Too Saucy for Soho

A spicy chilli sauce sparked fears of a chemical attack in Central London. Police closed off roads and evacuated homes as a cloud of acrid smoke hovered over Soho.

Fire-fighters wearing specialist breathing apparatus broke down the door of a Thai restaurant, only to emerge carrying a huge cooking pot containing dried chillies used to prepare Nam Prik Pao, a red-hot Thai dip served with prawn crackers.

Disco ... Weapon of Choice

Georgian authorities have turned to a new weapon against separatists in South Ossetia: disco.

1970's legends Boney M played a concert in the Georgian-controlled village of Tamarasheni. The concert is part of a wider effort to convince South Ossetian rebels that they would lead more peaceful and prosperous lives under Georgian control.

Publicity Against Mediocrity

Negative advertising works, at least for a Swedish care worker who gave it a try after various attempts at trying to get a new job by more conventional means.

"I want a well-paid job, I have no imagination, I am anti-social, uncreative and untalented" read an advertisement posted by Angelika Wedberg, 30, in the Goteborgs-Posten.

Her phone started ringing and job offers poured in. She even got an interview with a company that offered her a salary of about 18.000 crowns (2.800$) per month - an increase of more than a third on her current job as a care worker for the elderly.


Britain's Qualifications and Curriculum Authority decreed that secondary students must not be penalized for misspellings when taking an important hour-long test -- on English proficiency.

The spelling standard was loosened when only 71 percent of 14-year-old students managed to "reach the level expected in English" against a target of 75 percent.

Knee Surgery

A New York City jury awarded $450,000 in damages to a professional dancer whose career was ended in 2001 after surgery.

In a pre-op meeting, the dancer described the discomfort in his right knee, and the surgeon wrote a large "X" on the spot of the pain, but 20 minutes later, he mistakenly cut into the man's until-then-healthy left knee.

Jesus' Scent

Reading Psalm 45, Karen Tosterud of Vermillion, S.D., noted that the Messiah's "robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia" and decided "that gives the formula for Jesus' scent when he returns."

So she and her husband are now selling "His Essence" candles that "smell like Jesus."

Mouth-to-Beak Resuscitation

Euegene Safken says he let his chickens out of their coop outside of Collbran, Colo., and went into his house for a cup of coffee.

When he came back, he found one of his birds drowned in a tub of water in the yard. He fished the young chicken out of the water and thought, "what the heck, I'll give it a shot," and gave it mouth-to-beak resuscitation.

His girlfriend told him to give it up. "Leave the chicken alone; it's dead," Denise Safford says she told him. But, he said, "I wouldn't let that damn thing die." It worked: the chicken, he says, came back to life and is now fine. It wasn't so bad, he says. "I've kissed worse."

Naming Beetles

Three new species of slime-mold-eating beetles were named after G.W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld.

Researchers Quentin Wheeler and Kelly B. Miller swore they did it out of admiration for the leaders' advocacy of freedom and democracy.

Loving Enema

Tammy Jean Warner was charged with negligent homicide in the 2004 death of her husband, Michael, who suffered acute alcohol poisoning caused by having ingested three liters of sherry wine, allegedly provided by Tammy, via enema.

The Lake Jackson, Tex., widow told reporters that she was only trying to help Michael (who she said had been addicted to enemas since childhood) and that he also did enemas with coffee, "Castile soap, Ivory soap. He had enema recipes." "I'm sure that's the way he wanted to go out [die] because he loved his enemas."

African Spell

Ali Joho, who lost a close election for the Parliament of Kenya, filed a petition asking the country's High Court to nullify the contest because the winner, Anania Mwaboza, was allegedly spotted with some supporters under a bridge on election eve, sewing up the eyes of three cows and then drowning them, in order to cast a spell on Joho's partisans.

African Market

Sanitation workers in Nairobi, Kenya, finally, after 10 years of complaints, cleaned up the Wakulima Market (the country's largest fruit and vegetable facility), dislodging an estimated 750 tons of garbage, 38 tons of human waste, and about 6,000 rats.

