вторник, 10 июня 2008 г.

State Welfare Reforms Earn Few High Marks

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan - already feeling pretty good about the arms-inspection agreement he'd just negotiated with Iraq - must have been brimming over with pleasure as he acknowledged a rousing ovation by a throng of young people outside his hotel in Paris. Annan beamed and waved before being chauffeured away to a dinner with French President Jacques Chirac. It was far from clear that the crowd had gathered for him, however. Moments later, the pop star, Madonna, arrived with her entourage.

Rod Waddell of New Zealand defeated more than 1,600 other contestants from 19 countries - some of them participants in the 1996 Summer Olympics - in winning the 17th annual men's 2,000-meter open rowing championship last weekend. Waddell's winning time was 5 minutes, 39 seconds, yet his oars stayed completely dry. The event was held at a sports center in Boston, using machines that simulate outdoor competition. State Welfare Reforms Earn Few High Marks

Only 14 states have interpreted the 1996 federal welfare overhaul law in ways that are likely to help recipients rise above poverty, a new report says. Tufts University in Medford, Mass., graded states in 34 areas, such as providing child care, job-training, improving eligibility for benefits, and requiring recipients to work. The highest possible score was plus-22; the lowest, minus-38. The top 14 and their scores:

Vermont +12.0 Oregon +7.5 Rhode Island +6.5 Pennsylvania +4.5 (tie) Maine +4.5 (tie) New Hampshire +4.5 (tie) California +4.5 Washington +4.0 (tie) Connecticut +4.0 Utah +2.5 (tie) Illinois +2.5
Minnesota +2.0 (tie) Massachusetts +2.0 Tennessee +1.5

San Francisco Is Now the Priciest Housing Market

Elders of the Church of England just couldn't resist the temptation to tinker with the Lord's Prayer. Despite a warning from Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey not to pursue modernity for its own sake, they voted last week to delete the words "lead us not into temptation" from services beginning in 2000. Assuming a review committee and the church's general synod approve, that portion of the prayer will say instead: "save us from the time of trial." Local parishes will be - well -forgiven for continuing to recite the prayer in its traditional form.

The rail system in Germany's Schleswig-Holstein state is about to kiss half its receipts goodbye, at least for the next few weeks. As a new promotion, it's offering a "lovers' discount" beginning Friday that paying passengers may have on request. To qualify, couples must wear special stickers obtained at the ticket window and be willing to engage in a lip-lock when required by the conductors once the trip is under way.

The Day's List San Francisco Is Now the Priciest Housing Market

With a median single-family home resale value of $304,600, the city by the Golden Gate has pushed Honolulu out of first place as the most expensive of 134 metropolitan areas surveyed by the National Association of Realtors. Honolulu had held that distinction since 1989. The least expensive: Waterloo, Iowa., at $64,200. The priciest region is the West, where the median is $163,100. Nationally, it is $124,800, the realtors group says.

The 10 most expensive markets and their respective median prices: 1. San Francisco $304,600 2. Honolulu 300,000 3. Orange County, Calif. 237,400 4. Bergen, N.J. 202,100 5. Boston 195,900 6. Newark, N.J. 192,300 7. San Diego, Calif. 189,000 8. Los Angeles 177,800 9. New York 177,700 10. Middlesex, N.J. 177,400

Author-Finalists Named For US Book Awards

A live tribute on Italian TV to Pope John Paul II's 20 years in office wasn't supposed to be a call-in show. But that's how it ended up. As host Bruno Vespa was recounting some of the pontiff's initiatives, the control room alerted him that a special guest was on the phone, hoping to put in a few words. The caller? Right, John Paul II, who was watching and wanted to say "thank you."

If you're a serious bicycle rider or know someone who is, the German manufacturer Hercules is offering what it says is a first - and just in time for Christmas. The innovation: an automatic transmission for two-wheelers. A small circuit board adjusts the gears to the bike's speed. The rider can check it all on a display panel. Trekking bikes will be the first to feature the new system, listing at about $750. Author-Finalists Named For US Book Awards

Literary lion Tom Wolfe and scholar Harold Bloom are perhaps the best known among those whose works were named this week as finalists for this year's National Book Awards. Winners, chosen by the National Book Foundation, will be announced Nov. 18 in New York. The candidates for the prestigious fiction and nonfiction prizes:

Fiction "Charming Billy" Alice McDermott

"Damascus Gate" Robert Stone

"The Healing" Gayl Jones

"Kaaterskill Falls" Allegra Goodman

"A Man in Full" Tom Wolfe

Nonfiction "All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of American Slavery" Henry Mayer

"Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human" Harold Bloom

"A Slant of Sun: One Child's Courage" Beth Kephart

"Slaves in the Family" Edward Ball

"There Once Was a World: A 900-Year Chronicle of the Shtetl of Eishyshok" Yaffa Eliach

Awards, presented Sunday night

Remember "Candle in the Wind 1997," Elton John's tribute to the late Diana, Princess of Wales? According to Billboard magazine, it has slid from No. 1 to No. 3 in US sales after 14 weeks. Three more weeks atop the charts and it would have set a record. Winners of Movie, TV Golden Globe Awards Winners of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Golden Globe Awards, presented Sunday night:

Motion Pictures Drama: "Titanic"

Actress, drama: Judi Dench, "Mrs. Brown"

Actor, drama: Peter Fonda, "Ulee's Gold" Musical or comedy: "As Good As It Gets"

Actress, musical or comedy: Helen Hunt, "As Good As It Gets"

Actor, musical or comedy: Jack Nicholson, "As Good As It Gets"

Foreign language: "My Life in Pink" ("Ma Vie en Rose"), Belgium

Supporting actress, drama, musical, or comedy: Kim Basinger, "L.A. Confidential"

Supporting actor, drama, musical, or comedy: Burt Reynolds, "Boogie Nights"

Director: James Cameron,"Titanic"

Screenplay: Matt Damon/Ben Affleck, "Good Will Hunting"

Original score: James Horner, "Titanic"

Original song: "My Heart Will Go On" from "Titanic"

Television Drama series: "The X-Files"

Actress, drama: Christine Lahti, "Chicago Hope"

Actor, drama: Anthony Edwards, "ER"

Musical or comedy series: "Ally McBeal"

Actress, musical or comedy: Calista Flockhart, "Ally McBeal"

Actor, musical or comedy: Michael J. Fox, "Spin City"

Miniseries or movie for TV: "George Wallace"

Actress, miniseries or TV movie: Alfre Woodard, "Miss Evers' Boys"

Actor, miniseries or movie for TV: Ving Rhames, "Don King: Only in America"

Supporting actress, series, miniseries, or movie for TV: Angelina Jolie, "George Wallace"

Supporting actor, series, miniseries, or movie for TV: George C. Scott, "12 Angry Men"

Baseball Records That Will Be Tough to Break

Dan Dent loves sled rides and thinks inner-city children should, too. So the investment banker is inviting a youth - to be chosen from one of Baltimore's Police Athletic League centers - to join him this winter and experience the thrill of whizzing along on a blanket of snow. But what if the city doesn't get enough of the white stuff? No problem; that's not the venue Dent has in mind anyway. He wants to take his guest, all expenses paid, to Alaska for the 1,150-mile Iditarod race, which he's entering for the first time.

No sexist jokes, please, but the lower house of Congress in Colombia is imposing a strict new dress code, effective immediately: no more miniskirts or jeans on the job. Just to be fair, the jeans ban also applies to men. No word yet on whether the Senate will adopt the code too. Baseball Records That Will Be Tough to Break

Lost in the excitement over eclipsing Roger Maris's 1961 home-run record is the possibility that Mark McGwire also could set another single-season record: most walks. McGwire needed 21 more (prior to Thursday night's game) before Babe Ruth's 1923 mark of 170 would be his as well. Here are other long-standing seasonal marks (for hitters and pitchers) that will survive 1998 and perhaps many more years to come:

Batting Average:
Rogers Hornsby (1924) .424 Hits:
George Sisler (1920) 257 Consecutive-game hits:
Joe DiMaggio (1941) 56 Runs:
Billy Hamilton (1894) 196 Runs batted in:
Hack Wilson (1930) 190 Victories:
Jack Chesbro (1904) 41 Shutouts:
Grover Cleveland Alexander (1916) 16 Strikeouts:
Nolan Ryan (1973) 383 Complete games:
Amos Rusie (1893) 50 Appearances:
Mike Marshall (1974) 106

Alanta Gobbles Way to Top of Urban-Sprawl List

Way up in Arctic Norway, where winter isn't far off and there hasn't been much excitement since back in March when 23,000 troops took part in a NATO exercise called Strong Resolve, a local civilian decided it was time to stir things up. According to reports, he dressed in a sergeant's uniform, sneaked onto the Setermoen Army base in the wee hours of the morning, helped himself to an idle vehicle, and went for a joy ride. But not just any idle vehicle. He chose a 40-foot-long, armor-plated rocket launcher capable of firing 12 rounds 25 miles each. Fortunately, at least it wasn't loaded. Showing - well - strong resolve, police blocked the highway to southern Norway, ordered local residents to stay indoors, and arrested the fellow a few hours later.

