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

Christmas Eve court date for ‘Santa Claus’

Santa charged with groping coworker -

USA: A man who worked as a Santa Claus in a Massachusetts shopping centre has been ordered not to put the red suit back on until a court resolves a charge that he groped an adult co-worker.

Herbert Jones, 62, was arrested and charged with one count of indecent assault and battery on a person over the age of 14, a spokesman for the Plymouth County district attorney’s office, said.

The prosecutor’s office declined to comment on reports that the co-worker wore an elf costume.

Jones pleaded not guilty and was released on $1,000 (€738) bail. A judge ordered him to stay away from centre where he had worked, and not to seek work as a Santa until the charges are resolved. He is due back in court on Dec 24.


USA: When he saw a woman jumping from the upper deck at the Oakland Raiders’ stadium on Sunday, Donnie Navidad said his military instincts immediately kicked in as he lunged forward trying to catch her.

But though he was injured in the process and authorities say he saved the woman’s life, he maintains that he’s no hero and would do it again.

“I just wished I would’ve grabbed her and held on to her,” said Navidad. “I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do anything.”

Both Navidad and the woman hit the concrete hard from the impact. Navidad said he was among several people pleading with the woman not to jump as he positioned himself to try catching her.

The 61-year-old Marine Corps veteran was hospitalised overnight and wasrecuperating from a severely bruised arm at his home. The woman remained hospitalised in critical condition.


USA: A federal court ruling means a same-sex Chicago couple will be allowed to marry before the state’s gay marriage law takes effect.

US district judge Thomas Durkin ordered the Cook County clerk to issue an expedited marriage licence to Vernita Gray and Patricia Ewert. Gray is terminally ill with brain and bone cancer.

County clerk David Orr said he would comply.

Illinois’ gay marriage law takes effect at the start of June. But gay rights group Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois filed a lawsuit seeking immediate action for the couple.

Lawyer Camilla Taylor says Gray wants to marry Ewert before she dies.

Berlin’s famed Cold War-era cinema to reopen doors

GERMANY: Berlin’s historic Zoo Palast cinema has reopened after a major renovation to restore the sparkle to the former Cold War-era theatre, once the city’s star-studded cultural boast.

The Zoo Palast, which owes its name to a nearby city centre zoological garden, was built in the mid-1950s out of the ashes of a silent movie theatre.

The UFA film production company chose the spot near “Berlin’s Champs-Elysees”, the Kurfuerstendamm, to open the UFA Palast am Zoo in 1919. Audiences marvelled at masterpieces by filmmakers such as the Austrian Fritz Lang, who was behind the 1927 expressionist science fiction film Metropolis.

But in Nov 1943 the building was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid and in 1955 its ruins were demolished to make way for the Zoo Palast, with its bold, angular architecture.

“We have kept everything we could [of the historic building] in order to maintain the traditions and the soul of the Zoo Palast,” said Hans-Joachim Flebbe, 62, who operates the cinema and has spent €5.5m on the three-year restoration.

Flebbe, who has worked in cinemas for four decades, said he wanted to combinecomfort with the Zoo Palast’s original glamour for an experience that would draw those disillusioned by modern movie-going experiences back to the big screen.


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