Offbeat news: Nov 29 - Dec 5, 2010

Offbeat news: Nov 29 - Dec 5, 2010
1. British police have condemned a woman for being "completely irresponsible" after she called 999 to report the theft of a snowman. The woman from Kent, in southeast England, rang the emergency number after looking outside her house to find that the snowman had disappeared. She told the operator: "There's been a theft from outside my house. I haven't been out to check on him for five hours but I went outside for a fag and he's gone." When the operator asked who had gone the woman replied "my snowman". Kent Police warned people not to abuse the 999 system after receiving more than 8,000 general and 999 calls in 48 hours - double the number they normally receive - during early snowfalls which have swept the country. "This call could have cost someone's life if there was a genuine emergency and they couldn't get through. It was completely irresponsible," said chief inspector Simon Black. "We have spoken to her and advised her what is a 999 call, and this clearly was not."Image Credit: Rex Features

Offbeat news: Nov 29 - Dec 5, 2010
2. This tubby kitty in Florence, Italy has become an unlikely internet sensation after gaining thousands of fans on a website. Five-year-old exotic shorthair Giuly shot to internet fame when her owner uploaded a set of photos of her online in a variety of different poses. The fat cat, who weighs in at six kilos, has a legion of devoted followers from as far afield as America and Spain who regularly keep up to date with her antics. Besotted owner Chiara Bagnoli, 28, has snapped hundreds of photos of her beloved cat doing things such as wearing a father Christmas hat and playing in the garden. Teacher Chiara, 28, said, "A lot of people tell me that they really enjoy looking at Giuly's photos, they find them funny or cute and that fills me with joy. She's so photogenic because she has a lot of funny, wonderful expressions on her face. In my photos I try to make people understand her personality."Image Credit: Rex Features

Offbeat news: Nov 29 - Dec 5, 2010
3. A Los Angeles auction house said it would sell the simple pine coffin in which the suspected assassin of President John F. Kennedy was buried for almost 20 years. Bidding for Lee Harvey Oswald's coffin will start at $1,000 (Dh3,700), but the item is expected to fetch strong interest from museums and collectors of presidential memorabilia when it goes on the block on December 16. "There's just a lot of interest in Kennedy and anything to do with his assassination," said Laura Yntema, auction manager at Santa Monica, California-based Nate D. Sanders. The coffin was unearthed in October 1981 after a legal dispute between Oswald's widow, Marina, and his brother, Robert. Marina successfully sought an exhumation to test a conspiracy theory that a lookalike Russian agent had been buried in her husband's place, according to the auction house. A medical exam showed the badly decomposed body was indeed Oswald's, and he was returned to Shannon Rose Hill Memorial Park in Fort Worth, Texas, in a new casket. The original coffin, which had suffered extensive water damage, is being sold by Baumgardner Funeral Home, the local undertaker which handled the re-internment.Image Credit: AP

Offbeat news: Nov 29 - Dec 5, 2010
4. Barack Obama was elbowed in the face during a friendly game of basketball earlier in the week, leaving the US President needing 12 stitches in a cut lip. Obama had been playing with friends and family in a 10-person match at Fort McNair, a military centre in Washington, when the accident happened. Footage shows the President sitting by an upstairs window nursing his wound. He was later taken back to the White House for medical treatment. Confirming the injury, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama was "inadvertently hit" by an opposing player's flailing elbow. The pain of receiving the stitches was dampened with a local anaesthetic, Gibbs added.Image Credit: Reuters

Offbeat news: Nov 29 - Dec 5, 2010
5. A 71-year-old retired electrician is at the centre of a legal battle after coming forward with more than 200 hitherto unknown paintings by Pablo Picasso. Experts who have examined the collection have estimated it could be worth some 60 million euros (Dh295 million). Pierre Le Guennec wrote to Claude Picasso, the artist's son and the administrator of his estate, in a bid to get the canvases authenticated, and the two finally met in September. Le Guennec said he had worked installing alarm systems at a number of Picasso's residences, including a villa in Cannes in the south of France, during the last three years of Picasso's life - he died in 1973. He said he had had been given the works as presents, either by Picasso's wife or from the artist himself. The collection included 271 works, reports said. Once experts had authenticated the works however, Picasso's heirs filed a complaint alleging receipt of stolen goods. After Picasso's heirs filed the complaint in September, officers from the Central Office for the Fight against Traffic in Cultural Goods (OCBC) seized the works from the couple's home on the Cote d'Azur in southeast France.Image Credit: AP

Offbeat news: Nov 29 - Dec 5, 2010
6. India's under-attack state carrier Air India has invited back former flight hostesses it sacked for being overweight as it seeks to overcome a severe shortage of cabin crew. The company has approached nine to 10 women who were fired more than a year ago because they did not meet strict weight criteria for staff working in the cabin. "About three of them have indicated that they would be willing to come back," said a spokesman for the airline. He stressed that the weight limits were still in force - they are calculated based on height and age - and that the crew would have to be more svelte if they re-applied for their former jobs. Sacked overweight women have unsuccessfully challenged Air India's policy in Indian courts, which upheld clauses in the group's employment contracts. The crisis-hit airline has faced protests from passengers in recent weeks over severe delays to its flights caused by a shortage of cabin crew, endemic absenteeism and problems adapting to a new airport terminal in New Delhi.Image Credit: AFP

Offbeat news: Nov 29 - Dec 5, 2010
7. A former Swiss ambassador to China turned art collector has forked out 300,000 yuan (Dh165,000) for a replica of the famed Venus de Milo statue - made from panda dung. Children from the southwestern province of Sichuan, the home of China's beloved giant panda, made the unusual statue with the help of famous sculptor Zhu Cheng. The work of art, on display in a museum in the central province of Henan, attracted droves of onlookers and was eventually sold to Uli Sigg, a Swiss businessman who collects contemporary Chinese art. The statue was the main talk of the show, attracting people not because it was a replica of a famous sculpture, but because of the material from which it was made. "From time to time, people get closer to the statue and smell this yellow Venus and some claim it smells nice," a report said.Image Credit: AFP

Offbeat news: Nov 29 - Dec 5, 2010
8. British pop fan Paul Smyth has created an amazing bust of Michael Jackson - covered in 14,800 crystals. The King of Pop took 100 hours to make in seven different colours. Smyth spent five hours every night for almost a month painstakingly attaching each individual crystal. The 11-inch-tall sculpture is attached to a black solid marble base with a plaque bearing the words 'Michael Jackson 1958 - 2009'. Paul, 28, used Swarovski crystals as Jackson was famous for his love of the luxury brand, and wore a white glove coated in the precious stones. The artist used a special cement glue to attach the crystals to the ceramic bust, which he bought online. Paul, from Belfast, Northern Ireland, said, "This sculpture is truly a work of love and devotion and I hope it's something Michael himself would admire."Image Credit: Rex Features



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