Big Ben's silence baffles British engineers

Sunday, May 29, 2005

LONDON -- Big Ben, the landmark London clock renowned for its accuracy and chimes, stopped ticking for 90 minutes, an engineer said Saturday. Officials do not know why the 147-year-old clock on the banks of the River Thames stopped at 10:07 p.m. Friday. It resumed keeping time, but stalled again at 10:20 p.m. and remained still for about 90 minutes before starting up again, a spokeswoman for the House of Commons said on condition of anonymity. There has been speculation a recent spell of hot weather may have been to blame.

Poster in Scotland disputes myth of Santa

GLASGOW, Scotland -- A month after it ignited controversy, a billboard that questions the existence of Santa Claus went on display on a street corner Friday. Artist Darren Cullen found an alternative site for the 20-foot-by-10-foot work after the owner of the billboard, refused to show it four weeks ago following media attention. Critics say the piece -- which carries slogans like "Santa Gives More To Rich Kids Than Poor Kids" -- is an attempt to ruin the magic of Christmas. Cullen, 22, insists it is his way of highlighting the dangers of consumerism.

N.Y. woodpecker thinks reflection is enemy

SULLIVAN, N.Y. -- Car owners around town are covering their mirrors in an attempt to outsmart a woodpecker who apparently thinks his reflection is an enemy. Tim Taylor, who owns Thruway Auto Glass, said he replaced 30 smashed mirrors last year and 18 this year because of the bird, which has claimed this area east of Syracuse as his territory. "People come in pretty mad. One guy's been in here three times already because he keeps forgetting to cover up the mirrors," Taylor said. During breeding season, male woodpeckers aggressively defend their turf, even against imaginary foes.

Naked man nabbed in attack on off-duty cop

UNION BEACH, N.J. -- An off-duty police officer out for a jog fought off a sexual assault May 15 from a naked man who jumped out of the woods wearing only a condom, police said. John Dee Kelly, 39, of Jersey City, surrendered to Union Beach police Thursday, eight days after authorities issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of attempted sexual assault and lewdness. Authorities said he works as a vice president for a New York banking corporation.

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