Zambian president left pee-ved off after monkey urinates on him

A monkey urinated on Zambian President Rupiah Banda as he spoke to journalists at a news conference in the capital Lusaka yesterday.

Banda shouted: 'You (monkey) have urinated on my jacket,' and paused as he looked up to see the animal playing in a tree just above his chair.

He joked: 'I will give this monkey for lunch to Mr Sata', referring to opposition leader Michael Sata, who Banda defeated in last year's elections.

Perhaps these are blessings,' he said continuing his address amid laughter from the audience of journalists and diplomats at the State House presidential offices.

Banda has been addressing the economic downturn and was reassuring Zambians about the falling prices for the country's main export, copper.

It is not know if there are any superstitions in the country relating monkey urine to good fortune.

Several monkeys play around the grounds of Banda's residence and his office.

There are also many species of antelope and birds in the State House grounds.

Motorists to be repaid £1.5m in fines over illegal speed trap

Nearly 25,000 motorists are to be repaid £1.5million in fines after it emerged that a speed camera was operating illegally for ten years.

After admitting the embarrassing blunder, officials will have to track down every driver wrongly caught by the camera.

As well has being paid back the fines, the 24,899 drivers will also have their three penalty points revoked.

Drivers who lost their licence and their job could be in line for compensation.

The error occurred in 1997 on paperwork used to establish the exact position of the speed camera in the village of Chideock in Dorset.

The paperwork said the camera, which policed a 30mph zone, was a certain distance from Seatown Road, when it should have said Duck Street.

The error meant the speed limit was invalid - and the speed camera could not police it. The blunder went unnoticed until a judge spotted it during a speeding case in 2007. The driver won the case as a result.

The Dorset Safety Camera Partnership has spent the past two years consulting with the Government as to whether the ruling applied to all other cases. Yesterday officials admitted it did.

Alan Dawe, the 55-year-old lorry driver whose case uncovered the error, said officials should have confessed to the blunder sooner.

'They just didn't want to admit they had got it wrong,' he added.

The portrait of Vladimir Putin as a woman which got artist arrested by secret service

A Russian artist was arrested by the secret service after depicting prime minister Vladimir Putin as a woman.

Painter Alexander Shednov, also known as Shurik, portrayed the former president in a tight, low-cut dress with long hair and large hoop earrings.

He said the image was a protest against Putin - who fosters a reputation as a strongman - trying to return to the Kremlin for a third presidential term.

In the top left hand corner of the picture Shednov shows his subject saying: 'Oh I don't know - a third Presidential term? It is a bit too much....on the other hand, three is a charm.'

The artist had attempted to beam the portrait onto the main administrative building in Voronezh, his home city, on Russian Independence Day last Friday.

But Shednov's endeavour did not go down well with the FSB, which replaced the KGB as Russia's intelligence agency.

He was arrested by counter-intelligence officials, claims he was questioned for seven hours and beaten.

Friends said his flat had also been searched and some of his paintings removed.

Shednov now faces a charge of inappropriate behaviour and is due before a court.

Critics will see it as the latest evidence of intolerance by the authorities to harmless protests and freedom of expression in Russia.

There is no legal obstacle to Putin standing for a third term in office if the current president Dmitry Medvedev stands aside or in the next scheduled election in 2012.

Pictured: Horse and rider in terrifying fall at international show

This dramatic picture shows the moment a horse and rider were caught in a frightening synchronised fall at an international show.

Rider Faith Cook suffered a back injury when her horse, Nagor de la Roche, fell at the final water jump at the Bramham International Horse Trials in Wetherby, West Yorkshire at the weekend.

A spokesman for the trials said Cook, of Oxfordshire, who was competing in the under-25 section, was being treated at Leeds General Infirmary but it was too early to say whether she would make a full recovery.

Don't give me a long stretch: 7ft 4in man admits car crimes but fears he'll be picked on in prison

A 7ft 4in criminal begged a judge not to send him to jail - because he is too tall.

Christopher Lister said he feared being bullied over his height by other prisoners.

The 21-year-old, who is registered disabled, also suffers from back pain without a bed and doorways tailored to his frame.

