Flat Earth

Empress comes out of her shell

IT WAS a turtle that did it. Empress Michiko of Japan has got her voice back. She spoke last Sunday for the first time since her 59th birthday four months ago when she collapsed, struck dumb, we were told, from sorrow. Speechless she was until she watched a small boy release a pet turtle into the sea on a remote Pacific island.

'When the next wave comes, the turtle can return to the sea, can't it?' she asked.

That's all she said, but the sentence sent waves of joy through the Imperial Court. The empress was reported to have uttered further haikus the next day, but the household won't say yet whether she is back in full conversational mode.

Bitten by love

IN NOVEMBER we brought you the strange case of the Swedish guard dog that failed to bark while thieves got away with works of art worth about pounds 36m from Stockholm's Museum of Modern Art. Last week we found out why the dog did not say vov, vov, which, as we explained, is a Swedish translation of woof, woof.

At first we thought that dogs, like the people of Sweden, had become disoriented after the collapse of the welfare state. But the real reason was simple. The dog's handler was a woman. According to local reports she was seduced before the heist by one of the robbers. By the time the theft took place, the dog was used to his smell.

The woman was questioned by police but no charges were laid.

No laughing matter

MONTREAL'S Museum of Humour was closed after 10 months due to poor attendance. The government had sunk Candollars 13.5m in the project in an apparent attempt to cheer up the country. But Canadians did not appreciate the joke. As a result, the government refused to put up more cash.

Wizardry from Oz

REMEMBER all those fine parliamentary phrases from Australia - scumbag, sleazeball, ratbag, gutless spiv, perfumed gigolos, stunned mullets, etc, that issued from the Prime Minister's lips at question time?

Now it seems Paul Keating is trying to improve his image. Rather than curb his tongue he will cut his appearances at PM's question timefrom four days a week to two.

Ostensibly, the change is to allow other ministers to handle more questions. The real reason, according to our man in Canberra, is that Mr Keating is worried about the negative image being relayed to the Australian public since the televising of parliament began in 1991.

Critics say the Keating plan might be justified if the Australian parliament sat for longer periods. It has the shortest sittings of any parliament in the 'old' Commonwealth - the House of Commons (164 average sitting days), Canada (146), New Zealand (89) and Australia (63.4).

A fair cop?

IT WAS not meant to end like this: the winner of a raffle was put in jail and his prize was taken away. But then it did happen in Manila.

No sooner had Conrado Bacani won first prize - a second-hand car - he drove to the police station to register it. Police checked their records and found it was a stolen vehicle. The car had been donated by the chief of police from another district of the city.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions