30 November 2007: Teachers can be criticised

A German court has ruled that students have the right to criticise their teachers and publish their opinions on the Internet, as long as the words used are not defamatory.

The court in Cologne rejected a complaint by a teacher against the operators of a website (http://www.spickmich.de) on which students can class their teachers in categories such as "cool and funny", "sexy" and "gives fair marks".

The teacher had been given a very low rating on the website.

The website says it has more than 150,000 contributing students.

29 November 2007: Brief Encounter

It's cold in Denmark at this time of year, so an amorous couple who couldn't wait until they got home, decided to consummate their relationship in the waiting room of the station.

This annoyed the other travellers, who were forced to go out onto the freezing platforms to avoid embarrassment. They called in the police to derail the couple's activities.

A police spokesman remarked that, despite what they were doing, the pair were still dressed when the officers arrived. "That's why we didn't charge them with indecency," he said.

27 November 2007: Guard your valuables, at all times

A German father had a heart-stopping moment when he popped into the bank to get some money, leaving his car outside, with his 18-month-old baby asleep in the back. When he came out he found the car had vanished.

Fearing an abduction Police scrambled a team of 50 officers as well as a helicopter to track down the missing vehicle and child.

However the car was found nearby a short while later, with the baby boy still fast asleep inside. The baby seemed to have slept through the whole thing.

Police believe the car had been stolen by a thief who, having discovered the baby in the back, thought better of his crime and returned the vehicle.

What the baby's mother said to her negligent husband was not recorded.

26 November 2007: Massive Government Waste

According to figures compiled by its national Audit Office the German government wasted nearly one-and-a half billion pounds last year.

Examples cited in the Federal Audit Office's 2007 annual review of government spending, which found a lack of oversight in 85 percent of the cases it investigated, included:

  • Renting computers for three years which could have been bought for about 85% of the cost;
  • About 135 million pounds spent on a piece of railway track that was never built;
  • Maintenance of an underground air surveillance bunker that serves no military purpose;
  • The development of new seats for vehicles to carry elderly people, where the vehicles are now deemed so unsafe they can't be used on public roads.

"These are very troubling findings," the auditors said in a statement.

23 November 2007: Topless Calendar Surprise

A woman has caused surprise by posing for a topless calendar. That itself is not unusual; what caused the surprise is that Nora Hardwick is 101 years old.

Ms Hardwick will be Miss November in the calendar, which will raise money for a children's football team in her village in Lincolnshire.

Speaking to a local newspaper she said "I am always game for anything, especially if it's for charity, and I did enjoy it, though I don't suppose I will do it again."

The initiative echoes the calendar put together by the Rylstone and District Women's Institute in North Yorkshire, the story of which was told in the 2003 film "Calendar Girls".

22 November 2007: Eagles and Birdies

A golf club in Australia has more than eagles and birdies to contend with; it also has ducks. And animal lovers are up in arms over its plans to shoot them.

The Sydney golf club's plan was to cull the native wood ducks living on its course, because they are ripping up its greens. The club says it had already tried placing cat-like objects and rubber snakes around the course, and had resorted to shooting as a last resort. But when local animal lovers found out about the plan they dug up some of the greens in the dead of night and left a note threatening of more trouble if any ducks were harmed.

Now the club has abandoned the cull plan, and is seeking another way to persuade the ducks to relocate.

21 November 2007: The fast and the furious

A teenager speeding through a German town with seven squad cars in hot pursuit still managed to give the frustrated officers the slip, police have admitted.

To add to their embarrassment, the boy wasn't driving a high powered car - he was in a go-kart.

After leading the convoy on a 3-mile chase through the winding streets of Moenchengladbach, the 18-year-old driver spotted a private garage with an open door, where he decided to lie low. However, police later discovered his hiding place. He was charged with driving without a licence and driving a go-kart on a public street, which is not permitted in Germany.

Moenchengladbach has produced two Formula One racing drivers. Both Nick Heidfeld and Heinz-Harald Frentzen were born there.

20 November 2007: A Bigger Barbecue

A cook in Morocco has prepared the world's largest barbecue -- by spit-roasting a 1,200-pound camel.

Two centuries ago a Moroccan king offered a roast camel to his people. "It's a tradition that's fallen out of favour and I brought it back" said 63-year-old Christian Falco, who hails from the south-western French city of Perpignan.

Cooking the camel took 15 hours and used three tons of wood and 15 litres of cooking oil.

Some 500 intrepid diners then feasted on it.

19 November 2007: Just Desserts?

With people around the world trying to live on less than one dollar a day the recent announcement by a New York restaurant that it was offering an ice-cream sundae that cost $1000, and another desert that cost $25,000 ,was considered by many to be a bit tasteless.

So its critics will perhaps feel that the restaurant has got its just deserts. It has been shut down by health officials due to an infestation of mice and cockroaches.

Serendipity 3 on the Upper East Side failed its second consecutive health inspection in a month after inspectors found a live mouse, mouse droppings in multiple places, flies and dozens of live cockroaches.

"We're rectifying it as quickly as we can," said the owner.

16 November 2007: Diesel for 11p a litre

Soaring oil prices have led Thailand's police to seek cheaper and more environmentally friendly fuel, and they think they have found a solution: used cooking oil.

They now make biodiesel from old cooking oil donated by hotels, fast food shops and even shrines, using a locally-made machine that can produce up to 450 litres of biodiesel a day. The resulting fuel costs just 7.0 baht (that's about 11p) per litre. As well as being cheap, the biodiesel is much more environmentally friendly than a fossil fuel.

A spokesman said homemade biodiesel now accounted for 50 percent of the fuel used at the city centre police station.

