31 October 2007: Friendly Smuggling

A 19-year-old woman appears to have escaped from a juvenile detention centre in northwest Germany by hiding in the suitcase of a fellow inmate who was being released.

Prison officers at the facility had noted that the suitcase of the released 18-year-old was particularly heavy, but failed to search it.

The fact that the other woman was missing was only noticed several hours later during the routine evening check of cells at the centre.

The police are looking for the two young women.

30 October 2007: A Moving Service

Church services can be moving, but churches themselves tend to stay put; but not so in Germany.

The 300 residents of one small German village, forced to move out of their homes to allow coal to be extracted from beneath, did not want to lose their 700-year-old village church. So they took it with them.

The church, complete with bells and altar, was loaded onto a truck and set off on the 7 mile trek to its new home. The 1,000-tonne load is costing the mining firm more than 2 million pounds to move.

29 October 2007: Police Stopped

A Brussels police chief has issued a warning to his officers to abstain from visiting brothels and drinking alcohol during working hours.

The police chief wrote: "Staff think that working hours are for drinking alcohol, playing sport, frequenting brothels or massage parlours, and developing intimate relationships with residents of their neighbourhood".

He warned that such acts would "no longer be tolerated."

Questioned by journalists a police spokesman said that the abuses cited were, in his words, "baseless rumours", and that no such activities had actually taken place.

24 October 2007: Fishy Food Found Fleeing

People in the German city of Stuttgart couldn't believe their eyes the other morning when they spotted a group of crayfish scuttling down the street.

Police were called to arrest the errant crustaceans, which had escaped from an Asian food shop by squeezing through gaps in the grating on their tanks and leaving by the store's front door, which had been left ajar.

The police succeeded in recapturing them all, so the shop's customers did get their shellfish dinner that night. The recaptured crayfish didn't comment.

23 October 2007: Smelly Kidappee

Kidnappers are active in Columbia, where more than 3,000 people are currently being held captive, mostly by anti-government guerrillas.

But the group who kidnapped Aldo de Fescol only held him for two days and then dropped him off at a veterinarian's office, saying he needed a bath. Aldo is a German Shepherd dog.

When nobody came to collect the newly sweet-smelling canine the vet called the police who identified the dog. He had been kidnapped - or maybe that's dognapped - last month from his home in a rich Bogota neighbourhood while his owners were away.

22 October 2007: A Tasty Reward

A brewery in New Zealand is offering a lifetime supply of free beer in return for a stolen laptop.

The computer, containing designs, creative work, contact details and financial information, was stolen from the Croucher Brewing Company in the central North Island city of Rotorua.

The owners are desperate to get it back because, while the company has back-up copies of its work, they are not as up-to-date as the data on the stolen machine.

The "lifetime supply" - which they say is about 12 beers each month - is offered to whoever turns in the person responsible for the burglary.

19 October 2007: Flushed with Success

The Islington area of north London is popular with pub and club goers, so needs an additional set of public toilets. And one local trader has an idea for how to name them.

Mike Weedon has proposed that they be named after Joe Orton, a local resident and renowned playwright. Joe Orton was openly gay, his life having been celebrated in the 1987 film "Prick Up Your Ears".

Islington Borough Council is not impressed with the idea. The deputy leader said "I would only support a naming plaque on a toilet if something worth commemorating happened there."

SaintFM things the best thing to say at this point is nothing at all.

18 October 2007: Spending a penny

An Austrian baker, who made his staff pay for the time they spent in the toilet, has been forced to end the practice.

According to papers filed with the courts, the owner of the bakery recorded employees' toilet visits on a computer and took the time off their annual holiday allowance.

A former employee took the case to the local labour court. The bakery owner ended the practice before the case got to court, and has agreed to pay compensation to his staff.

17 October 2007: Hey, did you know ...?

Research published this week shows that people prefer to believe what they hear through the grapevine, even when they have hard evidence to the contrary.

Researchers using a computer-based study technique found gossip played an important role when people make decisions.

In the study, the participants assessed other people who they knew only from their descriptions, such as "nasty" or as "generous". The participants were then given factual information; but they continued to give preference to the descriptions rather than the facts.

