Police enlisted to guard 20ft snowman from teenage thugs

Police have been enlisted to protect a 20ft snowman to stob yobs from destroying it.

Residents in Clough Fold, Lancs., decided to put heavy snowfall in their town to good use by creating a giant sculpture and using it to raise money for an air ambulance service.

An original 12ft snowman was destroyed by drunken teenage thugs, but locals refused to be deterred and built an even bigger snowman in response.

But this time they were taking no chances, enlisting the local police force to keep an eye on the bohemith, which is dressed in a top hat and scarf with flashing red eyes.

Retained fire-fighter Jan Czugalinski said the snowman had become a popular attraction, with people stopping to have their photograph taken next to it and donating to a collection bucket.

She said a milkman who saw yobs destroying the original creation threatened to call police but one cocky teenager responded with: 'What will we get done for? GBH on a snowman?'

'We decided to rebuild it even bigger and guarded it over night,' Ms Czugalinski said.

PC Trevor Syrett said: 'We are keeping a watch on it. It is for a good cause.'

Moroccan referee knocked unconscious by football during match

A referee was rushed to hospital with serious head and neck injuries after being struck on the head by a football during a Moroccan league match.

In the 38th minute of the game between league leaders DHJ El Jadida and struggling FUS Rabat, visiting midfielder Fussiste Souiyat unleashed a ferocious 35-yard half volley at goal.

Despite seeming destined for the net, the shot thudded into official Khalid Ramsis near the edge of the area.

The referee immediately fell to the ground unconscious, causing panic among players and fans alike.

Medics were on hand to perform first aid before moving Ramsis to nearby Mohammed V hospital after an on-pitch delay of almost ten minutes.

Later, the injured official was transferred to a medical department in Casablanca.

I'm allergic to Christmas: Every December when the tree goes up, Lisa goes down with a bout of 'pine flu'

For most of us, putting up the Christmas tree and the decorations is guaranteed to produce festive cheer.

But ever since Lisa Smith was a teenager, she has dreaded the annual tradition - not because she is a Scrooge, but due to a mysterious illness it brings on.

Every Christmas the festivities have coincided with constant sneezes, streaming eyes, a pounding headache and a nose as red as Rudolph's.

She has just had to put up with it, but this year she has finally discovered the reason - she is allergic to Christmas, particularly the pine in trees.

'From the moment the first Christmas trees went up in the shops, I'd plunge into what felt like a constant flu,' said Miss Smith, a swimming instructor.

'Even on Christmas Day, I'd find it impossible to feel excited about opening presents and would sneeze, cough and blow my nose throughout dinner.'

It was her fiancé Phil French, 27, a City worker, who suggested she may be allergic to Christmas.

'I thought this was a ridiculous idea,' she said.

But after research on the Internet she discovered it really was a condition.

Christmas trees are the trigger with their pine needles and strong-smelling sap, but decorations covered in dust from being stored away all year can also cause problems.

She went to her GP who confirmed the diagnosis.

'She said my symptoms mirrored those of a severe hayfever sufferer. She was certain the main trigger was pine sap,' said Miss Smith, 26, from East London.

She is not alone. According to an American study, one in seven people experience some form of respiratory allergy to Christmas trees.

Dr Mike Smith, a specialist in preventative medicine, said: 'Like all plants, live Christmas trees hide mould, contain sap and release spores into the air, which can trigger allergic reactions.'

Miss Smith now avoids real Christmas trees and uses a seawater nasal spray called Sterimar.

She said: 'This will be the first time in over a decade I'll be able to have a normal Christmas.

'It will be a relief to open my presents and have a Christmas dinner without feeling unwell.'

American police detective pulled out his handgun after he was targeted in a snowball fight.

This is the terrifying moment that an American police detective pulled out his handgun after he was targeted in a snowball fight.

Washington police are investigating the incident, when the off-duty officer drew his gun in the midst of the light-hearted battle.

