Oddities&Endities

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Brace up


Rare buckle on show
(Filed: 29/08/2006)

A rare 1,300-year-old Saxon belt buckle unearthed with a metal detector will go on public display for the first time today.
The copper alloy buckle, which dates from AD 600-720, is only the second one of its type to have been found in England.
It was discovered recently on the outskirts of London by Bill Robson, a treasure hunter, who handed it to the Museum of London.
Daily Telegraph

The Biter Bit?


Tape thieves put Robin Hood series in jeopardy
By Rosie Murray-West
(Filed: 29/08/2006)

A BBC drama series is in jeopardy after vital tapes were stolen in Budapest. Robin Hood, an £8 million series which was due to be broadcast on Saturday nights from October, could be pushed back or even shelved, sources fear.
The BBC said yesterday that the theft of the tapes and other equipment had caused "inconvenience and have resulted in a delay in finalising some of the episodes".
The corporation would not comment on rumours that eastern European gangsters were demanding a £1 million ransom for the return of the tapes, or on reports that there was no back-up recording.
Daily Telegraph

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Deep waters


It's a star show at 2,000ft, says record diver
By Francis Harris in Washington
(Filed: 19/08/2006)

A US Navy diver wearing a heavily armoured suit has plunged 2,000ft below the sea's surface.
In a feat which reads like a Jules Verne adventure, chief navy diver Daniel Jackson donned the bulky 1,000lb aluminium diving costume and slipped into the waters of the Pacific Ocean off California.
Jackson described the dive to almost twice the previous record depth as an extraordinary experience. "At 2,000ft I had topside turn off all the lights and it was like a star show," he said. "The phosphorescence that was naturally in the water and in most of life down there started to glow.
"When I started to travel back up, all the lights looked like a shower of stars going downwards. It was the best ride in the world."
Cdr Keith Lehnhardt said the Canadian-built ADS 2000 suit was designed for submarine rescue missions. It had taken 11 years to develop, with work being accelerated after the sinking of the Russian submarine Kursk in 2000 with the loss of her 118-man crew.
Daily Telegraph

Beetle, not VW


Nazi fanatics killing off Hitler's special beetle
By Kate Connolly in Berlin
(Filed: 19/08/2006)

A blind beetle named after Adolf Hitler is under threat of extinction because of the demand for it within neo-Nazi circles, insect experts say.
Anophtalmus hitleri, or "eyeless Hitler", is being hunted in large numbers in its natural habitat in a single cave in Slovenia and specimens are selling for as much as £680, National Geographic Deutschland reported.
Martin Bähr, an entomologist at the Zoological State Collection in Munich, said: "There has been a run on these creatures. Collectors are scouring their natural habitat for them. Almost all of our specimens at the museum have been stolen."
The beetle was named by Oscar Scheibel, a Zagreb entomologist and Nazi supporter who discovered it in the 1930s.
Daily Telegraph

Chance encounter


Belgium 'an accident of history with football and beer'
By David Rennie in Brussels
(Filed: 19/08/2006)

The political leader of Flanders, the Dutch-speaking half of Belgium, has caused outrage by saying that the 175-year-old Belgian nation was an "accident of history" with "no intrinsic value".
Years of devolution had eroded the kingdom to the point where it now amounted to nothing more than the "king, the national football team and certain brands of beer", said Yves Leterme, the Flemish region's premier.
The two halves of the nation read different newspapers, watch different television programmes, listen to different pop music and follow different celebrities. Outside Brussels, road signs and notices are strictly monolingual, to the point of farce.
Tourists driving from Brussels to nearby Mons or Lille frequently panic when they leave the capital and those two city names suddenly vanish from road signs. They do not realise that the road runs through Flanders, so motorway signs must say they are heading for "Bergen" and "Rijsel" - the Flemish names for Mons and Lille, respectively.
Daily Telegraph

Friday, August 18, 2006

For sale, large bridge over Thames


Who's Who of conmen (1947)
By Ben Fenton
(Filed: 18/08/2006)

