Possibly deciding that sponsoring terrorism is not good for his life expectancy, Libya's Moammar Gadhafi has taken instead to playing with his train set. Visitors to his Tripoli office report a large train set erected in an anteroom, overlaying a large map of North Africa.
Gadhafi reportedly wants to build the mother and father of all rail links -- an east-west line that would cross Libya to connect Egypt with Algeria, and a North-South line to cross the Sahara desert to Chad and down to the West African coastline on the Atlantic. Remember, this is the guy who spent $6 billion to build the vast man-made river that brings artesian water from beneath the Sahara to the Libyan coast. But a new African rail network might be trickier: trains and sandstorms don't mix.
(From UPI Hears)
THINGS WE DON'T UNDERSTAND
A romance novel titled "Zabibah wal Malik" or "Zabibah and the King" reportedly was written by none other than Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
The tragic tale of loveless marriage, rape and death includes a note on its inside cover explaining the author "did not wish to put his name on it out of humility, like the sons of Iraq who sacrifice their lives and their valuables and never talk about their great deeds."
Is Saddam getting in touch with his feminine side? Perhaps inside every dictator lurks a secret romantic. The CIA is said to have spent several months analyzing its text.
A second novel reportedly is in the works.
(Thanks to UPI's Philippa Scott in London)
NEWS OF OTHER LIFE FORMS
Dick Clark, Danny Bonaduce, Mario Lopez and Dr. Jan Adams -- the co-hosts of the syndicated talk show "The Other Half" -- are signing up for Santa School to see what goes into being a professional Santa. The show's Wednesday episode will feature footage of the fellas trying on the red suits and doing their best to convince a panel of kids -- age 4-to-6-years -- that they are really the jolly old elf.
(Thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)
TODAY'S SIGN THE WORLD IS ENDING
Chicago authorities indicted 35 people last Friday in an alleged drug smuggling ring in which parents rented out their infants to couriers.
The drugs were smuggled in cans of baby formula. "This is a new low in drug smuggling in and out of the United States -- using infants as cover," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald told a news conference.
The indictments allege the parents were paid in cash or drugs for loaning out their babies. "This was an elaborate drug-smuggling operation that preyed on the great respect that we as human beings all afford mothers and babies -- and betrayed that respect brazenly," Fitzgerald said. "One baby, who made six trips with four different couriers, was rented by its parents for the first time when she was only 3 weeks old." He called renting babies for the purpose of drug smuggling "truly a new low."
The baby formula cans allegedly were emptied of their contents and then refilled with liquefied heroin and cocaine. A single 16-ounce formula can refilled with liquefied cocaine is worth as much as $700,000, authorities said.
AND FINALLY, TODAY'S UPLIFTING STORY
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani wished his city goodbye as part of an NBC "Saturday Night Live" tribute to his leadership after the Sept. 11 attacks, singing part of the 1960 Shirelles' hit "Will You Love Me Tomorrow."
Giuliani's appearance during the regular "Weekend Update" skit by comic news anchors Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon was well publicized ahead of time. "Will my heart be broken when the night meets the morning sun?" Giuliani sang, gamely keeping the melody along with Fey and Fallon. Toward the finish of the Carole King-Gerry Goffin pop classic the audience was clapping in unison.
"Will you still love me tomorrow?" he concluded. "We'll see," Fallon said about the tomorrow part, adding, "What do you expect, we're New Yorkers."
Finally, Fey, the comedy show's head writer -- festooned with a Lady Liberty torch and crown -- grew serious as she thanked the mayor "for keeping us together" after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
The legal term limits restriction forces Giuliani to leave office Jan. 1 when Michael Bloomberg, a media billionaire, will succeed him as mayor.
Giuliani made a second appearance at the very end of the "Saturday Night Live" program, from in front of the huge Christmas tree outside NBC studios at Rockefeller Center, when he closed the show by wishing everyone happy holidays.