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Police mistake guinea pig warmth for cannabis growth

James Langton rounds up the offbeat news of the week you may have missed.

Police have been forced to apologise for raiding the home of a 10-year-old boy after they mistook the infrared footprint of a heater for his pet guinea pigs as a cannabis farm.

Six officers in three vehicles descended on the house of Jack Hardcastle in Bradford, England, after sensors on a police helicopter detected heat coming from the garage.

Instead of drugs, they found the hutch of Simon and Kenny, the family guinea pigs. Mrs Pam Hardcastle, who works in a primary school, had put the heater on because she was worried the animals would get cold.

A police spokesman apologised for the mistake but added: "The majority of operations of this nature are intelligence-based and often rely upon swift action."

God bless you?

An Italian man accidentally shot in the head during New Year celebrations in Naples has sneezed the bullet out of his nose.

Darco Sangermano, 28, was hit in the temple by the bullet and taken to hospital for treatment. While waiting to be seen by doctors he sneezed violently and the bullet came out of his right nostril.

Guns are traditionally fired into the air during festivities in the Italian city.

Mr Sangermano was operated on to remove bone splinters around his eye and is making a good recovery.

Reward offer for lost dog

A Canadian couple who lost their Bernese mountain dog have offered to name their firstborn after whoever finds it.

Dan and Sara Cannon have been searching for the dog, Molly Jane, and suspect she may have been stolen.

Mrs Cannon is expecting the couple's first child in three weeks and does not know its sex yet.

She said: "There are some strange names out there, but Molly's that important to us so we'll consider what we have to consider."

Green blob is a star-spitter

A mysterious green blob has been discovered to be spitting out newborn stars.

Named Hanny's Voorwerp , or "object", after the Dutch teacher who first identified it, the blob, estimated to be 100,000 light years in diameter, is believed to be composed of hydrogen gas. It was spotted by the Hubble space telescope.

The object surrounds a black hole and is about 750,000 million light years from Earth.

As parts of the blob collapse, they create what Bill Keep, the astronomer at the University of Alabama who examined it, calls "very lonely newborn stars … in the middle of nowhere".

It's Siberia; it's cold

A German cyclist who was hospitalised with frostbite while attempting to cross Siberia explained that he did not realise it would be so cold.

Sven Riedel, a mechanic who does not speak Russian, was overcome in temperatures of -35°C while trying to ride the 300km from Ulan-Ude to Lake Baikal.

Mr Riedel, 37, said he had always wanted to see the lake, but added: "I didn't think it would be so cold."

Doctors said at first that they feared they would have to amputate his fingers, but they managed to save them.


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