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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Council bans ladder use over wasps

Besides wasp stings, working at heights was thought to be a hazard of the job for pest control officers charged with removing the insects’ nests. But not, it would appear, in the modern era of health and safety.

A pensioner who contacted her local council for help with a nest of angry wasps outside her bathroom window was told nothing could be done, because the job required climbing a ladder. Pendle council in Lancashire claimed that using ladders was too dangerous when environmental health staff were required to wear protective clothing and carry poison.

David Whipp, a local councillor, said: “Unfortunately, you do not find wasps nesting on the ground.

“People wearing cumbersome suits managed to land on the Moon. Presumably, we would never have got there if the health and safety brigade had their way.”

Officials stood by the policy yesterday, saying it was safer for staff to apply poison to nests with a pole.

Pendle Council in Lancashire has been stung by criticism that using ladders is too dangerous when environmental health staff are wearing a bee keepers' smock and hood, and carrying poison.

But officials stood by the policy yesterday, saying staff were better off applying the poison with a pole.

The row blew up after a resident was turned down for the service after telling the council the nest about 20ft off the ground - could only be reached by ladder.

The elderly pensioner was concerned that the nest was just above her bathroom window on her terraced home in Barnoldswick, Pendle, and she could be stung in the bath.

Local councillor David Whipp said: Unfortunately, you do not find wasps nesting on the ground, although it would be better for the people doing the risk assessments if they did.

But its a barmy situation if people employed to tackle nuisances at a high level are not allowed to go up a ladder to do it.

People wearing cumbersome suits have managed to land on the moon. Presumably, we would never have got there if the health and safety brigade had their way.

Perhaps the council needs to advertise for Spider Man to carry out this work.

Coun Whipp is pressing for a review of the councils policy which follows a row four years ago when putting up 30 flashing speed signs was delayed by the need to train staff to climb a 4ft ladder.

Pendle Council said yesterday it was not legally required to remove wasps nests but did so for £26, compared to £100 from a commercial firm.

Services Director Philip Mousdale said: Our staff can deal with nests at, or below, eaves level by using an extendable stick to apply the poison rather than climbing ladders.

We cleared 238 very effectively in this way last year. He stressed that this method is safer than using ladders.

Wearing a bee keeper's suit and climbing a ladder whilst carrying a container of the poison is hazardous, he continued.

Not only is it safer, using the extendable stick also means one person can do the job and saves transporting and handling ladders. It is therefore also far more cost effective.

He added: Probably only about 1 per cent of nests are above eaves level.

At this height, for example on a chimney stack, theyre very unlikely to pose any danger or bother to people or animals. Its usually better to just leave the nest alone.

We can deal with internal nests where a property has a loft. The council was contacting the resident who requested the service to see if it could help her.

Giant Frozen "Wave"!

This is actually a glacier. Really impressive Ice Formations!

Saudi woman arrested for posting Driving photo on Facebook....

Innocent photos of this woman driving led to her arrest after she posted them online

Authorities detained a Saudi woman on Saturday after she launched a campaign against the driving ban for women in the ultraconservative kingdom and posted a videotape of herself behind the wheel on Facebook and YouTube to encourage others to copy her.

Manal al-Sherif and a group of other women started a Facebook page called 'Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself,' which urges authorities to lift the driving ban. She went on a test drive in the eastern city of Khobar and later posted a video of the experience.

Defiant: Manal al-Sherif has posted a video of her driving on the internet and has started a Facebook campaign

'This is a volunteer campaign to help the girls of this country' learn to drive, al-Sherif says in the video. 'At least for times of emergency, God forbid. What if whoever is driving them gets a heart attack?'

Human rights activist Walid Abou el-Kheir said al-Sherif was detained by the country's religious police, who are charged with ensuring the kingdom's rigid interpretation of Islamic teachings are observed.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world to ban women - both Saudi and foreign - from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers, and those who cannot afford the $300 to $400 a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor.

'This is a volunteer campaign to help the girls of this country learn to drive. At least for times of emergency, God forbid. What if whoever is driving them gets a heart attack?'  - Manal al-Sherif

Women are also barred from voting, except for chamber of commerce elections in two cities in recent years, and no woman can sit on the kingdom's Cabinet. Women also cannot travel without permission from a male guardian and shouldn't mingle with males who are not their husbands or brothers.

