The truth is out there: 13/03/2010

A weekly look at the world
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The Independent Online

*A mysterious blood-sucking creature, known in Latin American folklore as the chupacabra – or goat-sucker – was finally captured alive this week, according to KENS5 News.

The bald, wrinkled creature was spotted by several walkers in Oklahoma before being captured in a back porch. It was taken to a wildlife animal rescue centre where experts quickly established that it was in fact a raccoon with a severe case of mange.

*Some 25 people have been hospitalised in Vietnam after a shopkeeper accidentally sold a woman rat poison instead of curry, according to The Hindu. Pham Thi Nho, 53, wanted to cook curry for a feast to mark the anniversary of a relative's death. The shopkeeper confused the poison with curry because of its similar packaging and Nho, who could not read, was unable to tell the difference. The rat poison used was an anti-coagulant, which kills by gastric haemorrhage; in both rats and humans, it can take several days to cause death.

*A squad of acrobatic master criminals has left police in New Jersey baffled after they carried out a heist reminiscent of the film Ocean's Eleven. The thieves broke into an electronics shop by climbing a gas pipe, cutting a hole in the roof and descending in the one spot hidden from surveillance cameras. They made off with $26,000 in laptop computers, without touching the ground or triggering any motion sensors which would have set off the alarm, said

*A recipe for using the "world's most useful tree" to purify water is being offered as a free download in the hope that it will help get clean drinking water to millions of the world's poorest people, reported The Register. Moringa oleifera, or oily moringa, is cultivated in the tropics for its nutritious pods, leaves and flowers, and ability to survive drought and poor soil. Its oil can be used for lighting or cooking, and it can even be used as fertiliser. Now, according to a Canadian researcher, its seeds have been found to be an effective and cheap means of purifying water.

*A homeless man from Gastonia, North Carolina, has been arrested for food-related thought crimes according to reports in the Gaston Gazette. Michael Francis McLaughlin held up a sign reading "I'm thinking of a cheeseburger" near a motorway slip road. He was charged with violating the city's anti-begging laws.

*A nightclub reveller in Nuremberg was detained after police caught him trying to snort amphetamines off the top of their unmarked patrol car, reported Reuters. He was interrupted by the officers who happened to be walking past.

*The $5 fee to overthrow the US government could soon be scrapped after a South Carolina lawmaker proposed a bill to get rid of it. Since 1951 the state has had a law requiring anyone who wants to overthrow the government to officially register their intentions. News of a form to register as a subversive agent or organisation emerged only recently and has led to the first few applications being filed, said CBS News.