31 July 2007: ASEAN explained

Politicians love their acronyms, and nowhere is this more evident than at the ASEAN. There is AIDA, FANS, AASROC, ELTO and an entire blizzard of obscure acronyms; so many, indeed, that the organisers of this weeks ASEAN meeting have given journalists a cheat-sheet listing all of the most widely used terms. The full list -- from AADCP to ZOPFAN -- is on the official ASEAN website, where there are 244 acronyms beginning with "A" alone.

There are even acronyms composed of acronyms. The AADCP is the ASEAN Aquaculture Development and Coordinating Programme.

ASEAN, by the way, is the Association of South East Asian Nations.

30 July 2007: The Mounties face a new challenge

Canada's mounted police, the Mounties, are said always to get their man, but now they have a new challenge. Keeper Rodney Dillinger has asked them to round up his missing bees.

Mr Dillinger's bee colony became stressed and dissatisfied with their queen, so they raised a rival queen and then sent her into exile. Unfortunately for him, about half the bees - about 40,000 of them, sided with the old queen and left with her. Now he has called in the Mounties to track down his missing bees.

A Mounties spokesperson remarked "It's the first time that the police have been called in to help capture bees".

Mr Dillinger said "It's a common occurrence and they are not dangerous, but I'm worried someone may attack them. We haven't found them yet, but I know which direction they went".

27 July 2007: If you can't beat 'em ...

The international cycling fraternity, suffering after the recent string of disqualifications, is trying to find a way to deal with illegal drug use by competitors.

Now the sport's fans in Italy have come up with an imaginative suggestion.

In a survey, run on gazzetta.it, Italy's most popular sport Web site, the largest vote was for the simplest solution: legalise the drug taking.

26 July 2007: Prickly Pair Panics Police

German police rushed through the night to a home in Bremen after an emergency call, saying there were suspicious noises emanating from the garden.

Cautiously searching the garden they soon located the source of the noise: two hedgehogs noisily engaged in what a police spokesman described as "ensuring the continuity of their species."

The officers turned off their spotlights and discretely departed.

No arrests were made.

25 July 2007: Europeans Keeping Cool

The UK may be flooded but continental Europe is suffering a heat wave, with temperatures remaining stubbornly above 40 Celsius (just over 100 Fahrenheit). This has caused people to behave differently.

A women, described as tall and slender, walked into a petrol station shop in eastern Germany wearing nothing but a pair of golden stilettos and a thin gold bracelet. She bought cigarettes, climbed back into the waiting Ferrari and drove off. Police say they won't be investigating the incident because none of the witnesses wanted to make a complaint.

But some tourists in Serbia were not so lucky. The three men were fined 10,000 dinars (about 84 pounds) each, having been reported by passers-by for cycling naked along the banks of the River Danube.

24 July 2007: An unexpected result

An Israeli man got a surprise when he hired a private detective to investigate his daughter.

The man's son-in-law was concerned about his wife's fidelity. To prove his son-in-law wrong, the man hired the detective to check up on his daughter's movements. And indeed, the detective did report that the daughter was being faithful to her husband.

But the report contained another, unexpected discovery. The girl's mother, the wife of the man who hired the detective, was having an affair with another man.

The man was sanguine about the results. "I saved my daughter's marriage and at the same time, saved myself from a woman who had it all in life but chose another man," he said.

23 July 2007: Airline for sale, for only 70p

Italy should sell its national airline Alitalia for one euro, about 70 pence, according to Italy's infrastructure minister.

Italy's government has been trying to sell the airline but the latest auction collapsed last week when the final bidder pulled out.

At first glance 70 pence for an airline with about 180 aircraft flying to 100 destinations seems like a bargain, until you realise you also have to take on the airline's debts. These, as of May this year, amounted to roughly 750 million pounds.

[some data sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alitalia and http://corporate.alitalia.com/en/Images/Net%20Debt%20fine%20giugno%202007%20ENG_tcm7-22236.pdf]

20 July 2007: Gone In 60 Seconds - twice!

A man in Malaysia has stolen a 140,000 pound Porsche car - twice.

