Events Guide
Dates for your diary
An odd assortment

By Kim O’Hare

When you’re rushing about getting ready for the Holiday season, it’s easy to lose perspective. What you need is a diversion. Here are a few stories from around the world intended to relieve the pre-holiday stress.

While December means Christmas for many of us, in Thailand it’s election time. One candidate has come up with a new tactic, using Viagra instead of cash to buy votes. The allegation, made by a rival campaign worker, comes as rules about handing out favours to voters have become stricter than ever. The candidate in question is apparently focussing on older voters. If found guilty, he could end up doing hard time.

A homeless man thought he was doing some good by standing at a supermarket for 10 hours a day to get shoppers to donate money into a red Salvation Army kettle. The shelter where Paul Tucker lives doesn’t see it that way.

The Good Samaritan Haven ordered him out by Saturday, saying that Tucker, 48, is spending his time raising money for the needy instead of finding a place to live or looking for work. The 20-bed shelter offers emergency housing, clothing and food, and requires clients to leave each day at 7 a.m. to look for housing or go to work. 

Yes, there really is a Grinch.

Roast Turkey and chicken are staples of the holiday season. More than two decades after Aaron Giles lost his identity bracelet, a meat cutter in Minnesota came across the shiny object in a chicken gizzard.

The butcher saw a name, address and phone number engraved on it. Giles had lived in the area as a child and played hide-and-seek and other games with his brothers in their grandfather’s barn.  The 31-year-old said he thinks the bracelet was lost when he was four or five years old.

The barn was dismantled a few years ago, and Giles thinks his bracelet was imbedded in materials used to construct another barn, about 45 miles away. The bracelet was found in a chicken that came from an Elmore farm. pictureReward: $10,000 for a parrot with a New York Accent. The African gray parrot named Franklin disappeared from a pet boarding facility in Manhattan the day before Thanksgiving.

Owner Leigh Ann Frankel said: “Franklin is my child. Every day he wakes up and says, ‘Hi mommy, how are ya?’” she said. She’s hoping to have the bird back by Christmas.

Now that’s spare change - Salvation Army volunteers in Arizona were doing a routine count of donations dropped into area bell-ringers’ kettles when they came across a $50 gold coin. 

The one coin - a 1998 American Eagle containing an ounce of gold worth about $800 – was from an anonymous donor who had placed the coin in a small envelope and dropped it in a kettle outside a Kmart.

Mary Moran figures she’ll turn that 3ft stump in her front yard into a Christmas statement of sorts. Moran awoke recently to find that a long-needled pine the family had decorated for years had been cut down and stolen during the night.

The family planted the pine 10 years ago, and it had grown to arouynd 20ft. An arborist valued the tree at as much as $1,500. “I’m probably going to string the lights around the base of it and just light the base of it,” she said.

A Chilean prostitute has auctioned 27 hours of sex to raise money for the country’s largest charity during an annual fund-raising campaign.

Maria Carolina became an overnight celebrity in the conservative Roman Catholic country, making news headlines and appearing on talk shows since she made her unusual donation to the televised charity event, which runs for 27 hours.

“I’ve already auctioned off the 27 hours of love,” Maria Carolina told reporters , saying she had raised about $4,000. “One of my clients already paid. It seemed like a good deed to him.” Adult prostitution is legal in Chile.

Cactus Cantina