17 March 2008: Banks are better than haystacks

An Ethiopian farmer has lost almost one-third of his life savings - to rats.

The 52-year-old farmer from central Ethiopia didn't trust banks, and fearing that a house fire might burn his money if he kept it indoors, decided to stash his cash in a haystack.

But rats in the haystack ate nearly 2,000 pounds worth of the 6,200 pound deposit.

The unnamed farmer is thought to be reviewing his banking arrangements.

14 March 2008: Doing it in style

If you're going to break out of prison, you might as well do it properly.

Police in Chile this week discovered a tunnel intended to get prisoners out of the Colina II jail, but it wasn't the sort of cramped, claustrophobic and dangerous structure you see in the movies.

The 230-foot long tunnel resembled an underground mine structure, built with cement and wooden beams, with electrical power, carts for hauling away dirt and rock, and nearly high enough in some places for an adult to stand upright.

Police said the wives of two prison inmates had hired four experienced miners to build the escape tunnel, which led from a nearby house toward the facility and was less than 100 feet short of the prison when it was discovered.

Police heard about the tunnel while monitoring prisoners' telephone conversations as part of an investigation into drug trafficking.

13 March 2008: **Special Notice**

A special notice from newsreader and blogger, John Turner.

On Monday 31st March 2008 I shall read the International News on SaintFM for the last time.

My period as Manager of the Bank of St. Helena comes to an end on that day, and so I will no longer be coming into town early to open up the bank and read the International News.

This weblog will stop then, too. I hope the stories have amused you and thank you for your supportive feedback.

I will continue broadcasting on SaintFM on Wednesday afternoons, from 16:30-19:00h GMT, presenting "Rock+". In that programme I also feature the strange items from the world’s press that have been part of the International News for the last three years. If you can, please join me then.

Best wishes

13 March 2008: Better Late than Never

A Finnish library user apparently thought 'better late than never' and quietly returned a book that had been on loan for more than 100 years.

The library sticker inside the cover, and the old-fashioned handwriting on it, showed the book was officially loaned out at the beginning of the last century. The library had long since lost track of the loan but was pleased to welcome it back into its collection.

The library is also keen to talk to the book's returner, but he or she chose to remain anonymous.

SaintFM thinks that may be because, if Finland's files for overdue books are about the same as St. Helena's, the fine will be in the region of £3,000.

12 March 2008: Red Beer

If you don't fancy the green beer we highlighted last Friday, how about red beer instead?

The communist state of North Korea, best known for its poverty, propaganda and nuclear sabre rattling, has developed one of the highest-quality beers in the region.

Early this decade the country bought the brewing plant from a disused brewery in Wiltshire, dismantled it, shipped it to North Korea and reassembled it. After a little fine tuning the new beer, described as a full-bodied lager a little on the sweet side, went on sale and is said by foreigners who have tried it to be infinitely superior to the mass-marketed beers available in South Korea.

Better still, a 640 ml bottle of sells for about 35 pence.

But do not expect to see North Korean beer invading overseas markets any time soon. North Korea says it simply doesn't have the infrastructure to package and ship the beer for export.

SaintFM wonders why it is that North Korea can work out how to make nuclear weapons but can't manage to export beer.

11 March 2008: No Time for Golf

The president of South Korea, Lee Myung-bak, says that if government staff have time to play golf they are not working hard enough.

Lee, a former construction boss, is widely known to start work at 7:30 am, and expects his staff to do the same. He says Government workers, including himself, are the people's servants, so should work harder than their masters, the people.

For the presidential staff there is no actual ban on playing golf, but the threat is clear. "When you're working hard there's never enough time, so it would be a feat to be playing golf," he says.

10 March 2008: Isenhour and the Birdie

Professional golfer Tripp Isenhour has hit a Birdie. Indeed, it was almost an Eagle. And he's in big trouble over it.

The golfer is facing possible jail after his golf ball hit and killed a hawk that is protected by conservation laws.

