YISHUI, China (Reuters) - A Chinese tourism company listed in the United States wants investors to pour their money down a dark hole. Literally. China's "Underground Grand Canyon," about an hour's drive outside the smoggy city of Linyi in the eastern province of Shandong, promises visitors 3 km (2 miles) of grand stalactites, multicolored lights and an exciting luge ride. Tracing the attraction's ticket receipts back to investors in the United States proves an even more complex labyrinth to navigate. ...
LONDON (Reuters) - A printed chiffon dress worn by the late singer Amy Winehouse for the cover of her chart-topping album "Back to Black" has sold for 43,200 pounds ($68,000) at auction. The hammer price, minus buyer's premium, was 36,000 pounds, still well above pre-sale estimates of 10-20,000 pounds, said a spokeswoman for Kerry Taylor Auctions which specializes in high-end vintage fashion. Proceeds from the Disaya-designed dress will go to the Amy Winehouse Foundation, a charity set up by her father Mitch to help young people struggling with ill health, poverty or addiction. ...
Graveyard guitar robber faces jail Wed,30 Nov 2011 07:14 AM PST Reuters - MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A Wisconsin cemetery worker could spend 10 years in jail after pleading no contest to stealing an electric guitar from a casket. The cream-colored Fender Telecaster was laid upon the body of Randall Jourdan, who wished to be buried with his "pride and joy," the criminal complaint said. The guitar was recovered from the suspect's home the next day. "I have to have that guitar. It's too expensive to be in a crypt," Steven Conard allegedly told a groundskeeper at the Allouez Catholic Cemetery and Chapel Mausoleum near Green Bay where he was working, the complaint said. ... Full Story
Thanksgiving spat over chair ends in knife attack Wed,30 Nov 2011 07:13 AM PST Reuters - MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A Wisconsin man who allegedly attacked a fellow guest at a Thanksgiving Day dinner after she ignored his claim to a specific chair at the dining table has been charged with attempted homicide. Kendrick Carr, 23, allegedly pulled a foot-long butcher knife on the woman after she refused to stand up from the chair he said he wanted to sit in, according to the criminal complaint filed in Racine County Circuit Court on Monday. The woman defended herself with a broom and was unharmed, according to the complaint. ... Full Story
Three asset managers win $254 million Powerball prize Tue,29 Nov 2011 07:04 AM PST Reuters - (Reuters) - In a twist of lottery fate, three Connecticut money managers took home the state's largest Powerball jackpot. The trio came forward with the winning ticket at a press conference on Monday. Tim Davidson, Brandon Lacoff and Greg Skidmore, of Connecticut-based Belpointe Asset Management, claimed the $254 million prize -- the result of a $1 ticket purchased at a gas station by Davidson in Stamford. Belpointe has about $82 million in assets under management, according to SEC documents. The winning digits were 12, 14, 34, 39, 46, with a Powerball number 36. ... Full Story
Woman gives birth at airport restroom Tue,29 Nov 2011 07:04 AM PST Reuters - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A woman gave birth in a restroom at Baltimore's airport after arriving on a flight, an airport spokesman said on Monday. The woman gave birth to a boy on Sunday afternoon at Concourse D of Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, the spokesman said. Police and emergency medical personnel were called to the restroom and a Maryland Transportation Authority police officer assisted at the birth, he said. The woman and the baby were transported to the Baltimore-Washington Medical Center and are in good condition, a hospital spokesman said. ... Full Story
NEW YORK (Reuters) - It's the season when yoga classes are canceled and gyms go on holiday schedules, so to avoid the fitness consequences of all those Christmas parties, experts suggest making a workout plan and sticking to it. "I tell my clients to make sure they have a routine in their back pocket," said Colorado-based fitness instructor Stacey Lei Krauss, "something equipment-free that can be done in a small space, especially if you don't have easy access to a gym over the holidays. ...
