Oil spill kills 15,000 birds
Nearly 15,000 birds have died from the fuel oil that spilled from a Russian oil tanker wrecked in a fierce Black Sea storm, and Russian Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev estimated on Wednesday that damage from the spill could reach up to US$251 million. Trutnev also said the amount of fuel that spilled from the tanker Volgoneft-139 since Nov. 11 had risen to more than 3,000 tonnes. Workers continued trying to mop up some of the fuel that soiled kilometers of coastline in the Kerch Strait, the waterway that connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov . Russia and Ukraine share the strait. The storm battered almost a dozen vessels in the strait and killed six sailors.
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Barking mad for fancy dress
Darth Labrador. Dogzilla. Elvis the hound dog. No outfit is too outrageous for man's best friend. The British do love a party animal -- they have gone crazy dressing up their dogs for costume parties. Sales soared by 300 percent over Halloween. Now costumiers have lined up a festive big seller -- the one-size-fits-all Santa pet hat for the dog determined to have a great Christmas. "Some cynics would say the British love their dogs more than they do other people," said Benjamin Webb, spokesman for Angels Fancy Dress which has been supplying costumes for humans since 1840 and is now on a canine winning streak.
Women protest topless ban
A group of Swedish women is making waves by taking their tops off at public swimming pools in a protest against what they call gender-biased rules on swim wear. About 40 women have joined the network and staged topless protests in at least three cities, said Sanna Ferm, 22, one of the founders of the group called Bara Broest, which means "bare breasts" or "just breasts." "The purpose of the campaign is to start a debate about why women's bodies are sexualized," Ferm said on Wednesday. She said the fact that men can be bare-chested in public swimming pools but not women is "a concrete example of how women have fewer rights than men."
■ UNITED KINGDOM
Cookies sell for US$32,000
A rare 1920s cookie tin and its original contents were auctioned for ?15,600 (US$32,000) in London on Wednesday. The Sports Coupe car-shaped tin went for more than five times the pre-sale estimate, Bonhams auction house said. Experts believe the William Crawford and Sons biscuit tin, sold to an anonymous private British collector, has now become the most expensive in the world. Its unusual shape always made the car an attractive item. Its original cost is estimated to have been about ?100 in today's prices. The tin, designed as a children's toy car, was fitted with electric headlights and featured a male driver and female passenger.
More than 8,500 people were charged with corruption this year, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Yakovenko said on Wednesday. "In the first 10 months of 2007, Russia's interior ministry uncovered over 37,000 cases of corruption, including over 10,000 cases of bribery and 1,700 of commercial graft. Over 8,500 people were charged with these crimes," a ministry statement said. He called on both Russians and the nation's foreign partners to help combat the crime.
■ UNITED STATES
Lion chases cars
Sheriff's deputies in Pike County, Ohio, responded to an emergency call that a lion was "attacking" vehicles on a highway on Monday and found a man trying to nab a 250kg feline. Terry Brumfield told officers that his lion -- named Lambert -- had broken out of its pen in nearby Piketon, about 145kg east of Cincinnati. Brumfield was able to get Lambert back into the cage without anyone getting hurt. Brumfield and his wife have two lions. Vicki Brumfield said raising them has helped her husband through a bout of depression. She said they are tame, like great big house cats. Ohio does not require permits for exotic animals, but that would change under an Ohio House of Representatives bill now in committee.