Isenhour has admitted hitting the ball at the hawk, but has denied trying to harm it. "I was trying to simply scare it into flying away", he said.

If convicted of cruelty to animals and killing a migratory bird, Isenhour could face a fine and up to a year in jail.

7 March 2008: Green Beer

How would you like to drink green beer? A brewery in Australia is betting that its customers will.

The beer isn't coloured green, and the production process and taste are exactly as they were before. But all the greenhouse gases generated in the production of the beer, from the picking of the hops to the empty bottle landing in the recycling bin, have been offset by planting trees. Trees absorb the major greenhouse gas, CO2, and produce oxygen, thus improving the environment.

The beer is called Cascade Green, and the company's marketing manager said all of the tree-planting costs of the new beer will be absorbed by the company and will not be passed on to consumers.

SaintFM wonders if CO2 producing companies on St. Helena could be persuaded to make a similar investment in the Millennium Forest.

6 March 2008: The Drinks Are On Us

A Japanese company has announced plans to get its staff drinking at the company's expense.

Managers at Japan General Estate Co who supervise 20 or more people will have a budget of around 1,500 pounds a month to take them out drinking. Managers with fewer than 20 workers will have 1,000 pounds a month.

The company says the move is intended to help with staff communication.

Japan General Estate is renown for its other unorthodox work policies, such as paying extra to employees who do not smoke.

SaintFM asked SHG’s Social Development Planner Ann Muir if drinks on the company will be part of the new employment legislation proposed for St. Helena . She said it wouldn't be required but that wouldn't stop employers from introducing it on a voluntary basis.

5 March 2008: Busted, so not busted

A Japanese pin-up model has walked free from court because of the size of her breasts.

The bikini model was accused by a man of kicking a hole in the wooden door of his room and crawling inside, apparently because he was with another woman.

In court her defence counsel held up a plate showing the size of the hole, and showed that she could not have squeezed through it with her 44-inch bust.

As a result the Tokyo High Court threw out the case, saying there was reasonable doubt over the man's account.

4 March 2008: Trouble at the top

So who works harder; you or your boss?

The vast majority of American workers say they do.

77 percent of respondents to a poll by an employment website argued they toiled longer and harder than the occupants of the manager's office.

The survey company highlighted the rising gap between boardroom pay and that of ordinary staff in America as a key reason for the survey's results.

3 March 2008: The wheels come off the bus

If, like me, you feel that if you hear songs by Barney or the Teletubbies one more time you will go mad, there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

Former rock musician Ray Andersen, who played with the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Meat Loaf, has turned his attention to music for pre-school children.

Recently in south London the newly-styled "Mr Ray" performed to an audience who stood on their seats strumming wildly on copycat rock guitars, or jumped around like punk rockers. There were even bouncers do deter potential crowd surfers and stage divers. The audience were mostly between three and four years old.

The new music is called "Kindie" -- a combination of kids' and "indie" or independent music, and aims to oust the grinding of "The Wheels on the Bus" from the family car CD player.

And Mr Ray is not alone. The emerging set of Kindie musicians, including bands like They Might Be Giants and Green Means Go, want their own children to enjoy real music that engages both them and their parents.

For clips and more details go to http://www.mrray.com

29 February 2008: Leaping About

Everything you ever wanted to know about leap years.

We have leap years because our calendar counts a year as 365 days, but a complete revolution of the earth around the sun takes around 365 days and 6 hours. After four years, roughly an extra day has accumulated, so an extra day is added to that year to keep the calendar coordinated with the sun.

That is not precise enough, however, so every 100 years, at the turn of the century, the year is declared not a leap year, even though its number is divisible by four. So the year 2100 will not be a leap year.

However, you may remember that 2000 was a leap year, despite being the turn of the century. This is because, for even greater precision, every 400 years the century year is declared a leap year, despite all the preceding rules. So 2000 was a leap year and so too will be the year 2400.

And if that wasn’t enough, some scientists claim that every 4000 years it should switch again. Hopefully by the year 4000, when this first occurs, agreement will have been reached on whether or not that year is a leap year.

