30 March 2007: Cruiser Canned

A Japanese man was so impressed by the sight of a luxurious British cruise liner he sneaked himself onboard for a free voyage.

When interviewed by police the man said he could not stop himself when he saw the Aurora docked in Yokohama. So he climbed an eight-foot fence at the harbour, successfully blended in with the crowd of about 1,800 passengers and boarded the round-the-world cruise. The free ride ended in Hawaii after the cruise operator found out he had no ticket. Police are investigating how he avoided the various checkpoints to get on the ship.

The P&O Aurora departed Southampton on 9th January for a three-month round-the-world cruise. The least expensive cabin on the Aurora costs 17,000 pounds for the trip.

29 March 2007: Government to Sack Slackers

The Chinese Government has decided to tighten up on government employees who earn salaries despite not doing any work.

The main target is employees who come to work but just sit around doing nothing, but in some cases people are still being paid despite having retired or have even died.

The new rules will also tighten up on the creation of unnecessary posts. "In some places a director has a dozen deputies," said a senior official.

The central government has urged people who know of any cases to report them to the authorities.

28 March 2007: School Test Case

One of the world’s largest companies has been fined after its product-claims were found to be false – by two school students.

GlaxoSmithKline, makers of Ribena, claimed in its advertising that "the blackcurrants in Ribena have four times the vitamin C of oranges". This was proven to be false by the girls, whose tests showed that the drink contained almost no trace of vitamin C, whereas one commercial orange juice brand contained almost four times more.

GSK pleaded guilty in court, admitting its ads may have left consumers with a wrong impression of the health benefits of Ribena. The company was fined just over 80,000 pounds for misleading advertising.

However, SaintFM notes that GSK had net income of £7.8 billion in 2006* so the fine is more of an embarrassment than a financial penalty.


27 March 2007: Muggles Muck Up Magic Train?

British Police are looking for whoever wrecked the Hogwarts Express, the steam train that ferries boy wizard Harry Potter and his chums to school in the blockbuster films.

The train -- which is normally hired out for tourists and is loaned to film company Warner Bros. for the Harry Potter films -- was attacked at its depot in Carnforth, northwest England and had more than 230 of its windows smashed with hammers. The damage will cost at least 50,000 pounds to repair.

Transport Police and forensic experts have spent several days combing the scene for clues but no-one has been arrested yet and enquiries are continuing.

Whether Harry Potter and his pals are also on the case was not revealed.

26 March 2007: More Knickers Nickers

The knickers nicking continues, but this time the thieves didn't steal them from washing lines or women's homes, they went direct to the shop.

Three brazen shoplifters made off with nearly $12,000 worth of women's underwear from a Victoria's Secret store in New Jersey USA, while the shop was open for business.

They stuffed the bras and knickers, which sell for up to $50 each, into bags they had specially designed to foil the stores anti-theft scanners.

Surveillance cameras captured two men and one woman jamming undergarments into large bags and walking past customers and staff. Police have not yet made an arrest.

23 March 2007: Don't try this at home

A Japanese man has been arrested after shooting about a dozen bullets into a building with a competition rifle.

The man was reportedly angry that a new apartment building, built next to his home, put his house in the shade.

Nobody was injured in the shootings but walls, railings and two lights on the apartment building were damaged.

22 March 2007: Sowing the Seeds of Love

Couples hoping to get married in the Indonesian district of West Java have been asked to arrive at the marriage register office carrying tree seedlings, as part of a reforestation drive.

The donated seedlings have so far helped replant more than 20,000 acres of forest.

SaintFM wonders if applying such a plan here would be a helpful boost to the Millennium Forest.

21 March 2007: Friendly fire

Two tales of people in trouble with their own colleagues.

In England a council employee has been fined by his own colleagues for dropping a cigarette out of his car window. The unnamed man at was caught discarding the cigarette end and has been issued with a fixed penalty notice by the Bournemouth Borough Council technical services department, in which he works.

And a senior tax official in Kazakhstan is being investigated for tax evasion. Sabit Kanatov, who is deputy chairman of the country's Tax Committee, is accused of evading about £40,000 in taxes.

20 March 2007: Land Sales Banned

Although it has already made sales totalling 49 acres, to 34 customers, a company has been banned from selling land and fined just over £3,000. It appealed against the decision but heard last week that it had lost its appeal. It will now no longer be able to offer land for sale, some of it for as little as £20 an acre, and previous customers will probably find that they do not own the land they paid for.

The firm in question is Chinese, and trades under the name "Lunar Embassy to China". The plots of land are on the moon.

19 March 2007: Shells on the beach

Anyone finding a shell on the beach of one of Switzerland’s lakes, for example the picturesque Lake Lucerne, had better watch out - it may be the explosive kind.

About 10,000 tonnes of surplus or disused artillery shells, grenades and bullets were placed underwater in several Swiss lakes between 1918 and 1960, mostly because storing them underwater was safer than keeping them on land. The underwater trove also includes gas masks, barbed wire, field kitchens and dumped items such as crashed aircraft.

The Swiss defence ministry says it has reached an agreement with local authorities not to fish up the arsenals, though they will monitor water quality.

16 March 2007: Conspicuous Consumption

A New York restaurateur has cooked up what is probably the world's most extravagant pizza.

The 'Luxury Pizza' is a 12-inch, thin crust, topped with crème fraiche, chives, lobster and caviar, and sells for $1,000, or $125 a slice. 24 hours notice is required so the he can order the fresh caviar.