As ugly mugs go, they don't come much uglier than this collection, put together by a Metropolitan Police force that feared a flood of international conmen and swindlers would descend on post-war Britain.
The Met contacted police forces around the world for details of villains known to operate various scams and collected them together in a special pamphlet, published in 1947, but open to public scrutiny for the first time now.
The Illustrated Circular of Confidence Tricksters and Expert Criminals, a kind of Who's Who of the swindler's parallel universe, was to be of strictly limited circulation.
In 1950, there was a proposal to update the circular, because a new wave of conmen was expected to arrive for the following year's Festival of Britain.
But the commissioner of the Met, Sir Harold Scott, dismissed the idea, citing British poverty as the main reason for a decline in swindling here.
''As you know, the crime of the confidence trick is well on the decline and there is no doubt that these criminals are "displaying their wares" in countries where the inhabitants have an over sufficiency of money to spare. This appears not to be so in England and may be that is the reason why we are not so troubled with them."
Daily Telegraph

The flying coal scuttle


Coal power could keep America's B52s flying
By Francis Harris
(Filed: 18/08/2006)

The American air force is launching tests to allow gigantic B52 bombers to fly on coal power.
The flights will get underway at an air force base in the Mojave desert next month.
If they are successful, hundreds of American military aircraft will be using synthetic fuel produced from coal by 2010.
Experts are particularly enthusiastic about the possibilities of coal because America sits on a quarter of the world's known reserves.
Tests have already been carried out on one of the giant, eight-engined B52s on the ground. They were judged a success.
Daily Telegraph

Ooops, sorry!


Byng leads the list of candidates for a late pardon
By Ben Fenton
(Filed: 18/08/2006)

The prospective pardoning of 306 First World War soldiers who were shot at dawn has sparked calls for Adml Sir John Byng to be given similar treatment.
Byng was executed on the quarterdeck of his own flagship after failing to retake Minorca in 1757.
His death prompted Voltaire's famous remark that the British occasionally shot an admiral "pour encourager les autres".
Daily Telegraph

Thursday, August 17, 2006

All at sea


Canals are now busier than during the Industrial Revolution
By Nicole Martin
(Filed: 17/08/2006)

Britain's network of canals - once thought to be in terminal decline - is enjoying "an unprecedented renaissance", it emerged yesterday.
British Waterways, which manages 2,000 miles of canals and rivers, said a record 29,000 boats were on its network - more than at the height of the Industrial Revolution.
It attributed the rise to an ageing population, greater spending on leisure activities and increased investment in the country's waterways. In the heyday of the canal network, from 1760 to 1840, more than 30 million tons of goods were carried each year on 5,000 miles of waterways across Britain.
Jonathan Ludford, from British Waterways, said canals and navigable rivers were becoming increasingly popular because of their beauty and diversity.
He said: "Going along them you can witness some of the most magnificent countryside."
Daily TELEGRAPH

Smile for the camera


Spy camera sales soar in war on burglars
By David Derbyshire, Consumer Affairs Editor
(Filed: 17/08/2006)

A growing number of householders are installing Big Brother-style CCTV cameras in their gardens and driveways to deter burglars and keep tabs on visitors, according to new figures.
Sales of DIY home security kits have risen by around a fifth in the last year, fuelled by the perception that police no longer take domestic burglary seriously, industry experts say.
The rise has also been triggered by concerns that conventional burglar alarms are unreliable and usually ignored by neighbours.
A poll of 1,300 Maplin customers found that two thirds were buying cameras to catch and deter burglars, while nine per cent said they wanted to use the cameras to spy on workmen in the home.
Daily Telegraph

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A bit of a circus


The circus is coming - from 50 yards away
By David Sapsted
(Filed: 16/08/2006)

A circus at a seaside resort has had to take down its big top and move to a new pitch 50 yards away in order to get around government red tape.
Under the 2003 Licensing Act, a circus can stay at one location for a maximum of only 15 days each year. This proved a problem for Circus Mondao as it was licensed for performances throughout August at Sheringham, on the north Norfolk coast.
Faced with the legal dilemma, the performers and North Norfolk District Council decided that a way must be found to enable the show to go on beyond yesterday.
The solution was to move the circus and all of its paraphernalia 50 yards across a track which, technically, meant it had shifted to a new location.
Now the big top is sited on the spot which had been used as a car park until Monday.
Daily Telegraph