In most countries people born on 29th February are required to treat their birthday as falling on 28th February in non-leap years, so you can’t claim to be twenty when you are really eighty.

And lastly, for those ladies intending to take advantage of the convention that says a woman may propose marriage on 29th February, there is something you should know. Tradition dictates that if the man rejects your proposal, he should soften the blow by providing a kiss, one pound currency, and a pair of gloves or a silk gown.

[source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/February_29]

28 February 2008: Weather causes a storm

An Israeli man has caused a storm by querying why his home is not covered by Israeli TV weather maps.

In a letter to the Israel Broadcasting Authority the man asked why national TV weather forecasts did not include Jewish enclaves in the occupied West Bank, such as the one in which he lives.

The IBA replied that the areas in question were excluded because they are (and I quote) "not part of the state of Israel".

Whether the territories,occupied by Israel in 1967, are legitimately part of Israel is at the heart of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

However, the IBA back-pedalled quickly onto safer ground. It issued an open letter stating that it omitted Jewish settlements purely because they were too small to warrant a separate mention.

The settler who made the complaint claims he was not trying to make a political point and simply wanted to know his local weather forecast.

27 February 2008: To Protect and Serve

Police dogs in the city of Dusseldorf are being fitted with rubber shoes to protect their paws while walking the beat.

Police dog handlers say shards of glass and other sharp objects get stuck between the cobbles of Dusseldorf's old town and are dangerous for the canine squad.

Some 20 German shepherd dogs will show off their new footwear at a police fashion show in March.

Whether the female dogs will be issued with matching handbags and hats was not revealed.

26 February 2008: A Eurovision Turkey

Despite Ireland's rich musical tradition, and a record seven Eurovision wins, the nation’s song finished last place in the 2007 Eurovision song contest. And now, the nation’s entry for the 2008 contest is a turkey. Almost literally.

The song “Irelande Douze Point” (that means, Ireland Twelve Points) is sung by a glove puppet, Dustin the Turkey.

Dustin is better known for his burps and thick Dublin accent, and when the song was first played it attracted both applause and boos from the audience.

Irish music star Bob Geldof, who has released a duet with Dustin, denied he was unfit to represent the country just because he is a turkey. "The mere fact of his being a turkey should give Ireland the edge," Geldof said.

25 February 2008: The End Is Nigh

Scientists have known for some time that the Earth will eventually become uninhabitable when our sun expands in the final stages of its life. And now they think they know when it will happen.

A team at the University of Sussex, working in conjunction with scientists in Mexico, have studied similar stars and say first the seas will begin to evaporate, filling the air with water vapour and causing runaway global warming that will kill all life as we know it. Then the earth will spiral slowly into the sun and be incinerated.

They suggest either pushing the earth out of its orbit to move it further from the sun, or building a fleet of interplanetary 'life rafts' to carry humans to new planets, further from our dying sun.

The good news is that we have a little while to make a plan. They say the sun's changes won't have much effect for at least a billion years.

SaintFM thinks that on current performance we'll probably have destroyed the planet ourselves long before then.

22 February 2008: Progress on a global problem

Scientists around the globe spend their time trying to solve the world's problems; such as climate change, energy shortage, hunger, and snapping rubber bands. Now they have made progress, on the last one at least.

A group of French scientists have made a rubber band from material that can heal itself after a break. All you have to do is press the broken edges back together for a few minutes. The bands can be broken and repaired over and over again.

And the bands are made from recyclable materials which can be broken down with heat, so they are environmentally friendly, too.

Whether the bands can also be persuaded not to fly off and hide in a dark corner wasn't revealed.

20 February 2008: Putting out the flame

A man in Germany was angry when his girlfriend lit up a cigarette in his home and refused to put it out.

So angry, in fact, that he used the entire contents of a fire extinguisher to put out the cigarette, caking her and the apartment in powder.

A police spokesman said "it looked like a bomb had gone off in there."

It seems he was successful in putting out the cigarette. The flames of passion between them also seem to have been extinguished.