On Monday he walked into a car dealer's showroom and asked to be shown the Porsche 911 Targa 4 car. When the salesman started the engine to demonstrate the car's sound, the thief drove it out through the plate grass windows and off down the street. Unfortunately for the thief, the car only had a little petrol in it. It was found by police abandoned, about a mile down the road. But the thief didn't give up.

The police took the car to the police compound, and on Wednesday night the thief cut the perimeter fence, snuck in, re-fuelled the car and drove it away.

The thief still doesn't have his prize, however. After a six-mile police chase he again abandoned the car and ran off. Malaysian police are still looking for him.

[With regard to the title, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gone_in_Sixty_Seconds_%282000_movie%29]

19 July 2007: Computer Crash

A German man, who startled his neighbours when he hurled his computer out of the window in the middle of the night, has been told he will not be charged with disturbing the peace.

Police in Hanover, responded to calls from residents in an apartment block who were woken by a loud crash in the early hours of the morning. They found the street and pavement covered in electronic parts, and quickly located the culprit. Asked what had driven him to the night-time outburst, the 51-year-old man said he had simply got annoyed with his computer.

"Who hasn't felt like doing that?" said a police spokesman.

18 July 2007: Courting in Court

A couple who met while on jury duty are to be married next month.

The couple were both jurors in a murder trial in New York. Fellow jurors encouraged Juror number three, a lady called Traci, to go out for lunch with juror number six, a man called Jonathan, during a break in the trial.

The trial judge, who will also perform the wedding, remarked "Juries are serious or sombre, but this jury was full of beaming, happy people. I didn't imagine they were playing matchmaker.

SaintFM wishes the couple all the best, but hopes they also managed to pay some attention to the trial evidence.

17 July 2007: Too Sexy To Travel

A German bus driver threatened to throw a 20-year-old sales clerk off his bus because he said she was too sexy.

The driver apparently stopped the bus, opened the door, and shouted at the woman "Your cleavage is distracting me. Every time I look into my mirror and I can't concentrate on the traffic. If you don't sit somewhere else, I'm going to have to throw you off the bus."

The woman moved to another seat, but said she felt humiliated by the bus driver.

A spokesman for the bus company defended the driver, saying "A bus driver cannot be distracted because it's a danger to the safety of all the passengers."

16 July 2007: British Soldiers blamed for Basra Terror

You would think the Iraqi port city of Basra already had enough problems, but now it has now been gripped by a new fear. Locals say the city is stalked at night by giant man-eating badgers; bear-like monsters said to have been released into the area by the British forces.

British troops have been based in Basra since the 2003 US-led invasion overthrew Saddam Hussein, and locals are quick to blame them for almost any calamity that befalls the area.

Iraqi scientists have attempted to calm the public but, amid the confusion and mistrust spawned by the ongoing guerrilla war, the story has spread like wildfire in the streets of the city.

The scientists say the tales are completely exaggerated, though based on fact. There is a local badger that grows to about 30 pounds, but it eats only small animals like hens and rats. These Honey Badgers were resident in the area long before the fall of Saddam, and do not usually threatens humans unless provoked. The scientists say the badgers are being driven into the city by the re-flooding of the marshland north of Basra that was drained by Saddam.

13 July 2007: Can we move school, please?

Scores of children in an Indian village are asking to move school because it is giving them nightmares.

The school is located in a graveyard.

About 200 children study in the makeshift school, which was set up in the graveyard several years ago after local authorities refused to provide land for it. The nearest other school is at least four hours away.

Initially the children played happily among the graves, and even sat on tombstones to eat their lunch, but now many are complaining of nightmares and villagers are demanding proper premises.

Local authorities say they are aware of the problem and are looking into it.

12 July 2007: Cowgirls

A group of teenage girls on a geography field trip set off a full-scale search and rescue mission, after becoming scared by a herd of cows.

The seven girls, aged between 14 and 15, from St Albans, in Hertfordshire, were on a field trip in Dorset. They were dropped off at night, three miles from their outdoor centre in Swanage and told to map-read their way back to the centre. But the teenagers got stuck when they came across what they decided were potentially deadly cows.

Following their distress call the Swanage Coastguard rescue team, police and an ambulance were scrambled to the scene to rescue the students. None of them was actually hurt.

