Australia: And you're certain that the fridge will work at the end of the year? The meltdown has begun in Melbourne. A two-hour Metcard travel ticket can, in fact, last several weeks, and somebody bought a $2.20 ticket which expires on 6 Feb 2006.
Singapore: Tay Seng has been fined $1,000 for refusing to let pregnant Ting Sim out of his taxi after she vomited on the floor. She had then called her husband for help. When the couple were reunited on the pavement, they narrowly escaped Seng's reversing into them at speed, for which he was fined a further $2,000 and banned from driving for six months. The taxi firm will no longer require his services. His defence claimed that it was all a misunderstanding: he was being gallant, and had not wanted Ting to walk through the vomit.
Egypt: A 24-year-old woman is in hospital after swallowing insecticide in protest against her mother's forbidding her to wear jeans.
Singapore: Although Soon Chew Fah was sleeping apart from her husband Chua Lian Seng, she was still annoyed to wake at one in the morning and find him naked behind the sitting-room sofa with their maid Suratin, whom she slapped. Suratin ran to her bedroom while Soon rang her sister and then her husband's grandmother to tell them of this outrage. While doing so, she saw Suratin open the kitchen window, but her shout of not to do anything silly was too late - the maid jumped to her death. It turns out that she and Chua had not had time to get much further than a massage.
Finland: It is in better taste than dead Elvis at Wembley. Jukka Ammondt, a professor at the University of Jyvaskyla, has already recorded two albums of the King's songs in Latin, and is now going for the big time: a single of "Blue Suede Shoes" ("Esir Kus Za-gin") in ancient Sumerian, the cuneiform language of Babylonia which died out in 2,000 BC. An album will follow in the autumn. Professor Ammondt is certain that Elvis would have relished the idea. "The ancient Sumerians had big parties and drums and rattles, and the roots of rock may go back to man's earliest efforts to get a grip on life." One can only wonder how civilisation would have turned out if the Babylonians had been exposed to "Wooden Heart".
Rome: Beat-itude: the Pope is to release a CD and video in March to meet the Easter market. Abba Pater is not another tribute to the creators of "S.O.S." and "Waterloo" but a collection of his own compositions, prayers and chants in five languages, none of them Sumerian.
Florida: Victor Brancaccio was 16 when he stamped to death 81-year-old Mollie Frazier because she had deplored his singing of Dr Dre's vulgar rap song "Stranded on Death Row". He later returned to spray-paint her body and burn it. Too young for Death Row himself, he is now appealing against a life-sentence: the anti-depressant Zoloff is held to blame, and the case is being funded by his parents, who have won some $3m in the Florida state lottery.
Australia: In Victoria, Rocky Oppedisan, proprietor of Rocky's Bakeries, has been fined $5,300 after selling a Vienna loaf to Kathleen Beecher, who said that the family had eaten some of it, been a little puzzled by the taste and thought that this was because they were not used to it. Only later did they reach the mouse within. "I felt ill and my daughter went and threw up. I couldn't go near bread for weeks and I wouldn't eat another Vienna loaf if you paid me." Other flavours are off the menu now: inspectors have told Mr Oppedisan to purge his premises of ants and cockroaches.
China: Six miners at Dongliang have been saved after 27 days in a blocked mine, where they survived by eating their leather belts.
Australia: Somebody at the Cheesecake Shop in Modbury made a chocolate cake with marijuana among the ingredients and put it in the fridge for a colleague - but somebody else inadvertently sold it to a mother for her son's 17th birthday party, where his 79-year-old grandmother was among the guests. She "felt a little bit silly. The cake was nice but whoever it was had spiced it up a bit. I went for a trip to the moon - I was completely out of it." Less stalwart guests required hospital treatment but an eight- month-old baby did not seem affected. As for the shop, its owner said, "The Cheesecake Shop prides itself on its quality-control system."
Hungary: A 71-year-old woman did not starve when she found herself locked in her pantry on 22 December. She lived for a month on tomato juice and canned fruit, by which time neighbours began to wonder where she was.
China: Ninety-nine-year-old Zhang Kebiao put an ad in a lonely-hearts column - "Any woman will do, but I hope that she understands the old saying, `Half of woman is man'," - and said that he looks only 80. He has had many offers, including several women in their twenties, and a 58-year- old woman flew to meet him forthwith.
In The Buff
New York: Anybody who arrives at JFK and is pulled to one side by Customs is now offered a choice of a strip-search or an X-ray, which is not only thought less degrading for the innocent but also reveals any drugs hidden within the body. Nobody - guilty or otherwise - has plumped for the X- ray.
North Dakota: A caller to a Burger King in Fargo convinced the manager that he was a police officer and gave a description of a 17-year-old female worker there. The manager then obeyed instructions to strip-search her for apparent theft. She was innocent, the call was a hoax and a real policeman, Lieutenant Scott Gilman, advises that "no manager of any business should decide it's necessary to strip-search any employee".
Gone To Glory
Michigan: Seven workers at the Independence Professional Fireworks factory at Osseo cannot be identified after an explosion.
Los Angeles: Jai Thomas arrived with some friends for a $3,000, three- week holiday in America and the Caribbean - but reckoned without his old religious-education teacher back home in Australia. Exuberant after some exams in 1991, Jai had cracked an egg on her head, for which ovate blessing he apologised. But she pressed charges of unlawful assault, and he was convicted and fined $350. He became a computer-product specialist and put the egg crime on a US visa application three years ago, with no problem. Now, however, when visas are not required, he was held for 48 hours, during which time he was asked if he had ever taken drugs, suffered from TB or been in a psychiatric institution. "There's more to this than the egg incident," he was told.
California: Orange County Superior Court Judge Tam Schumann has issued a temporary injunction which requires Truong Tran to remove the Communist flag and poster of Ho Chi Minh which adorned his Hitek video store in the Little Saigon district of Westminster. Protesters celebrated outside with a dragon dance, but Tran, one of the boat people, is unfazed. He says he is not a Communist but that Vietnam has changed and he wants trade with the country to be regular. The case continues.Reuse content