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Postie


Savaged postman loses his job
By Paul Stokes
(Filed: 15/08/2006)

A postman has lost his job after being savaged by a dog. Terry Johnson, 53, suffered 41 bite marks. He has been unable to work since the alsatian attack eight months ago.
Mr Johnson, who now walks with a stick, was expecting Royal Mail to offer him a less demanding post. But when he met managers, he said, he was given a cheque for £7,000 and told he was being retired on health grounds from his £15,000-a- year delivery round at East Herringthorpe, Rotherham, South Yorks.
Mr Johnson said: "It's hard to believe after what I've been through. They haven't kept in touch, asked how I've been or anything."
The Royal Mail said: "On occasion, we are advised on medical grounds that there is not a suitable position for an employee and this can result in the person retiring on the grounds of ill health."
Daily Telegraph

Monday, August 14, 2006

Passport to nowhere


Passport photograph of girl's bare shoulders rejected 'as it may offend'
By Paul Stokes
(Filed: 14/08/2006)

A five-year-old girl's passport application was rejected because her photograph showed her bare shoulders.
Hannah Edwards's mother, Jane, was told that the exposed skin might be considered offensive in a Muslim country.
The photograph was taken at a photo-booth at a local post office for a family trip to the south of France.
Because of the way the camera was set up, the picture came out showing Hannah's shoulders.
The family had it signed and presented it at a post office with the completed form but were told that it would not be accepted by the Passport Office.
Daily Telegraph

Cut the chatter


Tyre-slasher targets drivers on mobiles
By Stephanie Condron
(Filed: 14/08/2006)

A vigilante, who slashes the tyres of motorists who talk on their mobile telephones while driving, is being hunted by police.
The so-called "mobile slasher" leaves an anonymous note made from letters cut from newspapers on the windscreens of the cars.
The note reads: "Warning. You have been seen driving while using your mobile phone."
Police are investigating a series of night-time raids in Hampshire after 20 motorists in Gosport, Lee-on-the-Solent and Stubbington reported being targeted.
Daily Telegraph

Rock and ham roll ...


WI to sell rock cakes at pop festivals
By Stephanie Condron
(Filed: 14/08/2006)

The idea of a Women's Institute tea tent at a pop festival might once have been laughable. But now WI groups across the country have their sights set on events including Glastonbury where they might forge links with younger generations by serving tea and cake.
One WI group has been baking since June in preparation for next month's Bestival music festival on the Isle of Wight. Another group in Yorkshire hopes to attend the Glastonbury music festival in Somerset next June and moves are afoot for a tea tent at the 2007 Big Chill event near Ledbury in Herefordshire.
The WI's tent at Bestival has proved so popular since its debut in 2004 that this year it has been promoted to a prime plot outside the bandstand where groups including Scissor Sisters and The Stranglers will perform. And the traditional white tea tent has been replaced with a giant teepee.
"Other events are now beginning to talk with various Women's Institute groups to have tea tents," said Kate Jackman, a Bestival organiser.
"Festivals are not just about music and getting out of it. We have settled down. We want tea and cake."
Daily Telegraph

Saturday, August 12, 2006

It's taxing being a thief


Thief told to pay £200,000 tax on haul
By Malcolm Moore in Rome
(Filed: 12/08/2006)

An Italian thief who stole more than a million euros from a vault has been asked to pay £200,000 tax on his takings.
He is the first person to be hit with a new law introduced at the end of last month which states that money gained from theft or fraud are taxable.
His lawyer, Giancarlo Massari, said yesterday his client was "disconsolate".
Antonio Perrone, 38, who has the bespectacled appearance of a mild-mannered bank clerk, carried out the heist two years ago in the northern town of Bolzano.
He was convicted of the theft of ?1.3 million (£875,000) and sentenced to four and a half years in prison. Two of his co-workers were found guilty of helping him.
Perrone has been hit with a ?300,000 capital gains tax bill and will also have to pay a fine for tax evasion.
Daily Telegraph

