28 February 2007: Remote-Controlled Pigeons

Scientists in China claim they have succeeded in controlling the flight of birds using micro electrodes planted in their brains.

Researchers at the Chinese Robot Engineering Technology Research Centre said they could use the electrodes to command pigeons to fly right, left, up or down.

The scientists say they hope the technology could be put into practical use in future, though exactly what practical use they didn't explain.

27 February 2007: I see no tanks

During the Battle of Copenhagen[1], Admiral Nelson is said to have ignored an order to retreat from the enemy advance by holding a telescope to his blind eye and claiming "I see no ships". But it is thought that Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz's re-enactment of this at the weekend was more likely to have been accidental.

Proudly surveying his troops during key war games, he was caught by photographers with his binoculars to his eyes but with their black lens caps still firmly on.

Peretz has been vilified in Israel for his perceived mishandling of last year's war in Lebanon. A vast majority of Israelis want him to resign from the defence ministry, claiming chronic incompetence and military inexperience.

26 February 2007: A 3 million dollar pane

A window said to be the one through which Lee Harvey Oswald shot US president John F. Kennedy in 1963 has been sold for three million dollars on eBay, the Internet auction site.

The description on the site of the window and frame says it was the one that stood in the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas, from which Oswald is thought to have killed Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

According to the site "The assassination of John F. Kennedy changed history, and this is perhaps the most famous window ever offered up for sale in the world."

If you're suspicious of the claim regarding the window, I can report that SaintFM is looking into it.

23 February 2007: Singin' The News

Internet media organisation Yahoo is hoping a new take on the news will strike a chord with its customers.

The Web giant had just confirmed that it will launch a video project that will feature a journalist-cum-crooner who will sing the news.

A statement from Yahoo's head of news and information said "This project will create an entirely new kind of news beat. All I can say for now is that this reporter will leave you tapping your feet."

The SaintFM International News team would like to point out that it has no plans to follow suit, as it would prefer it's listeners not to be put off their breakfast.

22 February 2007: The Email Programme

Alcoholics have one, and so do drug abusers. Now people addicted to e-mail also have a 12-step programme designed to help them tackle their obsession.

Apparently some people cannot walk by their computer without checking for messages. Others will not take holidays anywhere they cannot connect to their e‑mail systems.

The first of the 12 steps is "admit that e-mail is controlling you."

Other steps include "establish regular times to review your e-mail" and “don’t check for e-mails not more than three or four times a day”.

I’d tell you the others but I’ve got to get off to the bank to check my emails…
[The news reader is also the Manager of the Bank of St. Helena.]

21 February 2007: Hot Metal

A Macedonian scrap dealer became suspicious when two men turned up at his yard and tried to sell him 20 truckloads of steel.

When police investigated they found that the men had obtained the 200 tons of steel by dismantling two 30-foot bridges, piece by piece. It seems nobody had reported the bridges missing.

The two would-be vendors now have some different steel to look at - the bars in their prison cell.

20 February 2007: Suspicious Smells

Men who work at a recycling plant in the West Midlands have been getting a hard time from their partners.

The men have been stripping perfume out of its packaging, and the smell tends to linger on their skin and clothes.

After coming home from work smelling of an unfamiliar women's perfume many have received frosty receptions from their wives and girlfriends.

19 February 2007: It wasn't my fault, darling

In California a 35-year-old man could face charges after faking his own kidnapping - to prevent his wife from finding out he crashed her car.

After the accident he told police that he had been held at gunpoint by two men, and was forced to crash the car into a wall to escape.

He later admitted he had made the whole story up as he was frightened his wife would be angry about the damage to the car.

16 February 2007: Keeping up-to-date

An elderly Swedish motorist discovered that he was not keeping up-to-date when he drove into the nearby town for the first time in more than 40 years. He discovered that cars in Sweden no longer drive on the left. The changeover was made in 1967 but he hadn't been to town since and the change had passed him by.

The man was in court on a charge of reckless driving, after he: backed into traffic coming in the opposite direction; knocked over a traffic light; and then failed to stop when pursued by a police car with sirens and flashing lights. To stop him police had to use a patrol car to cut him off in the middle of the road.

The man told the court he had got lost while taking his car in for a routine inspection.

NOTE: the use of the term 'up-to-date' in this item is a reference to the newsreader’s habit of ending the International News with a modified version of the official signoff, saying

“For the SaintFM newsdesk I’m John Turner; now you’re up-to-date”

15 February 2007: Don't tell the wife

Guys, you know how it is - you buy yourself something that you know your wife would never approve of, so you try to keep it quiet.

That was a real challenge for Bob Nabney, from Bournemouth in Dorset, who went to an auction and bought himself a 1943 Austin K4 fire engine, complete with 60ft turntable ladder.

The 64-year-old taxi driver was doing OK until a journalist called his home and left an answerphone message inquiring about his plans for the vehicle.

Mr Nabney said he bought the engine on a whim as a retirement present for himself, and hoped his wife would not notice.

His wife's thoughts on the matter were not reported.

14 February 2007: Underarmed and dangerous

A cautionary tale as you prepare to go out for Valentine's tonight.

A group of young German women used so much spray deodorant in the bathroom of a youth hostel that it set off a fire alarm and brought the local fire brigade rushing to the rescue.

Local authorities said they were surprised the heavy use of deodorant could set off the alarm.

