Luminous monkeys

Scientists in Japan have created luminous designer monkeys. Five marmosets have been born at the country's Central Institute for Experimental Animals. After their mothers were exposed to an artificially created virus, they inherited an artificial gene that causes their skin and hair roots to glow under ultraviolet light.

Researchers hope the experiment will help find cures for diseases such as Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis. However, while disease support groups have expressed their support, the research is facing criticism from animal welfare campaigners and opponents of genetic engineering.

Orchestra plays live for horses

A British horse racing track asked the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to give a recital at its finishing post, hoping to wow spectators and spur the animals to quicken their pace.

Kempton Park race course, just south of London, staged the unique event, as the orchestra played the "William Tell" Overture, and the "Lone Ranger" theme song, during a horse race.

Hopes that the music would encourage a speedier race were dashed. Winning horse Action Impact covered that one mile, three furlong course (2.2km) in two minutes and 20.34 seconds, more than two seconds off the record pace.

Monkey business

A small Japanese restaurant is booked out weeks in advance thanks to a member of staff — a monkey waiter.

Fuku-chan greets guests and takes them hot towels at the end of their meals at the Kayabuki restaurant, 60 miles north of Tokyo.

A diner told The Sun: "He has these airs and graces that make him look just like a waiter at a posh restaurant." Restaurant owner Kaoru Otsuka said: "It all started when 1 gave him a hot towel out of curiosity and he took it to the customer."

'Old lady' robs bank

Police are hunting a crook who got clean away with more than £10,000 after robbing a bank dressed as a little old lady. The bandit shuffled into the bank in Hamburg, wearing a headscarf, thick glasses and a long coat before pulling a gun on cashiers.

More than 100 police officers took part in a citywide search for the cross-dressing blagger - and arrested five real-life old ladies as suspects before letting them go. A cashier said they saw a smiling little old lady come up to the cash desk, but then she suddenly whipped out a gun, roared in a deep male voice to hand over the cash and then fled as quickly as an Olympic athlete.

Russians stole my homework

Justifications like "the computer crashed" have overtaken "my dog ate it" among excuses from pupils who have not done their homework.

Teachers in British schools hear 6.5 million homework excuses every week and roughly 1.3 million of those relate to the failure of technology according to a survey. The most popular included 'My computer crashed and I lost it" and "My Internet was down so I could not do any research".

Other inventive justifications include: 'My dad's computer was hacked by the Russians and they stole my homework" and "A burglar stole my printed-out homework along with the computer'.

The tooth fairy's financial problems

A new survey reveals the latest victim of the credit crunch - the tooth fairy.

The average amount left under a pillow for a tooth has dropped from £1.22 (€1.50) to 87p (€1.22) in the past six months. The figures also show that 38% of British children do not get any money from the tooth fairy. The "Pillow Index'; asked 1,000 parents in the UK what their children received after giving their teeth to the tooth fairy.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said: "Hopefully the tooth fairy can weather the current economic climate and we'll see her return to top form soon."

Offline on Internet Street

A Polish man who bought a house on Internet Street in Warsaw is selling it because he can't get a broadband connection.

He said: "I have written dozens of letters to the national telecom regulator. They found that actually it was too expensive to put a line into the street just for me. So I am moving."

The regulator now plans to create a map showing the many 'blank areas' in Poland which still lack basic internet infrastructure. Only around 11% of the Polish population has access to broadband internet.

Saturday night thiever

A thief in Germany, plagued by guilt after robbing a kiosk, delivered a note of apology and paid compensation to the victims.

Police said the business in Kamen, near Unna in Germany, was broken into on a Saturday night and around €4,300 of cigarettes and alcohol were stolen.

Arriving for work on the following Thursday, staff were surprised to find an envelope stuffed with € 400 and a note which read "sorry -- to make up for Saturday night!"

Vandal granny

An 89-year-old grandmother has been ordered to knit sweaters for the owners of cars that she damaged.

