Tuesday 23 September 2008

South Africa 2010 - World Cup Mascot revealed


A cuddly leopard with a green afro has been unveiled as the mascot of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The character, called Zakumi, has been given his own biography and name to reflect the country's aims and hopes.

Organisers said the character was 'born' on 16 June, 1994 - the year in which apartheid ended. The date is celebrated as Youth Day to mark the 1976 Soweto uprising when young protesters struck a blow against white rule. At the mascot's introduction at a state TV studio, a performer in a Zakumi costume kicked around a football with Mark Fish, who helped lead South Africa to the African Cup of Nations title in 1996. The first two letters of Zakumi are the country's initials in Afrikaans - one of South Africa's 11 official languages. 'Kumi' means 10 - for the year of the tournament - in many African languages.

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Monday 22 September 2008

Sound as a pound?

The number of counterfeit one pound coins in circulation has doubled in the last five years, a report by the BBC revealed on Monday.

More than 30 million pound coins -- one in every 50 in circulation -- are believed to be fake as organised criminal gangs continue to flood the monetary system.

The illegal coins are generally easy to spot but are so common that it is difficult for many traders who deal in small change to regulate their flow.

In response, the Royal Mint described the counterfeit rate as "a comparatively low incidence of counterfeit coins by international monetary standards.
"It is a criminal offence to make or use counterfeited coins. Any member of the public who suspects they have a counterfeited coin should not attempt to spend it," it said.

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Gurkha's face yet another battle

Gyanendra Rai gazes at the smoke as it curls upwards from the funeral pyre and thins out over the rooftops of Pashuputi Nath, the world's most sacred Hindu temple.

Rai thought of this place when artillery shrapnel chewed into the side of his back and right shoulder while he was fighting for the British army in the Falkland Islands: he imagined his body lying there on the cremation ghat.
On June 11 1982, Lance Corporal Rai - a drummer with the 1st Battalion, 7th Gurkha Rifles - almost lost his life during the final assault on Port Stanley. Seriously injured, he received five pints of blood donated by British soldiers, and the skin that was grafted upon the cavernous hole in his back was taken from one of his fallen comrades.

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Deep green: The environment news quiz

Bored and looking to kill some time? Click the link and have a go at the Guardian Green quiz.

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Rhea loose in Cheshire

Beware on the roads of Cheshire for 'big bird'!  A 5ft Rhea has escaped from a property in Culcheth, Warrington.
It is not dangerous but motorists and cyclists have been warned by local police as it could cause a traffic accident. The rhea, a native of South America is a flightless bird but they do have strong rear legs that have quite a punch. Smaller than an ostridge rheas are only dangerous when they are protecting young and are known to charge at humans.  

If you are lucky enough to spot the rhea please call the Cheshire police 0845 458 0000 or the RSPCA.  Alternatively sign up for our Bolivia Animal sanctuary project to see one in the flesh!

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