19 February 2008: Driving up to Ascension

A car that can be driven underwater is set to be unveiled at this year's Geneva International Motor Show.

Like something out of a James Bond film, the 'Squba' is a convertible sports car that transforms into an electrically-propelled underwater vehicle that can descend a depth to 10 metres.

The open-top design of the car is described as a safety feature, so passengers to get out quickly during an emergency, though it does mean they all have to wear scuba diving gear.

Prices have not yet been announced.

18 February 2008: Funds to Newcastle

A town in Staffordshire is refusing to pay back over a million pounds in grants after government officials confused them with another English city.

The Department for Communities and Local Government mistook the market town of Newcastle-Under-Lyme for the industrial city of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne when calculating funding budgets, resulting in a 1.1 million pound overpayment to the market town.

Newcastle- Under-Lyme council described it as "an astonishing error", and now says it is unable to pay back the money because it has already been allocated to business development projects.

A red-faced government spokesman said: "This is a regrettable error."

15 February 2008: What's in a game console

The magazine New Scientist reports that researchers are using computer game consoles like low-cost super computers, to help them with complex calculations.

One scientist quoted by the magazine says his adapted Sony Play Station is 130 times faster than on an ordinary PC.

Another has strung together 16 consoles and programmed them to simulate the gravity waves that occur when two black holes collide.

The consoles contain advanced computer technology that allows them to efficiently share out the massive processing required to do the calculations, and advanced graphics chips that can readily display the complex results.

And, presumably, can also provide a little down-time entertainment between experiments.

14 February 2008: Things that go bump in the loft

A local council in northern England has paid a psychic to exorcise a ghost from one of its properties, after the frightened occupants threatened to leave and make themselves homeless.

The Fallon family told reporters they heard banging in the loft, saw items fly across rooms and had doors slammed in their faces. They called police, who found no evidence of anything. Then they called in a local psychic, who says she used her Russian spirit guide and some angels to help rid the property of evil.

Easington Council in County Durham said the family could not be persuaded to stay in the house, and that by paying the psychic ghost hunter they were actually saving money. Otherwise, they said, they would have had to pay for the family to be put into emergency housing.

13 February 2008: "You'll have to put that in the hold"

Passengers flying from Zurich airport this month can buy a variety of things in the duty free shop, including wines, perfumes, tobacco-products and a Formula One racing car.

A selection of cars and memorabilia owned by Peter Sauber, whose Swiss-based team were taken over by BMW at the end of 2005, will be on sale at the airport from February 19th.

Although prices haven't been announced, the cars, including ones actually raced by Jean Alesi and Kimi Raikkonen, and are unlikely to be easily affordable.

SaintFM also wonders how the buyers will get them onto the plane.

12 February 2008: Mapping out the misinformation

Last week we mentioned a poll which showed that a large number of Britons don't know whether the Duke of Wellington really existed.

Now mapmakers in the Sussex town of Battle, where the so-called Battle of Hastings actually took place, have shown even more confusion.

The latest Town Map And Guide for Battle says that the defending forces of Harold the Second were defeated by a Norman army led by - the Duke of Wellington.

The town council says it did not get an opportunity to proof-read the guide before it went to print and only found out about the historical howler when they and advertisers received copies this week.

SaintFM thinks they should call in Sherlock Holmes to sort out who really led the Normans in 1066.

11 February 2008: Counting the count

Countering the count
As St. Helena's census night is now over, and your form should already be complete, it may be safe to share a few stories about censuses around the world.

The 2000 American census found that nearly 95 percent of the United States is uninhabited.

Before the 2001 census in both Australia and the UK there was a campaign to get people to list their faith as "Jedi", hoping that the government would have to formally recognise Jedi as a religion.

Similarly, in the UK small villages often have 'census parties', inviting as many people as possible to stay in the village overnight. They hope that by raising the recorded population they will qualify for more services.

