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World Cup 2010: Paul the psychic octopus ‘could transfer to Spain’ after bidding war

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Red letter day: fans in down town Madrid celebrate.Photo: REUTERS

Madrid zoo announced a transfer bid for the oracle octopus, which became a worldwide sensation after correctly predicted the outcome of as many World Cup matches as he has legs.

The invertebrate is due to retire after predicating all of Germany’s World Cup. He finished his career by calling Spain’s final 1-0 win over Holland in the final at the weekend.

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The one blemish on its record was when he wrongly predicted Germany would beat Spain in the Euro 2008 final.

In what may prove to be this year’s biggest transfer story, negotiations have began for the world’s most famous cephalopod to head to Spain, still giddy from its win.

Officials from Zoo Aquarium in Madrid told Paul’s aquarium in Germany it would trump all others and give him a warm welcome in gratitude for predicting Spain’s World Cup win.

They believe the eight legged creature, named after a German children’s book by Boy Lornsen, will attract thousands of visitors and become a star attraction.

Madrid zoo contacted the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen “to ask them to transfer the animal” while making, what they said, was an offer to the Germans they could not refuse.

Officials promised to “improve on any offer received so far”. It said the bid to came in response to “dozens of petitions from all over Spain”.

They have offered an unspecified amount of cash and have also attempted to negotiate through an animal exchange programme.

“The zoo also guarantees that Paul will receive the best attention, reflecting the great affection in which he is held by all the Spanish people since he predicted that the Spanish team would win the football World Cup,” said Zoo spokeswoman Amparo Fernandez.

“We hope that within the next few days we will be able to confirm news that the admirable Paul will be part of the club of the most loved and charismatic animals of the Madrid Zoo.”

But a spokeswoman for Paul said he was not for sale.

“We are not in contact with Madrid Zoo. And we know nothing about swapping Paul for another animal or him going to Madrid Zoo for a transfer sum,” Sea Life spokeswoman Tanja Munzig said.

In octopus terms, Paul is already a pensioner, at the grand old age of two-and-a-half. Octopuses generally live three years at most.

Paul is so popular in Spain that a northwestern Spanish town tried to borrow him.

Officials in O Caraballino, population 14,000, also declared the octopus an honorary citizen.

It mayor is due to travel to Oberhausen next week to present him with a commemorative plaque and sculpture while Paul has also been presented with a miniature World Cup trophy.

He had also become at the centre of an international bidding war, after Spanish businessmen offered 38,000 euros to bring him to Spain.

Andres Iniesta, who scored the goal which won the World Cup final for Spain, said after the game: “As for the octopus, what can I say? We won. The octopus will be very popular in Spain”.

Octopus is a delicacy in restaurants throughout Spain, but Mrs Fernandez insisted there was no way Paul would end up being served up on a restaurant plate if he is moved to the Madrid Zoo.

The art of match predicting became a dangerous job for the clairvoyant cephalopod with bitter fans sending death-threat emails to his German aquarium, saying “we want Paul for the pan”.

Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero, the Spanish Prime Minister, even jokingly suggested sending in a squad of octopus bodyguards.

Some people, however, won up to half a million pounds between them during the tournament by placing bets based on the octopus’s predictions.

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The scientific secrets to a happy marriage

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Scientists have suggested numerous reasons for why marriages last or failPhoto: PHOTOLIBRARY

While diamond wedding anniversary celebrants might cite trust, loyalty and retaining a romantic spark as the secrets to matrimonial bliss, scientists have claimed the formula is far more complicated.

Anneli Rufus, a journalist and author, has now delved into the archive of studies dedicated to the subject to compile a list of 15 warning signs that someone is heading for a divorce.

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The reasons range from the gender of a couple’s children to your partner’s race, testosterone levels and health.

One recent study suggests that people who smile in photographs when they are young are less likely to get divorced than those who frowned in childhood snaps.

The research, published in the journal Motivation and Emotion, found that only 10 per cent of people questioned who smiled in early photos had gone through a divorce in later life compared to 31 per cent of those who wore straight faces.

Another study claims that dancers and choreographers face a 43 per cent chance of getting divorced compared to 19 per cent among mathematicians.

