Don't Panic! Lighten Up!S


Who controls Lampedusa? Geography champ knows

Snaring's interest in geography is unusual for the United States. Just half of college-age Americans can find New York on a map and only 37 percent can locate Iraq, according to a National Geographic poll released last year.

Bizarro Earth

Politicians stymied by great stink of Naples

Life in Italy's second city threatened to grind to a standstill this week as the biggest ever Naples rubbish crisis came to an evil-smelling crescendo.

Huge piles of uncollected rubbish have accumulated across the city, more than 2,700 tons of it according to the city authorities. Hundreds of fires have been started in the rubbish by infuriated residents, only aggravating the problem.

Protests rage in five locations selected for emergency landfills; in one of them, the town of Serre outside the city, Italy's environment minister, Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, has come out on the side of the protesters as the planned dump is only a few kilometres from a protected beauty spot.

The rubbish remains uncollected because the city has run out of places to dispose of it, and by the end of this week the one remaining dump in active use, at Villaricca, will close because it is full to the brim. Then the city does not know what it will do.

Bizarro Earth

Fashion chain Zara apologises for selling 'non-kosher' clothing

Zara, the fashion retailer, was forced to apologise to ultra-Orthodox Jews after its Israeli stores sold a men's suit with a mix of materials that are considered non-kosher to some strict religious Jews. The Spanish clothing empire took out a series of adverts in Israeli newspapers to apologise for the error, which it said happened after a mistake in one of its factories. The suit contained a combination of cotton and linen which some rabbinical authorities class as an "unnatural" blend, known as shatnez to ultra-Orthodox Jews.

In a statement, the company said: "Zara regrets this mistake and would like to reassure its clients in Israel and particularly Orthodox Jews that it will do everything possible to prevent it happening again." Zara has also promised to refund the cost of scientific checks for shatnez, which Orthodox Jews routinely carry out when they buy clothes. They return those which test positive.

Bizarro Earth

German man busted while drunk driving in wheelchair

A wheelchair-bound German stunned police when they pulled him over for using the road and found he was 10 times over the legal alcohol limit for drivers.

"He was right in the middle of the road," said a spokesman for police in the northeastern city of Schwerin on Tuesday. "The officers couldn't quite believe it when they saw the results of the breath test. That's a life-threatening figure."

The 31-year-old told police he had been out drinking with a friend and was about 2 km from home when a squad car stopped him as he passed through the village of Ventschow.

Arrow Down

Town dumps revenge on John Cleese

A New Zealand city on the receiving end of a tongue-lashing from British comedian John Cleese has hit back by re-naming its rubbish dump after him.

About a year ago, Cleese delivered a backhander to the North Island city of Palmerston North that his best-known character, Basil Fawlty, would have been proud of.


Australia still has some sense of humanity: 'Bondi caveman' to keep his millionaire view

A homeless hermit who enjoys a million-dollar view from his camp perched on the cliffs overlooking Sydney's Bondi Beach was granted a reprieve Tuesday when the local council dropped plans to evict him.


To boldly go... 'Scotty's' ashes fall in New Mexico

A rocket payload that flew briefly into space with ashes of astronaut Gordon Cooper and "Star Trek" actor James Doohan was recovered Friday in the New Mexico mountains.

The payload was found in its designated recovery zone 20 days after Farmington, Connecticut-based UP Aerospace sent it up in a 20-foot rocket on April 28.


Bush's Seat Belt Usage Not Locked Down

WASHINGTON - President Bush encourages people to wear seat belts. Whether he routinely does so himself is not as clear. The question arose Tuesday, Bush's first full day back in town after a weekend at his ranch in Texas _ where he was spotted driving a pickup truck without wearing a seat belt.


The Visible Man: An FBI Target Puts His Whole Life Online

Hasan Elahi whips out his Samsung Pocket PC phone and shows me how he's keeping himself out of Guantanamo. He swivels the camera lens around and snaps a picture of the Manhattan Starbucks where we're dinking coffee. Then he squints and pecks at the phone's touchscreen. "OK! It's uploading now," says the cheery, 35-year-old artist and Rutgers professor, whose bleached-blond hair complements his fluorescent-green pants. "It'll go public in a few seconds. "Sure enough, a moment later the shot appears on the front page of his Web site,

Bizarro Earth

Belgian anarchist artist's latest coup d'etat attempt fails

Belgian anarchist artist Jan Bucquoy failed on Monday to seize power in Belgium in his latest of three attempts to carry out a coup d'etat, according local media.

According to the Belga news agency, Bucquoy, an artist from Belgium's northern Flanders region, was brought in for questioning by two police officers after he planted a red and black flag bearing the image of a banana in the royal palace's garden.

Bucquoy famous for his cult comedy films and decapitating a statue of a former king in Brussels' renowned Grand-Place.