Mayor ends hunger strike over cuts Mon,28 Nov 2011 06:48 AM PST Reuters - BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romanian mayor Florin Cazacu Saturday ended a six-day hunger strike over cuts in heating subsidies after the government handed his town extra funds for fuel oil. He said thousands of residents in Brad have shivered at home after the government scrapped a centralized heating subsidy which, Cazacu said, left the central Romanian town with a 3 million lei ($912,500) shortfall. Winter temperatures around Brad fall as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit). The government said Friday it would give Brad 1 million lei, which Cazacu said was a beginning but not enough. ... Full Story
No word from the sponsors for China's drama watchers Mon,28 Nov 2011 06:44 AM PST Reuters - BEIJING (Reuters) - In a dose of reality television, Beijing-style, China has ordered a ban on advertisements during broadcasts of TV dramas in a bid "to unify thinking," the country's top broadcasting regulator said on Monday. The government's latest move to clean up China's airwaves was announced by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) and will come into effect from January. ... Full Story
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Ever wanted to meet and greet your loved ones at the airport to be sure they don't miss you in the crowds? Then try Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, which now has the world's first vending machine capable of printing out personalized giant canvas banners in just a few minutes. You can pick your message, whether that is "Missed you Mummy," "I love you," "Will you marry me?," or anything else that makes you stand out from the crowd, choose the font and background design, pay between four and 15 euros ($19.98)depending on the length of the banner, and hit the button. ...
Russian anchor off air for finger gesture in Obama story Thu,24 Nov 2011 12:06 PM PST Reuters - MOSCOW (Reuters) - A famous Russian TV anchor has been taken off the air for making an obscene gesture after mentioning U.S. President Barack Obama in a live newscast, the channel said on Thursday. Tatiana Limanova, an award-winning journalist and host of a news show on the REN-TV private channel, waved her middle finger when presenting a story about the APEC summit in the United States, a moment after mentioning Obama. The video went viral on the internet, with many viewers speculating the gesture had been meant to insult the U.S. ... Full Story
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Zlatan Ibrahimovic has inspired sportswear manufacturer Nike to create a jacket based on the tattoos on the Sweden and AC Milan forward's upper body. "Tattoos are an art form and were very suitable for this project," Nike Nordic PR manager Jeannette Francke told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. "It's a very personal jacket." Ibrahimovic will get to keep one of the four jackets made with another going on display in a store in the Swedish capital Stockholm. "To get a jacket like this is both unexpected and fun," said the striker. ...
UK burglar abuses "dumb" victim in apology letter Thu,24 Nov 2011 05:57 AM PST Reuters - LONDON (Reuters) - A convicted British burglar forced to write a letter of apology delivered a barely literate diatribe in which he blamed his "dumb" victim for the crime because the kitchen window was open. The letter from the unnamed crook, which was not delivered to the victim, was released by West Yorkshire police in the northern English city of Leeds to demonstrate the mindset of the criminals who target people's homes. ... Full Story
Mayor stages hunger strike as residents shiver Thu,24 Nov 2011 05:19 AM PST Reuters - BUCHAREST (Reuters) - A Romanian mayor has begun a hunger strike to protest against cuts in heating subsidies imposed under a government austerity drive, reawakening memories of the harsh final years of communism. Mayor Florin Cazacu said 10,000 residents in the central Romanian town of Brad were braving low temperatures at home because his town hall lacked 3 million lei ($925,200) from the state budget to buy fuel oil for the winter season. "People are suffering from cold, this is why I began this protest," Cazacu told Reuters. "I took an oath ... ... Full Story
More victims reported in "fix-a-flat" cosmestic surgery case Wed,23 Nov 2011 01:54 PM PST Reuters - MIAMI (Reuters) - More alleged victims are coming forward in the case of a Florida resident accused of injecting "super glue" and flat-tire repair materials into the buttocks of a woman in a botched illegal cosmetic surgery procedure, the Florida Department of Health said on Tuesday. Oneal Ron Morris, 30, was arrested by Miami Gardens police on Friday in Fort Lauderdale and charged with causing bodily injury and practicing healthcare without a license. Police referred to Morris as a man though he had the appearance of a woman in the arrest photo released by police. ... Full Story
