Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Dozens United By Crisis In Kyrgyzstan

All 192 people in the United States who were aware of the existence of Kyrgyzstan before last week’s revolution are closely watching events in the former Soviet republic.
Dozens gathered in their living rooms, while one man was seen nervously pacing outside the Kyrgyzstani consulate in New York Friday. He declined to comment.
At Teddy’s Grill in Manalapan, NJ, Al G. Broder, a construction worker, interrupted his pool game to watch an update on the departure of Kyrgyzstani President Askar Akayev and the release of opposition leader Felix Kulov from jail on CNN during a break between live commentators on the Michael Jackson trial.
“I’m concerned because they’ve been our ally in the war on terrorism, helping us hunt Bin Laden,” said Broder, before being informed that he had likely confused his stans. It is Pakistan that has helped American forces fight Al Qaeda.
At the Brooklyn Public Library’s Kings Highway Branch, Phil Rosenstein, a history major at Kingsborough Community College, said he was very familiar with Kyrgyzstan. “It’s the largest of the former Soviet states, with some 15 million people, stretching from the Caspian Sea all the way to China,” said Rosenstein, accurately describing Kazakhstan.
Kyrgyzstan, located just southeast of Kazakhstan, actually has just over 5 million people and also borders Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and China. Its capital is Bishkek.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Ben Affleck Ready To Shoot Latest Flop

The star of “Pearl Harbor” and “Gigli,” Ben Affleck, could begin filming his next flop as soon as this summer. In “Truth, Justice, and the American Way,” Affleck will portray George Reeves, the actor who played Superman on TV in the 1950s.
Affleck also starred in “Jersey Girl,” “Changing Lanes,” and “Daredevil,” films that were seen by hundreds of people and brought in thousands of dollars at the box office.
In other Affleck news, rumors have been circulating that Ben and his girlfiend, "Alias" star Jennifer Garner, are expecting a child. "If it's true," said Late Night talk show host Conan O'Brien, "it will be the first time Ben Affleck has had a successful release."

United Nations Relief Agencies Set Timetable For Squandering Tsunami Aid

Meeting in Geneva this week, officials of the United Nations agreed on a timetable for squandering billions raised from the international community on behalf of victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami disaster in Asia. If all goes according to plan, the money can be squandered as soon as next month.
The funds to be wasted are currently in the hands of the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization, the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the World Health Organization and the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
The funds are earmarked for projects to redevelop areas of Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India that were hardest hit by the tsunamis, and to provide long-term relief, counseling and employment opportunities.
But a UN spokesman, Jorg Koesten, said the money was likely to be diverted to the slush funds of third world dictators, while some would pay for the stockpiling of perishable goods and to buy office furniture, computers and supplies at UN offices around the world. Koesten said the operation would be modeled after last year’s highly successful Iraqi Oil For Food squandering.

Kids Stunned To Learn That Pre-1960s Life Was In Color

When Marla Shivelman of Spokane, Wash., described for her grandchildren the chiffon-blue dress she wore at her 1958 prom, one of them scoffed.
"Come on, grandma," said Jimmy Peters, 11. "Everyone knows there was no blue back then." Based on pictures and film and TV footage, Jimmy always assumed the world gradually became colorized during the early 1960s. “They started to invent stuff that was really colorful, and that made the people change, too,” Jimmy explained. “It’s evolution. That’s what people mean when they talk about breaking the color barrier.”
His brother, Ellis, 14, noted that you could actually track the changes in the universe’s pigmentation through TV shows of what he called the “evolutionary era.”
"On TVLand, Lucy and Ricky are the same colors as all their furniture, and friends and their apartment," explained Ellis, said a freshman at Chester Arthur High School. "Later, Lucy did another show and by then her hair had turned red, her clothes were all different.
“On Gilligan’s Island, you can see that when they first got to the island they’re black and white, but while they’re there they became colorized.”
Jimmy said he was sad that so many people in history never got to see what they looked like in color.
Both young men were shocked to learn that color has, in fact, existed since the dawn of time, although color film was perfected in the mid-20th century.

