CHRISTMAS INFLATABLES FLY OFF SHELVES
There are still plenty of icicle lights decorating houses nationwide, as well as wire deer grazing on lawns, but the hot decoration this Christmas is the "giant holiday inflatable."
While some call it "the Macy's balloon look," retailers such as Hecht's and Rite Aid say the inflatables are flying off the shelves, reports the New York Times.
Many homes are happy with a single 12-foot Bart Simpson Santa while others are sprouting the entire line of inflatable Santas, nutcrackers, snowmen, penguins and Grinches -- crowding yards as if at a holiday cocktail party.
ELEPHANTS LOOT TRUCKS
Hungary elephants in Thailand have developed a strategy to hijack trucks carrying sugarcane, Britain's Sky News reports.
Dry-season shortages in rural Thailand have forced 130 elephants from Ang Lue wildlife sanctuary to seek food and water in nearby villages.
The head of the sanctuary, Yoo Senatham, tells the Bangkok Post the animals had learned to pick up sugarcane dropped by drivers sympathetic to the elephants' plight.
However, the elephants now have figured out how to have one elephant block the road while the others looted the truck's contents.
BRITISH TEENS SLATED TO BE SICK ADULTS
The drinking, eating, sexual, drug-taking and smoking habits of adolescents in Britain will make today's teens the most obese and infertile adults in the history of mankind, researchers say.
"Young people in Britain are increasingly likely to be overweight, indulge in binge drinking, have a sexually transmitted infection and suffer mental health problems," says Dr. Vivienne Nathanson of the British Medical Association.
A study, published in Adolescent Health, says part of the problem is that teens don't get much medical attention because they are neither children nor adults, the London Daily Telegraph reports.
"Access to services is key, Nathanson says. "Do we really expect a 15-year-old boy with gonorrhea to take time off school to visit his GP and talk about his sex life?"
CITY-DWELLERS FARM ON WEEKENDS
As in other countries, farmers in Japan find it increasingly difficult to make a living and their children are lured to the city. There is, however, a new kind of farmer emerging.
A growing band of urbanites are renting fields to grow rice as a hobby. It's a way of coping with the stress of city life, the BBC reports.
Harvesting rice is back breaking work but whole families from Tokyo travel on the weekend to cut the stalks by hand with a scythe and gather them into neat sheaths.
"We don't get much contact with nature in Tokyo so this is a good opportunity for us to feel the soil," says weekend farmer Osamu Takano. "It's great for the children's education too."