11 July 2007: Mixed Messages for Muscular Men

New research just published aims to help us understand what women look for in men.

Studies have previously shown that, when selecting a mate, women choose men who will commit and who have a good income. But a new study shows that, for a fling, they prefer muscles.

Researchers from the University of California interviewed students about their sexual histories, and found that muscular men had more sex partners than less-built types. But women also saw them as more volatile, aggressive and likely to be dominant.

"On the one hand, muscularity makes them more sexy to women. On the other hand, it makes women more suspicious about their romantic intentions," the researchers concluded.

10 July 2007: Police on the scent

German police received a call from a man's neighbours who were worried about him.

The shutters of the apartment had been closed for more than a week, the post-box was filled with uncollected mail, and there was a nasty smell seeping out onto the staircase.

Fearing the worst they broke into a darkened flat, expecting to find a dead body, but instead of a corpse they found the tenant asleep but definitely alive.

They quickly established that the obnoxious odour was caused by a combination of the large pile of unwashed clothes and the man's terribly smelly feet.

9 July 2007: Motorist's Money Mystery

A German motorist was surprised when she looked in her rear-view mirror and saw lots of euro banknotes swirling in the air around her car.

The woman immediately stopped and tried to collect all the flying money. She turned over what she found to the police, who went with her to the scene but could not find any more cash.

German Police say they are puzzled about the money's origin.

6 July 2007: Playing to Win

One of Ireland's most prestigious universities is offering a degree course that will appeal to anyone who would prefer to play games rather than studying books.

Trinity College Dublin's new Masters Degree in Video Games starts in October. The course has been designed in collaboration with some of the world's top gaming companies, and will focus on the science and technology behind video games.

The University says the course is intended to prepare students for a career in the growing gaming and entertainment sector.

The course is at graduate-level, though exactly what puzzles you need to solve to get to that level was not made clear.

5 July 2007: The EU Gets Sexy

The European Union's latest attempt to raise its profile has met with mixed reviews.

Last week the EU's executive launched a special page on the Internet video-sharing site YouTube, called EU Tube. The executive said that the page would use "new and innovative ways of informing people on the activities of the European Union."

If you're not interested in politics it all sounds very boring, but one video on the page is causing a great deal of interest. The clip in question is about the EU's support for European film makers, and features 44-seconds of sex scenes snipped from various EU-funded European films.

By midday yesterday the video had been viewed over 1.3 million times, and had received mentions in blogs and British tabloids.

Not everyone was impressed. One visitor wrote in a comment: "It was only a matter of time before the EU found a new way of humiliating itself."

Judge for yourself at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koRlFnBlDH0

4 July 2007: The Price of Love

A man has been ordered to pay around £2,500 in damages over a love affair.

The man, from Chicago, was sued by the husband of his lover, using a little-known piece of legislation called the 'alienation of affection law'. The law allows deserted spouses to seek damages from their rival for the loss of love.

Alienation of affections was first recognized by the New York state legislature in 1864, but since 1935 it has been abolished in all but 7 states.

As far as SaintFM can ascertain there is no equivalent in St. Helena.

3 July 2007: No-Power Users

Galadima Primary School in Nigeria is celebrating, because it has just received 300 Laptop Computers for its students from the One-Laptop-Per-Child programme, an international charity.

The OLPC was founded by Nicholas Negroponte, an American professor, to provide laptops for every school pupil in developing countries. The aim is to help with understanding of information technology and the opportunities it brings to developing nations.

But Galadima Primary has a small problem. Although the School is in the centre of the federal capital Abuja, it had no electricity supply. The pupils have to take the laptops home each night to charge the batteries.

[Reference: One-Laptop-Per-Child programme]

2 July 2007: A Queen, for 60 pence a year

According to the latest accounts released by Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II costs British taxpayers about 60 pence per person per year.

The head of state's expenditure was 37.3 million pounds, which the palace claims has decreased in real terms by seven percent over the last six years.

5.6 million pounds of this was spent on travel by the queen and other members of the royal family.

The accounts also reveal that the queen's household is becoming greener. It has reduced carbon emissions by 12 percent in the past year, and there are even plans to convert the royal train to run on biodiesel.