Heidi Kohl was arrested after slashing car tyres in Rockenhausen, Germany. She said that so many cars parked in her road that residents could not find a safe place to cross. She cut the tyres on dozens of cars thinking that it would put people off parking there.

"I was fed up with the situation" she explained. Police tracked her down and she was given a fine. As she had no cash to pay she offered to knit jumpers for her victims instead. "When she's knitted the sweaters, then the matter will be over for us," said a prosecution spokesman.


Members of social networking site 'Twitter' have generated pithy versions of masterpieces of English literature. From these, Tim Collins compiled The Little Book Of Twitter, in which each of the lengthy works is reduced to just 140 characters; the maximum length of any 'tweet' — a message posted on the site.

It includes Shakespeare's Hamlet which becomes: 'Danish guy's mum marries his murdered father's brother. He sees his dad's ghost. Everyone dies.'

Wuthering Heights by Jane Austin is summed up as: 'Catherine Earnshaw marries Edgar Linton but really loves Heathcliff *sigh*.'Chaucer's magnus opus, The Canterbury Tales becomes: "Pilgrims tell each other stories while walking from London to Canterbury. Includes fart jokes. LOL!"

These shoes are made for talking

An Australian computer scientist has developed a mobile phone housed in a shoe. Mr Gardner-Stephen got a cobbler friend to embed a Motorola handset in the heel of one shoe and a Bluetooth headset in the other.

'It's surprising, your first thought is it's completely impractical, but it's actually not that bad - the phone rings, you slip off the shoe, you open the heel and press the button and you're talking in around the same time it would take to fumble in a bag and pull the phone out," he said.

Prison break

Six prisoners escaped a Canadian jail after spending four months chipping a path to freedom with nail clippers and other makeshift tools. The prisoners used their tools to remove a heating grill and steel plate and gain access to a brick exterior wall.

While some inmates played cards at a carefully positioned table to block the guards' view, others chipped away at the wall, finally breaking through with a steel shower rod. "Idle hands are the Devil's tools," said the government report, referring to the fact that prisoners at the Regina Correctional Center had little to do in the unit.

Remote plumber?

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has the perfect job for a plumber trying to get away from it all!

The BSA are trying to recruit a plumber for their research station on Bird Island, approximately 1,000 km south east of the Falkand Islands in the South Atlantic. The £22,340 salary may be low by UK standards, but accommodation is provided and living costs are next to nothing.

The applicant will "enjoy stunning scenery... no junk mail or television': Frozen pipes and maintaining heating in temperatures of -20° C should keep the plumber busy.

Lost in translation

A town council put up a road sign which read "I am out of the office at the moment."

Swansea Council in Wales contacted its in-house translation service when designing a bilingual sign barring heavy goods vehicles from a road. As the translator was not available, they received a response in Welsh saying: "I am not in the office at the moment."

Unaware of the real meaning, officials printed the text under the correct English wording on the sign saying "No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only."

"Healthy" beer tastes awful

A beer has been created that can prolong life and help avoid illness - but it tastes terrible.

The genetically-modified ale was produced by student researchers who have named it "BioBeer". It is brewed with yeast that produces resveratrol, a chemical in red wine thought to protect against heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's. The team are now working to overcome its "unappetising" taste.

The beer was created for a competition in Texas that tests GM products but it is unlikely to go on sale. Scientist Thomas Segall-Shapiro said: "No way would anyone drink this until it tastes better." Many of the scientists are too young to drink in the state, which bans alcohol consumption until 21.

Fully Equipped

Dozy thieves fled empty handed after stealing a caravan in Sweden - while the owner was fast asleep inside. Bjorn Feldbaek woke up to find himself being towed away in his mobile home after the crooks hitched it to their getaway car in Skovde.

Feldbaek said: "I woke up to find the caravan hurtling down the road. l had no idea what was going on and was scared stiff. Then it stopped and I heard someone opening the door and when I saw the thieves I just started screaming and screaming. They looked as scared as I did and just ran off. I guess it wasn't quite what they were expecting."