But his pleas were in vain and he was jailed for 11 months for a string of vehicle-related offences.

Richard Wright, representing him, told the court that prison would be difficult for Lister 'not just because of his health, which is linked to his size, but you know the type of environment that exists in prison and you know that those who stand out are prone to bullying and intimidation.

'There is a real concern for him in that regard.'

Leeds Crown Court heard that on November 26 last year Lister provided a stolen van which was used in a house burglary in the Armley area of the city.

Peter Moulson, prosecuting, said a £1,800 television was stolen and loaded into the rear of the Citroen van but the vehicle got stuck outside the premises and could not be moved.

An eyewitness saw Lister and others running off and the stolen property was recovered.

Lister was arrested and bailed with a curfew while inquiries were made. But in April this year he committed two offences of interfering with motor vehicles.

One was a write-off because of the damage caused.

Lister admitted handling a stolen van, burglary, driving while disqualified and with no insurance, and two charges of interfering with vehicles.

He also admitted being in breach of a suspended six-month sentence, again for dangerous driving and driving while disqualified, when he was involved in a police chase last June at speeds of up to 100mph which ended in a collision with the police car.

Jailing Lister on Wednesday, Recorder Paul Miller said: 'Your unhealthy obsession with motor vehicles has led you to a bad position today.

'It is clear not all your problems are of your own making but you are an adult now and responsible for your actions. I hope this is a turning point for you.'

Lister, who is just three inches shorter than Britain's tallest man, described his difficulties in a TV documentary two years ago.

His parents Anita and Dave spent more than £20,000 adapting their Leeds home for him, opening doorways to the ceiling, and spending more than £1,000 on a special 7ft 6in bed.

He had hoped to train as a mechanic but found he could not work under vehicles, while his growth left him with constant back pain as his spine elongated.

Time for our close-up: The astonishing blue-eyed gaze of the twin panther cubs

Meet Larisa and Sipura, the newborn panther twins that were introduced to the world in Berlin yesterday.

Still smaller than a domestic housecat, their black fur is sleek and their bright blue-green eyes stare unflinchingly at the cameras.

The pair, both female, were born on April 26 at the Tierpark Zoo in Berlin.

Black panther cubs are born with their eyes closed, not opening them until about ten days after the birth.

They do not gain enough mobility to move around until two or three weeks after the birth - and do not start to eat meat until they are nearly three months old.

Their permanent canine teeth do not come in until the age of one - and by the age of two panthers in the wild are usually independent of their mothers.

In the wild black panthers usually live for up to twelve years - but, born in captivity, Larisa and Sipura may grow to be 20 years old.

The term 'black panther' can be confusing, with scientists agreeing it does not refer to a specific sub-species of big cat.

Most generally, the term refers to any type of big cat with a black coat - though the only scientifically recognised definitions are a black leopard and a black jaguar.

The human iPod: Derek Paravicini is blind and severely disabled yet can master any song after hearing it once... What is his secret?

Thirty years ago, Derek Paravicini was within a heartbeat of death. No other baby born in the Royal Berkshire Hospital 14 weeks prematurely had ever survived. His twin sister was dead at birth.

When Derek came along a few minutes later, the doctor presumed that he, too, could not possibly live. And yet, and yet... just when his mother Mary Ann had given up hope, she heard the faintest of whimpers, the tiniest of muffled squeaks. He had made it.

Three decades on, Derek no longer makes muffled squeaks. Instead, he brings a rapt audience in St George’s concert theatre, Bristol, to their feet again and again, with a dazzling range of music — an Oscar Peterson arrangement of Greensleeves, his own version of Bach’s Air in the key of G, a jaunty ragtime taste of Debussy.

You’ll have heard of perfect pitch. Well, Derek has absolute pitch — a rare gift, meaning that, when he hears a chord with ten notes in it, he can identify every one. Most professional musicians can get about five.

He can master any melody on earth, has a databank of thousands of songs in his head and can play any one of them at will, improvising as he goes.

One member of the audience asks him to play Ain’t No Sunshine. Another suggests that he play it in B major. And another, that it’s done in ragtime. No problem — without a pause, his fingers flutter across the keyboard in a hummingbird blur of staggering virtuosity.