And if you think that’s impressive, SaintFM would like to point out that, elsewhere in the world, there are entire families who live for a year on less that the cost of one of his pizzas (see www.makepovertyhistory.org).

15 March 2007: 'nother Knickers Nicker Nicked

In January we reported on a Southampton man who was arrested after stealing women's underwear from washing lines. His crime has now been topped by a Japanese construction worker.

A police spokesman explained "Since he was a construction worker he was able to climb so he had no trouble getting into apartment buildings".

He had also managed to get away with it for more than six years. When they searched his home, police found:

  • 10 pairs of stockings;

  • 355 bras; and

  • 3,977 pairs of panties.

SaintFM will continue monitoring to see if anyone else can beat that.

14 March 2007: Trusting in God

All American coins bear the words "In God We Trust" around the rim. At least, they should. But the U.S. Mint has revealed that an unknown number of the new one-dollar coins have been produced with the words missing. The Mint admits that it doesn't know how the mistake occurred or how many of the coins are in circulation.

As with defective stamps, the coins are much sought by collectors. One of the coins recently sold on eBay for $405. That's a 40,000 percent premium for not trusting in God.

13 March 2007: Early Summer

Summer has come early in the United States, at least according to the clocks. American daylight-saving-time - which creates lighter evenings - began this year three weeks earlier than usual.

The main aim of the move is to cut fuel usage. It is estimated that the change will save America £150m per annum and avoid the need to build more than three large electric power plants.

The proponents of the move said "We will see wide energy saving, less crime, fewer traffic fatalities, more recreation time and increased economic activity. Ultimately, daylight saving just brings a smile to everybody's faces."

Summer will end later too. Clocks will change back on 4th November, a week later than in previous years.

12 March 2007: What's in a name?

Forget the booker prize for fiction. The Bookseller magazine has now opened voting on the oddest book title of the year.

Go to www.thebookseller.com to vote for one of the shortlist, all of which are genuine titles in print, including the following:

-- "How Green Were the Nazis?"

-- "Proceedings of the Eighteenth International Seaweed Symposium"

-- "Tattooed Mountain Women and Spoon Boxes of Dagestan"

Last year's winner was "People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves To Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About it" by Gary Leon Hill.

The first winner, in 1978, was "Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice".

9 March 2007: Who's minding the shop?

When Belgian antiques dealer Johan Dumon was on holiday his business was closed - or so he thought.

But when he returned he discovered a thief had broken into his shop, opened it for business, and sold £15,000-worth of his stock during a two-day sale.

It appears no customers noticed the shop was under new management.

8 March 2007: Top Gear

Police in Surrey are appealing for witnesses to what may have been the world's costliest road accident.

The incident happened in heavy rain on a 40mph section of the B375 near Chertsey, where it is understood that an eight-litre Bugatti Veyron went out of control while doing about 100mph. Nobody was hurt.

The hand-crafted Bugatti Veyron costs around £840,000 and its engine develops 1001 horsepower, making it the world's most expensive and fastest street-legal car. It has a top speed in excess of 250mph, so it's perhaps just as well that the driver was going slowly; at only 2-and-a-half times the speed limit.

7 March 2007: Pole Protester Propositioned

A man in Germany decided to stage a protest against a conviction for internet fraud by living on top of a 60ft telephone pole, in a 12ft square box.

His 25-year-old wife Suzi initially backed his protest, but then decided it had gone on long enough, so lured him back down with a photo of herself - topless.

His wife is a former stripper, though whether she was also a pole dancer has not been established.

6 March 2007: Liechtenstein Invaded

Switzerland is not renown for having an aggressive military stance but this did not stop 170 armed soldiers crossing the border into its tiny neighbour, Liechtenstein, at the dead of night, Swiss military officials have admitted.

The troops moved about a mile into Liechtenstein during exercises last week. An army spokesman said the troop's commander got lost in bad weather during the night-time manoeuvres.

It's not the first time Liechtenstein has been attacked either. In December 1985, a winter storm interfered with an artillery exercise and blew Swiss army rockets into Liechtenstein's protected Bannwald forest, setting it on fire and costing the Swiss millions of francs in compensation.

5 March 2007: How does your garden glow?

The German Ministry of the Environment has revealed that an ordinary citizen has managed to obtain some enriched uranium, raising concerns about the security of Germany's nuclear reactors.

A spokesman said it was unclear when the man got hold of the 14 enriched uranium pellets, which he had sealed in a steel container wrapped in a plastic bag and buried in his garden. They are analysing the uranium to determine its origin, but it is thought to have come from a nuclear reactor.

Apparently the man wrote to the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, in December saying he had the material and wanted to hand it over, but it was not until last week that officials came to retrieve the pellets. The Ministry explained that passing the letter on to the relevant government department had taken some time.

2 March 2007: The Sounds of Silence

The members of a Highland pipe band are to be issued with earplugs, after discovering that their music is louder than a jet engine.

The Wick Royal British Legion Band was recorded by sound experts during a practice session, and it was found that they reached a level of 122 decibels; noisier than a jet aircraft taking off.

The 40 band members have now been advised to wear ear protectors to prevent permanent damage to their hearing.

SaintFM wonders if the audience might benefit from doing the same.

1 March 2007: The Interim Mistress

A Chinese businessman has advertised on Chinese job-finder website Sina.com for a stand-in mistress, whose role is to be beaten up by his wife.

According to a Beijing newspaper, when the woman found out her husband had a mistress, she insisted on beating her up. The man doesn't want his real mistress to suffer, so has offered about £20 per minute to anyone prepared to take her place for the beating.

Whether medical bills are also included is not clear.