Following is a summary of current odd news briefs.
Russian "sleeping judge" resigns after video exposé
MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian judge has resigned after a video apparently showed him asleep during a trial that ended with him sentencing the defendant to five years in a penal colony, Russian media reported on Friday. Critics of the Russian justice system, which has a notoriously high conviction rate, were outraged when the video purporting to show judge Yevgeny Makhno sleeping through a defense lawyer's speech in court was posted online in January.
German biscuit-maker appeals to "Cookie Monster" thief
BERLIN (Reuters) - One of Germany's most famous biscuit-makers has appealed to an extortionist dressed as the "Cookie Monster" to return its prized golden biscuit emblem. The Bahlsen biscuit company's emblem has hung above its headquarters in Hanover since 1913 and was first reported stolen a week ago.
"Nappy" hunters leave Norwegian baby bottoms bare
OSLO (Reuters) - Southern Norway is in the midst of a diaper shortage after a supermarket price war lured enterprising bulk shoppers from eastern Europe who have cleaned out the shelves, customs officials and retailers said. Norway is one of the world's most expensive countries. However, supermarkets in the south trying to lure local customers by undercutting rivals on the price of "nappies" inadvertently made it profitable enough for residents of nearby countries to start trading in them.
Serbia PM orders inquiry into "Basic Instinct" fake TV interview
BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbia's prime minister, who was flashed by a model without underwear masquerading as a television interviewer, has launched an investigation into how he became the target of the prank, an aide said on Thursday. The video of Ivica Dacic being interviewed by a brunette former model from Croatian Playboy, who uncrosses her legs in a scene reminiscent of actress Sharon Stone in the film "Basic Instinct", has been viewed 2.7 million times on YouTube.
Austrian EU lawmaker investigated over "elephant" expenses
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - An Austrian member of the European Parliament is under investigation over suspect expenses claims totaling 1.3 million euros, including one item listed as "elephant". In a request to the European Parliament to waive Hans-Peter Martin's immunity, the Vienna prosecutor's office said it suspected the independent MEP of embezzling public funds and making money "illicitly for himself or a third party by fraudulent means".
Earl Grey descendants sell English tea to China
TRURO, England (Reuters) - An estate owned by descendants of the 19th century British aristocrat for whom Earl Grey tea was named is turning history on its head by selling English tea to China. The Tregothnan estate in the southwestern English county of Cornwall started selling tea from its tiny plantation in 2005 and last year produced about 10 metric tons (11.023 tons) of tea and infusions.
Dr. Phil says Manti Te'o hoaxer admits to love for linebacker
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California man who has admitted to fabricating Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend in an elaborate hoax told talk show host Phil McGraw he felt a deep romantic love for the football player, McGraw said on Wednesday. "Here we have a young man that fell deeply, romantically in love," McGraw told the television morning show "Today" to discuss his two part interview with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, which will air on "Dr. Phil" on Thursday and Friday.
Naples' buses stop as operator runs out of fuel
ROME (Reuters) - Naples residents were left stranded at bus stops across Italy's third biggest city on Wednesday as the public transport operator, hit by government spending cuts, ran out of fuel. "Due to a lack of fuel our services are not guaranteed," transport operator ANM announced on its website and at bus stops around the city, enraging commuters.
Hong Kong aims at smugglers in bid to stop run on baby formula milk
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong introduced measures on Friday to tackle a shortage of baby milk formula as food-safety-conscious mainland Chinese people flock to the city to stock up on supplies ahead of a Lunar New Year holiday. The Hong Kong government cut the luggage allowance on trains that connect the city to the mainland to 23 kg (50 lb) from 32 kg (70 lb) and limited the number of cans of milk powder a person can take back into the mainland to two per visit.
Chinese millionaire fights pollution with thin air
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's foulest fortnight for air pollution in memory has rekindled a tongue-in-cheek campaign by a multimillionaire with a streak of showmanship who is selling canned fresh air. Chen Guangbiao, who made his fortune in the recycling business and is a high-profile philanthropist, on Wednesday handed out soda pop-sized cans of air, purportedly from far-flung, pristine regions of China such as Xinjiang in the northwest to Taiwan, the southeast coast.