‘Goodnight Sweetheart,’ shouts out someone from the back row. In C sharp, in the style of theatre composer Jerome Kern. And so it goes on, for two hours of riotous shared joy, the latest chapter in an uplifting tale of rare talent locked in a damaged brain.

Because he was born so early, Derek is blind. The oxygen used to revive him at birth caused certain vessels in his eyes to grow abnormally, damaging his retinas, in a condition called retinopathy of prematurity.

As he is blind, he cannot read music — he can’t even read Braille. The whole of tonight’s performance — his and the orchestra’s — is encapsulated entirely within his head.

Despite his music gift, Derek’s verbal skills are limited. His English is well-spoken, clear and loud, but his capacity for thought does not stretch far.

He is an echolaliac, meaning that he echoes what you say to him, turning your question into a statement.

‘Do you know Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Derek?’ I ask.

‘Yes, I know Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Harry.’

‘Are you looking forward to playing in London?’

‘Yes, I am looking forward to playing in London, Harry.’

There are flashes of humour. At a recent recital in 11 Downing Street, hosted by Alistair Darling, Derek launched, unbidden, into a version of Big Spender. At an earlier concert at No10, he coaxed Cherie Blair into singing along to The Beatles’ When I’m 64.

Usually, though, Derek’s thoughts dwell on the immediate future and no further. ‘Where will we go after the concert, Adam?’ he asks Adam Ockelford, the Professor of Music at Roehampton University, who has taught Derek for 26 years. ‘Can we have fish and chips?’

This short-term view of life means he barely suffers from nerves. Half an hour before tonight’s concert started, he asked Roger Huckle, the artistic director of the Emerald Ensemble, what they were going to do that evening. On being told that he was going to play a concert, he said calmly: ‘Yes, let’s do a concert.’

For someone so handicapped, it is a godsend that his hidden talent was unleashed at all. Much of the credit goes to his nanny, Winifred Daly, who died 12 years ago.

She had looked after several generations of Derek’s mother’s side of the family — the Parker Bowleses, as in Camilla. Derek’s mother, born Mary Ann Parker Bowles, is sister to Andrew Parker Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall’s ex-husband. It was Winifred Daly who first spotted something unusual in Derek.

Looking for a diversion to occupy the blind 20-month-old, she dragged down a small electric organ from the attic of the Paravicini home in Berkshire; the organ had belonged to Derek’s grandfather, Derek Parker Bowles, after whom he was named.

To begin with, Derek used a jumble of fists, palms and knuckles to knock the living daylights out of the keyboard. Gradually, though, with no tuition, he started moving his hands in synch, up and down the keys. Soon he was forming chords, until one day, his older sister, Libbet, came rushing into her parents’ sitting room and announced: ‘Quick, quick, come and see, Derek’s playing that hymn we sang in church.’

What had happened? How had he magically summoned up the capacity to produce music from within his damaged brain? ‘His fascination with abstract patterns of sound, those thousands of hours spent simply listening during the first 20 months of his life, largely uncontaminated by understanding, had caused millions of special neuronal connections to form,’ says Professor Ockelford. ‘And it was those connections that now lay behind the emergence of a precocious musicality.’

If it was Winifred Daly whose love — and repeated singing and talking in the nursery — sparked off Derek’s talents, it was Professor Ockelford who harnessed them and moulded them into concert-worthy form.

‘The man is a saint,’ says Derek’s father, Nic Paravicini, a banker who now lives in Wales. ‘I tried to pay him and he refused. I had to force petrol money on him.’

They first met at Linden Lodge — the school for the blind attended by the celebrated jazz pianist George Shearing in the 1920s. Professor Ockelford taught Derek conventional musical techniques and untaught his unconventional ones — in particular his desire to play music as loudly as possible.

Still today, in Bristol, the professor is at Derek’s side, gently cueing his intros and tapping him on the back, encouraging him to take a bow when the audience erupts once more.

In time, news of Derek’s exceptional talent spread. At seven, he gave his first concert in Tooting Leisure Centre in South London. At nine, he was on the Wogan show.