The campaigners have focused on the importance of women driving in times of emergencies and in the case of low-income families. Al-Sherif said unlike the traditional argument in Saudi Arabia that driving exposes women to sinful temptations by allowing them to mingle with policemen and mechanics, women who drive can avoid sexual harassment from their drivers and protect their 'dignity.'

Through Facebook, the campaigners are calling for a mass drive on June 17. To encourage women to get behind the wheel, al-Sherif went for a drive on Friday as another activist filmed her. Posted on YouTube and Facebook, it has now garnered more than 11,000 supporters.

Challenge: A Facebook page set up encourages women to take to their cars and drive on June 17

Challenge: A Facebook page set up encourages women to take to their cars and drive on June 17
Dressed in a headscarf and the all-encompassing black abaya all women must wear in public, al-Sharif said not all Saudi women are 'queens' who can afford to hire a driver. She extolled the virtues of driving for women, saying it can save lives, and time, as well as a woman's dignity. Al-Sharif said she learned how to drive at the age 30 in New Hampshire.

'We are humiliated sometimes because we can't find a taxi to take us to work,' she said.

On their Facebook page, the group says women joining the campaign should not challenge authorities if they were stopped and questioned, and should abide by the country's strict dress code.

'We want to live as complete citizens, without the humiliation that we are subjected to everyday because we are tied to a driver,' the Facebook message reads. 'We are not here to break the law or demonstrate or challenge the authorities, we are here to claim one of our simplest rights.' 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Britain's strongest schoolgirl

An 11-year-old who can lift almost her own body weight above her head has been named Britain's strongest schoolgirl.

Charley Craig, from Glasgow, is only 4ft 7ins tall and weighs just over five stone but can outlift every child in the gym where she trains.

She trains for 12 hours a week and dreams of winning gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games, reports the Daily Mail.

Charley said: "It is really hard work and I'm sore most of the time. But then I look back and I'm happy with what I've done.

"My coach says I've got the potential to do well and go really far. The adults in the gym give me loads of support.

"When I can't do it they say ''up, up, up'' and they encourage me so I can concentrate and do it."

Like many girls of her age, Charley's bedroom is wall-to-wall pink and she likes nothing better than doing her make-up and reading fashion magazines.

Her mother, Amanda Black, 37, drives her to the gym every day and ensures she sticks to a strict diet of pasta, fruit and vegetables.

Charley's brother, Daniel, 20, who is also a competing weightlifter, has become his sister's coach.

He said: "When Charley first started weightlifting it was to join in with me and mum. Then she got serious and I couldn't be more pleased with her progress.

"Her small size is actually an advantage because she has less of her own bulk to heave up. We're all really proud of her."

Farmer gives chickens 'glasses'

A Chinese farmer has given his chickens specially made glasses to stop them fighting.

Zhang Xiaolong says his aggressive roosters have become much more peaceful since he gave them the plastic glasses.

The glasses are actually blinkers which prevent the birds seeing straight ahead - making direct confrontation more difficult.

Instead they have to look around the sides which makes them more cautious.

Xiaolong, of Xiamen, southern China's Fujian Province, said: "My roosters were always fighting each other - I was losing ten birds a day.

"I was inspired by my own glasses and thought if I could just block their view so they can't see each other directly, they wouldn't have fights.

"It has worked really well. They can't attack each other so confrontations have been minimised."

Man finds - and gives away - fortune

A US man found nearly £30,000 in the attic of his new house - and immediately gave it back to the previous owner's family.

Josh Ferrin was exploring his new home in Salt Lake City, Utah, when he found $45,000 stuffed into tins and boxes.

"I freaked out, locked it in my car, and called my wife to tell her she wouldn't believe what I had found," said Mr Ferrin.

Along with his wife and children, they spread out thousands of notes on a table, separating the bundles one by one.

Despite being tempted to keep the money to help him pay for mounting bills and a broken down car, Mr Ferrin sought out the six children of the home's previous owner, who had died, and gave them the money.

"I'm not perfect, and I wish I could say there was never any doubt in my mind," he said.

"We knew we had to give it back, but it doesn't mean I didn't think about our car in need of repairs, how we would love to adopt a child and aren't able to do that right now, or fix up our outdated house that we just bought," he said.

"But the money wasn't ours to keep and I don't believe you get a chance very often to do something radically honest, to do something ridiculously awesome for someone else and that is a lesson I hope to teach to my children."

Toy tiger sparks police alert

Police are trying to trace the owner of a life-size toy tiger which sparked a major operation involving armed officers and a force helicopter.

