Offbeat
Latest stories
The Shy Kiwi who Stunned Francophone Scrabble Lovers

Scrabble lovers tend to alight on similar words when describing Nigel Richards, the New Zealander who this week won the word game's francophone world championship even though he cannot speak any French.

"Freak" comes up a lot, along with "elusive", "enigmatic" and, the highest-scoring of all, "amazing". He is also, ironically, described as "a man of few words".

W140 Full Story
College Librarian in China Admits he Replaced Art with Fakes

A former chief librarian at a Chinese university admitted in court Tuesday to stealing more than 140 paintings by grandmasters in a gallery under his watch and replacing them with fakes he painted himself.

For two years up until 2006, Xiao Yuan substituted famous works including landscapes and calligraphies in a gallery within the library of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts.

W140 Full Story
Swiss Army Moo-ves out to Keep Cows Cool during Heat Wave

Cows sizzling under Switzerland's summer sun are getting help from an unexpected ally: the Swiss army.

Soldiers have been ordered to help keep cows in the far west of the country cool amid a weeklong heat wave. Army spokesman Urs Mueller says troops are erecting eight artificial reservoirs in the Jura mountains to supply cows with drinking water.

W140 Full Story
Northern NY Tax Collector Accused of Falsifying her own Bill

A tax collector in northern New York has been arrested on allegations she falsified her own tax records to avoid paying up.

The state comptroller's office says its audit and investigation led to nine charges of tampering with public records against Michelle Sheppard, the town clerk and tax collector in DePeyster (dee-POY'-ster).

W140 Full Story
Romanian Music Fest Gives Free Tickets in Exchange for Blood

Romania is tapping into the Dracula legend, offering concert-goers free tickets in exchange for their blood.

The campaign is part of a push to increase blood donations in a country where only 1.7 percent of the people donate blood.

W140 Full Story
Teams on the Thames Count the Monarch's Swans

Teams of census-takers took to the River Thames on Monday for the colorful annual count of Queen Elizabeth II's swans — a blend of science and ceremony that dates to the 12th century.

By tradition, the monarch owns all the swans found in Britain's open waters, and the event assesses their overall well-being.

W140 Full Story
Brisk Business for Drug Baron T-Shirts after Escape

Ballads glorifying Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's daring jailbreak were composed shortly after his escape. Now T-shirts and hats featuring the Mexican drug kingpin's face are flying off the shelves.

The fashion line features a wanted poster with the multimillion dollar bounty, an image of Guzman escaping prison with a bag of cash, and his face with the words "Boss" in the same red and blue design as U.S. President Barack Obama's famous campaign poster.

W140 Full Story
Russian Cheese Smuggler Was up to No Gouda

Russian customs officials said Monday they had foiled a bid to smuggle nearly half a ton of cheese into the country from the European Union, whose food is subject to retaliatory sanctions.

A man attempted to drive from Poland into the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad with 460 kilograms of cheese stuffed in the trunk and backseat of his car, the customs service said.

W140 Full Story
Cheating Website Ashley Madison Hacked for User Data

The adultery website Ashley Madison said Monday that customers' data had been stolen by hackers and said the breach had been fixed, though media reports said users' information had been briefly posted online.

Avid Life Media, which owns Ashley Madison, said an "unauthorized party" was able to gain access to the data through various unauthorized points on the website.

W140 Full Story
Beijing Police Detain 4 for Sex Video that Spread Online

Four people have been detained in connection with a sex video purportedly taken inside a Uniqlo fitting room that spread rapidly online, Beijing police said.

They were detained on suspicion of spreading obscene content, according to a police statement late Sunday. Police said they were still investigating the couple who can be seen in the cellphone video apparently having sex in the Japanese retailer's flagship Beijing store.

W140 Full Story