Foreign Accent Syndrome

Chris Gregory, Sheffield born and bred, has surprised doctors in the UK when he awoke from delicate brain surgery with a thick Irish accent. The 30-year-old landscaper spoke with a thick Dublin accent for 30 minutes after gaining consciousness and sung a version of "Danny Boy"to his wife.

Doctors claim the phenomena to be a classic case of Foreign Accent Syndrome which can, in extremely-rare neurological cases, affect a person's control of the lips, tongue and vocal cords.

Read Our Welcome Post.

Credit crunch contest

A married Chinese tycoon who could no longer afford to support his 5 mistresses during the economic slowdown held a contest to decide which one to keep.

The contest took a tragic turn when one of the mistresses drove her former lover and the four other women off a mountain road in an apparent fit of anger. The driver died in crash while the man and four other women were hospitalised.

Initially, it was thought to be an accident, but then details of the bizarre contest emerged in a letter left by the dead woman, a 29-year-old former waitress.

Britain's laziest dog walker

Kevin Pyle has been named one of the laziest men in Britain for walking his pet dog while sitting in his car. Kevin is driven slowly around the block while holding a lead attached to his bull mastiff dog, which walks alongside. "It sounds terrible but it saves me from getting wet when it's raining. The dog really enjoys it and it saves my legs."

"My dad is the laziest person I know. When he gets in from work he has a bath and goes straight to bed. He just lies there and watches the TV," said his son, Karl. "He even shouts down the stairs for us to go up and turn the channel over for him."

€2,500 cab to Oktoberfest

A taxi driver drove a passenger 740 miles to the Munich beer festival. Mick Hogan from Portsmouth, England, thought his customer was joking until he explained that he had missed the last flight to a friend's stag trip at the Oktoberfest.

"I thought he was having a laugh or it was one of my friends playing a trick on me, but he was serious." said Mr Hogan.

He crossed France, Belgium and Luxembourg before reaching Munich, Germany, after 17 hours and dropping Dave in the city centre. "It's not something I'd want to do every day, but it beats taking a few pensioners to the shops."

Contact lenses for tigers

A German company is making contact lenses for animals, including lions, giraffes, tigers and bears, with cataracts.

S & V Technologies created the acrylic intraocular lenses which are custom made to fit each animal. The firm's happy clients include a sea lion with blurred vision at Sea World in San Diego, a formerly blind kangaroo at an Australian nature park and a partially sighted lioness at a Romanian zoo.

"Cataracts generally mean blindness for animals, unlike for humans,"said the head of the company's veterinary division. "And because animals have short lifespans, it means losing quality of life in a greater share of that life."

Gorgonzola Prevents Robbery

A supermarket cashier prevented three armed men from robbing her store by throwing cheese at them.

The masked men demanded the supermarket's daily takings at gunpoint in Berlin-Wilmersdorf, but cashier Martina Bolle, 50, refused to hand the money over. Instead, she grabbed packs of cheese from the delicatessen counter and began bombarding the gunmen with them.

"She hit one of them smack in the face with a very ripe gorgonzola which must have been like getting a dose of natural CS gas," said one shopper.

License to escape

Irish police have solved the mystery of a Polish recidivist who clocked up 50 traffic offenses on different addresses and was never caught.

An internal police memo said that officers taking details of Polish traffic offenders had been mistakenly using "Prawo Jazdy" printed on the top right corner of the driving license, as the holder's name.

"Prawo Jazdy is actually the Polish name for driving license and not the name on the license," the police memo dated June 2007 said. "It is quite embarrassing to see the system has created Prawo Jazdy as a person with over 50 identities."

Naked Hikers Go Home

Locals in the Swiss Appenzell region are appalled by an apparent rise in numbers of naked hikers and have voted to ban them for good. The phenomenon has otraged many in the conservative canton, where women did not have the right to vote until 1990.