And, lastly, according to a survey, 9% of Australian Census collectors were injured or had clothing damaged due to a dog attack. In addition, one collector had the misfortune to be bitten by a horse, one chose not to tackle a large bull standing guard at a house, several collectors were driven off by geese, two were pursued by pet emus, one was attacked by nesting birds, and another was chased off by a large pig.

8 February 2008: Flying High - on Viagra

The Israeli air force is considering giving its combat pilots Viagra to improve their performance -- in the air.

A recent study found a link between erectile dysfunction drugs and improved performance at high altitudes. The active ingredient in the drugs was found to make climbers perform better in an environment with less oxygen, and jet fighter pilots need to fly at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet; nearly twice the height of Mount Everest.

"Viagra is effective in these conditions because a shortage in oxygen leads to high blood pressure in the lungs, and the drugs fight that," according to military medical sources.

How they propose to deal with the other effects of the drug was not disclosed.

7 February 2008: Flipped off

A traditional British pancake race was tossed off the menu this week due to health and safety regulations.

The event, in Ripon, northern Yorkshire, is a fun race along a city street by schoolchildren, choristers and office workers, flipping pancakes as they go.

But the event had to be scrapped this year due to the cost of complying with regulations.

Organisers said Harrogate Borough Council wanted to charge them 250 pounds to close the road; local police wanted in excess of 1,200 pounds to police the event; and then they would have had to pay for insurance risk assessments and qualified medical staff in case of any injuries or accidents.

The race is traditionally started by ringing Ripon Cathedral's ancient Pancake Bell, which has rung for 600 years; but not any longer, it seems.

6 February 2008: Sleeping on the job

As if in a scene from "Goldilocks and the Three Bears", a Malaysian family was startled to return home to find their apartment ransacked and an intruder snoozing on the bed.

The burglar remained fast asleep under a blanket until police arrived to take him away.

As the would-be thief hadn't actually left the apartment with any goods, local police think they can only charge him with trespassing.

5 February 2008: Britons losing their grip

Britons are losing their grip on reality, according to a survey just released.

The survey found that nearly half the respondents thought the 12th century English king Richard the Lionheart was a myth. And about a quarter thought World War II prime minister Winston Churchill, and Crimean War nurse Florence Nightingale, also did not actually exist. Other real people widely thought to be fictional included Charles Dickens, Mahatma Gandhi and Battle of Waterloo victor the Duke of Wellington.

Meanwhile, 58 percent thought Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional detective Sherlock Holmes actually existed and a third thought the same of W. E. Johns' fictional pilot and adventurer Biggles.

SaintFM blames television, though there are some here who think they may be right about Biggles.

4 February 2008: Don't eat the salami

German authorities have been able to pin a burglary on a suspected serial thief because he left a half-eaten slice of salami at a crime scene.

The man is accused of breaking into a workshop office in the western city of Darmstadt, stealing cash and two locks and causing damage worth around 2,500 pounds. During the raid the man took a bite out of a salami he found there.

Police were able to identify him by analysing DNA from from a trace of saliva he left on the uneaten part.

1 February 2008: The UK's first woman-in-tights

Queen Elizabeth II has just appointed the first woman to be a Serjeant at Arms in the Houses of Parliament.

The role, which dates back to 1415 and the reign of King Henry V, has always previously been done by men. The Serjeants at Arms are the only persons in the Commons allowed to carry a sword, and are often jokingly referred to as "the men in tights" because of members' traditional uniform that includes knee-length breeches, stockings and buckled shoes.

Now Jill Pay has become the first female Serjeant at Arms, taking over from Major General Peter Grant Peterkin, who retired in December.

The post remains a royal appointment and the holder is usually an ex-serviceman, but Ms Pay previously worked in advertising.

31 January 2008: Dead man walking

A Polish man is being prevented from returning from the dead by Red Tape.

Last August the Polish authorities incorrectly identified a drowned corpse as Piotr Kucy, aged 38, from the city of Polkowice.

Mr Kucy was really alive and well, and showed up a few days after his own funeral, but despite having repeatedly pointed out to government officials that he is alive, he still remains dead in official records.

