The mystery of chocolate

Researchers at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, California, have identified a chemical in chocolate that they claim mimics the effects of cannabis. According to a paper in Nature, this could explain the phenomenon of chocolate craving. "We are talking about something much, much, much, much milder than a high," stressed Daniele Piomelli, one of the paper's authors.

Petulant reaction to petted pet

The New York parks commissioner, Henry Stern, is facing criticism from the Manhattan Borough President for trying to get his dog Boomer into the Guinness Book of Records as the most petted dog in history. using a pocket calculator, the commissioner is taking his dog on official duties and counting the number of people who stroke it. He has been accused of wasting taxpayers' money and city employees' time.

Joy-riding canines

Two collies left in a Range Rover caused the car to clip a Ford Escort, crash into a BMW and hit a parking meter in Newcastle upon Tyne when they took the handbrake off and nudged the gear lever into neutral. "I was really worried about my dogs," said the car's owner.

Dangerous pet

A python had to be beheaded in a San Diego hotel room after it had bitten a pregnant woman then wrapped itself around her and her husband. The snake had been a family pet. "For some inexplicable reason, the python bit the woman on the thumb and on the butt and then wrapped itself around her," said a police spokesman.

Dangerous animals

Two humans have gone on display in a furnished enclosure at Copenhagen Zoo between the baboons and lemurs. They will be on view for three weeks.

Complaint about a parrot

An Australian has been jailed for two years for painting six common green parrots with cinnamon hair dye and selling them as rare Indian Ringnecks. A pet shop owner who had unknowingly traded the fake birds said: "After I was told they were dyed, I checked them over again. It was a perfect paint job except for one feather under a wing of one bird that was only half dyed."

Mugger fingered

A suspected mugger in Amsterdam was been arrested after being identified from the print of a fingertip bitten off by his alleged victim. The suspect refused to answer police questions but referred to the man who bit off his finger as "the cannibal".

What price a royal wedding?

William Hill bookmakers have quoted offs of 6/4 that Diana will remarry by the end of 1999 with 5/2 as the price for Charles doing the same.

Tomato wars

The Tomatina - an annual street fight with tomatoes in Bunol, Spain, attracted an estimated 20,000 people this year who pelted each other with 924,000 tomatoes, weighing a total of 132 tons and valued at over pounds 10,000. The tradition began over 50 years ago, following the town's rejection of bullfighting.

Your payment is in the pipeline

Cheques worth six million francs (pounds 800,000) were found in a ventilation pipe in the ceiling of a tax office in Paris. Workers discovered the seven- year-old payments during routine repairs.

Non-wedding suit

A New Jersey resident is suing his ex-fiancee for return of his $3,000 diamond ring after she broke off the engagement. He also wants the $700 he paid for her wedding gown and the $1,900 reception downpayment.