Mayor stages hunger strike as residents shiver Wed,23 Nov 2011 09:16 AM PST Reuters - BUCHAREST (Reuters) - A Romanian mayor has begun a hunger strike to protest against cuts in heating subsidies imposed under a government austerity drive, reawakening memories of the harsh final years of communism. Mayor Florin Cazacu said 10,000 residents in the central Romanian town of Brad were braving low temperatures at home because his town hall lacked 3 million lei ($925,200)from the state budget to buy fuel oil for the winter season. "People are suffering from cold, this is why I began this protest," Cazacu told Reuters. "I took an oath ... ... Full Story
Woman jailed for stealing $1 million from Mark Twain House Tue,22 Nov 2011 09:39 AM PST Reuters - (Reuters) - A former employee of author Mark Twain's historic Connecticut home who admitted to embezzling more than $1 million from it in a long-running scheme was sentenced on Monday to 3-1/2 years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of and taxes on the stolen funds. Judge Warren Eginton of U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Connecticut, sentenced Donna Gregor, 58, of East Hartford to 42 months in prison and three years of supervised release for the theft, David Fein, U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, said in a statement. ... Full Story
Gynecologist faces charge for secret photos Tue,22 Nov 2011 09:38 AM PST Reuters - BERLIN (Reuters) - A German prosecutor said on Monday that 700 women had agreed to press charges against a gynaecologist who is suspected of secretly taking thousands of pictures of patients during check-ups in his practice. As many as 3,000 female patients may have fallen victim to the doctor's hidden camera during examinations at his office in the town of Schifferstadt in western Germany, local state prosecutor Lothar Liebing said. "He stands accused of secretly taking photos of female patients' private body parts," Liebing said. ... Full Story
Greyhound bus driver leaves passengers stranded Tue,22 Nov 2011 09:38 AM PST Reuters - ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - Greyhound bus company is conducting an investigation after a bus driver left 45 passengers stranded for about eight hours in the middle of the night at a gas station in the state of Missouri. "It was certainly unprecedented and absolutely inexcusable," said company spokeswoman Maureen Richard, adding that the unidentified female driver, who is based in Memphis, Tennessee, was cooperating with officials. The woman was driving a route on Friday from Memphis to St. Louis, which is normally a six-hour trip. ... Full Story
Desperate fans burn ticket booth at stadium Mon,21 Nov 2011 07:24 AM PST Reuters - JAKARTA (Reuters) - Success-starved Indonesia soccer fans, desperate to watch the final of a regional tournament against rivals Malaysia, set a ticket booth on fire at the national stadium in Jakarta ahead of the game Monday. Police doused the flames and fired warning shots in the air, scattering a crowd of thousands of supporters who were unable to get into the Bung Karno stadium, with a capacity of 88,000, after tickets quickly sold out. ... Full Story
Nebraska refuses pot-promoting vanity plate, ACLU sues Mon,21 Nov 2011 07:22 AM PST Reuters - OMAHA, Neb (Reuters) - The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Nebraska's motor vehicle department for refusing to issue a personalized license plate that refers to an unofficial holiday known as National Pot Smoking Day. An attorney who supports marijuana legalization had requested a plate reading "NE 420", letters and numerals that refer to Nebraska and April 20, the date of the unofficial holiday. Frank Shoemaker, the attorney from Holbrook, Nebraska, who requested the plate, is the sponsor of a petition drive for a state ballot measure next year to legalize marijuana. ... Full Story
Court upholds fine against nude hiker Fri,18 Nov 2011 08:38 AM PST Reuters - ZURICH (Reuters) - Hikers crossing the Alps in the nude may get more than just a chill after Switzerland's top court ruled they may be fined, validating a conservative region's bid to quash the practice. On Thursday a court rejected the appeal of a man slapped with a 100 Swiss franc ($109) fine. The man had walked naked past a family with small children at a picnic area and a Christian rehabilitation center for drug addicts one Sunday afternoon in the eastern canton (state) of Appenzell Ausserrhoden. ... Full Story
KIEV (Reuters) - Welcoming the local authorities' move to the dark side, Darth Vader has asked for a land plot in the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odessa to park his space ship. An Odessite dressed as the Star Wars villain visited the mayor's office this week to claim a free land plot citing Ukrainian legislation which grants every citizen the right to own 1,000 square meters of land. His visit followed a decision by city authorities to grant attractive land plots along the sea coast to a group of people for free, prompting public concerns about corruption, according to local media. ...