However, Mr Kucy is quite relaxed about his situation. As a dead person he is no longer liable for tax.

30 January 2008: Fasten seatbelts; unfasten clothes

German holidaymakers will be able to fly nude on special flights being launched this year, according to a travel company.

In the former East Germany, naturism was authorised and naturist holidays were very popular. "We want to make that freedom possible above the clouds too," said the company.

All the passengers will fly naked, but are only allowed to undress once they are in the plane. The pilot and the flight attendants will keep their clothes on.

SaintFM advises anyone taking such a trip to avoid drinking hot coffee when the plane is suffering turbulence.

29 January 2008: Killer wanted

A woman has been arrested after she allegedly tried to hire a hitman to murder her married lover's wife.

The woman used an Internet advertisements site to post the unusual announcement, which got past the site's editors because the wording was obscure. But when respondents contacted the woman she made her meaning entirely clear. She then offered 5,000 dollars for the job and provided the address, name, age and occupation of the man's wife.

She has been charged with three offences, including using the Internet to commit a crime.

28 January 2008: The latest way to stop smoking

No more nicotine tablets and patches: the latest tool to help people stop smoking is a luxurious stretch limousine, according to a new anti-smoking campaign in Austria.

The campaign will tour Austrian shopping centres with a luxury stretch limo, meant to show nicotine addicts how much richer they would be today if their money had not gone up in smoke.

A spokesman for the campaign said "A smoker doesn't want to hear that smoking is bad for you; he already knows that. A person who stops will benefit not only his health but will also feel it in his wallet."

Cost is known to be one of the top three reasons why people stop smoking.

25 January 2008: Emergency! Return to base!

One of Britain's biggest warships has been forced to retreat back to base because of a technical fault in a key component. The ship's fridge.

The aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious sailed from Portsmouth on Wednesday to join multi-national operations in the Indian Ocean. But she had to turn back because a refrigeration unit used to store meat was in danger of breaking down.

"It wouldn't be prudent for her to go off with the chance of the unit breaking down while she was a warm climate and then engineers would have to be flown out to her to fix it", a Navy Spokesman commented.

24 January 2008: To cold to walk

The city of Winnipeg, in Canada, has a car theft problem, with more than a dozen vehicles being stolen in the city every day. Many of the thieves are teenagers and the city runs a counselling programme which requires them to attend as often as every three hours, to ensure they are not out stealing cars.

But it's cold in Winnipeg at this time of year, with daytime temperatures dipping to minus 40 degrees Celsius last week, and two of the programme's participants decided it was too cold to walk to the programme.

So to get there, they stole a car.

The local police said "some people make dumb decisions"

23 January 2008: And the winner is ...

Actors Lindsay Lohan and Eddie Murphy have both been nominated for Hollywood film awards, but they won't be pleased about it. Their nominations are for "Golden Raspberry" awards, a light-hearted Oscars-spoof which records the year's worst movie performances.

Lohan was nominated for her starring role in "I Know Who killed Me," a horror film in which she plays both twins. The film also received nominations for worst picture, worst screenplay, worst director and worst screen couple.

And, Eddie Murphy has received five nominations for his film "Norbit," in which he plays a husband and also his grossly obese wife. Murphy received nominations for worst actor, worst supporting actor, worst actress, worst on-screen couple, and worst screenplay.

Another notable nominee in the un-coveted awards was the film "Hannibal Rising", another sequel to "Silence of the Lambs", for which a new category had to be invented: "Worst Excuse For A Horror Movie."

Winners of Razzies, as they are affectionately-known, rarely show up to collect their prize -- a spray-painted plastic statuette in the shape of a raspberry -- which organizers say can be worth almost five dollars.

22 January 2008: The Keystone Robbers

Silent movie fans will be familiar with the antics of the Keystone Cops, whose incompetent efforts to control crime were considered side-splittingly funny 90 years ago. Now villains in Australia have provided a counterpoint, in a bungled robbery which got them described by their trial judge as the Keystone Robbers.