Psychologists at Radford University came to the conclusions after devising a formula for calculating the probabilities of marital success based on a spouse’s career.

The chances are 38 per cent for massage therapists and only 8 per cent for dentists, the Journal of Polce and Criminal Psychology reported.

Commenting on the wealth of explanations put forward by scientists, married Mrs Rufus said: “These are just numbers but they’re interesting because they start conversations.

“They help you think about the bigger picture and what in general are factors which even have to do with relationships breaking up.”

15 signs that you’ll get divorced:

1. If you’re a woman who got married before the age of eighteen, your marriage faces a 48 per cent likelihood of divorce within ten years.

2. If you’re a woman who wants a child much more strongly than your spouse does, your marriage is more than twice as likely to end in divorce as the marriages of couples who agree on how much they do or don’t want a child.

3. If you have two sons, you face a 36.9 per cent likelihood of divorce, but if you have two daughters, the likelihood rises to 43.1 per cent.

4. If you’re a man with high basal testosterone, you’re 43 per cent more likely to get divorced than men with low testosterone levels.

5. If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, you are 22.7 per cent more likely to divorce before that child turns eight years old than parents of a child without ADHD.

6. If you are currently married but have cohabited with a lover other than your current spouse, you are slightly more than twice as likely to divorce than someone who has never cohabited.

7. If you didn’t smile for photographs early in life, your marriage is more likely to end in divorce than if you smiled intensely in early photographs.

8. If your child has died after the twentieth week of pregnancy, during labour, or soon after labour, you are 40 per cent more likely to divorce than if you had not lost a child.

9. If you’re a woman who has recently been diagnosed with cancer or multiple sclerosis, your marriage is six times more likely to end in divorce than if your husband had been diagnosed with those diseases instead.

10. If you’re a Caucasian woman and you’re separated from your spouse, there’s a 98 per cent chance that you’ll be divorced within six years of that separation. If you’re a Hispanic woman, the likelihood is 80 perc ent. If you’re an African-American woman, the likelihood is 72 per cent.

11. If you’re a dancer or choreographer, you face a 43.05 per cent likelihood of divorce, compared with mathematicians, who face a 19.15 per cent likelihood, and animal trainers, who face a 22.5 per cent likelihood.

12. If you’re a farmer, you face only a 7.63 per cent likelihood of divorce, joined by other low-risk occupations such as nuclear engineers, who face a 7.29 per cent likelihood, and optometrists, who face a mere 4.01 per cent likelihood.

13. If either you or your spouse have suffered a brain injury, your marriage faces a 17 per cent chance of ending in divorce.

14. If you’re an African-American woman, your first marriage has a 47 per cent likelihood of ending in divorce within ten years; for Hispanic women, the likelihood is 34 per cent; for Caucasian women, it’s 32 per cent; for Asian women, it’s 20 per cent.

15. If you’re a woman serving actively in the military, your marriage is 250 per cent more likely to end in divorce than that of a man serving actively in the military.

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Boeing unveils Phantom Eye hydrogen-powered spy plane

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The hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system, a demonstrator that will stay aloft at 65,000 feet for up to four daysPhoto: AP/BOEING

The aircraft is designed for endurance reconnaissance missions, soaring at 65,000ft for up to four days.

The “green” vehicle’s two 2.3-litre Ford engines provide 150 horsepower each, allowing it to cruise at 150 knots without producing any harmful emissions.

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A demonstrator model will be shipped to Nasa’s Dryden Flight Research Centre in California later this summer where it undergo a series of ground tests.

On completion of the tests, its maiden flight is expected to take place in early 2011, when it will be put through its paces for up to eight hours.

Unveiling the plane in St Louis, Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works, said: “Phantom Eye is the first of its kind and could open up a whole new market in collecting data and communications.

“It is a perfect example of turning an idea into a reality. It defines our rapid prototyping efforts and will demonstrate the art-of-the-possible when it comes to persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

“The capabilities inherent in Phantom Eye’s design will offer game-changing opportunities for our military, civil and commercial customers.”

