John Walsh: Putin's people know the true value of beer

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The Independent Online

Did you know beer is classified as "food" in Russia? And is regarded as a soft drink? No wonder Boris Yeltsin spent so much time off his head – he thought he was enjoying mid-morning snacks and teatime thirst-quenchers. But since consumption has tripled in the last 15 years, the ministry of health will now classify beer as alcoholic for the first time. Drinkers won't be able to buy it late at night any more – and sales "in or close to public places such as schools" will be restricted. No beer in the tuck shop? How can such hardship be inflicted on Russian children?

* The new trend of justice-by-public-shame is proving counter-productive. Last week, an Essex businessman called Simon Cremer, who had hung a sign saying "thief" around the neck of an employee who pinched £825, then marched him through the streets to a police station, was sued by the victim and told to pay £13,000 compensation for "humiliating" him. Now an armed robber in Aachen, Germany, who pulled a gun on a bank teller and demanded £200,000, is suing a policeman who paraded him in boxer shorts with his trousers round his ankles. "It is clearly a breach of his human rights and caused him needless humiliation and embarrassment," said his lawyer. The poor guy may never live it down. I mean, pale blue boxers?

* If you think you've tried every flavour of ice cream, from Ben and Jerry's Phish Food to Heston Blumenthal's bacon and egg, think again. The Icecreamist in London's Covent Garden serves breast milk ice cream – and it's not a flavour, it's the real thing. A woman called Victoria Hiley donated 30 fluid ounces, which, when stirred into ice cream with vanilla and lemon, is enough to make 50 servings, at £14 a pop. The Baby Gaga is served in a cocktail glass with a rusk. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm afraid ice cream isn't the only thing churning around here.

* On an indoor track in Osaka, Japan, this Sunday, five robots are running a marathon. They're 12in high, two-legged and battery-powered, and their owners hope the race will become an international event. The test will examine the robots' durability and flexibility – but I suspect they will all be eclipsed at the last minute by a hyperactive, pink, drum-playing bunny.