"The fumes of the deodorant were so intense that they drifted up to the ceiling and set off a fire detector," said a police spokesman, who concluded "Hopefully the girls will get by with a little less spray next time."

13 February 2007: Animal Farm

In the 1940s George Orwell wrote the book Animal Farm, about communism, as practiced in North Korea. So perhaps that's why animal imagery seems to be such a feature of reports on the six-country nuclear talks.

At an optimistic point U.S. envoy Christopher Hill told reporters "I don't want to count our chickens before they hatch". But as North Korea's demands for huge oil shipments drew shaking heads from other negotiators, Hill grasped for bunnies. "There's no magic in diplomacy," he said. "Whenever you pull a rabbit out of the hat, it's because you've spent a lot of time stuffing that rabbit down into the hat."

SaintFM hopes this story hasn’t let the cat out of the bag, or we’ll end up with egg on our faces.

12 February 2007: Men in Tights

One of France's leading hosiery makers is about to launch a new line for men -- pantyhose (that's tights, to you and me).

The company claims it is responding to "increasing demand from male clients".

The garments will differ from tights for women in that they will have bigger feet, a larger belt, and - of course - an opening in the front. They will be available in "sheer" or "satin".

But SaintFM's research department can report some scepticism on the internet about the likely success of this innovation. In a posting on one forum a respondent wrote "Why create pantyhose for men when women's tights are fine?".

9 February 2007: Are you on the right bus?

A Thai mother has been reunited with her family after being missing for 25 years due to catching the wrong bus.

In 1982 she left south Thailand on a shopping trip across the border to nearby Malaysia. She never returned, and police later told her family that she had been killed in a traffic accident. In fact, she had simply taken the wrong bus home, an error that would have been easy to fix except that she only speaks the local dialect of Malay known as Yawi so nobody could understand her requests for help.

She mistakenly hopped on a bus to Bangkok, some 700 miles north of her home. In Bangkok, unable to read Thai and speaking a language few Thais can understand, she again took a wrong bus, this time to Chiang Mai, another 430 miles further north. There she ended up as a beggar for five years, until she was sent to a homeless shelter in 1987.

For 20 years no one could understand her, until last week, when three students from her home province arrived to research the problem of homelessness at the shelter and recognised her language.

She was taken her back to her family home where her children and grandchildren were reportedly still hugging and kissing her two days after her return.

8 February 2007: Jail Houses Rock

Hungary has an ingenious plan to fill a hole in its national budget and replace some of its overcrowded prisons with new facilities.

The Hungarian government is talking to a Spanish firm interested in buying the jails in city locations to turn them into luxury hotels.

The government will use the proceeds of the sales to build more modern prisons in the suburbs.

And it won't stop at prisons. The government also plans to sell off the government buildings in Budapest, and create a new administrative district elsewhere.

Now there's an idea ...

7 February 2007: Star Wars

Chewbacca, the Wookiee from Star Wars, has been arrested in Hollywood, with Superman as a witnesses.

Well, not quite – but a man impersonating the character was arrested after being accused of attacking a tour guide, who had warned the furry brown Wookiee about harassing two Japanese tourists. With the words "Nobody tells this Wookiee what to do," the man then slammed his head into the tour guide's forehead. Other movie and cartoon character impersonators were reported to be witnesses to the aggression, amid concern that such behaviour could endanger their livelihoods. People dressed as well-known characters often collect money from tourists in the Hollywood area.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department a 6-foot, 5-inch tall man (actually quite short for a Wookiee) was charged with misdemeanour battery and later released on $20,000 bail.

This is not the first incident of its kind. Apparently Mr. Incredible, Elmo the Muppet and the dark-hooded character from the movie "Scream" had been arrested earlier for "aggressive begging".

6 February 2007: Early Birds

Bird experts in the UK are "lost for words" over the success of four baby birds who hatched two months ahead of schedule.

The mother Robin laid her eggs in a Christmas decoration on the door of a flat in London, at the start of the year. Robins don't normally mate in the UK until February.

Four of the five eggs hatched successfully on January 23, stunning experts. The four chicks are expected to fly within days.

5 February 2007: Uncool burglar

Police in New York had little difficulty in arresting a man suspected of stealing cash from a grocery store in the borough of Queens. His head and arms were dangling out of the grocery store wall with the rest of his body inside.

The man had removed the casing of an air conditioner to climb in, but got stuck on his way back out, possibly because his pockets were full of cash.

He was charged with burglary and possession of stolen property.

2 February 2007: A Highly Visible Prank

In 2005 two year 11 pupils from Bellemoor School for Boys in Southampton, Hampshire, used weed killer to burn a 20ft image of a phallus into their school lawn as an end of term joke.

Staff at the school quickly re-seeded the area, but the giant 'object' has now turned up on some satellite image search engines because the satellite photo was taken before the new grass could conceal the appendage.

SaintFM would like to point out that, purely in the interests of research, it has examined the area closely on Google Earth and - sadly - can see nothing to report, but notes that the Google Earth satellite image appears to be very recent.

1 February 2007: Smokers Caged

A school in Belgium is allowing pupils aged over 16 to smoke on the premises ... but only if they stand in a cage and wear a badge displaying an X-ray image of tobacco-damaged lungs.

A school spokesman said: "By wearing the badge, students are admitting it is by their own free will they are damaging their health. If this doesn't reduce the number of youngsters taking up the habit, I don't know what will."