The alert was raised after several members of the public spotted what they believed to be a live white tiger in a field near Hedge End, Southampton.

The police helicopter was scrambled and a golf course cleared after police arrived at the scene and confirmed the sighting.

Armed police were called to the scene and plans put in place to close the nearby M27 if necessary in case the tiger moved in that direction.

Specialist staff from nearby Marwell Zoo also attended to advise and potentially tranquilise the wild animal.

But as police officers carefully approached the "wild animal" they realised things were not quite what they seemed.

A spokeswoman for the force said: "After a brief stalk through the Hedge End savannah, the officer realised the tiger was not moving and the air support using their cameras realised there was a lack of heat source.

"The tiger then rolled over in the down draft and it was at that point it became obvious it was a stuffed life-size toy.

"This incident will definitely be the highlight of our day. The CCTV footage convinced us all we were dealing with a real tiger.

"It's not often an incident leaves our staff with a smile on their face and it just goes to show the diverse type of incident we are called to deal with."

sharing home with 11 cats

Sharing a bed with your furry friend has taken on a whole new meaning for Riana Van Nieuwenhuizen.

The sanctuary worker shares her South African home with not one but FOUR orphaned cheetahs, five lions and two tigers.

Forty-six-year-old Riana said: 'I love them all. But they're a handful.'

Two of Riana Van Nieuwenhuizen big cats fight to be top dog in her South African home

Riana bought her first cheetah, Fiela in 2006, after realising the big cats were in trouble and heading for extinction with only 1000 left in Africa.

She left her full time job working for the department of justice - a position she had held for 22 years - and found temporary employment on a game ranch where she could raise her beloved big cat.

But Riana's real dream was fully realised after she set up the not-for-profit Fiela Funds Cheetah Breeding Project in South Africa to ensure the long-term survival of the cheetah and their ecosystem.

Cat burglar? The cheeky cheetah muscles in for a snatch of sarnie

No cheetah-ing: One big cat offers some furry advice

Happy families: Riana with three of her five white lion cubs Vanilla, Snowball and Snowflake and two tigers
The project spreads over a hectare of land and visitors can meet Fiela and the other cats and even have their pictures taken.

And if you want to outdo your friends in the wedding photo stakes the project also offers newly weds the chance to be snapped cuddling up to a big cat.

The cats in Riana's own home are truly part of the family and are allowed to roam freely.

Fight like cat and dog? Riana's two dogs snuggle up with one big cat

Say cheeeeetah: For the ultimate wedding snap couples can have their picture taken with a cat at the project

They make it known when they are hungry, even jumping up onto work surfaces in an attempt to snatch a bite of whatever's going.

Luckily Riana's two dogs aren't on the menu but instead romp with the cats and even snuggle down with them for a snooze.

The cheetahs have even been known to sit in on the odd card game but whether they offered any cat-like-cunning or poker faces is unknown.

Real Photos, Not Art

Life imitating art: The incredible photographs of the Namibian landscape which looks like paintings.

Just a quick glance and you could be forgiven for thinking this striking image is a spectacular piece of artwork.

But take a minute to look a little closer and you will see it is in fact a photograph - capturing the eerie camel thorn trees in Namibia's Namib-Naukluft Park in an entirely new light.

Tinted orange by the morning sun, the soaring sand dune in the background gives the illusion of a painted sky. 

Tinted orange by the morning sun, a soaring dune is the backdrop for the hulks of camel thorn trees in Namib-Naukluft Park

Desert-dwelling elephants follow the contours of the ancient Huab River Valley (This image can also be mistaken as a painting easily.)

The vibrant images are so stunning it is hard to believe they are real.

Princess Elizabeth - Photo from the Archives

First encounter: Naval cadet Philip plays croquet with 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth at Dartmouth College in 1939

72 Years Later:
Jolly consort: Her Majesty and Prince Philip at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin during a four-day visit to Ireland last week

Saturday, May 21, 2011

How the Snake burgers are Made..

This is what you get when you mix Eastern and Western cuisines. Snakeburgers! It's a popular fast food dish made in Indonesia. But I'm not sure if I could eat a burger with cobra meat...

Taiwanese Woman Marries Herself

A 30-year-old Chen Wei-yih from Taiwan decided to marry herself because she just couldn't find a right partner. She hired a wedding planner and rented a banquet hall for a marriage celebration with 30 friends. The $5,675 wedding became a real top story in Taiwan. 

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