17 March 2008: Banks are better than haystacks

An Ethiopian farmer has lost almost one-third of his life savings - to rats.

The 52-year-old farmer from central Ethiopia didn't trust banks, and fearing that a house fire might burn his money if he kept it indoors, decided to stash his cash in a haystack.

But rats in the haystack ate nearly 2,000 pounds worth of the 6,200 pound deposit.

The unnamed farmer is thought to be reviewing his banking arrangements.

14 March 2008: Doing it in style

If you're going to break out of prison, you might as well do it properly.

Police in Chile this week discovered a tunnel intended to get prisoners out of the Colina II jail, but it wasn't the sort of cramped, claustrophobic and dangerous structure you see in the movies.

The 230-foot long tunnel resembled an underground mine structure, built with cement and wooden beams, with electrical power, carts for hauling away dirt and rock, and nearly high enough in some places for an adult to stand upright.

Police said the wives of two prison inmates had hired four experienced miners to build the escape tunnel, which led from a nearby house toward the facility and was less than 100 feet short of the prison when it was discovered.

Police heard about the tunnel while monitoring prisoners' telephone conversations as part of an investigation into drug trafficking.

13 March 2008: **Special Notice**

A special notice from newsreader and blogger, John Turner.

On Monday 31st March 2008 I shall read the International News on SaintFM for the last time.

My period as Manager of the Bank of St. Helena comes to an end on that day, and so I will no longer be coming into town early to open up the bank and read the International News.

This weblog will stop then, too. I hope the stories have amused you and thank you for your supportive feedback.

I will continue broadcasting on SaintFM on Wednesday afternoons, from 16:30-19:00h GMT, presenting "Rock+". In that programme I also feature the strange items from the world’s press that have been part of the International News for the last three years. If you can, please join me then.

Best wishes

13 March 2008: Better Late than Never

A Finnish library user apparently thought 'better late than never' and quietly returned a book that had been on loan for more than 100 years.

The library sticker inside the cover, and the old-fashioned handwriting on it, showed the book was officially loaned out at the beginning of the last century. The library had long since lost track of the loan but was pleased to welcome it back into its collection.

The library is also keen to talk to the book's returner, but he or she chose to remain anonymous.

SaintFM thinks that may be because, if Finland's files for overdue books are about the same as St. Helena's, the fine will be in the region of £3,000.

12 March 2008: Red Beer

If you don't fancy the green beer we highlighted last Friday, how about red beer instead?

The communist state of North Korea, best known for its poverty, propaganda and nuclear sabre rattling, has developed one of the highest-quality beers in the region.

Early this decade the country bought the brewing plant from a disused brewery in Wiltshire, dismantled it, shipped it to North Korea and reassembled it. After a little fine tuning the new beer, described as a full-bodied lager a little on the sweet side, went on sale and is said by foreigners who have tried it to be infinitely superior to the mass-marketed beers available in South Korea.

Better still, a 640 ml bottle of sells for about 35 pence.

But do not expect to see North Korean beer invading overseas markets any time soon. North Korea says it simply doesn't have the infrastructure to package and ship the beer for export.

SaintFM wonders why it is that North Korea can work out how to make nuclear weapons but can't manage to export beer.