Gapping the bridge


Payback time for Washington commuters
By Jack Fairweather in Washington
(Filed: 12/08/2006)

Commuters to Washington DC, who have raged at the hours lost in traffic jams for years, will be offered a rare chance for revenge later this month.
A competition has begun to find someone to blow up the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, one the nation's worst bottlenecks.
Motorists can log on to the bridge project's website and record their worst experiences crossing the bridge, where the eight-lane road narrows to six with no hard shoulder. The one deemed to have suffered the most by a panel of transport experts will get to blow up a half-mile section of the bridge. Officials for the bridge project say the competition, which began this week, has been inundated with entries.

Daily Telegraph

Say it ain't so...


Evangelicals urge museum to hide man's ancestors
By Mike Pflanz in Nairobi
(Filed: 12/08/2006)

Powerful evangelical churches are pressing Kenya's national museum to sideline its world-famous collection of hominid bones pointing to man's evolution from ape to human.
Leaders of the country's six-million-strong Pentecostal congregation want Dr Richard Leakey's ground-breaking finds relegated to a back room instead of being given their usual prime billing.
The collection includes the most complete skeleton yet found of Homo erectus, the 1.7 million-year-old Turkana Boy unearthed by Dr Leakey's team in 1984 at Nariokotome, near Lake Turkana in northern Kenya.
The museum also holds bones from several specimens of Australopithecus anamensis, believed to be the first hominid to walk upright, four million years ago. Together the artefacts amount to the clearest record yet discovered of the origins of Homo sapiens.
They have cemented the global reputation of Kenya's Great Rift Valley as the cradle of mankind, and draw in tourists and locals to the museum's sprawling compound on a hill above Nairobi.
Church leaders aim to hijack that process. "The Christian community here is very uncomfortable that Leakey and his group want their theories presented as fact," said Bishop Bonifes Adoyo, the head of Christ is the Answer Ministries, the largest Pentecostal church in Kenya.
"Our doctrine is not that we evolved from apes, and we have grave concerns that the museum wants to enhance the prominence of something presented as fact which is just one theory."
Daily Telegraph

Vacant possession


MacDonald rebellion against new clan chief
By Auslan Cramb
(Filed: 11/08/2006)

The new chief of one of Scotland's most famous clans is facing a rebellion from his own clansmen after seizing a title that has been vacant since 1848.
After a long legal battle, 75-year-old Ranald MacDonald will be installed next month as chief of the MacDonalds of Keppoch, the first Highland clan to support Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745.
The retired hearing aid specialist has finally won his case in Edinburgh's Court of Session, but some clan historians say he will receive a lukewarm welcome at his inauguration at Fort William.
His opponents say he has a flawed bloodline because one of his ancestors, Alexander, was the illegitimate son of the last chief, Ranald, who died 158 years ago.
Rory MacDonald, a clan historian from Spean Bridge, Inverness-shire, said: "He may be considered chief by others, but he's not welcome here."
Speaking at his Edinburgh home, Mr MacDonald said the criticism was "codswallop". He added: "The Keppoch clan is back in its homeland."
Daily Telegraph

Friday, August 11, 2006

Cheesey wheeze


Wensleydale wants to protect its name
By Paul Stokes
(Filed: 11/08/2006)

Wallace and Gromit's favourite food maker is to ask the European Union to help to preserve the integrity of its Yorkshire dairy produce.
It is 10 years since the Plasticine characters alluded to the delights of Wensleydale cheese in the film A Close Shave.
The largest producer, Wensleydale Dairy Products, based in Hawes, North Yorks, with sales of around £14 million, announced yesterday that it was seeking Protected Designation of Origin status.
If successful, it would prevent anyone outside a specified area of Wensleydale from using the name Real Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese.
Daily Telegraph

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Stone me!