At ten, he was presented with a Barnardo’s Children’s Champion Award by Diana, Princess of Wales. She was unruffled by the fact that he was Camilla Parker Bowles’s nephew, even though her marriage was on the rocks at the time. When Derek suggested playing Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off, she laughed uproariously.

In recent years, he has played at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Las Vegas and has accompanied Jools Holland. He has appeared in two documentaries about genius savants, and the show I attended was being filmed by the popular American show 60 Minutes, on CBS. Now he is embarking on his first tour with a 20-piece orchestra.

After 26 years of tuition, Derek’s playing style is much more traditional. But still Professor Ockelford is trying to work out exactly how his genius works. ‘Recent research has revealed that only one in 10,000 babies who are born at term have absolute pitch, but 40 per cent born prematurely have it,’ says the professor. ‘So there is a link. And it seems that all the brain capacity that would have gone elsewhere, into verbal reasoning or social skills, is transferred to music.’

Certainly, Derek’s emotional capacity is limited. When his beloved nanny Winifred Daly was on her death bed, she said to Professor Ockelford: ‘He won’t miss me, you know.’

She appears to have been largely right. He remembers Winifred, but has not cried over her. He very rarely cries — and then it will be over physical pain — and he has no self-indulgence. ‘He never says he’s ill,’ says his stepmother, Suki Paravicini (Derek’s parents divorced when he was five, and have each since remarried.) ‘All he’ll say, very politely, is: “Can I have a Lemsip?”’

His playing, though, has grown more emotional. Professor Ockelford has determined that Derek is not just a human iPod who can replay exactly what he has heard after listening to it once. Instead, he initially recreates pieces by recalling crucial fragments and reassembling them as he plays.

If a piece is too long or complicated for him to absorb at one sitting, he is inventive when he plays it back, reordering the snatches that he can remember, borrowing snippets from pieces with a similar stylistic pedigree or making up new material.

Whatever magic is going on in his head, certainly it is when he is at the piano that he is most at ease. As he comes on stage, led by Professor Ockelford, his steps are hesitant. His hands clutch at his trousers, fingers twisting the cloth.

And then, as he sits down, his hands reach out for the keys. As soon as his fingers hit the ivories, the hands relax. His head sometimes sways with the music, much like those other blind pianists Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles.

At other times, his head is still, his sightless gaze fixed in the direction of the hammers of the Steinway, furiously striking away to Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. He is doing what he was born to do.

The cloud with no name: Meteorologists campaign to classify unique 'Asperatus' clouds seen across the world

Whipped into fantastical shapes, these clouds hang over the darkening landscape like the harbingers of a mighty storm.

But despite their stunning and frequent appearances, the formations have yet to be officially recognised with a name.

They have been seen all over Britain in different forms - from Snowdonia to the Scottish Highlands - and in other parts of the world such as New Zealand, but usually break up without producing a storm.

And some experts believe the stormy weather phenomenon deserves its very own classification.

Experts at the Royal Meteorological Society are now attempting to make it official by naming it 'Asperatus' after the Latin word for 'rough'.

If they are successful, it would be the first variety of cloud formation to be given a new label in over half a century

'It is a bit like looking at the surface of a choppy sea from below,' said Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, who identified the cloud from photographs sent in by members.

'We try to identify and classify all of the images of clouds we get in, but there were some that just didn't seem to fit in any of the other categories, so I began to think it might be a unique type of cloud.'

He added: 'The underside of the clouds are quite rough and choppy. It looks very stormy, but some of the reports we have been getting suggest that they tend to break up without actually turning into a storm.'

The Royal Meteorological Society is now gathering detailed information for the days and locations where the asperatus clouds have been seen in an attempt to understand exactly what is causing them.

Officials will then apply to the UN's World Meteorological Organisation in Geneva to have the new cloud type considered for addition into the International Cloud Atlas, the system used by meteorologists across the globe.

Professor Paul Hardaker, Chief Executive of the RMS, said: 'There would probably need to be quite a lot of heat around to produce the energy needed to generate such dramatic cloud formations.

'They are quite dark structures so there must be a lot of water vapour condensing in the cloud.'