Tour of Houston

Trying to counter its reputation as "America's Fattest City", Houston, Texas, put on the "Tour de Houston" bicycle event.

The response was staggering: at least 2,300 people showed up. Another reason for the great turnout: participants were given free beer and tacos.

Computer Refund

Vincent Festa, 44, was arrested at a Radio Shack in Oyster Bay, N.Y., when he attempted to return for refund a computer and about $1,500 in other "Christmas gifts" but which, according to police, he had loaded in his car a week earlier at the same store and driven off without paying for.

Oklahoma Cockfighting

Oklahoma state Sen. Frank Shurden proposed legislation to bring back the "sport" of cockfighting, which the state outlawed in 2002.

To appease critics, Shurden, apparently serious, suggested that the roosters wear tiny boxing gloves instead of the razor cleats on their legs and also wear electronic-sensitive vests in order to record hits so as to non-lethally determine the winner of a match.

Compulsive Reader

Jack W. Pacheco, 35, of Chowchilla, Calif., was upset when his small-town newspaper reported he had been arrested on drug charges.

He insisted the drugs weren't his, but when the newspaper wouldn't pull the story he tried to buy every one of the 700 copies of The Chowchilla News that were printed, and he got as many as 600 of them. "I have a whole garage full of newspapers," he said.

There were only three things wrong with his plan: first, the paper also printed 550 copies for subscribers, which weren't intercepted; second, after Pacheco bought up the remaining newsstand copies the newspaper had 500 more printed, and third, Pacheco's tactic was reported on by other area papers -- and the report was picked up and spread internationally by newswire services.

More on Education

In 1989, after his release from prison on petty crimes, John L. Stanley undertook the serious study of criminology, lecturing and even hosting a Dallas radio program on crime, but in December of the same year, he confessed to robbing a Commerce Bank in Kansas City, Mo., because he needed to return to prison to further his study

Australian Education

School officials in Victoria, Australia, decided it was too hard for students to calculate equations using the constant 9.8 meters/second/second - the acceleration of gravity at Earth's surface - so they proposed changing the Year 12 physics exam for the Victorian Certificate of Education to use a rounded-off figure of 10 m/s/s.

Blood Donor

Dr. Thomas Perls, director of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University Medical School, told a conference in Brisbane, Australia, in March that he donates blood regularly because one of the key reasons why females outlive males is menstruation.

Perls said iron loss inhibits the growth of free radicals that age cells. "I menstruate," he said, "but only every eight weeks."

Wild Sex

Amanda Monti, 24, of Birkenhead, England, was sentenced to 30 months in jail for ripping off one of her ex-boyfriend's testicles with her bare hands in a rage over his refusal to have sex.

Bargain Sofas

In the London suburb of Edmonton, 6,000 Ikea customers rioted, vying for on-sale sofas (80 percent off) and other bargains.

Said one customer, "There were people diving on sofas" and "tugging at two different sides of the same sofa and shouting 'mine, mine.'" At least 20 people were taken by ambulance to hospitals.


Daniel D. Salazar, 20, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for attempting to rob a Bank of America in Kansas City, Mo.

He first came to the attention of police when he called a station house and offered to turn in his partners in the crime in exchange for the $5,000 reward.

Seven Deadly Sins

According to a poll, Brits are tired of the Seven Deadly Sins (anger, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, sloth and pride), which were first outlined by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th Century.

The poll found people wanted to replace most of them -- especially lust, though most are OK with greed being listed.

The top replacement suggestions: adultery, bigotry, cruelty, dishonesty, hypocrisy and selfishness.

Wife broke law in using spyware

A Florida appeals court ruled in 2005 that a suspicious wife, who installed spyware on her husband's computer to secretly monitor and record his electronic interactions with another woman, violated Florida's wiretapping law.

The law says anyone who "intentionally intercepts" any "electronic communication" commits a criminal act. The wife had argued that her use of Spector spyware should be viewed as similar to reading a stored file on her husband's computer.