Mick Jagger gets a voice coach at last
(Filed: 10/08/2006)

After 35 years Mick Jagger has turned to voice coaching to keep the raw, energetic sound that brought him fame and fortune.
The 63-year-old Rolling Stones singer told Virgin Radio: "Better late than never. I always tell these younger singers, 'I never used to do it but you should.'
"When you are singing for hours your voice gets tired. You have to warm up."
Daily Telegraph

Corny tale


Forget the bills, buy some shoes
By Anil Dawar
(Filed: 10/08/2006)

A quarter of women would rather buy a pair of shoes than pay their bills, according to a survey. One in two women owned more than 30 pairs of shoes and eight per cent had more than 100 pairs.
One in 10 women admitted to spending more than £1,000 on shoes in the past year.
The survey of 1,000 women and men by the magazine Harper's Bazaar showed that three quarters of women had shoes that did not fit properly and 55 per cent of men had had to carry their girlfriends because their feet hurt.
Nearly one in 10 of the women said she would have cosmetic surgery if it made her feet look better.
The men polled overwhelmingly declared stilettos the sexiest heels and 79 per cent of women admit to having had sex wearing only their shoes.
Daily Telegraph

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bligh:"I said it would come to no good..."


Island hears its first murder case in 150 years
(Filed: 09/08/2006)

A south Pacific outpost where half the inhabitants are descended from the Bounty mutineers heard gruesome details of its first murder in 150 years yesterday.
Glenn McNeill, 28, a chef from New Zealand, appeared in court accused of killing Janelle Patton, 29, an Australian hotel worker, on Norfolk Island in 2002. She had 64 injuries, including stab wounds and skull fractures.
Daily Telegraph

Just a minute...


Checkouts are hit by queue rage
By Amy Iggulden
(Filed: 09/08/2006)

Britons, famous for decades for their patient queuing, have apparently lost the art when it comes to waiting at supermarket checkouts.
After eight minutes, they become "extremely irritated" and after 21 minutes impatient toe-tapping explodes into full-blown anger, says research published today.
A survey of 1,014 people found that, on average, adults spend 18 minutes every day in a queue and 273 days in a lifetime.
One in four 18- to 24-year-olds admitted jumping the queue.
The survey says that people over 55 are the first to become irritated, losing their calm after waiting seven minutes.
Daily Telegraph

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cutting down on government


100 Somali ministers sacked
By David Blair, Africa Correspondent
(Filed: 08/08/2006)

Somalia's interim president sacked his government yesterday, trying to counter the Islamic radicals who are poised to capture a large area of the anarchic country.
President Abdullahi Yusuf, who controls little more than the ruined town of Baidoa, announced the dismissal of all 100 ministers leaving only the prime minister, Ali Mohammed Ghedi.
Islamic radicals styling themselves the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts, have taken the capital, Mogadishu, and threaten Baidoa and Mr Yusuf's administration.
Daily Telegraph

Fares Fair


Taxi to Inverness. Will you take a Czech?
By Caroline Davies
(Filed: 05/08/2006)

The latest commodity to be exported from East to West is currently rolling off the production line in Prague and heading, literally, straight for your street.
These taxi drivers come fully adapted to the British market, complete with knowledge of the Highway Code, how to find a good pub in Plymouth and the quickest route from Iona Road to Birnie Terrace in Inverness. And demand is soaring.
So far around 200 Eastern European drivers from Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have arrived in Britain having studied at a hot-housing taxi school in the Czech capital.
Most have landed in Plymouth, home of the company TaxiFast, which first looked to Eastern Europe 18 months ago after failing to attract enough local recruits to meet its annual five million passenger journeys.
A quarter of its 400-strong workforce now comes through its Prague training school, run in conjunction with the Prague recruitment agency Dunross.
Daily Telegraph

Escaping from an Oxymoron


4,000 walk out of open prisons in five years
By John Steele
(Filed: 07/08/2006)

More than 4,000 prisoners have absconded from open prisons in England and Wales in the past five years, the Home Office has admitted.
In response to a parliamentary question from David Davis, the shadow home secretary, it said that 4,307 prisoners unlawfully left the 13 open prisons, including 693 in the year 2005-06.
Recent Prison Service figures showed that offenders had been absconding from Leyhill Open Prison, Glos, at the rate of almost two a week for three years. They were mainly robbery and burglary offenders but 22 murderers and seven rapists have fled Leyhill since 1999.
Daily Telegraph

