Odd stories in the news

WHAT DOVES?

WHAT DOVES?

We all know the song, but anyone celebrating the 12 days of Christmas would be lucky to see one turtle dove, never mind two.

Although The 12 Days Of Christmas merrily refers to two turtle doves, council staff who work in Nottinghamshire's country parks have warned not to expect to see the chestnut and black-coloured songbird.

Sightings of the dainty bird around the UK in the festive season have become increasingly rare after a range of factors led to a decline in their numbers. In years past they would usually have been seen in the English countryside between April and September for the breeding season - and have migrated by the autumn.

DOWNTON DRINK

Aficionados of period drama Downton Abbey will find the hit series makes them giddy with more than simply excitement - with the launch of a brand of wine.

Devotees can consume the show - not just TV and DVD - with the launch of bottles of "claret" and "blanc". The show follows the lead of acts such as the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, which have launched wines in their name.

The wine was launched in North America last month and has been made available this week to fans in the UK who can now share a tipple. The drinks come from a family-owned winery in the Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux, France.

ART HAUL

A huge haul of Chinese art collected over more than half a century has been bequeathed to the Ashmolean Museum.

More than 400 works were left to the Oxford museum by professor Michael Sullivan on his death earlier this year. Many of them have never been seen in public before.

The professor, a world authority on Chinese art, started amassing the collection with his wife in the 1940s and continued after he retired in 1985 to Oxford. Ashmolean director professor Christopher Brown described the collection as "outstanding."

WHISTLE APP PROTEST

For years, protesters in Thailand have used social media to organise rallies. Now they're taking smartphones to a new level. Apps have been created that allow phones to help protesters perform the high-pitched, raucous noise that is a staple of Thai demonstrations.

More than 70,000 people have downloaded one application that mimics the shrieking sound of a whistle - the symbol of the "whistle-blowing campaign" against prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The new app is called Nok Weed, Thai for whistle, and it lets users choose the colour of their whistle, adjust the volume and then tap the screen to sound it.

It claimed the top spot on Google Play Store's trending list last month within days of its November 4 debut.

FAIR COP

The wife of a police chief in Ohio is serving a 10-day jail sentence for shoplifting. Elaine Freeman, wife of North Ridgeville police chief Mike Freeman admitted stealing from a department store.

She will be under house arrest for another 30 days after she finishes the jail sentence. It was the second time she has been convicted of shoplifting.

Her lawyer says she is undergoing counselling and "feels terrible for what she put her family through". Her husband was reprimanded by the city after he became angry over his wife's arrest.

CROSS MUST GO

A US federal judge says a 43-ft war memorial cross must be removed from the top of a mountain in 90 days because it violates the principle of separation of church and state.

US District Judge Larry Burns said that it is time for the long-running case to end. An appeal court ruled in 2011 that the cross on Mount Soledad, San Diego, violated the Constitution. After the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, the case went back to Judge Burns to consider any alternatives.

He says it might have been a closer call if the federal government was on the verge of transferring the property to a private owner. He says the order to remove the cross would be put on hold if there is an appeal.