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My friends may remember that the BBC's CEO Mark Thompson responded to demands that the repulsive Nick Griffin be excluded from the program Question Time with the following memorable remark: "It is not the BBC's job to exclude people from broadcasts. The government has to do that."

It now turns out that, at the height of the political storm that followed, Director Thompson has absented himself from his post to go on a 425-pounds-a-day survival course for war journalists.

Truly, You Couldn't Make It Up.
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A rather battered-looking, elderly man was spotted walking about in the rain by a suspicious citizen in Long Branch, New Jersey. The police were called and, after some palaver, finally took the supposed bum to a hotel where he was staying and where he was able to prove that, yes, he was indeed Bob Dylan.
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So there is this region of Japan called the Shizuoka prefecture, which is very prosperous. Prosperous to the point that it felt that the 97 airports already in use in Japan were not enough; it wanted one of its own, built to intercontinental standards.

Fair enough, one might think. Shizuoka prefecture is reported to have a GDP equal to that of Portugal or Thailand, so one supposes that it can use direct international transportation without having to go through Tokyo (which is some 150 Km, or 90 miles, north of Shizuoka prefecture as the crow flies). However, the designers made a crass and inexcusable mistake: they got the runway's length wrong, and missed out 153 trees owned by a local tea farmer, Mr. Toshimi Ohoi.

Mr.Ohoi is public-spirited, and did not object to his trees being bought and cut down for the good of the prefecture. However, since the planning process had been a complete botch, he put one condition: the Governor had to go. Someone had to pay for the incompetence of the prefectural authorities.

The farmer put his astonishing condition in September 2008. The immensely expensive project had to be frozen, just as the economic crisis bled wealth out of Japan. The authorities began to tear their hair out in despair. By May 16, it had become clear that Mr.Ohoi was ready to fight it all the way to the highest court; on May 18, it was announced that the Governor would step down and that prefectural elections would be held in July. Score one for the principled tea farmer.

(Information from the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, May 19)
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Or at least the state is turning out all its pockets to see if it has anything worth selling that will help stop the most immediate holes in its budget: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2009/05/schwarzenegger-san-quentin-colisseum.html . Next step, bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, the Italian banks, which are bulging at the seams with liquidity, are backing Sergio Marchionne's attempt to take over Chrysler and the whole overseas GM operation, including Latin America and South Africa. It appears that while most British and American banks are afraid to move for fear of bankruptcy, the financial institutions of Italy, Spain and, believe it or not, Turkey, having kept faith with the original vocation of banks, have so much investment capital they do not know what to do with it. Watch out for San Quentin being turned into a Turkish prison. Then Alan Parker can do Midnight Express II next door to Hollywood.
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From www.floridatoday.com:
A church giving sermons about sex may have to find a new home. Brevard Public School District's risk-management department has threatened to boot New Hope Church out of Sherwood Elementary because of a worship series titled "Great Sex for You."

Church leaders mailed 25,000 fliers, asking residents "Is Your Sex Life A Bore?" The three-week program kicked off inside the school auditorium. Pastor Bruce Cadle had said the Christian church has been "shamefully silent" on the taboo topic.

Mark Langdorf, the director of risk management, says the mailers generated complaints, were not appropriate for elementary school children and shouldn't be used to advertise the sermon in the school.

Langdorf says the church's lease contract is under review.
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The eleventh prize in a private lottery in San Marco in Lamis, a small town in Puglia, Italy, was a free luxury funeral, with a luxury casket with pillow and upholstery, a headstone, an "eternal light" made of glass and brass, a place at the town cemetery, and sacred items coming from Padre Pio's sanctuary at San Giovanni Rotondo. Although the lucky winner was allowed to pass it along to anyone, somehow the prize has remained unclaimed.
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Al Capone's oldest brother, Vincenzo (who took the name of an early Western movie star, Richard Hart), became, quite independently of his younger brother, a frontier lawman in Nebraska. The same opportunity made both brothers: while young Al went to Chicago and swiftly grew rich on Prohibition smuggling, his brother went to Homer, Nebraska, enlisted in the police when it was being expanded under the impact of Prohibition, and swiftly became an ideal frontier lawman. Brave, clever, and incorruptible, a deadly shot with a gun (he was a decorated and highly promoted World War One veteran), he was employed to keep whiskey off various Native American reservations, and gained their trust by learning their languages and habits. He actually became town marshall for Homer, to complete the all-round real-life John Wayne story. He was, however, still Italian enough to acknowledge his family, and in the late forties he revealed his identity to his wife and son and allowed his son to take part in a family reunion and meet his grandmother - and his famous uncle (who, alas, was by then a syphilitic wreck). Family links even managed what probably no other consideration could have: Capone/Hart, apparently in financial trouble in the last years of his life, accepted a little financial help from his brother Ralph, apparently without bothering that Ralph had been in Al's paybooks in the days of his glory.