SingalongaMao


China's karaoke police censor lyrics of 'unhealthy' favourites
By Peter Simpson in Beijing
(Filed: 06/08/2006)

To the finely tuned ear, the discordant warbling that pours out of China's karaoke lounges would be reason enough for the government to pull the plug on the singalong craze.
It is not the tortured octaves that have offended the ruling Communist Party, however, but the lyrics.
The Ministry of Culture has issued new rules to prevent "unhealthy" karaoke songs from polluting the nation's morals and millions of amateur divas, who croon with friends and family down at the local KTV (karaoke music video) parlour, are about to have some of their favourite songs struck off the play list.
If the censors have their way, straight out of China's karaoke hit parade will go chart-topper Go for Fun Alone. Critics have deemed as unacceptable opening lines judged to be riddled with defiance and independence after a love affair gone wrong.
"I don't want to be controlled? I say goodbye to you, even though I don't want to be lonely" is followed by the blunt admission: "I want to find another lover, but I am not used to this kind of [single] life."
Also threatened by the puritans' axe is the raunchy hit Office, which describes a secretive, work romance and includes the lyrics: "Look at the clothes on the desk, we spend so many nights together like tonight. Don't switch off the light in the office, and listen carefully, just in case Mr Zhou comes back to get his book."
Daily Telegraph

Up before the beak


Trapped by a parrot's peck
By Amy Iggulden
(Filed: 04/08/2006)

Micky, a cantankerous 50-year-old macaw, was still missing yesterday despite leading detectives to the man who stole him.
The bird bit Tristan Maidment, 23, so badly that police were able to trace the kidnapper through DNA in the blood he left on the floor of a pet shop in Frome, Somerset.
Angus Hart, 45, the pet shop proprietor who owned Micky for 10 years, thinks it will not be long before the new owners crack under the violence of the macaw's temper.
"He's a miserable old git, to be honest with you," he said. "We don't know where he is but he'll be hard work to look after.
"We're missing him and so is everybody else. He doesn't talk much but he can be quite cute and cuddly when he wants to be. If he didn't like you he'd certainly have a go at you.
"He did a good job with the man who took him and left plenty of blood at the scene for the police."
Daily Telegraph

Reality bites


Queen's new home is worth £35,000
(Filed: 04/08/2006)

The Queen has added a new property to her already impressive portfolio of residences.
While her other houses tend toward the palatial, and include Balmoral, Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, her new property is a run down, rat-infested mid-terrace house.
The red-brick building is in Gorton, east Manchester, where the hit show Shameless is filmed.
It has been abandoned for around 10 years and has had several windows boarded up after repeated attacks by vandals.
Daily Telegraph


Distinctive walk lands gay burglar in prison
By Amy Iggulden
(Filed: 04/08/2006)

A homosexual burglar was caught after a victim identified his "distinctive walk" on CCTV, a court was told yesterday.
Lance Williams, 19, broke into a house in his Welsh village of Rhymney to steal £400 at knifepoint. Three burglars were recorded on CCTV as they left the scene, but only Williams was caught.
He had apparently tried to disguise his identity by putting a scarf over his face and lowering his voice before breaking into the home of Nigel Jones, 42, who was stabbed in the back with the knife.
"Mr Jones was shown CCTV footage and recognised Williams," Michael Hammett, prosecuting, said. "He knew him as a local youth who had a distinctive walk."
Daily Telegraph

That rings a bell ...


Airports warning for 'radioactive' patients
By Celia Hall, Medical Editor
(Filed: 04/08/2006)

Patients who have had treatment with radioactive isotopes are triggering airport security screens, doctors warn in a study published today.
The study, in the British Medical Journal, says unsuspecting patients are being subjected to full searches and interrogation and need to be warned that they may attract the unwanted attentions of security officers.
One 46 year-old patient from Birmingham, who had been given radio-isotope treatment for an overactive thyroid, six weeks before, set off alarms at Orlando airport, Florida at the start of his holiday.
He was detained and strip searched, and sniffer dogs were used. After a lengthy interrogation, the treatment card evidence he produced was finally accepted.
Daily Telegraph

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Call in the Big Guy!