"They reacted on gossip even if they knew better" the researchers concluded.

The researchers defined gossip as "social information spread about a person who is not present".

16 October 2007: The Truth Will Out (at a price)

The Knights Templar, the medieval Christian order disbanded under accusations of heresy and sexual misconduct, will soon be partly rehabilitated when the Vatican publishes trial documents it has kept closely guarded for 700 years.

The Templars were founded in 1119 by knights, to protect Christian pilgrims visiting the Holy Land. They amassed enormous wealth, and legends abound of their hidden treasures, secret rituals and power. In the recent bestseller "The Da Vinci Code" the Knights are portrayed as guardians of the legendary Holy Grail.

After Muslims re-conquered the Holy Land at the end of the 13th century the Templars were accused of heresy by King Philip IV of France. Members of the Order were burned at the stake and, despite his conviction that the Templars were not guilty, in 1312 Pope Clement ordered the Order disbanded. Many thing the Templars had been falsely accused, by people jealous of their wealth and power.

Now, if you want to make up your own mind, a reproduction of the minutes of the trials against the Templars is about to be published. The Papal Inquiry into the Trial of the Templars will be available from the Vatican on 25th October.

Be prepared to pay about 4,000 pounds for a copy.


15 October 2007: What would you do?

If a disaster were about to destroy the earth what would you do in your last 60 minutes?

Not surprisingly, the majority of Britons questioned in a survey said they would like to spend it either with or on the phone to their loved ones.

But the survey also revealed a strong hedonistic streak -- 13 percent would sit back, accept the inevitable and reach for a glass of champagne.

Sex appealed to only nine percent and two percent said they would reach for some fatty food.

Interestingly, the survey found that just three percent would turn to prayer.

12 October 2007: Moth Broth

Australians have hit on a radical solution to an unusually large invasion of moths -- eat them.

Millions of bogong moths have descended on Canberra and Sydney, clogging air-conditioning ducts, swooping on unwary pedestrians and setting off fire alarms.

Unusually strong winds have blown the moths off course as they migrate from the heat of Queensland state to the cool of the Snowy Mountains.

Now one Canberra restaurateur says he will include the moths on his menu next week.

"They can be made into a soup or served in some brandy," he said. "You flame them so the wings and the fur burn off and they go crunchy."

An alternative recipe involves putting a handful of moths through a coffee blender, then sprinkling them on an omelette, though one Australian naturalist said he preferred his moths raw. "It's like eating a prawn cocktail," he said.

11 October 2007: Thou shalt not steal

A judge in Singapore sentenced a man to four months in jail for trying to steal a book, and then admonished him with Scripture before sending him off to prison.

The man had tried to steal a copy of the Bible, and said he had tried to steal it to replace his old, tattered copy.

While sentencing the 26-year-old thief the judge actually gave him a copy of the Bible, saying "You will see at page 65 that it says 'Thou shalt not steal'. Sit in prison and read the Bible, and ensure that you don't come before the courts again."

10 October 2007: The Customer is Always Right

A Norwegian food retailer has decided to take a radical approach to customer complaints. It will accept them without question.

The second biggest food chain in Norway said competition among retailers was fierce and that in order to win new clients it had to become more creative. So now, if someone brings something back, they will get a full refund, even if there was nothing wrong with the product and the customer just didn't like it.

"We trust our customers," a spokesman said.

However the retailer did say it would be "cautious" about refunding cash for alcohol products after they had been consumed.

9 October 2007: Not Lost in Space

If an orbiting spacecraft goes round the earth several times a day, at what time should the crew do morning prayers?

These and other urgent questions for Muslim astronauts are answered in the world's first comprehensive guidebook for Muslims in space.

The book, entitled Guidelines for Performing Islamic Rites at the International Space Station, has been 'launched' in time to be used by Malaysia's first Muslim astronaut, who will ascend to the orbiting laboratory this Wednesday. It explains how to perform ablutions, determine prayer times, fast in space, kneel on the ground while weightless and, perhaps most difficult when you are moving round the earth at nearly twenty thousand miles-per-hour: determine the location of Mecca when praying.