The new law was passed at the traditional annual assembly that takes place on the last Sunday if April. Residents also voted overwhelmingly for a fine of CHF200 (132 Euro or 170 US $) to be imposed anyone found to be hiking in little more that their boots and socks.

Undeterred by the cold, German nudist websites which describe naked hiking as "a special experience of nature, free and healthy" have named the Appenzell region the best place for the pastime, pointing out that it dates back to ancient times.

A Kick in the Teeth

After its dismal performance at an away match, a German football team is reimbursing all 600 of their supporters who were present. Energie Cottbus fans traveled 610km to Gelsenkirchen to watch the team play, only to witness its sixth defeat in seven days.

The offer was made through the Cottbus website, and reads: "By refunding the cost of admission for their supporters, the red and whites would like to apologize for the pitiful performance which they displayed at the Veltins Arena."

DVD Thief Went Back For Remote

A burglar who stole a DVD player in China was arrested - when he went back for the remote.

Song, 25, of Chengdu first broke into the house in December. He later realized that he had forgotten the remote control so he broke into the same building a month later. But this time he found the the owner, Dai, watching TV in the living room.

Under pressure from Dai, Song admitted he had been responsible for the previous raid and Dai escorted him to the police station to report the crime. To Dai's amazement, police said the $140 DVD player was not worth enough to prosecute Song.

A Wee Drink

Indian's Hindu nationalist movement says it is in the final stages of developing a new soft drink made from cow urine.

The Cow Protection Department of the Rashtruya Swayamsevak Sangh, India's biggest and oldest nationalist group is behind the new brew.

Department head Om Prakash said the drink -called gau jal or cow water- was undergoing labor tests and would soon be launched "very soon, maybe by the end of this year". "Don't worry, it won't smell like urine and will be tasty too."

Naked Aggression

Maritime experts were given a rare glimpse of the capabilities of the Chinese Navy when crewmen were involved in a stand-off with a US surveillance ship in the South China Sea.

The exposure came as the American vessel USNS Impeccable was attempting to defend itself against "coordinated harassment and aggression" from five Chinese ships. Being unarmed, the Impeccable turned its fire water hoses against two of the Chinese vessels that had come within 50 feet in a threatening posture.

Then, The Pentagon records in the restrained language of diplomacy, "the Chinese crew members disrobed to their underwear and continued closing to within 25 feet."

Dear Hooligan

Swiss police sent letters to around 300 known football hooligans warning them that no violence would be tolerated during EURO 2008. The letter said: "We know that you are someone who does not always hold fast to to the rules in sports events. Therefore, to our knowledge, you have been banned from the stadium or served with other measures. We wish you too could enjoy this major sports event in a sportsmanlike and festive fashion."

As it began politely, the letter also concluded amicably: "We hope that we would only encounter each other in a pleasant manner. In case you have any questions, please get in touch with us."

New Shoes! Lost Car...

A Romanian woman was "so excited" to try out the new shoes she had just purchased, that she forgot her car in a supermarket car park and reported it stolen.

Madalina Nesan, 29, alerted the police when she couldn't find her car outside her flat in Contansta, but called back the next day to explain the confusion. She had driven to a nearby supermarket but when she finished shopping, left on foot to try out the new footwear she had just purchased.

R u 4real?

Pat and Sheena Wheaton from New Zealand were blocked in their bid to name their baby son '4real'. Mrs Wheaton told TV reporters: "Most of us have to look in a book when we try to figure out what our names mean, and there's no direct link between the meaning and the name. With this name, everyone know what it means."

New Zealand's Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, told the parents that names beginning with a number were agains the rules but negotiations have been opened under a policy that says all unusual names must be given case-by-case consideration.

The Ladder of the Law

A Romanian judge has ruled a man must use a ladder to get into his first floor flat because his neighbor owns the ground floor entrance.

Eugen Dimitrescu, 70, had been using the entrance for years until he fell out with the family living downstairs. Now, following the ruling, he has to climb 15ft up a ladder to get into the sitting room window of his apartment... but he's preparing to appeal.

