Following is a summary of current odd news briefs.
New York City "cannibal cop" convicted of plot to kidnap women
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York City police officer was convicted on Tuesday of plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women following a trial that shed light on an underworld of people who derive pleasure from fantasizing online about cannibalism. A federal court jury also found Gilberto Valle, 28, guilty on a lesser charge of improperly accessing a law enforcement database to gather personal information about potential targets, including his now-estranged wife.
Fallen UK minister, ex-wife jailed over speeding lie
LONDON (Reuters) - Disgraced energy minister Chris Huhne was jailed for eight months on Monday for lying to police about a speeding offence in 2003, in the final chapter of a bizarre tale of adultery and revenge that has gripped the British public. Huhne's ex-wife Vicky Pryce, a prominent economist, was also jailed for eight months for her role in the deception.
Champagne out, ebooks in as Britain updates inflation basket
LONDON (Reuters) - Champagne is losing its fizz for British consumers who would rather be curled up with a book downloaded onto their eReaders, according to government statisticians. The Office for National Statistics, which bases its monthly calculation of inflation on 700 goods and services priced in 150 areas of the country, said sales of books for digital devices represented a "significant and growing market".
Baseball-sized snail destroyed in Australia to protect crops
SYDNEY (Reuters) - A baseball-sized snail with an insatiable appetite for hundreds of plants including cocoa and papaya has been seized and destroyed by Australian officials, who said it posed a huge threat to local agriculture. The animal was found creeping across a Brisbane shipping container yard and identified as a giant African snail, an East African pest capable of growing up to 30 cm (12 inches) long and one kg (2.2 lb) in weight.
Israeli kids hurt by teachers' name-calling
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Students at an Israeli high school were in an uproar on Monday after a teacher mistakenly sent them an internal email that spelled out what faculty members really thought about them. "Not too bright", "Liar", "Tactless", "Big Baby", "Anti-social", "Has a thing for boys" and "Sick-o" were some of the descriptions on an Excel spreadsheet that landed in students' email boxes.
Cannabis-smoking ascetics light up Nepal festival
KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Ringed by an endless stream of pilgrims at an ancient temple in Kathmandu, Hindu holy man Mahant Ramnaresh Giri sat naked and puffed on a pipe filled with cannabis, his body smeared with ash as he took part in Nepal's biggest annual religious event. Giri was one of more than a hundred such naked ascetics at the ancient Shivaratri festival, which brings an estimated one million devout Hindus flocking to Kathmandu's Pashupatinath temple each year for rituals to cleanse them of sin and earn a place in heaven.
China's heavy-handed censors will now have to endure Ai Weiwei's heavy metal
BEIJING (Reuters) - Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei announced plans on Monday to release a heavy-metal album that he said would "express his opinion" just as he does with his art. The burly and bearded Ai said 81 days in secretive detention in 2011, which sparked an international outcry, triggered his foray into music.
Let them eat cake later: Americans hosting "fitness parties"
NEW YORK (Reuters) - From spinning birthday celebrations to pole dancing bachelorette bashes, U.S. gyms are offering fitness parties as new way to mark life's milestones - with a few friends and a good sweat. Gyms and fitness studios are often eager to host the festivities, which light up darkened rooms after hours and expose potential new members to their services.