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Added October 14, 2009 with 25 photos
Added October 13, 2009 with 10 photos

HALF MOON BAY, Calif., Oct. 13 (UPI) -- An Iowa man's 1,658-pound pumpkin was the winner -- and record-setter -- at the 36th Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in California.

Don Young, 45, of Des Moines was awarded $9,948 for topping pumpkins entered by 60 growers from California, Washington and Oregon at Monday's competition in Half Moon Bay, Calif.

Event organizers said Young's pumpkin, dubbed the "Monster from the Midway," crushed every giant pumpkin record in the state. It will be displayed at the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival during the weekend.

While a gargantuan gourd, indeed, Young's plump pumpkin would not have made the grade at this month's Ohio Valley Giant Pumpkin Growers Weigh-In where Nick and Christy Harp of Jackson Township near Massillon beat all comers wit the 1,725-pound pumpkin they grew, WJW-TV in Cleveland reported at the time.

Added October 12, 2009 with 8 photos

Gaza's only zoo hired a local artist to paint donkeys to look like zebras to attract crowds, zoo officials said.

Keen to keep one of Gaza's only attractions open to the public, head keeper Mahmoud Barghouti said the zoo's financial situation forced him to seek a creative solution to the problem of not being able to afford new animals, a report in Yedioth Aharonoth said Thursday.

"It is the only place of entertainment left in Gaza. We used to have two zebras but they died from starvation during the military offensive. Some of the other animals escaped and died and some were stolen," he told the newspaper.

The faux zebras are the zoo's main attraction and young visitors love to take photos with them.

"Currently the children of Gaza must suffice with cats and dogs and donkeys painted as zebras, and the lioness Sabrina," he said. One of the zookeepers said they explain to the visiting children how the dogs, cats and monkeys were smuggled in through tunnels from Egypt, the newspaper said.

Added October 09, 2009 with 10 photos
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China marked the 60th anniversary of the assumption of power by the Communist Party with a huge parade that show cased its military might.

The ceremonies centered on Tiananmen Square where, on Oct. 1, 1949, Mao Zedong declared the establishment of the People's Republic of China.

The parade with an estimated 100,000 participants showed off military hardware and serves as a reminder the world's most populous country -- 1.3 billion -- can field an important army in the traditional sense of military power.

But China's true strength wasn't seen on the parade grounds. Instead, it is inked in ledger books where the figures show Beijing holds considerable international sway economically. The United States is particularly vulnerable along this line as China in recent years has amassed more than $1 trillion in U.S. dollars in its foreign reserves (and another $1 trillion in other currencies).

Added September 30, 2009 with 20 photos
Added September 28, 2009 with 6 photos
Added September 28, 2009 with 7 photos
Iran fired missiles suspected of having of a range of 1,240 miles -- enough to reach Israel or U.S. bases in the region -- and said the tests were successes.

It was the third series of missile tests by Tehran, which had a secret nuclear facility unveiled last week and has talks with the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany this week about its nuclear program.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes but many Western countries fear it may be a precursor to Tehran developing a nuclear weapon.

The Iranian leadership, particularly President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has been openly hostile to Israel.

Tests over the past few days included Monday's firing of the Shahab-3 rocket, which is believed to have a range of 1,240 miles. Two classes of missiles with less range were fired Sunday.

Even before the Monday tests, U.S. officials said they had the international support to impose "severe additional sanctions" on Tehran. However, Security Council members Russia and China have been successful in the past in keeping tough penalties from being levied. It is unknown if the revelation of a secret nuclear facility would change that stance.

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