But Judge Donald Grincewicz wrote that "because the spyware installed by the wife intercepted the electronic communication contemporaneously with transmission, copied it and routed the copy to a file in the computer's hard drive, the electronic communications were intercepted in violation of the Florida Act."

Naked Tourist

A naked tourist raised eyebrows when he went for a walk through Nuremberg.

We have been having unusually hot weather here lately but, all the same, we can't have this said the Nuremberg police. The man said he thought walking around naked was tolerated in Germany.

The 41-year-old American was carrying his clothes in a bag when police stopped him. He was made to get dressed and pay a 200 Euro deposit pending on investigation for indecent behavior.

Gay Flamingos

A pair of gay flamingos have become proud foster parents after taking an abandoned chick under their wings.

Carlos and Fernando had been so desperate to have chicks that they resorted to stealing eggs. Their egg-sitting and hatching skills impressed staff so much that they were considered number one choice to "adopt" a chick when one of the flamingo nests was abandoned.

The new family are said to be doing well.

Hymns Against Hooligans

Steaua Bucharest owner Gigi Becali hopes to wipe out hooliganism and on-field violence by playing hymns and religious music at the football stadium.

I will play only religious songs before the matches because I am the one who pays, Becali told reporters. I will take out the song We Will Rock You. Whoever wants to hear devil's music should not come to my stadium.

Becali has introduced new rules for the team. For instance, players will have to pay a fine between 5.000 and 30.000 Euros if they appear upset after being substituted.

Abducted Boy

When a woman in Germany witnessed what she thought was a young boy being taken away in the boot of a car, she alerted police to a child kidnapping.

Police found that the boy was in fact Klaus Shorty Mueller, a dwarf mechanic. He had climbed into the boot and asked to be driven around in order to track down the source of a rattling noise.

Sharky Love Songs

Scientists are playing romantic songs to try and get sharks in the mood for love. The sharks at 10 Sea Life aquariums in Germany will be played romantic songs twice a day for an hour in a bid to boost their reproduction rates.

A spokesman said we are taking a new approach, it has been tried with pandas and primates and we have nothing to lose.

Among the songs are Endless Love by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, Let's Get It On by Marvin Gaye and Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys. The theme tune from Jaws is not in the play list.

Off Your Bikes!

A company which advises municipal councils on transport projects has banned its staff from traveling on bicycles and motorbikes.

The firm, Jacobs Babtie, says there will only be a few exceptions to the ban which has been brought in to protect employees from other vehicles on the road.

Transport for London, responsible for London's integrated transport system, has said it found the firm's attitude bizarre.

Crime Scene Signatures

William Woodard, 39, suspected by police in the Trenton, N.J., area of more than 50 burglaries, was arrested, and authorities said they were confident they could match him to what had become one of the "signatures" of the crime spree: random splotches of excrement at several crime scenes.

In the course of the arrest, a highly nervous Woodard failed to control his bowels, and police have submitted samples for DNA testing.

And Another Prison Break

Joseph R. Holland, 23, who escaped in from prison in Schuylkill County, Pa. (near Allentown), but who was captured the following day, wrote to a judge in disputing the escape charge against him:

(1) The warden never told him he couldn't escape, he said (in his syntax challenged petition). "[I] was never provided with any orientation, a handbook or ever signed any contract. I was never informed to follow any rules, cause I knew no rules!"

(2) "I wasn't gone over 24 hours, and all my personal belongings were ever here. I had every intention of coming back, who's to say any different?"

(3) And besides, he said, the guards actually opened the gate for him (even though it was really for another inmate coming in, with Holland managing to sneak out at the same time).

Prison Escapee

Police in Humberside, England, received a tip that a prison escapee was living in Hull.

Sure enough, Lee Barnes, 28, had been living in his own home for 18 months.

Police never checked the house for the escapee because the prison in West Yorkshire never reported his escape.

Gasoline Sniffer

Gasoline-sniffer Brian Taylor, 36, was sentenced to three months in jail for violating a UK "anti-social behaviour order" by loitering around the pumps at a gas station in Middlesbrough, England.