In their attempt to rob a restaurant in Melbourne, they first snatched a bag containing bread instead of the bag of money. Next they ran off towards the wrong car; and then one of the robbers accidentally shot the other in the leg, putting him in hospital for a month.

The police were able to control their mirth enough to arrest the pair, who have now been convicted of armed robbery.

21 January 2008: Mind what you say

When four Lebanese university students didn't enjoy the singing of a woman they met at a party they decided to comment on it on an Internet social networking site called Facebook.

They probably thought no more of it; until police arrived and arrested them on a charge of slander and "violating public morality", following a complaint by the young woman's father.

The students -- all male -- were ordered to be held in preventive detention for a week.

Human rights groups have criticised the actions of the authorities.

18 January 2008: Boomerang comes back

It's well known that boomerangs, thrown properly, come back to the thrower. So you may wonder why one Australian town is now celebrating the return of a boomerang.

The explanation is that in 1983 a visitor to the town's museum stole a boomerang from an exhibition on aboriginal culture. The blade-shaped devices were traditionally used by Aborigines, mainly to hunt animals.

The boomerang was sent by post and the thief has so far only identified himself with the name 'Peter'. He also sent a donation by way of an apology.

17 January 2008: Could you bark that again, please?

Ever wondered why you dog is barking? Is there a burglar in the vicinity or does it just was to play? Hungarian scientists are working on a computer program that may give you the answer.

Their experimental software analyses a dog's barks, and the aim is that it could allow people to better understand what a dog is trying to communicate.

So far the computer only correctly identifies the emotional reaction of the dogs in just under half the tests, but the scientists are confident the software can be improved.

SaintFM thinks that maybe the people most interested in this software would be the burglars themselves.

16 January 2008: The Price Isn't Right

The more something costs, the more people think they enjoy it, according to a study by the California Institute of Technology.

Researchers found that because people expect wines that cost more to be of higher quality, they convince themselves that expensive wines provide a more pleasurable experience than cheaper ones.

In the study, subjects tested samples that were all the same wine, but they were told the samples were wines sold at different prices. They reported more pleasure when tasting the samples they were told cost more, and their brain responses confirmed this.

"We have known for a long time that people's perceptions are affected by marketing, but now we know that the brain itself is modulated by price," said the authors of the study.

15 January 2008: Woof Woof

British police dog handlers are having to learn German to give commands to their new police dogs.

Due to the shortage of locally bred dogs suitable for police work, forces are now importing dogs from Germany for the job. But the imports cannot understand commands in English. "If you say, 'let go' in English, they just look at you like you are crazy," one dog handler reported.

A Police spokeswoman said they are now also repeating the German commands in English, in the hope that the dogs will become bilingual.

14 January 2008: Squealing Neighbours

Worries in China about soaring pork prices have reached new heights in one town, where a man is raising three squealing pigs in his flat.

The man has been keeping the animals on the balcony of his second-floor home since June, and plans to sell the pigs in early February.

Other residents were not happy about their new neighbours.

"Day and night the pigs constantly squeal, and sometimes the steam from the pig manure floats through the window," one said.

SaintFM wonders who's making the most noise - the pigs or the neighbours.

11 January 2008: Workers fired for not smoking

The owner of a small German company has fired three non-smoking workers, because they were demanding a smoke-free environment.

Germany introduced non-smoking rules in pubs and restaurants on January 1, but Germans working in small offices are still allowed to smoke.

The manager of the 10-person IT company said he had fired the trio because their non-smoking was causing disruptions. "I can't be bothered with trouble-makers," he said.

10 January 2008: Bed Blocker Busted

An Austrian man has been caught after faking illnesses and injuries so that he could live rent-free in hospitals for the past two years.

The 59-year-old man faked so many injuries and illnesses that since 2005 he had been able to stay in a total of 93 different hospitals. His scam was estimated to have cost the Austrian healthcare system as much as 70,000 pounds in bed and board during the period.

Described by police as a 'Professional hypochondriac', he has been arrested and charged with welfare fraud.

