24 December 2007: 2007 was a silly year

And finally, we've tried throughout the year to keep you up-to-date with the stranger side of life, featuring stories like the Australian bank that issued a credit card to a cat, and the inadvertent invasion of Liechtenstein by the Swiss army, who got lost on manoeuvres in the dead of night. But there were a few that for various reasons we couldn't cover, so for the last broadcast of 2007 here are the most intriguing:

In Germany a 100-year-old woman in moved out of her retirement home after six weeks saying she found the other residents boring and too old.

Fishery officials in China restocked a river with 13 truckloads of live carp, then residents from the nearby city swarmed to the banks a short way downstream and caught most of them.

An American man ordered flowers for his mistress, and the florists sent the receipt to his home, thereby informing his wife of his infidelity.

A Belgian prankster put the entire country up for sale on the Internet auction site eBay, and might have sold it had the company not noticed and halted the bidding.

And finally, finally: a town in South Korea spent some 140 million dollars to build itself an airport, and then was then forced to admit that no airlines were prepared to fly there.

The International News will be back on the 2nd of January, and from all the International News team, have a merry and peaceful Christmas and a happy new year.

21 December 2007: The Three Kings Fight Back

In Spain, Santa Claus is under attack by his traditional rivals, the Three Kings

Spanish children traditionally receive Christmas presents on January 6, when parades commemorate the Three Kings said to have brought presents of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the infant Christ.

But in recent years Santa Claus has made inroads, helped by Hollywood films and shops eager to use his image to persuade parents to buy more toys.

So a Spanish advertising agency is fighting back. An advertising campaign portrays Santa's sleigh shot down in an alley, calling him over-commercial and cruel to elves. In one video, three rapping Kings backed by dancing girls taunt Santa as an overweight import and tell him to stay out of Spain.

As yet, Santa has not responded.

20 December 2007: Has anybody seen our tank?

Police in Bulgaria have arrested two Germans and a Bulgarian army officer for stealing a World War II tank and attempting to steal another.

The first tank disappeared between October and December 13 and is still missing, while the second one only had a few of its parts stolen.

Investigators suspect the armoured vehicle or its parts may have been smuggled to Germany, to sell to collectors.

The vehicles had laid unused since World War II near Bulgaria's south-eastern border with Turkey.

Anyone who comes across the missing tank is asked to contact Bulgarian police.

19 December 2007: Illegal Walking

A pedestrian has been charged with damaging property, after walking over a car that was parked on the pavement, but the car driver was not ticketed for illegal parking.

Drivers in Greece's congested capital are notorious for leaving their cars wherever it suits them, including on pavements, wheelchair ramps and even hospital entrances.

"I could not get past the vehicle, a four-wheel drive, which had been parked right on the pavement so I got angry and just walked over it," the man told state television on Tuesday.

The owner of the vehicle saw him and called police. "They did not even bother giving the owner a parking ticket," he said.

18 December 2007: Happy Worms

Colin Bell, an inventor in New Zealand, has come up with an eco-friendly alternative to a septic tank, in which worms do all the necessary work. But local bureaucrats objected to his design on the grounds that it was unfair to the worms, saying they might suffer psychological harm because of their diet.

Auckland Regional Council told him that before his invention could go ahead he would have to find someone with the necessary qualifications to say the worms are happy.

So Mr Bell employed a vermiculture consultant to study the worms. She concluded that, as they were in excellent health and breeding, they were clearly happy and there was nothing to be worried about.

Now his "wormorator" can be installed as planned in a local campsite.

17 December 2007: Growing Old Disgracefully

Crimes committed by older people in Japan jumped threefold this year compared with a decade ago.

About 45,000 people over 65 were prosecuted between January and November, nearly half of them for shoplifting.

And assaults by older people rose to 1,700 from just 100 in the same period a decade ago, according to the National Police Agency.

SaintFM blames their parents.

14 December 2007: Cyber Chat

Users of internet chatrooms are constantly being warned that the person on the other end may not be who they say they are, with paedophiles regularly posing as children to make contacts. And now, it seems, it may not even be a person.

A Russian company has come up with a computer program that, it says, can simulate flirtatious chatroom exchanges. It boasts that the program can chat up as many as 10 women at the same time and persuade them to hand over phone numbers and other information. The makers claim that "Not a single girl has yet realised that she was communicating with a computer program", and that the settings on its software can be changed to attract men.

Computer security experts say the software could be used to collect people's personal details for identity fraud, though the creators deny it was intended for that use.

SaintFM repeats the warning – be very cautious in chatrooms.

13 December 2007: Parked Polly Prosecution

Greek traffic police are threatening to charge Coco the parrot with illegal parking.

Every morning, Coco's owner puts the parrot and his perch on the road, just outside his pet shop in Patras. Over the years Coco has become something of a local landmark, exchanging pleasantries with passers-by. But local traffic police say that Coco's owner must pay parking charges for the road-space he occupies, and if not they will fine him 60 euro (that's about forty pounds).