About 200 people from a Washington D.C. neighbourhood had gathered to brave a snowstorm for a massive snowball fight.

'It was pretty fun,' one unidentified participant told reporters. 'But when the gun came out, it just changed the tone of the thing a little bit.'

The plainclothes officer became angry when his car - a maroon Hummer - was hit by snowballs.

He got out of the SUV and yelled at the crowd, before pulling out his gun and showing it to the crowd.

Eyewitness Matthew Bradley told Washington City Paper: 'We showed up to see a snowball fight already in progress. Two factions along 14th Street along the intersection.

'It was pretty friendly, mostly OK. At one point, there was one interaction with the police that I saw. A cop got stuck in the snow. People stopped and helped him out.

'A couple moments later, at the intersection, there was this big maroon Hummer. A small faction of people decided to target it with snowballs. They're throwing snowballs at the Hummer.

'It turns out the driver of the Hummer is a detective. He gets out. He's waving a walkie talkie. It's not going well. Then he starts waving a gun.

'He hadn't identified himself at this point. There was a point where things cooled off a bit, more police showed up, and he identified himself at that point. The name was Detective Baylor.

'There was a point where it got really tense. The experience for many people was snowball fight kind of fun...and then there's a guy with a gun.'

Uniformed police arrived on the scene to investigate reports of a man waving a handgun. The detective only calmed down once his fellow police officers arrived. Later in the incident, the detective went into the crowd and grabbed a man who he thought threw a snowball at him.

Assistant Chief Pete Newsham said: 'We have to see what the entire circumstance was. But just a snowball fight, not in my mind, that doesn't seem a situation where we would pull out a service weapon.'

The officer, who has not been named, has been placed on desk duty pending the results of the investigation.

Boy, 4, lucky to be alive after he is crushed between two escalators

A four-year-old boy had his young age to thank after surviving a horrifying accident that saw him crushed between two escalators.

Doctors said that had Stevie Webb been older, his neck would have been snapped when he was bent double in the foot-wide gap between two ramp-style travelators.

The incident occurred when Stevie's mother turned her back and he sneaked between the two walkways, which were moving in opposite directions, in the Savacentre in Colliers Wood, south-west London.

In seconds his clothes were caught and Stevie was whipped round backwards so hard his head was level with his ankles.

His horrified mother hit the machine's emergency stop button before dragging him free with the help of a friend.

The force of the impact and twisting motion left Stevie with discoloured eyes and face because blood vessels burst under the skin.

Doctors told Stevie's parents that had their son been any older, and his bones more set, the force of the accident would have snapped his neck.

It is expected to take at least a month for Stevie's complexion to return to normal.

An investigation has now been launched at the Savacentre.

Stevie's father Darren Webb, 39, from Mitcham, Surrey, said his son's injuries were so severe he resembled the blue-purple alien characters from the film 'Avatar'.

He said: 'It's left him looking like an extra out of that new Avatar film. He doesn't have any white left in his eyes and it could be months until the colour in his face goes back to normal.

'The doctors said he'd been incredibly lucky because his neck and body were so contorted. It's only because he's so young and supple that his neck didn't break.'

Mr Webb was in the centre's car park waiting to pick up his family when the accident happened. He immediately rushed unconscious Stevie to St George's Hospital, Tooting, less than a mile away.

But Mr Webb said he was planning on taking legal action against the centre after its manager refused to take responsibility for the accident, claiming the boy's mother was not watching him at the time.

Mr Webb, who has spoken to centre manager Eric Sante and watched CCTV footage of the accident, said: 'I'll put my hands up and agree my child was playing while his mum's back was turned - but four-year-olds do that sort of thing.

'There was no kind of protection or barrier to stop this from happening but the shopping centre manager still wants to make out that this is our fault.

'It's unbelievable - my son nearly died.'

Mr Sante said: 'Mr Webb came in on Monday screaming and demanding to see CCTV footage which we let him do.