Let us pray to solve crime, say police
By Richard Alleyne
(Filed: 03/08/2006)

A rural police constabulary is calling on the ultimate special constable to help in its fight against crime: God.
Lincolnshire Police officers are launching a Prayer Watch scheme, asking churchgoers to focus their prayers on particular crimes that are blighting their communities, such as burglaries and violent attacks.
Under the proposals, churches and Christian groups will receive e-mails from the police alerting them to specific crimes, which they can then use to focus their prayers towards solving or preventing in the future.
A Lincolnshire Police spokesman, Dick Holmes, said: "In one sense it is similar to the conventional watch schemes like Neighbourhood Watch and Farm Watch in that it encourages congregations to keep an eye on church buildings. They are prime targets for thieves and vandals."
Daily Telegraph

Chilly? No, Brazil!


Atlantic currents dump wayward penguins on beaches of Rio
By Andrew Downie in Rio de Janeiro
(Filed: 03/08/2006)

More than 100 penguins have washed up on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro after currents dragged them thousands of miles north from their Antarctic home.
The magellanic penguins are now enjoying the hospitality of zoologists who picked them up from the beaches. Most of them are young birds who lost their way on their first venture into the South Atlantic.
Some Brazilians have kept them as pets, leading them around on leashes, while others, in a misguided attempt to provide them with a home from home, have put the birds inside fridges.
Daily Telegraph

Just Can't Bear It


I just wanna eat your teddy bear
By Richard Alleyne
(Filed: 03/08/2006)

Protecting a collection of teddy bears so valuable that insurers insisted on hiring highly-trained guard dogs was never going to be a picnic.
But nobody thought the bears, which include one previously owned by Elvis Presley, could be in danger from the enemy within.
They do now.
After the £500,000 attraction was closed for the night, a Dobermann pinscher called Barney went on the rampage, attacking many of the exhibits and ripping the head off Mabel, the £40,000 toy once owned by Elvis.
The bear, made by the famous German manufacturer Steiff in 1909, was to have taken pride of place as the centrepiece of the Wookey Bear Collection at Wookey Hole Caves, near Wells, in Somerset.
Greg West, 36, a security guard, was on duty on Tuesday night with his sidekick Barney when he saw Mabel and couldn't resist giving her a stroke. Unfortunately it is thought the dog became jealous and attacked Mabel. Having got a taste for stuffing, Barney then went on to maul a number of other toys. Mr West, from Totterdown, Bristol, said: "Barney has been a model guard dog for more than six years. I still can't believe what happened.
Daily Telegraph

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Cutting Back a Bit


Savers besiege banks after Zimbabwe lops zeros off banknotes
By Peta Thornycroft and Christopher Munnion in Johannesburg
(Filed: 02/08/2006)

Banks in Zimbabwe were swamped by customers yesterday after the central bank announced that three zeros were being taken off the Zimbabwe dollar to counter the 1,200 per cent inflation rate, the highest in the world.
The country's rampaging inflation has obliged Zimbab-weans to carry large blocks of currency for the most basic commodities. A loaf of bread, for instance, can cost more than a million Zimbabwe dollars - around £5.
Banks have also struggled to keep pace as their standard computer software strains to deal in 14-digit trillions and even larger quadrillions in commercial dealings. Everyone will now ignore the last three zeros on paper money.
The new official exchange rate will be 250 Zimbabwean dollars to one US dollar instead of 250,000.
Daily Telegraph

Paws for Thought


Parasite that makes cat-lovers neurotic
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
(Filed: 02/08/2006)

Cat-lovers may be more neurotic than other people as a result of a feline parasite that could ultimately also be responsible for international cultural differences, according to a radical theory published today.
More than a quarter of the world's population - ranging from about seven per cent of the UK population to almost 70 per cent in Brazil - is infected with Toxoplasma -gondii, a relative of the malaria bug, which also infects rats, giving them a suicidal attraction to cats.
"Some of us have a parasite in our brains that does its best to change our personalities," writes Dr Kevin Lafferty, of the University of California at Santa Barbara in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biology.
Daily Telegraph

