Don't Panic! Lighten Up!


Reality Spelled Out: Londonistan, Gitmo and Beslan made it into English dictionary

The new arrivals provided a snapshot of the way that the English language has thrown up new words to describe the modern world.

A hoodie - a perceived growing menace lurking around Britain's shopping centers - is "a young person who wears a hooded sweatshirt, regarded by some as a potential hooligan," according to the new dictionary.

And wags, the pampered wives and girlfriends spending their partners' cash, take their place after a sterling performance accompanying the England football team at the 2006 World Cup.

From fashion circles, size zero slips into the dictionary, while muffin tops, the flabby bulge over the top of a tight pair of jeans, squeezes in.

Pro-ana, the belief that anorexia is a viable lifestyle choice, also makes it into the dictionary.

Arrow Down

Party whistles go silent! Ethanol boom may fuel shortage of tequila

Mexican farmers are setting ablaze fields of blue agave, the cactus-like plant used to make the fiery spirit tequila, and resowing the land with corn as soaring U.S. ethanol demand pushes up prices.

The switch to corn will contribute to an expected scarcity of agave in coming years, with officials predicting that farmers will plant between 25 percent and 35 percent less agave this year to turn the land over to corn.


UK: Road signs 'lost' on many drivers

Many British motorists are lost when it comes to understanding common road signs, a survey suggests.

Some 67% of the 2,500 people polled did not recognise "no through road" signs, and one-third could not identify the sign for "no motor vehicles".

There was no indication that this sign posed a problem


Artist unveils $98M diamond skull

LONDON - Damien Hirst, former BritArt bad boy whose works infuriate and inspire in equal measure, did it again on Friday with a diamond-encrusted platinum cast of a human skull priced at a cool $98 million.



2,000 Gather for Amsterdam Nude Photo

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - Dozens of women posed naked on their bicycles on a bridge over one of Amsterdam's historic canals Sunday - a unique sight even in a city famed for its relaxed attitude toward nudity and sex.

©Spencer Tunick (AP)
2,000 Gather for Amsterdam Nude Photo


A leap back in time shows Czechs ate frogs' legs first

Frogs' legs, a delicacy most closely associated with the French, is in fact, a Czech dish, according to archaeologists. Although the edible amphibians are closely associated with Gallic cuisine - so much so that English people refer to the French by the derogatory nickname "the frogs" - ancient Czechs were eating them more than 5,000 years ago.

New research by archaeologists has uncovered the kitchen remains of hundreds of frogs' legs in a hill fort east of Prague. Most of the 900 bones found in a pit are hind legs (the part which has the most meat and which is traditionally eaten), and came from males. This suggests they were deliberately caught in the spring during their mating season.

A report by archaeologists at the Institute of Archaeology of the Academy of the Sciences of the Czech Republic says: "The discovery indicates that the dietary use of frogs in prehistory is not limited to the Western Europe only. It shows that the small vertebrate could have played an important role in human lives in central European agricultural prehistory."

Bizarro Earth

Pole wakes from 19-year coma in democratic country

A 65-year-old railwayman who fell into a coma following an accident in communist Poland regained consciousness 19 years later to find democracy and a market economy, Polish media reported on Saturday.

Wheelchair-bound Jan Grzebski, whom doctors had given only two or three years to live following his 1988 accident, credited his caring wife Gertruda with his revival.

"It was Gertruda that saved me, and I'll never forget it," Grzebski told news channel TVN24.

"For 19 years Mrs Grzebska did the job of an experienced intensive care team, changing her comatose husband's position every hour to prevent bed-sore infections," Super Express reported Dr Boguslaw Poniatowski as saying.


4 Charged in False Brain Surgery Claims

NEW YORK - Four people billed a health insurance company for 20 brain operations that were never performed on them, sometimes for the same person on multiple occasions, authorities said.

Bizarro Earth

Iran minister backs brief marriages to stem illicit sex

An Iranian cabinet minister said young people should be encouraged to get temporarily married, a practice unique to Shiite Islam, to avoid illicit extramarital sex, newspapers reported Saturday.

"We should expect violations and repercussions if we do not practically respond to young people's sexual needs," the centrist Kargozaran daily quoted interior minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi as saying.

"Islam has solutions for all human problems and temporary marriage is a solution to this kind of problem," the minister, who is himself a cleric, was quoted as telling a conference in Iran's clerical capital of Qom.

Temporary marriage, known in Farsi as sigheh, is a contract that allows a man and a woman to be married for any period of time from just an hour to 99 years.


Rifle Replica Leads to School Lockdown

WEST POINT, Utah - A bus driver called police when he saw a student carrying what turned out to be a replica of a Civil War-era rifle that had been displayed in class all year. The call led to a 47-minute lockdown at West Point Junior High School and two elementary schools.