According to evidence of multiple such incidents, Taylor often dangerously reeks of gasoline fumes and is sometimes aggressive in his pursuit of a fix, including jostling gas-pumping customers. Once, he was filmed on a security camera doing an uninhibited dance after taking a huff.

He apparently prefers unleaded but will settle for diesel and denies that he drinks any of it.

Door-to-Door Sales Scams

To help combat door-to-door sales scams, police in Warwickshire, England, gave out stickers to residents to put on their front doors proclaiming, "We don't buy from the doorstep."

All was well and good until door-to-door sales squads told residents that the stickers were no longer legal and had to be replaced with new ones -- for a small fee.

Police warn the replacement campaign is a scam, and that the free stickers are still available.

Bus Hijacker

Antonio Hernandez, 29, pleaded guilty in Salt Lake City in December 2004 to hijacking a Greyhound bus that had just left Green River, Utah, intending to use it to smash into his estranged wife's trailer home.

He was stopped at the hijack scene, but if he hadn't been captured, he would still have had to drive the bus all the way to the woman's home, in Lexington, Neb., 500 miles away.

Landmine Detection Techniques

A landmine-detection outfit in Mozambique has upgraded from explosives-sniffing dogs to giant African Hamster rats, according to an Agence France-Presse dispatch, because the lighter, more plentiful rats have noses that are just as sensitive and don't suffer dogs' need for affection and constant reassurances.

Zimbabwe's Diet

Zimbabwe, facing a severe food shortage in 2004, considered an unlikely program to bring rich foreign visitors to the country, according to a government announcement.

The information minister proposed an "obesity tourism strategy," in which overweight visitors (especially Americans) would be encouraged to "vacation" in Zimbabwe and "provide labor for [government-confiscated] farms in the hope of shedding weight."

Americans, the proposal noted, spend $6 billion a year on "useless" dieting aids and could be encouraged to work off pounds and then flaunt "their slim bodies on a sun-downer cruise on the Zambezi [River]."

Training Police Dogs

A squad of newly trained police dogs in Victoria, Australia, were taken out of service after handlers discovered a training problem.

The dogs had been taught to track cocaine checked out of police evidence lockers, but only after training did police realize that someone had stolen the real cocaine before they got there and replaced it with talcum powder.

In tests, the dogs ignored real cocaine "but showed unusual prowess in tracking baby powder.

Saving Tax Money

The province of Prince Edward Island, Canada, announced a great idea to save tax money:

the health minister announced a plan to reduce the hours of operation of the provincial suicide prevention hotline to business hours: 9:00 to 5:00.

Invisibility Charm

Mr. Mamadou Obotimbe Diabikile was shot by police and arrested after his unsuccessful attempt to rob the Mali Development Bank in Bamako, Mali.

He was hindered by the nearly seven pounds of magic charms he was wearing to make himself invisible.

Let Your Brain Breathe

Bureaucrats in North Korea's Communist Party, summarizing their understanding of the way the brain works, announced that, henceforth, all men would be expected to wear their hair short (two inches, maximum) in that longer hair impairs function by taking oxygen away from the nerves in the head.

Freedom of Information Act

In an attempt to take advantage of the U.K.'s Freedom of Information Act, Angela Wright filed a request with police headquarters in Winchester, England.

She requested the details of "eligible bachelors within Hampshire constabulary between the ages of 35 and 49 and details of their email addresses, salary details and pension values."

Hunting Birds

Sportsmen in England can still hunt birds for food, but only if they give the birds a chance by shouting or employing other "frightening techniques" first, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ruled.

Only if the bird ignores it can they blast away. Failure to try to scare the bird before firing is punishable by a 5,000 pound (US$9,350) fine or six months in prison.

Cheerleader Legislation

Texas State Rep. Al Edwards wanted school cheerleaders to cool it. "The way they're moving their bodies, it's not twirling or doing the splits," he complained.

"Those majorettes are doing things that are sexual."

He proposed legislation to require cheerleading routines to be "family friendly."

