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In brief: 'White-collar' crime thrives

THE number of convictions for white-collar crime has plummeted -- despite a rise in offences.

The complex nature of investigating fraud is being blamed for why convictions fell to just 178 in 2010 compared with 579 in 2003, a period when the number of cases rose.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has confirmed there are just two full-time accountants, but no solicitors or barristers, working in the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigations.

The Department of Justice last night insisted that gardai were adequately staffed.

"The minister has been assured by the Garda Commissioner that the necessary resources and expertise are available to investigate white-collar crime," it said.

Elephant's art up for auction

The resident artist at London's Whipsade Zoo has put the finishing touches to her latest masterpiece ready to auction on eBay to raise money for elephant conservation projects.

The zoo says 14-year-old Asian elephant Karishma has turned out to be quite the talented painter since first picking up a brush.

Her latest work of art is a large wooden elephant she has painted with splashes of colour and is the first piece of her work to be listed on eBay.

We spend 9 years at telly

The average adult spends three-and-a-half hours every day watching TV and nine years across an adult lifetime.

The survey found 51pc of adults consume four meals every week while watching TV and 54pc of those questioned said that they watch TV while surfing the internet. At Christmas, 49pc of viewers will sit through 25 hours of repeats.

Space Station crew returns

Three astronauts touched down in the dark, chilly expanses of central Kazakhstan onboard a Soyuz capsule today after a 125-day stay at the International Space Station.

Nasa's Sunita Williams, Russian astronaut Yury Malenchenko and Aki Hoshide of Japan's Jaxa space agency landed north east of the town of Arkalyk.