x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

French chefs accused of poaching English snails

Plus a trademarked unibrow, Italian authorities nab a mafia Godmother and more of the oddest items from the week in News You Can Lose.

French chefs are accused of poaching English snails so that they can cook them in butter.

Conservationists say there is strong evidence that a population of rare Roman snails living in woodland is being decimated by unscrupulous restaurateurs.

The snails, which can grow to up to 10cm in length, are worth up to Dh6 each on the black market and used as escargot in cuisine.

They have proven easy to catch because they live only in a 30-metre-square patch and because, well, they are snails.

Andy Keay, a conservation volunteer, said he recently caught a poacher with two bulging carrier bags: "I told him he was breaking the law, and I grabbed the bags, and the snails stayed."

 

Unique uni unibrow

A rising basketball star has trademarked his "unibrow".

Anthony Davies, who currently plays for the University of Kentucky, is one of the top prospects of the National Basketball Association draft.

Davies, 19, has filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office his catchphrases "Fear the Brow" and "Raise the Brow."

As a student, rules prevented him from exploiting his eyebrows, but his family say they are now hoping to cash in after his schooling.

His father, Anthony senior, said: "The brow brand is his so we wanted to go ahead and trademark it."

 

Purr-fect mob arrest

A mafia "godmother" known as the "big female kitten" has been arrested by police in Naples.

Raffaellia D'Alterio, 46, is said to have taken over the Planese-D'Alterio family after her husband was murdered by rivals six years ago.

D'Aterio was among 65 suspects rounded up by Italian police and accused of extortion, possessing illegal arms, robbery and drug dealing.

The authorities also seized a red Ferrari with a solid gold number plate that was said to have been a gift from her daughter's boyfriend.

 

Agents aren't packing

Secret service agents protecting François Hollande, the new president of France, are reported to have forgotten to pack their guns on an official visit overseas.

The crack team from the GSPR unit are said to have arrived at the climate conference in Brazil this month, and then realised they had left the firearms at home.

After searching the president's official aircraft from top to bottom, the guns were later found in the president's official residence, the Élysée Palace.

A spokesman admitted the error and said a commander had been fired as a result.

 

1900 not best of times

To mark its 200th birthday, the New England Journal of Medicine has released a comparison between causes of death in 1900 and today.

According to data, the biggest killers were pneumonia, tuberculosis and gastrointestinal infections.

Heart disease and high blood pressure also claimed many lives, as did accidents.

Today, heart disease and cancer cause more than half of all deaths and there are nearly half as many suicides as accidents.

The good news is that the death rate in 1900 was 1,100 per 100,000 of the population. Today it is only 600 per 100,000.