The aircraft can carry a pay load weighing up to 450lbs and has a 150ft wingspan – appearing out of proportion to its torpedo-shaped fuselage.

Its creators say it is not designed for stealth but for endurance, remaining airborne for long periods of time.

Boeing also boasted of the plane’s eco-friendly credentials.

“The hydrogen propulsion system will be the key to Phantom Eye’s success,” said Drew Mallow, Phantom Eye program manager. “It is very efficient and offers great fuel economy, and its only by-product is water, so it’s also a ‘green’ aircraft.”

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has an ongoing interest in long-endurance high-altitude planes for surveillance and is considering a several different technologies, including solar power, to meet the requirements of what it refers to as its “Scavenger project”.

The aerospace and defence company Qinetiq are carrying out trials in conjunction with the MoD to develop a solar powered plane called Zephyr.

A spokesperson for the MoD said: “Four days is very good but we are considering a range of options for our deep and persistent reconnaissance requirements.

“Some of these options could be airborne for over a week.”

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Austrian power company tells customer she is dead (Reuters)

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VIENNA (Reuters Life!) – An Austrian woman has had to convince her electricity supplier that she is alive after the company wrote to her asking for information about her contract following her “passing away.”

In a personally addressed letter, the Linz-based company said it had heard of her death through her bank, daily Oesterreich reported on Thursday.

“I am not the dead one,” 58-year-old Christine R. wrote back in a fax and email to the company, explaining that it was her neighbour who had died and she was the custodian. She eventually went to the customer centre in person to prove her existence.

“It was an unfortunate mistake,” a spokeswoman for the company said. “There was a muddle in the paperwork and the letters we automatically send out. It has been resolved now.”

(Reporting by Sylvia Westall, editing by Paul Casciato)

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Britain hit by wintry weather on St Swithin’s Day

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Waves batter the Cobb at Lyme Regis.Photo: RICHARD AUSTIN

Thousands of holidaymakers were forced to swap sandals and shorts for wellies and raincoats after wintry weather hit much of the country.

Unseasonably strong winds battered beaches while some areas experience more than an inch of rain, potentially spelling doom for the rest of the summer.

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Legend suggests if it rains on St Swithin’s Day it will lead to downpours for the next 40 days, potentially ruining the rest of July and August.

According to the ninth century tale, after the remains of St Swithin, a Saxon bishop, were removed his preferred burial place outside Winchester Cathedral, it led to 40 days of continuous rain and storms.

Since then the story has become one of Britain’s most enduring folklores and causes many to keep a watchful eye on the weather every year on July 15.

Forecasters said that between 25mm to 33mm of rain fell on Thursday.

Areas around St Andrews, where the British Open is currently being played, had more 29 mm of rain while Kinross, Scotland had 33 mm.

More than 13 mm fell throughout the South-west, including Devon and Cornwall and south Wales.

Barry Gromett, a Met Office, warned that more rain was expected in those areas as the bad weather intensified.

He also said that while he could not give an accurate forecast over the coming weeks, it did not appear that it would repeat last summer’s wintry weather after it also rained on July 15.

“It will remain unsettled over the next five days, but then the weather looks like it will become more settled again in the South,” he said.

While it is good news for gardeners, those hoping to catch some rays over the weekend are likely to be disappointed with wet spells also forecast for Saturday and Sunday.

“Saturday looks like it will be the best day of the weekend.

“It should be good weather on Monday morning but then it looks like rain on Monday afternoon and Tuesday.”

The wild weather also hit parts of Asia on Thursday.

Heavy rains and powerful winds battered East Asia, forcing authorities to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in Japan.

China was left facing the worst floods in more than a decade as rains drenched the Yangtze river region and a typhoon neared the southern coast.

In the Philippines, power was gradually restored to millions of homes in and around Manila after Typhoon Conson hit the capital harder than expected on Tuesday night.

Officials raised the death toll in the Philippines to 37, with 42 missing.

Tropical Storm Risk downgraded the typhoon to a tropical storm on Thursday, but the Philippines’ weather bureau said it was expected to regain strength as it moved over the South China Sea and headed towards southern China and northern Vietnam.

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