Quirky World: The power of conviction goes beyond the grave

GREECE: A Greek court has convicted a dead man of stealing electricity from a power company, giving him a six-month suspended jail sentence. 

Defence lawyer Christos Bakelas told the Thessaloniki court that his client was deceased, and asked to have the trial deferred until he could deliver a death certificate. However, the court refused and convicted his client in absentia.

Thessaloniki police records show the 46-year-old unemployed father of three died on April 8, but Bakelas was not informed until the eve of the trial.

The man was charged last year after activists reconnected his electricity supply after it was cut by the utility company over unpaid bills.

Puppy love

ENGLAND: Pet insurers are paying out £1.65m (€2.2m) a day to treat their animals — and owners are more likely to insure their dogs than their cats.

Figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show that across the UK, firms paid out £602m-worth of claims in 2014, an increase of nearly 15% on the previous year.

The number of UK animals covered by pet insurance policies has now passed 3.5 million, the ABI said.

It said that around 2.4m dogs are covered by pet insurance, out of an estimated dog population of 9m — meaning around one in four dogs is covered.

Meanwhile, some 1.2m cats are covered by insurance, out of the estimated cat population of 7.9m. This equates to around one in six cats being covered by pet insurance.

Insurers are also providing cover for more than 250,000 other pets such as horses, rabbits, and exotic animals such as snakes, the ABI said.

Spam jam

USA: A food festival in Hawaii has an unlikely star — Spam, wonderful Spam.

Spam Jam, which took place near Waikiki beach, saw local restaurants serve creative variations of canned-meat dishes to a crowd of nearly 25,000.

Last year the festival raised nearly $25,000 for local charities

Hawaii consumes more Spam than any other state in the nation. So manufacturers Hormel came up with a new flavour — Portuguese sausage Spam — that is, at least for now, exclusively for the Aloha State.

Spam, introduced by Hormel in 1937, became popular in Hawaii during the Second World War, and was made famous by a Monty Python sketch.

Royal announcement

ENGLAND: Town crier Tony Appleton took to the steps on Saturday outside London’s St Mary’s Hospital to loudly proclaim the birth of Britain’s newest royal member, a baby girl born to the Duchess of Cambridge.

But contrary to what some may believe, Appleton was no royal messenger. He says he’s simply a royalist and president of the Guild of International Millennium Town Criers, which is not affiliated with Britain’s royal family.

“Oyez, oyez (Hear ye)!” he yelled before reading a birth announcement from a scroll. His booming voice, ringing bell and colorful costume was watched by TV viewers around the world.

“I feel so proud, because I’m a real top royalist. I love the royal family,” he said.

Spaced out 

USA: Scientists and engineers have been coming to a rocky corner of Utah for more than a decade to run imaginary missions to Mars.

The research centre near Hanksville is run by the non-profit Mars Society. The group is not affiliated with Nasa or the federal government.

More than 900 people have participated in simulated missions since the site opened in 2002. They hope the research will help put humans on the red planet.

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