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two Romanians put a new twist on the American expression "dollars to donuts" when they recoded Dunkin' Donut gift cards with stolen bank account details and used them to withdraw money in New York City. The men, who were in the United States on journalism visas, used dozens of the recoded Dunkin' Donuts gift cards to withdraw more $17,700 from one ATM machine, prosecutors said. They were sentenced on Wednesday to three years in prison. ...
LONDON (Reuters) - Irish leprechauns, tea-sipping Britons, Australian ABBA impersonators and the oldest yoga teacher on the planet were just some of the people setting world records Thursday. More than 300,000 people around the world took part in the seventh annual Guinness World Records Day, in which a number of records have already been confirmed. ...
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican said on Thursday it would take legal action to stop the distribution of a photo montage in an advertisement by the Italian fashion firm Benetton showing Pope Benedict kissing an imam on the mouth. A statement said the Vatican had told its lawyers in Italy and around the world to "take the proper legal measures" to stop the use of the photo, even in the media. It was not clear from the statement if the Vatican intended to sue Benetton directly for damages. ...
BOSTON (Reuters) - A Power Rangers "samurai mega blade" and a Godzilla figure with dagger-like attachments are some of the most dangerous toys lurking in stores this holiday season, according to a consumer watchdog group. Boston-based World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH) on Wednesday issued its annual list of the 10 worst children's toys, just in time for the shopping frenzy that typically starts in late November. On the list were items the group said pose risks for choking, electrocution, puncture wounds and more. ...
Romanians use gift cards to turn donuts into dollars Wed,16 Nov 2011 03:37 PM PST Reuters - NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two Romanians put a new twist on the American expression "dollars to donuts" when they recoded Dunkin' Donut gift cards with stolen bank account details and used them to withdraw money in New York City. The men, who were in the United States on journalism visas, used dozens of the recoded Dunkin' Donuts gift cards to withdraw more $17,700 from one ATM machine, prosecutors said. They were sentenced on Wednesday to three years in prison. ... Full Story
Texting mistake lands would-be drug buyer in jail Wed,16 Nov 2011 07:48 AM PST Reuters - CHICAGO (Reuters) - Text messages about buying drugs mistakenly sent to a Nebraska state trooper led to the arrest of a 23-year-old man on marijuana possession and other drug charges, police said on Tuesday. The Nebraska State Patrol said that one of its troopers started getting text messages last week from a person who was looking to buy drugs. The trooper continued to correspond through text messages until a meeting place was set up. The trooper, dressed in civilian clothes, arrived at the agreed upon location and arrested 23-year-old Aaron Sartin of Kearney, Nebraska, police said. ... Full Story
"Situation" sues Abercrombie & Fitch over ad campaign Wed,16 Nov 2011 07:48 AM PST Reuters - (Reuters) - "Jersey Shore" star Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino on Tuesday sued retailer Abercrombie & Fitch over what he claims was a publicity stunt to sell clothes using phrases associated with the reality TV actor. The complaint, filed by Sorrentino and his company MPS Entertainment in federal court in southern Florida, stems from an offer Abercrombie & Fitch publicized in August to pay cast members of the hit TV show not to wear the company's apparel. ... Full Story
Police say would-be teen burglar got stuck in chimney Wed,16 Nov 2011 07:47 AM PST Reuters - ATLANTA (Reuters) - The person found in a suburban Atlanta home's chimney on Tuesday was not Santa Claus arriving early. He was a 17-year-old alleged burglar who got stuck, police said. Authorities said the teen spent about 10 hours lodged inside the chimney before getting freed. A neighbor heard someone calling for help from the chimney early in the afternoon and phoned police, said Corporal Jake Smith, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Police Department. Firefighters climbed on the roof and lowered ropes down to rescue the teen, who was uninjured, Smith said. ... Full Story
Bottoms up for paint-spattered church-goers Wed,16 Nov 2011 07:47 AM PST Reuters - HELSINKI (Reuters) - Members of a Lutheran church in the southeastern Finnish town of Loviisa have discovered that some music concerts leave a lasting impression. At least three people are seeking compensation after green paint on church benches came off on the clothes of attendees at a recent concert. But at least the congregation can content themselves with the thought that they have finally made their mark in God's house, a Loviisa church official said. When churchmembers departed the service, they left behind the outlines of dozens of derrieres. ... Full Story
