The landmark clock tower containing Big Ben at Britain's Palace of Westminster, is tilting, while media reports Monday said the mother of all parliaments was slipping into the River Thames, raising fears over its future.
The House of Commons commission, which is responsible for the upkeep of the 19th century neo-Gothic parliamentary estate popular with tourist photographs, was due to meet Monday. Media reports said it would discuss a surveyor's report which could recommend lawmakers move out for repairs costing up to one billion pounds, while the Daily Telegraph said another proposal might be to sell to Russian or Chinese developers for about 500 million pounds ($779.7 million).
But a commission spokesman said there was no surveyor's report, and members were only meeting to discuss setting up a group to look at general long-term renovation of the grade 1-listed building designed by Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Pugin.
"I think there's been twos and twos added together and come up with we are selling to the Russians, but they won't be talking about anything like that," the spokesman said.
The 96-metre tall clock tower, which houses the bell originally nicknamed Big Ben, leans about 46 cm to the left of its peak. A construction expert who worked on the leaning tower of Pisa in Italy and a multi-storey carpark under the houses of parliament in central London, said there was nothing to worry about, and it would take 10,000 years to reach an angle of concern.
Professor John Burland of Imperial College London also said work on the underground Jubilee train line in the 1990s had not caused dramatic movement, while a spokesman for the commission said the tilt could have existed since its construction in 1859.
The lean which is just visible to the naked eye had "been there for years," Burland said. "When I first started work on the car park it was obvious that it was leaning," he told BBC radio. "It was probably developed at a very early stage because there's no cracking in the cladding and we think it probably leant while they were building it and before they put the cladding on. "That was a long time ago and buildings do lean a little bit."
Read the full story here.
LONDON (Reuters) - One in five British women believe that the debilitating "man-flu" disease which temporarily leaves sufferers prostrate on the sofa watching televised sports is real, according to a new study.
The survey, which questioned 2,000 British adults about health and wellbeing, showed that misconceptions and old wives' tales, including the myth that eating carrots improves night vision, prevail among the population when it comes to beliefs about common illnesses.
"Unbelievably, there are still a lot of misconceptions around how minor illnesses and conditions are caused or prevented," study leader Mike Smith, said in a statement.
The top 10 health myths ranged from the theory that eating carrots will aid night vision to the belief that too much stress will turn your hair grey, both subscribed to by one in 10 of the population.
More than a third of people said that sugar makes children hyper, and 37 percent said they believed we lose most of our body heat through our heads -- the most popular misconception of the survey.
While the face, head and chest are more sensitive to temperature change than the rest of the body, covering one part of the body has as much effect as covering any other, researchers said.
"The Contagion study suggests that a large majority of the population are still under the illusion that they can, for example, get square eyes from watching too much television, or get better night vision from eating more carrots," Smith said.
"These are just not true, but do go to show that no matter how many millions are spent on health and education, some medical myths still prevail," he said.
When illness strikes, almost half of people agreed that men exaggerate their symptoms to get attention, with 38 percent also believing that men take longer to recover from illness than women.
Over half of respondents admitted to self-diagnosis, using the internet to research their symptoms.
"Old wives' tales are just that -- tales that should not be listened to or abided by. If the public are in any real doubt as to how to treat a condition, they should always refer to their GP (family doctor) or professional medical adviser," Smith said.
The study was specially commissioned to mark the release of Hollywood thriller "Contagion" starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law.
A new fad for 'Scarlett Johanssoning' - posing partially naked in front of a mirror - is the latest craze on Facebook.
It comes after images purportedly showing the actress holding a towel with her bottom reflected in a mirror appeared online.
Since then, dozens of imitators have posted their own snaps recreating the pose on the social networking website.
They are collected on a special page - called 'scarlett johanssoning' - on Facebook.
As well as predictably glamourous snaps of semi-naked women, they include some tongue-in-cheek attempts to recreate the photo.
A Barbie doll, Ernie from Sesame Street, Paddington bear, Donald Duck, a pug dog and even a painting of President Obama are pictured in similar poses.
Reports surfaced earlier this year that hackers had stolen nude photos from up to 50 celebrities, including Miss Johansson, after breaking into their email accounts.
The FBI is currently investigating the hacking attack and is said to be closing in on those responsible.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As the U.S. government grapples to find ways to trim the bloated federal deficit, a new report suggests officials might start with cutting out $16 muffins and $10 cookies.
"We found the Department (of Justice) spent $16 on each of the 250 muffins served at an August 2009 legal conference in Washington," said a DOJ Office of Inspector General report released on Tuesday.
The DOJ spent $121 million on conferences in fiscal 2008 and 2009, which exceeded its own spending limits and appeared to be extravagant and wasteful, according to the report that examined 10 conferences held during that period.
The review turned up the expensive muffins, which came from the Capital Hilton Hotel just blocks from the White House, as well as cookies and brownies that cost almost $10 each.
The department spent $32 per person on snacks of Cracker Jack, popcorn, and candy bars and coffee that cost $8.24 per cup at another conference, the report said.
The DOJ also spent nearly $600,000 for event planning services for five conferences, the document said.
A Justice Department spokeswoman said most of the gathering were held when there were no strict limits on food and beverage costs, adding the DOJ had taken steps since 2009 "to ensure that these problems do not occur again."
Word of the agency's extravagant spending drew a swift response from Capitol Hill.
Senator Chuck Grassley, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee which has oversight of the Justice Department, said the report was a blueprint for the first cuts that should be made by the "super committee" searching for at least $1.2 trillion in savings.
"Sixteen dollar muffins and $600,000 for event planning services are what make Americans cynical about government and why they are demanding change," Grassley said in a statement. "People are outraged, and rightly so."
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A 27-inch tall (69 cm) college student whose hobbies include dancing and cheerleading is the world's shortest woman, Guinness World Records said on Tuesday.
Bridgette Jordan, 22, and her younger brother Brad, who measures 38 inches (98 cm) tall, were also named the "shortest living siblings" by the record-keeper.
Brad Jordan, 20, enjoys karate, gymnastics, basketball and performing magic tricks.
The siblings, who attend Kaskasia College in central Illinois, were both born with Majewski osteodysplastic primordial dwarfism type II.
"I believe that everyone should be confident in themselves," Bridgette said in a statement.
Previously, the shortest living woman was Elif Kocaman of Kadirli, Turkey, who is 28.5 inches (72 cm) tall. The record for shortest woman who ever lived was Pauline Musters, of the Netherlands, who measured 24 inches (61 cm) when she died from pneumonia at age 19 in 1895.
Jordan's record may not stand for long as 2-foot-tall (70 cm) Jyoti Amge in India turns 18 in December when she would qualify as the world's shortest woman, a Guinness spokesman said.
- "Royal wedding," "winning" deemed top TV words
- Aussie TV in trouble over PM comedy sex scene
- Arkansas town searching for toe-sucking assailant
- Banning half-naked men, love triangles on TV
- Parents Allow Four-Year Old Child To Drive Car
- Red lingerie to lure Hungarians online for census
- How Not To Wash Your Luxury Vehicle
- Bra chain record comes apart at the seams
- Woman faces trial for fake testicles
- Southern U.S. distillery to legally sell moonshine