When you gotta go...
A 12-year old Berlin boy in urgent need of a toilet slipped past German President Johannes Rau's bodyguards and asked the surprised head of state for directions to the nearest washroom.
The boy, Tarkan Lohde, did not recognise the 69-year-old leader when a car carrying Rau to a meeting in the working class district of Neukoelln suddenly stopped next to him, Bild newspaper reported on Saturday.
"Four men in dark suits got out, and then the fifth man looked friendly so I went up and asked him 'Excuse me, do you know where there's a toilet here anywhere?'" Lohde said.
Worth a try
A former local authority employee in Sweden who claimed the costs for prostitutes and champagne on expenses lost an appeal Wednesday against a community service order, Sweden's TT news agency said.
While on trips abroad with a travel agent to plan conferences for the City of Malmo's leisure department, he visited nightclubs, where he bought services from prostitutes and ordered champagne. The court found Malmo had been billed SEK (Swedish kronas) 280,000 (USD 27,820) too much as a result.
The 54-year old man, who was not named, must perform 180 hours community service after being found guilty of a serious breach of faith toward his employer, the Malmo appeals court ruled.
Russia names patron saint of tax police
Russia's Orthodox Church has named the apostle Matthew patron saint of the country's feared tax police, the Sevodnya newspaper reported.
Russian tax police—known for storming buildings in black ski masks to conduct an audit—have had something of a public relations problem, as did the widely despised Roman tax collectors, or "publicans," of biblical times.
St Matthew himself was a publican, before giving up the profession to follow Jesus. In Matthew's book of the Bible, Jesus frequently lumps tax collectors along with prostitutes as being allowed to enter heaven if they accept God.
Disgraced former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was hit in the face with a cream cake Thursday, as he signed copies of his memoirs in a Berlin book-shop. A Reuters photographer said a man joined a line of people waiting to have their book signed and struck out with the cake, as he reached the front of the line.
"Stop taking photographs," Kohl ordered a waiting press pack as he wiped the cake off the side of his face where he was hit.
Attacking public figures with custard pies and other confectionery has become a popular sport in recent years. Frank Loy, Washington's chief negotiator at the UN climate talks in the Hague, was splattered with a pie last week. Other famous targets have included Microsoft head Bill Gates and World Trade Organization chief Renato Ruggiero.
Membership has its privledges
Being a successful Russian mobster means never having to wait in line, especially when it comes to getting a valued foreign visa.
Liberal Russian parliamentarian Grigory Yavlinsky appealed to European governments to ease up their rules on obtaining visas and said tough screening procedures only hurt students, workers, academics and other ordinary Russians wanting to go abroad.
"There are no gangsters in the lines for visas," he told a conference in Berlin on European economic and foreign policy issues. "I don't know how they are getting the visas, but they are not standing in lines."
An information hotline set up by Germany's Agriculture Ministry to handle queries about bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or "mad cow disease") received so many calls that the system collapsed, the ministry said Tuesday.
So many people phoned in when the hotline was set up on Monday that it overloaded, a statement said. People dialing in were told the number was not recognized.
Germany has been swept up in a health scare over BSE, since the discovery of the first infected German cattle was made public on Friday.
Compiled by Robert L Salvato, 1 December 2000
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