The website YouTube that showed us air guitar impresarios, Diet Coke explosions, and nine months of gestation in 20 seconds, has helped catch a suspected killer. Authorities in Hamilton, Ontario, had posted surveillance video earlier this month on the popular website — in which users share video clips — hoping for help to identify two ‘people of interest’ in a murder case. Calls flooded in after the one-minute video’s posting, showing two young men entering a bar before two others were stabbed in a brawl outside. Almost 16,000 people viewed the Hamilton police video online.
Some of the T-shirts bear only the date: 01.02.09. The others spell it out: ‘Bush’s Last Day’. But both, along with an assortment of ‘‘Bush’s Last Day’’ caps, mugs, bumper stickers, buttons, and other collectibles are seeing strong sales as politically minded US gift givers stock up for this holiday season. One of the most popular items is a pocket-sized clock that counts down the minutes — and yes, seconds — left in President George W Bush’s final term in office.
A man was released from hospital two months after he was critically injured in a stingray attack that left a 30cm-long barb in his heart, his family said. James Bertakis, 82, of Lighthouse Point, was hurt on October 18 when a stingray flopped on to his boat and stung him. He later underwent surgery to remove the barb that was lodged in his heart. The accident came just weeks after Australia’s Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray while snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef off Port Douglas.
A village in the Italian Alps is finally basking in winter sunlight thanks to a giant mirror installed on a mountain top to reflect the sun’s rays into the main square. Viganella, with a population of less than 200, lies in a valley so steep that each year from November 11 to February 2 it hardly receives any sunshine. The 5m by 8m mirror, which cost around $167,000, was unveiled to the delight of the village’s residents. ‘‘Here it’s very cold in the winter and residents, many of whom are elderly, used to stay inside all the time,’’ said Maria Velona, who works at the local town hall.
British detectives believe the radioactive substance used to kill former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko cost more than $12.8 million, The Times reported. According to the newspaper, preliminary results from the post mortem on Litvinenko’s body have shown he was given more than ten times the lethal dose of polonium 210, large quantities of which were found in his urine. Several of his friends have blamed the Kremlin for the murder, but Russia has repeatedly denied involvement.
Embattled President Robert Mugabe, 82, has consolidated his grip on power with support from his party to extend his rule by two years to 2010, but analysts say this will also delay the recovery of Zimbabwe’s crumbling economy. An annual conference of Mugabe’s ruling ZANUPF party ‘noted and adopted’ a motion approving a plan to move presidential polls from 2008 to 2010 so they can be ‘harmonised’ and held at the same time as parliamentary elections.
About half of the billions of dollars donated by individuals, companies and governments worldwide to help the victims of the South East Asian tsunami two years ago has still not been spent, the BBC says. Several foreign governments have also given only a small proportion, and at times none, of the money they promised. China offered $385 million to help Sri Lanka recover from the disaster, but has thus far delivered just $1.28 million. Spain and France delivered the amount after promising $77 million and $79 million respectively. The US has given about 38 per cent of the money it promised.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il plans to provide more karaoke machines to the country’s military after finding they help boost morale, according to a recent report in the country’s official newspaper. ‘‘I plan to send more song-accompanying machines to the People’s Armed Forces,’’ Kim said in the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the Workers Party of Korea. The report quoted Kim as saying during his meeting with military commanders in March that ‘the atmosphere changed completely’ in divisions that were provided with karaoke machines.
Eager to put on its best face for foreign guests ahead of the 2010 World Expo, Shanghai is sending teams of ‘smiling volunteers’ on to the streets to teach stony-faced citizens to beam at strangers. Forty university students have signed up to smile at people in public places, after a survey by a local chewing-gum maker showed that only 2 per cent of Chinese people smile at strangers. ‘‘We ask all the members to practise smiling at home,’’ team-leader Xu Xiaohong said. ‘‘We not only smile with our mouths but also with our eyes.’’
Dropping breast cancer rates in New Zealand have been linked to the massive reduction in the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) by women. New Zealand figures for breast cancer fell 6 per cent in 2003, to 80.6 cases per 100,000 — 2297 women. The year before, a large American study found combined oestrogen-progestogen HRT increased the risk of breast cancer. Following the study’s release, the number of prescribed HRT drugs — used to control menopausal symptoms — fell by about a third of the number used in 2001.