9 January 2008: Wife-stealing can be expensive

A Mississippi businessman now has to pay more than £350,000 in damages to the man whose wife he wooed away. When the wife gave birth to a daughter it quickly became apparent that her boss was the baby's father, not her husband. Her now ex-husband successfully sued her boss, using an antiquated Mississippi state law permitting a cuckolded spouse to seek damages for "loss of society, companionship, love and affection," as well as "the loss of sexual relations." The boss appealed the verdict, which ordered him to pay 750,000 dollars (that's just over £350,000) to the ex-husband.

In his submission the boss described the law as medieval, treating wives as the property of their husbands.

But the US Supreme Court has now declined to hear an appeal in the case, meaning he must pay up or go to jail.

SaintFM notes that a similar law applies in St. Helena, under the Matrimonial Causes Ordinance, CAP 81.

8 January 2008: Jeremy Clarkson for Prime Minister

Since November 2006 the official Web site of the UK Prime Minister has allowed UK citizens to propose and vote on petitions. And one such petition asks that Prime Minister Gordon Brown resign and hand over power to Jeremy Clarkson, the gruff and opinionated presenter of the BBC TV motoring programme, Top Gear.

Over 30,000 people have signed the petition, making it the sixth most popular posted on the site; more popular even than the one to reduce the tax on petrol.

So far both Mr Clarkson and the current Prime Minister have refused to comment on the campaign.

7 January 2008: Fame comes at a price

Last weeks record oil price jump, hitting $100-a-barrel in New York, was caused by a single trader, seeking personal fame.

The trader has been named by US and British media as Richard Arens who runs a one man oil brokerage.

Arens offered 100,000 dollars on the New York market for 1,000 barrels of oil, producing the much talked of 100 dollars per barrel which sparked anguish across the financial markets.

But fame comes at a price. The level dropped back almost immediately so when he sold on the contract he got slightly below 100 dollars, costing him 600 dollars on the deal.

SaintFM thinks that's a lot to pay just to get featured in our 'And Finally ...' spot.

4 January 2008: Big knickers put out the fire

A Hartlepool woman's ample underwear proved a godsend after her big knickers saved the family home from fire.

Jenny Marsey's son and nephew were frying some bread at the house when the frying pan caught fire. Her son at first made the blaze worse by throwing water on the flames. But her quick-witted nephew saved the day by grabbing a pair of his aunt's knickers from a pile of washing and using them like a fire blanket.

Mrs Marsey said the blue cotton Marks & Spencer knickers were bought a few years ago. "I call them my emergency ones," she said. "They're the ones you wear when you've run out of all your others."

SaintFM applauds the nephew’s quick thinking but thinks that having a proper fire blanket in the kitchen is probably better.

3 January 2008: Caught in the act

Portugal, like many other countries, has just introduced a ban on smoking in public places. The ban came into force on 1st January and was almost immediately broken - by the head of the agency responsible for enforcing the new law.

Antonio Nunes, president of Portugal's food standards agency, was caught smoking a cigar at a New Year party in a casino on the outskirts of Lisbon.

Nunes said in his defence that he didn't know the law included casinos.

2 January 2008: The Party's Over

If you had a quiet family Christmas here are few stories from the festive period about people who didn't.

New Yorkers vented their anger on 2007 by consigning photographs, letters and annoying cell phones to a giant shredder set up in Times Square. The event was called "Good Riddance Day".

A New Zealand woman pulled a Christmas cracker and got more than a party hat and a joke: it also contained a mouse.

In Chicago the local TV newscast was interrupted with breaking news: a car crashed through the station's glass-walled studio while the station was on air. Nobody was hurt but the announcer reported that the studio had become 'drafty'.

Fire-fighters in Australia had to release a man caught stuck up the chimney of an Australian outback pub; but he wasn't playing Santa Claus - Police think his intention was burglary.

And in Malaysia on Christmas Day a football referee sent off a popular player, and then had to take out his gun and fire warning shots in the air to regain order.