Bus robbers in for nasty shock
Robbers in the Indian state of Haryana could be in for a nasty surprise, after officials announced plans to booby trap bus conductors' money bags so that anyone stealing them gets an electric shock.
"The attacker receives an electric shock of approximately 250 volts" State Transport Minister O.P. Jain told the United News of India news agency.
The adapted bags, which also have in-built alarms, are called "cash guard electronic transaction security systems" and have been provided to all state-run bus depots in Haryana, the minister said.
Public transport services in the northern state, as in much of India, are prone to hold-ups, with robbers often targeting cash collected in fares by bus conductors.
Big top flu vaccination
A French circus ringmaster has called for clowns, lion-tamers and other staff to be publicly vaccinated against swine flu under the big tops where they perform.
"These vaccinations could be covered in the media and would serve as an example in a playful setting, to raise awareness of the vaccine among the public," Gilbert Edelstein, the head of the Cirque Pinder, said. France has started offering vaccines to groups considered to be at risk.
Authorities in the town of Chartres, southwest of Paris, reported on Monday that a six-year-old girl had died after contracting the A(H1N1) flu virus, bringing the death toll in mainland France to 58.
Mr Edelstein, head of a national circus union, said many of his 150 performers and technicians, who play in front of thousands of visitors, were foreigners living in caravans and had "little chance of receiving a vaccination voucher."
British bad sex book prize
Franco-American author Jonathan Littell has won the Bad Sex In Fiction Award for a book that had previously scooped France's top literary award.
The Kindly Ones, a World War II saga originally published in French under the title Les Bienveillantes, won the Prix Goncourt in 2006 but it was only translated into English this year. Judges at the London-based Literary Review magazine awarded Mr Littell the tongue-in-cheek award on Monday for prose describing sex as "a jolt that emptied my head like a spoon scraping the inside of a soft-boiled egg".
He emerged victorious from a field including literary heavyweights Philip Roth (The Humbling), Paul Theroux (A Dead Hand) and rock star Nick Cave (The Death of Bunny Munro).
The Literary Review noted that both Mr Littell and Mr Roth incorporated mythology into their sex scenes - the winner used images of "a Gorgon's head" and "a motionless Cyclops". Judges conceded that his work was "in part a work of genius". Many authors have taken the Bad Sex prize in good humour and occasionally attend the ceremony to pick up the award themselves.
Mr Littell's agent accepted his award on his behalf. The author himself has yet to comment.
EU baby smiles
Sweden's Interior Minister Tobias Billstroem brought a tender touch to EU proceedings on Monday, eliciting smiles from his European counterparts by bringing his baby daughter into the council chamber.
Eight-month-old Tone was smuggled into the meeting in her father's arms at the start of talks in Brussels on asylum rights and the battle against human trafficking.
She was also a big hit when they first alighted from the official car and her proud father spoke to waiting reporters, even stealing some of his thunder. "You're supposed to be looking at me," the 35-year-old minister complained as he arrived with his wife and child.
"Mr Billstroem wanted to spend a bit more time with his family," a Swedish spokesman explained. They travelled to Brussels at their own expense," he assured.
Mr Billstroem presided over the EU talks as his country holds the bloc's rotating presidency.
Sun a rare thing in November
The Swedish capital Stockholm registered only 17.5 hours of sunshine for the entire month of November, making it the gloomiest November since 2000, meteorologists said yesterday.
The sun shone on average for only 35 minutes a day during the month, the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) said.
In the past quarter-century, only the years 2000 and 1993 had darker months of November, with eight and nine hours of golden rays respectively, while the average for the month is 54 hours.
Because clouds trap heat and prevent clear skies and crisp temperatures, November 2009 was also one of the warmest Novembers in 25 years.
The average temperature in Stockholm was 5.6˚C (42˚F), compared to an average of 2.9˚C over the past 25 years. Only the year 2000 was warmer at 7.0˚C.
Stockholm, one of the northernmost capitals in the world, also has less sunshine in November because of the shorter daylight period, with around seven hours of daylight in November.
By contrast Sweden has long sunny days during the summer months, on average 292 hours of sunshine in June and 260 hours in July.