Gastronauts feast on lamb eyeball, beaver tail Tue,15 Nov 2011 11:09 AM PST Reuters - NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cooked lamb eyeball, boiled fertilized duck egg and beaver tail are just a few of the more unusual dishes sampled by a club of adventurous eaters called the Gastronauts. Started in March of 2006 by two friends who wanted to try some of the more exotic foods that could be found in New York, the first meeting of the club attracted only six people. But it has now grown to more than 1,000 members in New York and Los Angeles and there are plans to expand to other U.S. cities. ... Full Story
Struggling Ohio barber tells customers to pay what they can Tue,15 Nov 2011 09:13 AM PST Reuters - CLEVELAND (Reuters) After more than 20 years of renting chairs from other barbers, Gregory Burnett finally opened his own shop, but the down economy has been hard on the haircut business. "It is one of the first things that people cut back on," said Burnett, owner of Old School Barber Shop in Canton, Ohio. So two months ago Burnett put a sign in front of his place to let clients choose how much to pay. "Times are hard," it read. "Pay what you can for a cut." The idea was to draw in new patrons and help the clients who have been with him for decades, and it seems to be working. ... Full Story
Supreme Court to hear in vitro fertilization benefits Tue,15 Nov 2011 09:13 AM PST Reuters - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court said on Monday it would decide whether children conceived through in vitro fertilization after the death of their parent were entitled to survivor benefits under the Social Security law. The justices agreed to hear an appeal by the Obama administration of a ruling by a U.S. appeals court for a woman who seeks benefits for her twins conceived by artificial insemination after her husband's death. At issue in the dispute are new reproductive technologies and the requirements to qualify for child survivor benefits under the Social Security Act. ... Full Story
Court to hear in vitro fertilization benefits Tue,15 Nov 2011 09:11 AM PST Reuters - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court said on Monday it would decide whether children conceived through in vitro fertilization after the death of their parent were entitled to survivor benefits under the Social Security law. The justices agreed to hear an appeal by the Obama administration of a ruling by a U.S. appeals court for a woman who seeks benefits for her twins conceived by artificial insemination after her husband's death. At issue in the dispute are new reproductive technologies and the requirements to qualify for child survivor benefits under the Social Security Act. ... Full Story
Struggling barber tells customers to pay what they can Tue,15 Nov 2011 09:10 AM PST Reuters - CLEVELAND (Reuters) After more than 20 years of renting chairs from other barbers, Gregory Burnett finally opened his own shop, but the down economy has been hard on the haircut business. "It is one of the first things that people cut back on," said Burnett, owner of Old School Barber Shop in Canton, Ohio. So two months ago Burnett put a sign in front of his place to let clients choose how much to pay. "Times are hard," it read. "Pay what you can for a cut." The idea was to draw in new patrons and help the clients who have been with him for decades, and it seems to be working. ... Full Story
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The odds favored the men as thousands gathered to look for love in Shanghai at the eastern Chinese city's largest-ever matchmaking party, paying for the privilege of searching for their other half.
Executioner says job not "complicated" Mon,14 Nov 2011 07:47 AM PST Reuters - BEIJING (Reuters) - Hu Xiao says his job as one of China's executioners is usually not very complicated, except for the time when a prisoner he was about to kill stood up and ran toward his loaded rifle. The rare glimpse into the ranks of China's executioners appeared in the Beijing Evening News newspaper Monday. Hu, a veteran judicial police officer, described the routine of shooting prisoners convicted of murder and other capital crimes in China, which rights groups say carries out more judicial killings each year than anywhere else in the world. ... Full Story
Buddhify web app promotes calmer urban experience Mon,14 Nov 2011 07:21 AM PST Reuters - LONDON (Reuters) - For a lot of people the day begins amid the chaos of a transit pressure-cooker. Agitated workers wedge onto trains or buses to make the stressful commute to work and arrive feeling frazzled, a state that only worsens as the day wears on. Now, a Glasgow-based entrepreneur and digital innovator has launched a new web application for iPhone and Android smart phones intended to help people on the go learn to cope better with some of the struggles of city life. ... Full Story