Meanwhile, police in Orlando, Fla., are working on a series of burglaries so big that you could call them "Titanic." In fact, that's exactly what was stolen: 240 just-released cassette copies of the hit film from a warehouse and dozens more from video stores. Since many of them turned up for sale at a flea market, distributors have a sinking feeling that someone is trying to cut into their profits. Alanta Gobbles Way to Top of Urban-Sprawl List

In a recent Sierra Club survey of major US cities, Atlanta emerged as No. 1 in its consumption of green space - destroying 500 acres weekly. The environmental group says uncontrolled suburban growth translates into lost farmland, traffic jams, and rising costs of public services. Among sprawling urban areas of at least 1 million residents, the Sierra Club top 10 includes:

1. Atlanta
2. St. Louis
3. Washington
4. Cincinnati
5. Kansas City
6. Denver
7. Seattle
8. Minneapolis-St.Paul
9. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
10. Chicago

Do Homers Seem More Routine? Well, They Are

When Ross Jackson won more than $100,000 on a popular TV quiz show in England earlier this month, he could hardly contain his glee. Neither could his creditors. It seems Jackson owes almost a quarter of that amount to them. Hardly had he scooped up his prize as the cameras rolled than he was summoned to a court hearing so payment in full could be arranged.

Many Americans may have reservations about President Clinton, but a certain Israeli resort doesn't. Despite international coverage of his political difficulties, a four-star hotel in the Mediterranean seaside town of Netanya has added his name to its outdoor sign. Said an official of the newly redesignated 200-room Carmel Clinton: "He's the people's president. We don't look at the item of Monica."

Do Homers Seem More Routine? Well, They Are

With Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa going head to head for baseball's home-run record, you may wonder whether the traditional four-bagger is less of a rarity than it once was. Of course, there are variables to consider, including the addition of two new teams to the major leagues in 1993 and again this year, and a strike-shortened 1994 season. Still, statistics indicate players are breaking into a home-run trot more often as seasons roll by. Total major-league homers for the past decade and each year's average per game (unofficially 2.07 so far this season):

Avg. Year Total HRs HRs/game 1988 3,180 1.51 1989 3,083 1.46 1990 3,317 1.58 1991 3,383 1.61 1992 3,038 1.44 1993 4,030 1.78 1994 3,306 2.07 1995 4,081 2.02 1996 4,962 2.19 1997 4,640 2.05

- 'Total Baseball IV: The Official Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball'

- 'Sports Illustrated 1997 Sports Almanac'

- 'Sports Illustrated 1998 Sports Almanac'

New Cop Caper Proves To Be Surprise Attraction

In the mail, when a Kelowna, British Columbia, resident picked it up the other day, was a letter from his mother. There was no doubt about that; in her handwriting on the envelope was his name: Mr. Christopher Berry. However, that's all that was written on it. No street address. No city, province, country, or postal code. All the more remarkable is the fact that Berry's mother lives in England. How could her correspondence find its way through the sorting systems of two countries and reach him in only one week? One theory: Since she writes as often as four days in every seven, the mail handlers all along the way must have recognized this one as another of her letters and known just how to route it.

Speaking of mail, the US Postal Service suggests it's time to think in terms of starting your Christmas shopping if you're planning to send packages overseas. For example, parcels traveling by ship to addressees in Africa should be postmarked by Oct. 26 if they're to arrive on time. New Cop Caper Proves To Be Surprise Attraction

"Rush Hour," a comedy starring Asian superstar Jackie Chan and rising black comic Chris Tucker as mismatched cops in Los Angeles, defied all expectations at the box office last weekend - far surpassing the competition and grossing $31 million. That set a new record for a September opening, surpassing the $18.9 million recorded in 1996 for "The First Wives Club," according New Line Cinema, which released "Rush Hour." Estimated grosses for top films at North American theaters Sept. 18-20 (in millions):

1. "Rush Hour" $31.0
2. "One True Thing" 6.6
3. "There's Something
About Mary" 6.0
4. "Rounders" 4.8
5. "Simon Birch" 3.9
6. "Saving Private Ryan" 3.4
7. "Blade" 3.3
8. "Ever After" 1.7
9. "Armageddon" 1.2
10. "Snake Eyes" 1.0

Least Corrupt Nation

A Connecticut man who thought he might get a thank you from his local police department could instead find himself $100 poorer all for trying to be a good citizen. Larry Tarducci of Branford was concerned about the safety of the youngsters in his neighborhood among them his own because of speeding motorists. He asked the town to post diamond-shaped Slow, Children Playing signs. Answer: No. So Tarducci bought and posted two of the signs himself. He was ordered to take them down or pay a fine. The warnings, said the traffic-control commission, aren't enforceable. It would, however, be OK to relocate the signs to his front lawn, 10 feet from the street.