SaintFM wants to know when that machine will be available here.

15 November 2007: The Bride's a Real Dog

An Indian farmer has married a dog, believing it will help him overcome a curse.

Some time ago the farmer found two dogs mating in his rice field, and killed them both by throwing stones. A few days later, his hearing and speech became impaired and he became unable to walk.

Doctors were clueless, but an astrologer finally told him he was cursed by the spirits of the dogs he had killed. He could undo the curse only if he married a dog.

After a long search for a 'suitable bride', he has now married a four-year-old mongrel. A Hindu priest conducted the ceremony.

"The dog is only for lifting the curse; after that he plans to get a real bride," a friend said.

14 November 2007: Feed the birds - $1000 a go

A New York City Councillor is fed up with things dropping out of the sky, and this time it's not Al Qaeda that bothers him; it's pigeons.

City Councilman Simcha Felder has called on the city to levy a fine of as much as $1,000 on people caught feeding pigeons, and to employ hawks to scare the birds away. Similar measures are already in force in London and are being introduced in Venice. New York tried a hawk previously, in 2003, but the programme was abandoned when the hawk attacked a small pet dog.

Councilman Felder is also proposing to distribute pigeon contraceptives to reduce their numbers, though exactly how the birds would be persuaded to cooperate with this wasn't made clear.

13 November 2007: Excuse me - haven't you forgotten something?

It's easy to forget little things when you go out, but a German man filled up at a petrol station, paid, and then went off without his car.

After the car had sat blocking the pump for about an hour, a woman working at the petrol station alerted authorities. Police contacted the man, who came straight back to fetch the vehicle.

"He just forgot about it and walked off home," said a police spokesman.

SaintFM thinks it was lucky for him his wife wasn't waiting in the car.

12 November 2007: Shark infested waters

A two-metre shark has been caught in a river in southern Iraq more than 160 miles from the sea.

A local man was fishing with his sons when they spotted a large fish thrashing about in his net. "I recognised the fish as a shark because I have seen one on a television programme," he said.

Locals blamed the U.S. military for the shark's unusual location. One local teacher said there was a "75 percent chance" the Americans had put the shark in the water.

9 November 2007: Green Bras

So many Japanese eat with disposable chopsticks the used implements are causing an environmental problem, but carrying around chopsticks for re-use has been difficult - until now.

A women's lingerie maker in Japan has unveiled a new bra with side pouches to hold compact chopsticks. Following the theme, the bra has cups fashioned to look like a bowl of rice.

The company also claims the chopsticks tucked in both sides of the bra will give lift to the breasts and "gently accentuate cleavage".

But before you rush off to buy one, the makers say for now this is only a 'concept design'. There are currently no plans to put the bra on sale.

8 November 2007: Green Chocolate

Lovers of chocolate can now help the environment.

English firm Ecotec has taken waste from the chocolate manufacturing process and turned it into an eco-friendly bio-diesel. Bio-diesel can replace conventional fuel in an unmodified diesel engine, thus reducing dependency on fossil fuels.

The chocolate waste used to be put into landfill, making its conversion into a useful fuel a double benefit.

But sadly one of the team confirmed that one hoped-for by-product of the new process hasn't materialised. "I'm afraid the exhaust doesn't smell of chocolate," he said.

7 November 2007: Please don't hand it in

A police station in Devon had to be evacuated after a man left a hand grenade on the front desk, having found it while digging on his allotment.

Officers at Paignton police station called in explosives experts after the World War II device was brought in by a member of the public.

The finder had unearthed it while working on his allotment, put it in his car and brought it to the station.

"In retrospect we would have preferred him to leave it where it was," said a spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police, who continued: "Our advice is that if people do find something like this, call us and we'll get the experts in."

6 November 2007: Green Donkeys

A Sicilian town has replaced its rubbish trucks with donkeys and claims to be saving money as well as helping to beat global warming.

The town of 10,000 people has replaced its four rubbish trucks with six donkeys. The donkeys each carry two wooden boxes and are accompanied by refuse men who have been renamed "ecological operators".
As well as significantly reducing its carbon emissions, the town estimates that it will save about £40,000 over five years. Other towns in the region are expected to follow.

5 November 2007: The Balkans Have It

A Bulgarian woman and a Romanian man have the world's best-looking bottoms, according to the jury of a backside beauty contest sponsored by a lingerie firm.

As well as a 10,000 euro cash prize, Kristina Dimitrova, who is 19, and 24-year-old Andrei Andrei each won a modelling contract for the company's next international advertising campaign and a year-long insurance policy for their rear ends in case of injury.

Some 15,000 people from 29 countries responded to a call by a European company to post photos of their backsides on the Internet. The site drew more than five million visitors.

2 November 2007: A flying centegenarian

A British pensioner has marked her 100th birthday in style by paragliding from the top of a mountain.

Peggy McAlpine, who has seen the reign of five British monarchs and 26 prime ministers, leapt from a 2,500-foot peak in the Five Finger mountains in Cyprus for the 15-minute tandem flight.

She was handed a glass of champagne on touch-down by her cheering fans, who toasted her success in a bid to enter the record books by becoming the oldest person to paraglide.

Peggy is not new to airborne antics, having bungee-jumped from scaffolding aged 70.

1 November 2007: Train Scare

Passengers on a German train were shocked to discover a blood-covered body. When they couldn't get any response from the man they sought help.

A first aid team called to the scene soon cleared up the confusion. The 24-year-old man had fallen into a drunken slumber on his way home from a Halloween party in Hamburg.

Police told the man to remove his make-up after which he was allowed to continue his journey.