reason the environment white paper zeroed in on ways for people to save energy....full story from Reuters UK
Kinda brings back memories of the old "shower with a friend to save water" days....

June 2, 2008

Foster's targets new market in 'luxury' beer: T'S a beer fit for a queen. Marking today's 55th anniversary of the Queen's coronation, Foster's has sent her a gift-wrapped bottle of Crown Ambassador Reserve lager, the first from a limited release of 5000 champagne-style bottles to be sold at $60 each.

The gesture is a crafty marketing hook to launch a new drinks category Foster's master brewer John Cozens calls "luxury beer"....full story from NEWS.com.au


Man unearths box filled with Depression-era cash: Dan Deming had heard the rumors about the buried treasure on his central Wisconsin farm.

At first he made some halfhearted attempts to find it, and then searched in earnest for two or three years after receiving a metal detector for his birthday....full story from CBS News


Beijing reminds foreigners to behave during Olympics: The organizers of this summer's Beijing Olympics on Monday reminded foreigners coming to China for the Games to behave, warning them that everything from protesting without permission to sleeping outdoors was banned.

The extensive list, written only in Chinese and put on the organizers' official website (www.beijing2008.cn), also said that purchase of Olympics' tickets did not guarantee the holder would automatically get a Chinese visa....full story from Reuters UK

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