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