8 October 2007: Cutting edge research

Scientists who investigate more obscure things rarely get a mention, but the now annual Ig-Nobel Awards have addressed that.

Notable research from this year's 17th Ig-Nobel Award ceremony include the team which discovered that Viagra also works on hamsters, a Spanish group who asked whether rats could tell the difference between Japanese and Dutch spoken backwards, and a study into how sheets wrinkle.

Winners receive a small trophy affixed with a chicken and an egg.

SaintFM is fascinated by the report of the Japanese researcher who demonstrated that it is possible to extract vanilla flavouring from cow dung; not to know how, but simply: why?

5 October 2007: Animal-Friendly Space Cakes

In coffee shops in Amsterdam, hashish can be consumed openly in a relaxed atmosphere, but local animal rights groups were not happy. They complained that the "spacecakes" sold - which are baked with hashish and can give an intense high - were made with battery-farmed eggs.

So now the coffee shops are turning to using free-range eggs to reduce the suffering of chickens. Four large shops have already switched and 20 more plan to follow.

Soft drugs are officially banned in the Netherlands but under a policy of tolerance, buyers are allowed to have less than 5 grams of cannabis in their possession.

4 October 2007: Fear of frying

Staff at a Thai restaurant in London were puzzled when fire-fighters broke down their door and burst in, dressed in full chemical alert gear. All the staff were led out of the restaurant and had to wait in the street for three hours while the 'incident' was investigated.
Someone in the area had dialled 999 after what had been described as an "acrid cloud" had sent passers-by spluttering for cover. Fearing a terrorist attack police had sealed off the street and called a hazardous area response team to the scene. The smoke had been traced to the restaurant.

It transpired that the alert was caused by the restaurant's chef, who had been preparing an especially hot dish which involved dry-frying four kilograms of bird's eye chillies. The restaurant staff thought nothing of it, being used to the pungent aroma.

"I can understand why people who weren't Thai would not know what it was," the chef commented.

3 October 2007: Broken-up but not broke

In Japan divorce can be an expensive business. First there are the legal fees which, like everything else in Japan, are expensive. Then the spouse that is found to be at fault for the breakdown of the marriage can be required to pay compensation to their former partner of up to 4 million yen (that's about 17,000 pounds).

Now one bank in Japan has launched a product which it says will help. It will lend up to 5 million yen to the divorcing party to cover the legal costs and compensation payments.

The bank says that its "Re" loan ("Re" because the borrower is re-starting their life) is far cheaper than borrowing on credit cards, as divorcees have done in the past.

It has denied that it is encouraging divorce.

2 October 2007: Curious Myths

After today's ten o'clock International News there will be a feature on Sexual Health, so on that theme here are the results of a UK survey that asked teenagers how they could avoid starting a pregnancy. The results included some very strange ideas. And, for the avoidance of doubt, not one of these is true.

Some respondents relayed some old myths that everyone should know to be false. For example:

  • You can reuse condoms, and if you don't have a condom, Clingfilm or a crisp packet will be just as effective;

  • You can’t get pregnant if it's your first time; and

  • You can’t get pregnant having sex standing up.

Some showed imagination, but are equally inaccurate, including:

  • Jumping up and down after sex stops you getting pregnant; and

  • You won’t get pregnant if you 'wash' afterwards with coca cola.

And some are so weird it's hard to imagine how anyone could have thought of them. For example:

  • A boy is only fertile if his testicles feel cold; and

  • You can’t get pregnant if you have sex in a boat.

If you thought any of those to be true make sure you listen in at ten o'clock today.

1 October 2007: Too many would-be chiefs

Bulgaria is having local elections this month, and so many candidates are standing that the ballot papers will be 2 metres long.

The Election Authorities have announced they will have to import more than 11 million envelopes to accommodate the ballot papers because the ones available locally are not large enough.

The Administration Minister is also concerned that the ballot boxes may be also too small, though that will depend on how many people turn out to vote. Bulgaria has more than 70 political parties and coalitions, so voters may decide it's all too complicated and just stay at home.