"I will take this to the very top," he vowed. "I cannot go on living like this. Passers-by see me on the ladder and think I'm a window cleaner and ask me if I can come and clean their windows."

Dear Santa...

Police in Marignane, near Marseille in France, had their wish granted after writing to Father Christmas. They wrote to Santa after being told there was not enough money in the town budget to replace their ageing police cars.

The letter read: "Dear Santa, our cars can't handle the job any more. If you think we are exaggerating, you can try out the cars yourself. Even your sleigh is better than one of them."

Local authorities finally dediced to put up the cash to buy new cars after seeing the letter published in a local paper.

"Flying Car" Hits Church Roof

A Skoda ended up getting wedged in a church roof after flying 100ft in the air. The 23-old year driver was reportedly speeding up a slope before the incident occurred.

Firefighters spent two hours freeing the man at the Church of Our Lady in the village of Limbach-Oberfrohna, Germany. Physics experts will help police figure out how the car was able to "take off'." A policeman said: "The driver was very lucky."

Certified Heart Breaker

A 72-year-old Malaysian man married for the 53rd time and insisted he was no playboy despite some marriages lasting just days. Kamarudin Mohamad's latest betrothal was also his first. He remarried his first "ex-wife" after divorcing her in 1958. In between, he married 51 other women, including an Englishwoman and two Thais.

He said all his previous marriages ended in divorce, except his last wife who died of cancer. "My shortest marriage lasted for two days several years ago and the longest was with my last wife, a Thai woman from Songkhla, with whom I was married for 20 years."

The End of Bushisms' Era

There is sure to be one aspect of Bush's presidency that will be missed: his unique way with the English language. Here are six of our favorite Bushisms:

I want to thank my friend, Senator Bill Frist, for joining us today. He married a Texas girl, I want you to know. Karyn is with us. A West Texas Girl, just like me. Nashville, Tennessee, May 27, 2004

The ambassador and the general were briefing me on the - the vast majority of Iraquis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice. Washington DC, October 27, 2003

As governor of Texas, I have set high standards for our public schools, and I have met those standards. CNN, August 30, 2000

Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYN's aren't able to practice their love with women all across the country. Poplar Bluff, Missouri, September 6, 2004

For a century and a half now, America and Japan have formed one of the great and enduring alliances of modern times. Tokyo, February 18, 2002

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we. Washington DC, August 5, 2004

Crossword Clue

Police sent a caller off with more than just a cross word when she dialed and emergency number to ask for help with a clue.

An angry police officer in Grevenbroich, Germany, spelled out that Petra Hirsch would be facing a charge of wasting police time if she didn't clear the line.

Hirsch said: "I had finished the crossword except for this one answer and was totally stumped. I had looked all over the internet and asked friends. The clue was for the full name of a police border protection unit so I thought they would not mind helping and I called the hotline -but they were really rude."

A police spokesman said: "Crossword solutions are not an emergency."

Santa Claus is an "illegal immigrant"

The Speaker of the Russian Parliament, Boris Gryzlov, has claimed that Santa Claus is an impostor. Mr Gryzlov insisted that the only authentic figure was Ded Moroz, translated as Grandfather Frost, who is the traditional bringer of gifts to the Russian children.

"No one will ever be able to take away our great Ded Moroz from Russia - not Santa Claus or any of other impostors", he thundered.

Television reporters said that Gryzlov urged Santa Claus to "get out of his profession, at least in Russia. He is an illegal immigrant here."

Santa's Safety Training

Santas are going on health and safety courses so they don't hurt themselves balancing children on their knees. Lessons include the right posture to adopt in their chairs as excited youngsters queue to reel off their Christmas lists. They are also being taught how to lift heavy presents without causing themselves an injury.

The one-day courses are being staged by the UK's Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. A spokesman stressed: "Of course there's only one Santa-but hundreds of stand-ins work in stores in the run-up to Christmas."