QUIRKY WORLD ... A daily look at some of the world’s stranger stories

Westminster - infested

ENGLAND: The Houses of Parliament may have been infested with “mutant” rats which are becoming immune to traditional poisons.

Up to £6,000 (€7,200) a month is being spent on pest control at Westminster, according to figures. The amount being spent on tackling pests at the Commons has risen 15% in the last two years, according to figures released in a freedom of information request.

Experts warn that the rats are on the increase across parts of the country after building up a resistance to normal toxic pellets and powders.

False alarm

SCOTLAND: Animal welfare officers were called to rescue a dog which had been hit by a car, only to discover it was a stuffed toy.The Scottish SPCA went to the scene after a member of the public reported that a black and white collie was lying at the side of Hillington Road in Glasgow.

When animal rescue officer Kerry Friel arrived she found a large stuffed toy dog at the roadside instead.

“The toy was large and quite lifelike so I can understand why the person thought this was an animal in need of our help.”

Real humdinger

SCOTLAND: Members of the public are being asked to take part in a university project that is going to be a real humdinger.

A University of Aberdeen lecturer is looking for people to help him — but it is not their time, expertise, or even their money that is being sought.

Dr Suk-Jun Kim wants them to volunteer their hums, as part of a community music project. He is hoping to collect hundreds of hummed tunes, with each one representing a childhood memory of the individual contributor.

Mayor mix-up

USA: When Marty Walsh won the Boston mayor’s race, US vice-president Joe Biden was quick to pick up the phone to congratulate him. But, there was a problem. The Marty Walsh whom Biden had on the line was not the Marty Walsh who had been elected to succeed long-time Boston mayor Thomas Menino.

The Marty Walsh who Biden connected with was actually a former aide to the late US senator Edward Kennedy. That Marty Walsh said that, before he could explain the mix-up, Biden launched into his congratulations, saying “Marty, you did it, you son of a gun”.

Walsh, who said he has received misplaced calls for the other Marty Walsh in the past, said he quickly set Biden straight and gave him the mobile number for the mayor-elect. He said Biden then jokingly congratulated him for not being mayor.

‘Loverspy’ hunted

USA: A former college student who sold an $89 (€66) computer program dubbed “Loverspy” to help people catch cheating lovers, has been added to the FBI’s list of most wanted cybercriminals.

The program sent the suspected love rat an e-greetings card which, if opened, would install malware that could capture emails and instant messages, or even spy on someone using the victim’s own webcam.

The case of Carlos Enrique Perez-Melara is noteworthy because he appears to have made relatively little money from the scheme. But he helped turn average computer users into sophisticated hackers.

Domino effect

JAMAICA: Authorities have come up with an unusual way to try to steer youngsters from tough districts away from gangs, crime and drugs — teaching them dominoes.

Under the guidance of a justice ministry officer who devised the Dominoes for Life programme, participants say the game is helping them work through possible outcomes and develop thinking skills as they learn how to better connect the dots in the real world where they face youth unemployment of 38%.

Probing issue

USA: A New Mexico man has filed a lawsuit claiming police subjected him to repeated anal probes and enemas after a routine traffic stop because they suspected he was hiding drugs.

David Eckert, aged 54, claims violations of his civil rights in the lawsuit. He was pulled over in January for failing to come to a complete stop while exiting a Wal-Mart parking lot in Deming, New Mexico.

Officers suspected that he was hiding drugs in his anus, based on the way he was standing and the fact that a police dog alerted to his driver’s seat, and obtained a search warrant “to include but not limited to [plaintiff’s] anal cavity”, according to the lawsuit.

USA: A homeless man has gone from the proverbial penthouse to the big house after he was found sleeping in the presidential suite at one of Pittsburgh’s swankiest hotels.

Jeffrey Lennon Watson, 48, told police he was from Los Angeles and was passing through the city to return to California when he was nabbed at the Omni William Penn Hotel on Tuesday.

Hotel guests were checking into the suite at about 7.30pm when they saw Watson sleeping on a couch and notified hotel staff, police said. Hotel security officers woke him up, took him to their office, and called police.

Police don’t know how long Watson had been in the suite or how he got in.


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