‘Mace Windu' Pepper Spray Among “Star Wars” Tie-Ins Rejected By George Lucas

As he begins to market his sixth and final “Star Wars” film, creator and producer George Lucas has given the go-ahead for thousands of product tie-ins, from toothbrushes and apparel to games, toys and books.
But not every product has been given the go-ahead. Sources have leaked several proposed tie-ins that were rejected by the merchandising moguls. They include:
* Jar-Jar Binks Urinal Cakes
* Chocolate-Chip Wookies
* “Jedi Nights” Condoms
* OB-Wan Early Pregnancy Test
* Betty Crocker Princess Seven-Leia Cake Mix
* Mace Windu Self-Defense Pepper Spray
* “Chew-bacco” Chewing Tobacco
* Lando-Lakes Margarine

New York Billionaire Bloomberg To Acquire Other Rare Public Offices

While he works to re-acquire the one-of-a-kind New York City Mayoralty, billionaire Michael R. Bloomberg’s people are appraising other rare public offices for his nascent collection.
The founder of Bloomberg LLP, the financial news corporation, Bloomberg put in the winning bid of $70 million in 2001 to become the Big Apple’s 108th chief executive.
Sources said he has reviewed appraisals of public offices in Europe and Asia, but strongly prefers domestic titles.
Since the governor’s office in Albany has been somewhat devalued under current owner George E. Pataki, Bloomberg said he may consider bidding on a gubernatorial job in another state.
Jon Corzine, another billionaire who recently purchased a New Jersey Senate seat, has already begun bidding on the governor’s job in Trenton. Bloomberg, who is wealthier than Corzine, would have a strong chance of outbidding him if he were interested, according to an analysis in Fortune magazine.
A source closed to Bloomberg said it was unlikely that he would bid on any House of Represenatives or Senate seats because he prefers one-of-a-kind titles to those in numbered collections.

Harrison Ford To Film 'Indiana Jones 4: Raiders Of The Pension Fund"

Sixty-two-year-old actor Harrison Ford will star as an aging adventurer out to recover his looted pension fund in the next installment of the Indiana Jones action adventure series.Leaks from Hollywood insiders indicate that the script has Jones lured out of retirement by his father, Sean Connery, 72, and a cousin, played by Gene Hackman, 75, to track down the scoundrel who embezzled their retirement nest egg.
There are unconfirmed reports that the film was originally titled "The League of Extraordinarily Old Gentlemen."Among the changes in the classic Indiana Jones format: Jones will carry a cane instead of a whip, and his trademark brown fedora has been replaced by a grey Kangaroo golf cap. There are reportedly several love scenes in the film, indicating a probable product placement for Viagra.

Retailer Proud Of Making An Initial For Himself

After 25 years in retail, the owner of the H and B Hardware chain says he's proud that his initial has become associated with quality merchandise.
"If we didn't offer the best merchandise at the best prices, and stand behind our service, I would be ashamed to have my initial on the sign above every store," H said in a statement last week. "When my father, H, opened his first store, he told me right from the beginning -- always stand behind your reputation. In the end, the only thing a man has is his good initial."
The co-owner, B, is believed to have recently died.
H said he hoped to soon pass the mantle to his son, H, to run the business, but that H may have other plans. "He seems to want to go out and make an initial for himself in some other field," said H .

Researcher: People Aren't Ransacking Like They Used To

A rapidly decreasing number of Americans have returned to their homes to find them ransacked in recent years, and Glenn X. Farmer wants to know why.
After analyzing police data from across the country Farmer, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, found that in 2003, the last year for which statistics are available, 2,200 homes were ransacked in the 50 states. That’s down from 3,012 in 2002, and 3,085 the previous year.
"I’m not ready to call ransackers a dying breed," said Farmer. “But that day may be not be far off. The ransacker community is definitely in decline.”
Farmer noted that ransacking homes, which usually falls under the category of breaking and entering, is a felony, usually punishable by up to 5 years in jail, unless accompanied by other charges such as grand larceny.
“I suppose it’s a good thing,” said Farmer of the decline. “At the same time there are some serious questions we need to study: Have anti-ransacking laws, if any, been effective? Has ransacking become unfashionable? Are people just too busy to ransack? I think the criminal justice community owes it to itself to find these answers.”
Preliminary interviews by Farmer with convicts suggest that the most common cause of ransacking is the search for cash, change or valuables for drug money, followed closely by revenge and drunken rage. Only a small number of homes are appear to be ransacked in order to find hidden maps, computer discs, documents, embarrassing photos or other hidden paraphernalia, although that is the leading motive for ransacking seen on TV or in films.
“There are a lot of misconceptions out there,” said Farmer, who is seeking funding to continue his study.
Ransack comes from ransaka, a combination of the Norse words rann, house and saka, to seek.
Waldo Thrace, whose Pittsburgh apartment was one of the relatively few ransacked last year, reacted to the study with ambivalence. “I suppose I’m glad there’s less of them,” said Thrace, 51, a librarian. “On the other hand, you don’t want to see a group of people completely disappear. At least not without knowing why.”

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