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In brief: Elton John up for dad of the year

Elton John and his partner David Furnish have become the first gay parents to be shortlisted for the title of celebrity dad of the year.

The pair, who had their first child at Christmas, are in the running for the prize to be awarded next month.

Basement build is just plane crazy

A man spent nine years building a two-seat plane in his basement -- and then found he had to knock down a wall to get it out.

Dan Reeve, of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, assembled the plane which arrived in pieces via mail but eventually it became too big to get up the steps. Mr Reeve dug a trench down to the foundations and took out a wall. He pulled the plane out using a truck, a chain and some neighbours.

'Butt' cancer ads deemed offensive

Health officials have dropped their backing for a colon cancer awareness campaign that uses billboards saying "What's up your butt?".

The officials in Kennewick, Washington, reversed an earlier vote after complaints the adverts are in poor taste.

Expenses row MP released from jail

The first British MP jailed over the parliamentary expenses scandal has been released from prison after serving just a quarter of his 18-month sentence.

David Chaytor spent four- and-a-half months behind bars after admitting he fiddled his parliamentary expenses to falsely claim more than £22,000 (€25,527) of taxpayers' money.

Sex offender is caught in net sting

A registered sex offender banned from using the internet was arrested while browsing Facebook -- next to a sheriff's detective in a California Apple store.

Robert McGuire (35) was followed to the shop in San Luis Obispo by officers who recognised him from a previous child pornography case. He was arrested and is being held without bail for investigation of violating probation.

Helicopter used to chase schoolboy

British police have defended themselves against claims of heavy-handedness after using a helicopter and two officers to find a schoolboy who kicked a football into a greenhouse.

A police helicopter which was flying in the area was spotted by an officer on the ground and asked to help find Tom Clarke (15), who had been playing in a pub garden in Chalgrove, Oxfordshire.

Irish Independent