On the subject of traffic control, motorists in Charleston, W.Va., were inconvenienced by what you might call a chocolate drop. A truck carrying 25 tons of pudding cups overturned on I-64, spilling them onto the pavement. No injuries, but the goo took seven hours to clean up. Yes, some in the crew admitted it was the sweetest job they'd ever had.

Least Corrupt Nation? Survey Says It's Denmark Transparency International includes 85 countries in its 1998 index of corruption, based on surveys of experts and the general public. A ranking of 10 indicates a country is perceived to be highly clean; a 0 indicates it is viewed as highly corrupt.

Cameroon is ranked last, with a score of 1.4. Russia is No. 76, with a score of 2.4. The US and Austria, each with a score of 7.5, share 17th place. The 10 nations rated as least corrupt and their scores:

1. Denmark 10.0 2. Finland 9.6 3. Sweden 9.5 4. New Zealand 9.4 5. Iceland 9.3 6. Canada 9.2 7. Singapore 9.1 8. Netherlands 9.0 (tie) Norway 9.0 10. Switzerland 8.9

15 Rock 'n' Rollers Win Place on Museum Ballot

Next time you watch one of those macho-cop movies in which the hero uses martial arts techniques to subdue the bad guys, think of Jeff Keaton. Keaton was sharpening his karate skills as a deputy sheriff in Fremont County, Iowa, when things apparently got out of hand as he practiced with a colleague. The other fellow is seeking disability payments for an injury that kept him from work for 2-1/2 months. Deputy Keaton was fired. Said his boss: "Some of us aren't in shape for that."

The US courts are groaning under the weight of frivolous lawsuits, right? Yup, and where better to find proof than New York State's prison system, which spends more than $4 million a year defending itself against litigation filed by inmates. One of them alleges the state forced him into a life of crime because he had so many unpaid traffic tickets that he was denied a driver's license. 15 Rock 'n' Rollers Win Place on Museum Ballot

Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, and Billy Joel top a list of 15 nominees for induction next year into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Musicians are eligible 25 years after release of their first recordings. McCartney is already in the hall as a member of the Beatles. If reinducted, it will be as a solo artist. The class of 1999 will be picked by more than 800 artists, producers, journalists, and industry executives and announced in November. The nominees:

Black Sabbath Solomon Burke The Flamingos Billy Joel Darlene Love Curtis Mayfield Paul McCartney The Moonglows Gene Pitney Del Shannon Dusty Springfield Staples Singers Bruce Springsteen Steely Dan Ritchie Valens

Most Powerful Women In US Business - Fortune

Reflecting on what had just happened in Oklahoma City, Gregory Johnson said: "It feels great! It feels great! It was well overdue, but it all worked out. Words can't express the way I feel right now!" Had he welcomed the birth of his first child? Perhaps he'd finally paid off his mortgage? No. Johnson, you see, coached Prairie View A&M, a small Texas college, to its first football victory since Oct. 28, 1989 - a streak of 80 consecutive losses, the longest in modern history. The waiting ended when his team edged Langston College, 14-12.

In Slovakia, Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar had some explaining to do earlier this month because of his reelection-campaign billboards. They featured a picture of rugged mountains, lush countryside, and the words "The country of your heart." What could possibly be controversial about that, you ask? Well, his opponents discovered the photo had been taken in Switzerland. Most Powerful Women In US Business - Fortune

Carly Fiorina, group president of Lucent Technologies' Global Service Provider Business, heads a new list of 50 most powerful American businesswomen published by Fortune. In measuring their power, the magazine considered such factors as revenues and profits controlled, the importance of the business to the global economy, and its impact on US culture. The top 10:

1. Carly Fiorina Lucent Technologies
2. Oprah Winfrey Harpo Entertainment Group
3. Heidi Miller Travelers Group
4. Shelly Lazarus Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide
5. Sherry Lansing Paramount Pictures
6. Jill Barad Mattel
7. Marilyn Carlson Carlson Cos.
8. Andrea Jung Avon Products
9. Abby Joseph Cohen Goldman Sachs
10. Marjorie Scardino Pearson PLC

Six Inventors Admitted To National Hall of Fame

True story: It was late in his shift, and Los Angeles policeman Kelly Benitez could have ignored the old Ford Thunderbird with an expired license. But rather than let the minor infraction go, he signaled for the car to pull over. What happened next is now the stuff of legend around the LAPD. The driver turned out to be the father Benitez last saw when he was a baby. The two had been searching for each other for 29 years. The elder Benitez, a school teacher, embraced his son so warmly that other motorists stopped to render assistance, thinking the cop was being assaulted.