Al Capone himself started out in life as an accountant - a skill that helped him greatly as he built his booze empire in Cicero and points north.
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Honestly, how can anyone not be curious - in a sick, train wreck kind of way, about the content of a comic called: Avengelyne - Glory - Godyssey? And I am not, repeat not, making this up.
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They had been warned. In April 1914, General von Plettenburgh, commanding the Prussian Guards Corps, issued a decree against the wearing of the so-called "tooth-brush" moustache, pointing out that such an appendage was unsuitable for a Prussian soldier and "not consonant with the German national character." Subsequently, a well-known political figure managed to cast himself as a German super-patriot in spite of wearing exactly that kind of moustache.
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BBC News 13.00, 14.02.2007

I swear I heard the following sentence drip from the anchorwoman's pearly pink lips:
"Cleopatra is remembered as a raving beauty who made Caesar fall in love with her and brought down the Roman Empire..."

My head hurts.
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One of France's leading cultural icons is the philosopher and journalist, Bernard-Henry Levy. He is about my age, tall and handsome and a ready writer, not without courage.

What I did not know till recently is that he has an equally attractive wife. She has just hit the headlines in her own right by taking up a post as lead singer in another icon of French culture - the famous strip joint "The Crazy Horse."
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This happened a mile or two down the road from where I live.


A secondary school which shut because staff thought an intruder was hiding in the roof is to reopen this week.

Despite police searches using infra-red heat detectors at the Crofton School in Lewisham, south-east London, the man has not been found.

Associate head teacher Rob Cooper said staff were confident he had gone, but said extra security measures would stay in place "as long as necessary".

Teachers suspected last month there was an intruder and spotted him last week.

The school, which has 900 pupils, shut last week after staff caught sight of the man.

They had heard noises in the ducting, believed to be him crawling around.

Mr Cooper said pupils would start returning on Wednesday and the school would be back to normal by the end of the week.

However, extra security measures brought in to give parents and staff peace of mind will remain.

He said: "Although the man has not been caught, we are confident the police have done everything possible to find him."

He added: "This man has caused considerable disruption to the life of Crofton School as well as causing a great deal of local concern."

Pupils have been given work to do at home while the school has been closed and GCSE-year pupils have remained on the school site, but in a different building.

Superintendent Adrian Rabot, of Lewisham Police, said he was confident that everything had been done to make sure the building was safe.

"The debris that was found may well have been there for a considerable length of time but until we have conducted DNA tests we can't say how recently."

Several suspects arrested locally have all had been eliminated from the inquiry.



Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/england/london/4616802.stm

Published: 2006/01/16 12:16:47 GMT

© BBC MMVI
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Schubert's song-cycle The winter journey (Die Winterreise) is, without a doubt, the most desolate, dark, devastating work of art I have ever met. It starts from shattering heartbreak - described in a way that every lover will recognize - and works its way down. Its final song, The organ-grinder, can be said to describe a despair beyond death. In two hundred years of programmatic pessimism, expressionism, existentialism, and so on, no artist has ever surpassed Schubert's depth of darkness, indeed, few have come close.

I have a music cassette featuring the epoch-making account of this literally terrifying piece of work by the great German singer Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. The cover artist drew in a happy little picture of a Christmas-card-like sledge with bells.
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One of Britain's big food manufacturers wanted to market a new coffe-based product. They figured that Italian coffee has a good image and wanted to make use of that. So they invented (they thought) a trademarked new brand name with the requisite Italian sound.

The name is CAPPIO. And if the morons had bothered to open an Italian dictionary, they would have found that the word cappio exists, and that it means (Hazon Garzanti Dictionary) "slip-knot, noose".

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