Cosmetic Surgery


Doctors offer to amputate beggars' legs
By Rahul Bedi in New Delhi
(Filed: 02/08/2006)

Three doctors are being investigated by Indian medical authorities for offering to amputate beggars' healthy limbs so that they attract more money.
They were secretly filmed by the news channel CNN-IBN apparently offering to remove a leg for £120 and were said to be colluding with the crime gangs that control begging in cities.
One doctor, from a government hospital in Delhi, offered to induce gangrene by restricting the flow of blood so that amputation became vital.
After the broadcast an angry crowd gathered outside the doctors' homes demanding their arrest but they had already disappeared.
Daily Telegraph

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Gazza hazza quiet hol


Limassol rocked by violent weekend
By Jacqueline Theodoulou

LIMASSOL LIVED up to its rough reputation over the weekend as one restaurant was blown up, two gangs clashed and a taxi driver was accused of beating a young married couple in an inexplicable bout of road rage.
The episodes began at midnight on Saturday with the clash between a 23-year-old man, his 21-year-old wife and a 46-year-old taxi driver.
As reported to the police, the couple had been driving down Amathounta Avenue when they were overtaken by a black taxi which then suddenly blocked their way, forcing them to pull over on the side of the road.
Then, according to the 23-year-old and his wife, the cabbie approached the young man and started punching him in the face while at the same time mouthing obscenities.
The reasons behind the taxi driver’s outburst are unknown, though according to the police he had made a number of claims that are currently under investigation.

GANG CLASH
While investigating the young couple’s beating by the hot headed taxi driver, Limassol CID received yet another emergency call informing them of a serious incident involving a loaded shotgun, taking place in a home in Pano Polemidia.
Specifically, three armed friends from Limassol – aged 22, 26 and 30 – barged into the house of three brothers in Polemidia, demanding explanations over the alleged illicit affair the eldest was having with the wife of one of the three invaders.
The brothers then pounced on the three interlopers and beat them until the three invaders had to be taken to Limassol General Hospital for treatment. The 26 and 30-year-olds were later discharged while the 22-year-old was kept in overnight.

THE FIRE
Also in the early hours of Sunday morning, vandals smashed the window of a restaurant in Limassol, doused the place with flammable liquids and set it on fire.
But they were out of luck, as the flames died out a few moments later, not causing much damage to restaurant Red Ram, on October 28th Street.
Restaurant owner Fedonas Ioannou, 48, told police he had no idea who might have wanted to do this to him.
Cyprus Mail

All in the game


Goalkeeper's foul sidelines the president
(Filed: 01/08/2006)

Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, broke his nose at the weekend when he was fouled by a goalkeeper during an indoor football match and will be sidelined for 48 hours, his office said yesterday.
Mr Morales, a passionate player and fan, was injured during a game in the central city of Cochabamba between his presidential team and a local squad, the Independence Warriors.
"In the game's 32nd minute, with the score tied 2-2, the local team's goalkeeper committed a foul against the President of the Republic that produced the injury to his nose," a statement from his office said.
Mr Morales, who is known for his trademark hooped sweater, was treated at a local clinic and instructed to rest for two days.
He was inaugurated as Bolivia's first Indian president in January.
Daily Telegraph

Radio Love


Sex change for Christian radio station
(Filed: 01/08/2006)

A Christian radio station that played religious music and invited listeners to call in with prayer requests has changed its format overnight to one exclusively focused on sex.
KFYE-FM, based in Kingsburg, California, now describes itself as "Porn Radio", promoting "all sex radio, all the time", instead of its former "positive and encouraging" broadcasts.
The change - caused when the station was sold by the KLOVE Christian network - has led to one listener filing a formal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission over the station's sexual content. When songs are not explicit enough, moaning and groaning is played over the top. People under 21 are advised not to listen.
Daily Telegraph