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Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 10:56:03 PM EST
Parisians Fall Short Of Breaking World Kissing Record

Paris, France (AHN) - Thousands of Parisians gathered for a smooch on Thursday to try to break the world kissing record, but they weren't able to do so. On a day devoted to worldwide record breaking, just 1,188 kissers showed up in Paris in an attempt to break the Budapest's 2005 world record for 11,570 people kissing in one spot at one moment, according to the Guinness World Records officials.

The event took place at La Defense, a modernist business park on the west edge of Paris.

Other weird and wacky events were staged in countries spanning from America to Asia including, South Africa's largest ever aqua aerobic class, the largest tea party in Japan and American Jackie Bibby trying to hold nine live rattlesnakes in his mouth at the same time.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 11:03:42 PM EST
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BBC: Klimt crowns record art auction

A sale of Impressionist and 20th century art in New York has made more than $491m (£255m), breaking the record for an art auction.

A 1912 portrait, Adele Bloch-Bauer II, by the Austrian artist Gustav Klimt fetched almost $88m (£45m).

The painting was one of five Klimt works looted by the Nazis and returned to their owners earlier this year.

A Picasso, due to be sold by Andrew Lloyd Webber, was withdrawn at the last minute after disputes over ownership.

Christopher Burge, chief auctioneer at Christie's, underlined the scale of the sale's success.

"I've never seen anything like it," he said. "It was the most extraordinary auction I've been involved in."

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 11:04:17 PM EST
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Scotsman: Russia fails to see the funny side of Borat as ban looms

SACHA Baron Cohen's controversial new comedy film may be banned in Russia after a government agency said it would refuse to grant permission for screening.

The Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography said Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan could offend some viewers and contained material that "might seem disparaging in relation to certain ethnic groups and religions", according to Vadim Ivanov, theatrical sales director at the distributor, 20th Century Fox.

Mr Ivanov said he hoped the agency would relent and that the film, a big hit in Britain and the United States, will premiere in Russia as scheduled on 30 November.

The agency informed the distributor in a letter that it would not grant the permission required to show the film, but later said the decision was not official, Mr Ivanov noted. "This story is not over," he added.

Mr Ivanov said he was unaware of Russian authorities having ever banned a non-pornographic film.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 11:05:08 PM EST
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I fail to see the funny side of Borat, but a ban?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 06:34:16 AM EST
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It's a ban for theater runs, DVDs should be available.

Unfortunately, Russia decided to copy European laws limiting freedom of speech in cases of real or perceived extremism and racial hatred. Personally, I think that US gets the issue right with rather a high standard in such cases. Russia is choosing very restrictive European interpretation and there is little experience with interpretation which leads to cases when say an editor was fined for publication of Danish cartoons (later overturned in higher court).

Specifically, my understanding is reasoning here is that Khazakhstan is a neighbor and Khazakhs are living in Russia and film can be seen as disparaging to Khazakhs, so it is seen appropriate to have DVD-only distribution.

by blackhawk on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 07:17:03 AM EST
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...what would happen if Borat was from Georgia?
by Nomad on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 07:58:34 AM EST
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I would guess it would be the same. Why should it be different?

BTW, it's not official ban, just licensing agency opined that given current laws unlikely the application for theater run will be approved, and distributor chose not to  apply (possibly going to courts in case of denial) and go for DVD distribution.

by blackhawk on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 08:14:41 AM EST
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Because I'm curious about the opinion of someone with more inside info on the internal working within Russia what is left of the story of the ethnic Georgians people within Russia. When the story broke 1 month ago about them being removed from Russia, it was all press flurry. But the Human Rights Council recently criticised the development, and I've heard naught.

Any comments?

by Nomad on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 08:54:10 AM EST
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Estimates are there are about 1 million Georgians in Russia, and in 1 month 800 were deported, so results are meager. At the same time, clearly something is wrong when when on top level they talk about crackdown on certain types of crimes, on low level police starts checking all people having Georgian last names. Last I heard police had been asked to stop this practice.

Actually, immigration and ethnic organized crime is the problem (that's how campaign was framed), but I don't see how it can be solved by short-term campaigns.

On immigration, Russia is #2 destination in the world behind the US. Current estimates is that there are about 10 million illegal immigrants in Russia and immigration system is out of whack. For one thing, there are no educational or property requirements for citizenship, for another, decision process is delegated to the police station level and extremely prone to corruption. So realistically, for the organized crime group it's easy to legalize it's member, but for a refugee from, say, Central Asia the process can take years and there were reports when people become illegal again on passport renewals.

by blackhawk on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 07:44:36 PM EST
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CNN: Mariners report new island in South Pacific

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- A new volcanic island has risen from the South Pacific near Tonga, according to reports from two vessels that passed the area.

The crew of the Maiken, a yacht that left the northern Tongan islands group of Vava'u in August, reported on their Web log on August 12 that they saw streaks of light, porous pumice stone floating in the water -- then "sailed into a vast, many-miles-wide belt of densely packed pumice."

They posted photos of huge "pumice rafts" that they encountered after passing Tonga's Late island while sailing toward Fiji.

"We were so fascinated and busy taking pictures that we plowed a couple of hundred meters into this surreal floating stone field before we realized that we had to turn back," wrote a crewman identified only as Haken.

The next day they spotted an active volcanic island, Haken wrote.

He said they could see the volcanic island clearly. "One mile in diameter and with four peaks and a central crater smoking with steam and once in a while an outburst high in the sky with lava and ashes. I think we're the first ones out here," he reported.

There was no official confirmation of a new island, either from Tonga's Ministry of Lands or the Tonga Defense Service.

Separately, fishing boat captain Siaosi Fenukitau reported seeing the volcanic island, the Matangitonga news Web site reported.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 11:05:58 PM EST
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I'm claiming this piece of property for a new country...now accepting applications for new citizens...
by gradinski chai on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 02:22:34 AM EST
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It's just a pumice raft. First wind and high seas and your island will be n o more.

Nice thought tho'

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 07:06:38 AM EST
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This will be taken as evidence against rising sea levels. Just wait.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 06:36:43 AM EST
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