Confessional cannot be used as a sauna – shucks!

Bidding on a confessional described on eBay as ideal for conversion into a one-person sauna, a small bar or a children’s playhouse was ended when the archdiocese stepped in.

Archdiocese spokesman Erich Leitenberger told the daily Salzburger Nachrichten…that auctioning “objects that were used for dispensing the sacraments is not acceptable.”

Confessionals “should not be converted into saunas or bars,” he said.

The confessional was offered for auction in Austria by a Vienna church undergoing renovations.

Curiously, the highest reported amount offered by one of the 40 bidders before the item was yanked from the internet Monday was 666.66 euros.


Syria bans veil on university campuses

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Syria has banned the face-covering Islamic veil from the country’s universities.

The Education Ministry’s ban on the niqab comes as similar moves in Europe spark cries of discrimination against Muslims.

An official at the ministry says the ban affects public and private universities and aims to protect Syria’s secular identity…

Sunday’s ban does not affect the headscarf, which many Syrian women wear.

The niqab is not widespread in Syria, although it has become more common recently. It’s growing popularity has not gone unnoticed in a country governed by a secular, authoritarian regime.

Last month, hundreds of primary school teachers who wear the niqab were moved to administrative jobs, local media reported.

Probably less of an uproar in the Middle East than in Western democracies. For more reasons than the obvious.

Skyway robbery

French police have arrested an Air France stewardess on suspicion of stealing thousands of euros in cash, cards and jewelry as passengers slept on long haul flights.

Police investigating thefts over several months on flights between France and the Far East picked up the 47-year old attendant identified as Lucie R. after she landed from Tokyo on Friday, Le Figaro said…

Police launched an investigation in January after about 4,000 euros was stolen from five passengers. The robber took advantage of sleeping passengers, taking euros, yen, and Swiss francs as well as watches, jewels, credit cards and even cheque books.

According to the newspaper, the woman, who worked mainly in business class, began her spree in March 2009 to ease financial problems and has confessed to 26 thefts…

Police found travelers’ cheques, blank cheques and bank card numbers at her home, the newspaper said.

Ah, the friendly skies.

For the cricket fan who thinks they have everything…

After scoring 1st ever Double Century in a One-Day International
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

A special edition new biography of Indian cricketing star Sachin Tendulkar will contain drops of his blood, its publishers have reportedly said.

Costing $75,000 each, 10 copies are being printed containing a signature page mixed with his blood…

With more than 1,500 pictures, the “Tendulkar Opus” biography will weigh 80lb and each of its 852 pages will be edged in gold leaf.

Tendulkar’s career has spanned two decades, during which he has scored more than 30,000 runs and become the only player to have hit a double century in a one-day international.

The 10 special edition copies, which will contain traces of Tendulkar’s blood mixed into the paper pulp for the signature page, have reportedly already been pre-ordered ahead of publication next February.

Carl Fowler, chief executive of the publisher Kraken Opus, told the UK’s Guardian newspaper that their book may not be “everyone’s cup of tea”.

“Some may think it’s a bit weird,” he said. “But the key thing here is that Sachin Tendulkar to millions of people is a religious icon. And we thought how, in a publishing form, can you get as close to your god as possible?”

Kraken is also expected to publish about 1,000 regular copies of the book to be sold for between $2,000 and $3,000.

Wow! I have been a sports fan all my life.

I have autographed photos of the starting 4 of the 1951 Boston Red Sox. I have watched, eaten and slept by the side of the Mulsanne Straight at LeMans. I first attended an Auld Firm Derby in Glasgow in 1971.

But, this is beyond being a fan – for me.

Goldline finally under investigation

Well, it’s about time. Today, ABC News reports that the city attorney of Santa Monica, Ca., in conjunction with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, has launched an investigation into Goldline International, the gold company that sponsors and is heavily promoted on Glenn Beck’s TV and radio shows. Apparently, California authorities discovered what Mother Jones readers likely already knew, which is that Goldline misleads customers into buying overpriced gold coins that they weren’t necessarily in the market for…

Radinsky says that the investigation is in the preliminary stages but that it involves more than 100 consumer complaints about Goldline and the Superior Gold Group, which are both based in Santa Monica.

Goldline defended its practices to ABC by citing its superior rating from the Better Business Bureau. But as we reported here a few months ago, pretty much any Joe with a credit card can get such a rating. Goldline also claimed the investigation was politically motivated by people who don’t like Beck, a charge Radinsky denied. He told ABC, “Glenn Beck has nothing to do with our investigation. Our investigation is about transactions with individual customers and the complaints that they’ve raised. And politics really has nothing to do with it. It’s all about consumer protection for us,” he said. Radinsky also said that people with Goldline complaints can now file them at a special website set up by his office, If Beck seriously cared about his audience, he should plug that site on his show sometime.

Move on down the page to see Mother Jones’ earlier investigation on Goldline

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Teabagger ideology + neocon nutballs = average census, after all

The $15 billion U.S. Census is near completion with a response rate unchanged from a decade ago, defying concerns it might be derailed by anti-government sentiment and widespread violence against census takers.

Conservative figures like television commentator Glenn Beck and Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann had urged Americans to provide only minimal information on the census form.

That sparked fears that Obama administration critics such as supporters of the limited-government Tea Party movement would hinder the once-in-a-decade project.

But now that the counting is nearly done, government officials and political analysts say there is no sign that the political climate had much impact on the census.

The mail-in response rate for the 10-question census was unchanged at 72 percent from 2000, bucking a national trend showing declining participation in surveys of any kind. And despite technical challenges, it is on schedule and under budget.

This proves that Americans still have common sense,” said political analyst Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “You’re only hurting your own localities when you don’t fill in your form.”

I’m convinced American have some common sense – once in a while.

We’re truly conditioned to be led around by the nose by the superimposition of advertising on every aspect of life – for decades. There’s probably a gene for beer commercials, by now.

You have to hope that most people will just raise their eyebrows and lower the volume when they see the looneybird brigade on television.

Sidney the snail races to victory in world championships

A snail called Sidney beat 200 competitors to win the world snail racing championships in Norfolk.

The gastropod won the final at the village fete in Congham, Norfolk on Saturday in a time of three minutes and 41 seconds.

His owner, 62-year-old Claire Lawrence from Litcham, Norfolk, was presented with a silver tankard filled with lettuce…

Hilary Scase, a championship official, said: “Snails like damp conditions and as Congham is surrounded by ponds and is very low lying it is just right for snails. Congham is to snail racing what Newmarket is to horse racing.”

Races, which begin with the shout “Ready, steady, slow”, are held on top of a table covered with a damp cloth.

The snails are placed in the centre of an inner circle, from which they must travel 13-inches to an outer circle which forms the finishing line…

The world record of 2 minutes over the 13 inch course was set up by a snail called Archie in 1995.
The previous world champion was Heikki Kovalainen, named after the Formula One driver by his owner, 13-year-old Georgie Brown from East Winch, Norfolk.

Bravo, Sidney!