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World Briefs

Double decker buses for Skopje

The city of Skopje, Macedonia, ordered 202 double decker buses from China’s producer Yutong Group for a cost of some €36 million.

The bus is similar to the Route­Master double deckers which were in use in Skopje around 50 years ago. A promo drive in the streets of Skopje was held yesterday. (AP)

Animated athlete

World triple jump champion Phillips Idowu said he loved being turned into a children’s cartoon for the London 2012 Olympics but added: “I am really not that vain.”

The 32-year-old is among a host of British London 2012 hopefuls who feature alongside mascots Wenlock and Mandeville in a new educational cartoon.

The unmistakable figure of Idowu bounding in to the pit, complete with trademark brightly-coloured hair, is captured in the cartoon, written by children’s author Michael Morpurgo. (PA)

Animal house

Firefighters in the Philippines were shocked to find five tigers, three Indian star tortoises, two Burmese pythons and several cats and dogs when called to a house fire.

The caretaker and one of the owners have been arrested while two others remain at large.

A complaint has been filed against them for violating the country’s Wildlife Act. They face up to a year in jail and fines. (PA)

The King’s letter

A letter discovered in a library archive has revealed how the man who cured King George VI of his stammer was introduced to the Palace. The monarch, played by Colin Firth in the Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech, overcame his speech impediment with the help of unconventional therapist Lionel Logue.

The missive found at the National Library of Scotland (NLS) revealed Logue’s address was passed to the Palace by John Murray V, a member of the John Murray publishing dynasty whose archives are housed at the NLS. (PA)

Pies squared

The state of Maine has got into a row after wanting to designate the whoopie pie as its official treat, with origins dating back to 1925.

Bakers in Pennsylvania claim that the pies were first cooked up by Amish families generations ago.

A good-natured war of words has even led to a recent rally in Pennsylvania and an online petition drive at http://saveourwhoopie.com . (PA)

Two to tango

The Prince of Wales lamented his lack of dancing skill as he revealed he should have taken tango lessons with Cheryl Cole.

Charles was in Wales to help mark the principality-wide annual St David’s Day celebrations.

His reference to the X Factor judge came after a morning of entertainment which included a song by a former runner-up in the talent competition. (PA)

World’s tallest tower

A transmission tower in Tokyo has become the world’s tallest free-standing broadcast structure, its owners have said.

The company managing the Tokyo Sky Tree project said the structure surpassed another tower in China by reaching 601 metres.

Tobu Tower Sky Tree Co says it will stand 634 metres when it is completed later this year. (PA)

MP causes uproar

A young Kenyan MP best known by his nickname “rich man” and for his gangster look was thrown out of parliament yesterday when the speaker decided his ear studs offended the august house’s decorum.

Gidion Mbuvi, a controversial 35-year-old MP for a Nairobi constituency best known for his extra-parliametary antics, caused an uproar when he walked into the chamber wearing sunglasses and diamond studs. (AFP)

MPs vote against witchcraft bill

Romanian lawmakers yesterday voted against a Bill aiming to counter the pernicious effects of witchcraft, a text which had angered many fortune-tellers and clairvoyants.

“I am very disappointed, the Bill was meant to prevent people from being deceived by so-called witches,” Liberal-Democrat MP Alin Popoviciu, who initiated the bill, told AFP.Under the text, fortune-tellers and clairvoyants were to be licensed, pay taxes and set up professional associations.

Mr Popoviciu however said he would not give up on his idea and would try to find another way to get it passed by parliament. (AFP)

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