'I sat him down and apologised but told him I was in no position to accept responsibility for what happened.'

He added the CCTV footage showed Stevie playing next to the travelator while his mother was on the phone.

The incident has already been referred to the shopping centre's legal team.

MB Trust, which manages the area where the walkways operate, said it was officially checked twice a year and the most recent check was in November.

Juliet Bray, marketing director of MB Real Estate, an arm of MB Trust, said: 'It's a horrible incident and I can't imagine how upsetting it must have been for the parents and the little boy.

'I'm confident that we've done what is needed to make it safe. I'm very moved and I know that all of my colleagues are too and they will take every step necessary to make sure this doesn't happen again.'

The travelator is situated near to the shopping centre's Sainsbury's store.

A Sainsbury's spokesman said: 'We would like to express our sympathies to the Webb family for this incident. We have been in contact with MB Real Estate who confirmed that they are taking every possible step to prevent something like this happening again.

'As soon as our colleagues at the store were made aware of the accident they began to give first aid and also called an ambulance.'

Drunk boy, 4, found in street at 1.45am sipping a beer, wearing a dress he'd stolen from under neighbour's Christmas tree

A drunken four-year-old boy was found in the middle of the night wearing a little girl's dress he had stolen from beneath his neighbour's Christmas tree.

Hayden Wright was discovered in the street outside his Tennessee home at 1.45am sipping from a freshly opened can of beer.

The youngster's mother, 21-year-old April Wright, claimed he had broken through a childproof door to escape her house in Chattanooga.

Hayden rang the doorbell of a house a few doors down from his, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office report.

He then broke into another house through an unlocked front door and stole five Christmas gifts from under their tree.

One of the presents was a brown dress, which the boy was wearing when police found him.

Mrs Wright said she woke up at 1.45am and panicked when she realised her son was missing.

'[The] biggest concern was him being out there, getting kidnapped, getting run over, the alcohol, having to have his stomach pumped,' Wright told NewsChannel 9.

Wright is in the midst of divorcing her husband, who is currently in jail. She suggests he is partially to blame.

'[Hayden] runs away trying to find his father,' Wright said. 'He wants to get in trouble so he can go to jail because that's where his daddy is.'

Hayden was treated for alcohol consumption at a nearby hospital.

'He got [the beer] out of my father's cooler in the back and how he got it open I don't understand because it was one of those tab beers,' his mother explained.

Child protective services have told Wright she can keep custody of her child.

Iraqi fighters use £15 software to hack into spy plane footage

The Pentagon has closed a security breach that allowed insurgents to hack into data feeds from pilotless 'drone' aircraft that provide real-time video of war zones, a US defense official said on Thursday.

The comments followed a report in the Wall Street Journal that revealed Shi'ite fighters in Iraq used software that cost as little as £15 ($26) to intercept the video feeds, potentially allowing them to monitor US military operations.

'It is an old issue that was addressed and fixed,' a US defense official said when asked about the article.

The article said US military personnel in Iraq discovered the problem last year after apprehending a Shi'ite insurgent who had digital files of drone video feeds on his laptop. More files were found on other militants' laptops in July.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman declined to discuss details of the article, or intelligence matters more broadly. But he defended the expanding use of drone aircraft in Iraq and Afghanistan, which provide 'eyes in the sky' to track enemy movements and keep US troops out of harm's way.

'Every capability comes with its advantages, disadvantages, benefits as well as potential weaknesses,' Whitman said.

'As you develop those (technologies) you have to be mindful of how the enemy can counteract any technology that you have.

'That's why you always have a constant review process in place to not only improve that capability but address any vulnerabilities it may have.'

Publicly-traded companies that manufacture the pilotless drone aircraft and sensors include Lockheed Martin Corp.

Knife woman shot by U.S. police after walking into school playground

A woman was shot dead by American police after walking into a primary school playground wielding a big knife, it emerged today.