His owner has refused to move him, and SaintFM wonders if Coco will have to start busking to pay his bill.

12 December 2007: Sick as a parrot

Former England football boss Steve McClaren has at last won something: the Plain English Campaign's "Foot in Mouth Award" for a priceless piece of sporting wisdom.

McClaren won the award for his assessment of Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney, saying "He is inexperienced, but he's experienced in terms of what he's been through."

Last year's winner was supermodel Naomi Campbell, with her patriotic declaration: "I love England, especially the food. There's nothing I like more than a lovely bowl of pasta."

The annual awards highlight unclear language from public bodies and the media.

Two winners of this year's "Golden Bull" award, which highlights impenetrable or inappropriate use of jargon, are for a sign at London's Gatwick Airport stating: "Passenger shoe repatriation area only", and a statement from Virgin Trains which reads as follows:

"Moving forwards, we as Virgin Trains are looking to take ownership of the flow in question to apply our pricing structure, thus resulting in this journey search appearing in the new category-matrix format. The pricing of this particular flow is an issue going back to 1996 and it is not something that we can change until 2008 at the earliest. I hope this makes the situation clear."

11 December 2007: Taxing Children

As if raising children wasn't taxing enough, an Australian professor has suggested taxing people who have more than two.

He argues that the tax is needed because of the extra greenhouse gas emissions caused by the growing world population.

"Every family choosing to have more than a defined number of children should be charged a carbon tax that would fund the planting of enough trees to offset the carbon cost generated by a new human being," he said.

Under his proposals, parents with more than two children should pay about 2,000 pounds a head for each extra child and up to 350 pounds every year thereafter.

10 December 2007: Ham-fisted Advertising

An upmarket food store in New York's Greenwich Village was keen to encourage the local Jewish community to shop there, so offered specials for the Jewish Hanukkah Festival, which began on Wednesday.

Sadly one of the specials offered was ham, with the slogan "Delicious for Hanukkah". Pork and shellfish are among the foods banned under Jewish law.

The unorthodox sign was spotted by a local resident who, instead of alerting management, took a photograph and posted it on the Internet.

A manager at the store blamed the mistake on a clerk.

7 December 2007: Bank's Plans Binned

Earlier this week a member of the public discovered top-secret security plans for a bank's vault in a dustbin.

The vault, in the German central bank's Berlin offices, was recently reopened after extensive renovation works, including new security systems. The detailed drawings found in the bin included many of the vault's security arrangements, including the location of people detectors, stairwells, grilled gates and measurements with the depth of the vault's floor. The bin was in a public courtyard in central Berlin.

A Bundesbank spokeswoman said the bank was looking into how the plans could have ended up in a public bin.

6 December 2007: How does your garden grow?

Acting on a tip-off, police officers raided the Orthodox nunnery in a small Greek village and found more than 30 large cannabis plants growing in the enclosed garden.

Apparently two men posing as gardeners had persuaded the elderly nuns they would like to help them with the garden, and then proceeded to plant the cannabis. The nuns did not know what they were and assumed they were just large decorative plants.

Police decided not to arrest the nuns and have launched a hunt for the culprits.

5 December 2007: Rich Bitch Flees Death Threats

A dog who inherited 12 million dollars earlier this year has fled to Florida under an assumed name after receiving death threats.

Trouble, a white Maltese who belonged to late billionaire Leona Helmsley, was flown to Florida by private jet under tight security after receiving around 20 threats against her life.

The man in charge of the pampered pet's trust fund said that the cost of Trouble's round-the-clock security detail, medical care, chef-cooked meals and grooming were around 300,000 dollars a year.

SaintFM would like to point out that 300,000 dollars a year would be enough to keep around 500 people from dying in poverty.

4 December 2007: Who Wants to Marry a U.S. Citizen?

A TV company in Los Angeles is trying to find backers for a new TV programme with title "Who Wants to Marry a U.S. Citizen?".

The proposal is for a TV dating programme that aims to create televised matrimony between American citizens and prospective immigrants. Marrying an American Citizen is one way to get residency in the USA.

In a statement, the company said that it has already signed up contestants for the first six episodes, and while it does not guarantee marriage or legal status, it will pay for a wedding party and honeymoon should a marriage result.

3 December 2007: Men R Us?

Women in Salzburg are now able to Christmas-shop without distraction.

A man-crèche has been set up in the town centre, and women can leave their boyfriends and husbands there while they hunt down all those last-minute presents, without a whingeing man getting in the way.

Women surrender their partners at the tent's entrance, free of charge, between 4:00pm to 10:00pm. They are given a ticket which they have to present on their return to collect their partner.

While in the crèche the men can play computer games, read newspapers or magazines such as Playboy, or simply have a drink at the bar.

Last year around 1,500 men found refuge there from the shopaholic tendencies of their 'better half', and its creator now plans to expand. He is planning to set up similar crèches in Vienna, Hamburg and Munich. The crèches might even operate all year round, the entrepreneur suggested.