OK, you're in Milwaukee and feel - um - imprisoned by the clothing styles in most of the stores. What to do? Well, for $69 you could buy one of designer George Keppler's new fashions: a blaze-orange jumpsuit on the back of which is stamped "Milwaukee County Jail." Much to police dismay, they've become popular. After one buyer was taken off a bus on suspicion of being an escapee, however, Keppler agreed to stop making them for a while. But, looked at another way, if some future wearer is arrested for a real crime, that's one less piece of prison garb the county would have to issue. Six Inventors Admitted To National Hall of Fame

The National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio, recently inducted six new members as part of its effort to celebrate the creative and entrepreneurial spirit. Best known among them is Alfred Nobel, who invented dynamite and established the Nobel Prize. The new members and the inventions that won them hall-of-fame status:

S. Joseph Begun, first tape recorder for broadcasting

Douglas Engelbart, computer mouse

James Fergason, liquid crystal displays

Kary Banks Mullis, process used to identify and reproduce DNA

Alfred Nobel, dynamite

Henry Timken, tapered roller bearings

Costliest US Hurricane? That Was Andrew in '92

No trashy jokes, please, but perhaps you can empathize with a Sioux Falls, S.D., couple whose teenage son accidentally threw away a candy wrapper that looked as though it was the winner in a national giveaway contest. The Snickers wrapper from the company's $2 million NFL Shockwave MVP game ended up in Shirley and Tim Garrett's refuse somewhere in the city dump. They enlisted friends to help search for the precious piece of paper. The city's response: No way, because the landfill also holds hazardous wastes. Said a philosophical Mrs. Garrett: ""It's OK; life will go on. We've got each other."

In Mexico City, where police are having trouble fending off corruption allegations, Adolfo Garcia has become a poster boy for honesty. Garcia, who's paid only $6,000 a year, chased down a man trying to get away with $10,000 in cash accidentally dropped outside the US embassy by a departing diplomat. Yes, he returned every cent of it. Costliest US Hurricane? That Was Andrew in '92

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released this ranking of the 10 costliest US storms in terms of total damage, disregarding any loss of life or injuries. Those storms, the year each occurred, the affected region, and a damage estimate (in billions, adjusted to 1996 dollars):

1. Andrew (1992), Florida, Louisiana $30.47
2. Hugo (1989), South Carolina $8.49
3. Agnes (1972), Northeast $7.50
4. Betsy (1965), Florida, Louisiana $7.43
5. Camille (1969), Mississippi, Alabama $6.01
6. Diane (1955), Northeast $4.83
7. Frederic (1979), Alabama, Mississippi $4.33
8. Unnamed (1938), New England $4.14
9. Fran (1996), North Carolina $3.20 10. Opal (1995), Florida, Alabama $3.01

Nations Where Women's Share of Pay Is Highest

Mark McGwire's record season has ensured him a place not just in baseball's record book; it also qualified him for road atlases. The US Senate has voted to rename I-70 as it passes through St. Louis County, Mo., for the Cardinals star. The idea came from Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz, who wrote of McGwire's 70 round-trippers: "That's not a home-run total; that's an interstate." Not adopted was the writer's suggestion that a colossus of the slugger straddle the highway.

The political party of German Chancellor-elect Gerhard Schroder was delighted when his toothy grin helped win over millions of voters last weekend. But the Social Democrats (SDP) aren't at all happy that a toothpaste company also finds the Schroder grin irresistible. Full-page ads for British-made Perlweiss appeared in newspapers within 72 hours of the election, showing Schroder flashing his - well - pearly whites above the slogan, "He showed them all." But using photos of public figures for commercial purposes without permission is illegal in Germany, and the SDP insists that Perlweiss stop or face the bite of legal action.

A recent report from the UN Development Program indicates the share of total earned income paid to women varies widely from country to country - from more than 47 percent in Tanzania to less than 10 percent in Qatar. Using 1995 data, it lists the share for the US as 40.3 percent; for Canada, 37.96 percent. The UN report credits the following nations as having the highest percentage of total earned income going to women:

1. Tanzania 47.29%
2. Cambodia 45.17
3. Sweden 44.70
4. Latvia 43.98
5. Ghana 43.30
6. Ukraine 42.38
7. Norway 42.36
8. Burundi 42.34
9. Burma (Myanmar) 42.33 10. Vietnam 42.03