Stoned and Stoned

After a recommendation by a panel of 15 "eminent theologians and linguists" chaired by Biblical translator Ronald Youngblood, the International Bible Society reworded its New International Version of the Bible to make it clear that being "stoned" means being beaten to death with rocks.

"We wanted to keep it from being confused with drug addiction."

Internet Romance

A budding romance between a Jordanian man and woman turned into an ugly public divorce when the couple found out that they were in fact man and wife. Separated for several months, boredom and chance briefly reunited Bakr Melhem and his wife Sanaa in an internet chat room, the official Petra news agency said. Bakr, who passed himself off as Adnan, fell head over heels for Sanaa, who signed off as Jamila (beautiful) and described herself as a cultured, unmarried woman -- a devout Muslim whose hobby was reading, Petra said. Cyber-love blossomed between the pair for three months and soon they were making wedding plans.

To pledge their troth in person, they agreed to meet in the flesh near a bus depot in the town of Zarqa, northeast of Amman. The shock of finding out their true identities was too much for the pair. Upon seeing Sanaa-alias-Jamila, Bakr-alias-Adnan turned white and screamed at the top of his lungs: "You are divorced, divorced, divorced" -- the traditional manner of officially ending a marriage in Islam. "You are a liar," Sanaa retorted before fainting.

Career Day

The Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School in Palo Alto, Calif., hosted a "career day" to help students plan for their futures. One of the speakers invited to the assembly was William Fried, a salesman who, in his presentation called "The Secret of a Happy Life", pointed out there's a special career available to girls, especially those with large breasts: stripping. "For every two inches up there, it's another $50,000," he told the very attentive kids.

Asked to comment later, Fried stood behind his comments. "Maybe I could have probably spent less time on exotic dancing," he said, "but I think the kids were entertained." Principal Joseph Di Salvo admitted encouraging eighth-grade girls to pursue stripping was "inappropriate," but insisted the controversy was "overblown." (San Francisco Chronicle)

Suicide Attempts

A 39-year-old man in Chillicothe, Ohio, was hospitalized in December 2004 after an unsuccessful suicide attempt that accidentally blew his own house to pieces and did heavy damage to neighboring homes.

The man had turned on the natural gas to kill himself, but then realized that other houses might be in danger, and just as he dashed to the basement to turn off the electricity, the house exploded (probably from an electrical spark) and was leveled.

A month before, the man had tried to kill himself with automobile exhaust and a garden hose, but his car ran out of gas before he could die, and he then hooked up a propane tank for the same purpose, but once again, he outlived his fuel supply.

American Nonlethal Warfare Tactics

Nonlethal war tactics suggested by an Air Force research team in the 1990s were made public in December 2004 by the military organization Sunshine Project and included a recommendation to expose enemy troops to powerful aphrodisiacs in order to distract them into lustful hookups with each other (irrespective of gender). (The Pentagon said the idea was dropped almost immediately, but the Sunshine Project said it was discussed as recently as 2001.)

Other ideas: giving the enemy severe halitosis (so they could be detected within a civilian population), overrunning enemy positions with rats or wasps, and creating waves of fecal gas.

Days of Wine and Roses

Michael Warner, 58, consumed so much alcohol over the years that he couldn't drink any more due to acid reflux and stomach ulcers. "He was told that he could not drink alcohol or that he would die," said a Lake Jackson, Texas, police spokesman.

In order for him to still consume it, police say, his wife Tammy Jean Warner, 42, gave him a wine enema. She went overboard, they say, when she anally administered two bottles of fortified sherry, pushing his blood alcohol level to .47 percent, killing him.

She was charged with criminally negligent homicide, and with destroying Michael's will for his $317,000 estate, which she has been fighting his daughter for since his death. She has already received $248,276 in life insurance.

NASA Training

NASA announced in October 2004 it was retiring the KC-135 plane it had long been using to train astronauts for weightlessness in flight.

An official told reporters that the air crews had kept track of the amount of astronaut vomit cleaned up over the years and that the total was at least 285 gallons (1.079 liters).