She was hitting herself over the head with what appeared to be either a large butcher knife or meat cleaver, witnesses said.

‘It was really scary, she was like bleeding to death,’ said Devin Walski, 11, who was ordered indoors by worried teachers at the school in Modesto, California.

‘I was afraid for all my friends in my classroom, and the little kids,’ added Devin, who had been walking to a music lesson when the drama began.

When police arrived minutes later, the unnamed woman, who is in her 50s, allegedly charged two of the officers.

At least one of the officers pulled out a gun and shot her.

Witnesses heard four shots fired but police did not reveal how many times she was hit.

She was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The school, which was put under lockdown at 2pm yesterday when the woman was seen, was not opened again until more than an hour afterwards.

At that point, children were led out of the classrooms in groups to their parents who were waiting for them in front of Catherine Everett Elementary School.

‘I was hoping it wasn’t this school,’ said Rhiannon Green, describing her fears as she drove to pick up her two sons, ages 9 and 5, at Everett Elementary. ‘

I just want my kids out.’

Police Sergeant Brian Findlen credited teachers with ‘quickly locking down and getting students into locked classrooms.’

Police did not know what connection, if any, she may have had with the school.

The officers who opened fire have been placed on routine paid administrative leave while Modesto police and the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office investigate.

No students or staff members at Catherine Everett Elementary School were injured in the incident.

Girl arrives in Israel to find security officers have shot her MacBook

Tightened airport security is something most of us have grown accustomed to when travelling abroad.

But imagine one girl's surprise upon arriving in Israel and being told that Israeli security officers had put three bullets in her MacBook.

According to her blog, 'Lilysussman' arrived in Israel where she was questioned and searched for about two hours.

'They had pressed every sock and scarf with a security device, ripped open soap and had me strip extra layers,' she wrote.

The intrepid traveller was then told to wait. 'Since they had asked for friends' and families' phone numbers I assumed they might be calling to verify my answers to questions or confirm I really had extended family in Tel Aviv,' she wrote.

According to the blog, an announcement was then made in Hebrew, Arabic and English, which Lilysussman understood as saying: 'Do not to be alarmed by gunshots because the Israeli security needs to blow up suspicious passenger luggage.'

After a few moments Lilysussman said a man came outside and introduced himself as the manager on duty, saying, 'I’m sorry but we had to blow up your laptop.'

The laptop had in fact been shot three times, but the hard drive was miraculously undamaged.

According to Lilysussman's blog, the officers have agreed to replace the laptop.

Holy cow! Is white cross on calf’s forehead a divine sign from above?

A calf has been born with a white marking on its forehead in the shape of a cross.

Jersey Holstein calf Moses caused a stir with his appearance on a dairy farm in Sterling, Rhode Island.

His owner, Brad Davis, told WFSB-TV that he believes the marking may be a message from above – but admitted he was not sure what that message may be.

Following the calf’s birth on December 1, Davis admitted he hadn’t noticed the cross at first, but was stunned when he did.

The 45-year-old said: ‘I almost fell over. I felt like I should be on my knees.’

Although it is not unusual for Holstein cows to have white markings on their heads, the cross shape is agreed to be unique by livestock experts.

Jesus on an iron

The Lord, it appears, is not only always with us - He can also help make sure we've got a nicely ironed shirt at the same time.

Or so reckons Mary Jo Coady, who spotted this likeness of Jesus Christ on the burnt bottom of her old iron.

Mrs Coady, 44, from Massachusetts, immediately told her two daughters. 'They were like, "Mom, that's Jesus looking at us",' she said.

The medical secretary said her faith had been renewed by the find, which reassured her that 'life is going to be good'.

And, unlike many people who try to cash in by selling 'images' of Christ they have spotted on anything from a potato crisp to a dirty window, Mrs Coady intends to keep her old iron - and buy a new one for everyday use.