THINGS WE DON'T UNDERSTAND
A man who served a prison term for fraud and larceny in Minnesota has won the Republican nomination for Missouri state auditor in an upset that left his party-backed opponent stunned.
Missouri voters this week nominated Al Hanson, 72, as the GOP candidate, giving him 66 percent of the vote to 34 percent for St. Louis lawyer Jay Kanzler. Hanson will face incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill, 48, who won nomination without opposition.
Hanson, who runs a prison ministry and works as a financial consultant, said he did not accept or spend more than $500 on his campaign while Kanzler, who had the backing of Sen. Kit Bond, had a $115,000 war chest.
Hanson served nine months in prison in Minnesota on felony convictions for fraud and larceny but has refused to discuss his prison record.
(Thanks to Marcy Kreiter, UPI Chicago.)
NEWS OF OTHER LIFE FORMS
It's creepy enough -- at least for folks who don't like the slithering creatures -- that snakes can crawl, burrow, swim and climb. Now, researchers say, they also can fly.
University of Chicago biologist Jake Socha says there are five snake species that "fly" -- although it may be more like a glide or a parachute, in the same fashion as a flying squirrel, frog, lizard or fish.
Socha reports in this week's issue of Nature the aerodynamics of the Chrysopelea paradisi, or paradise tree snake, is unlike any other glider.
He says it exerts remarkable control over the direction it takes, despite an apparent lack of control surfaces.
For example, while in flight, the snake does not bank or lean into turns like most other flyers -- it undulates from side to side.
TODAY'S SIGN THE WORLD IS ENDING
As U.S. leaders ponderously deploy the rhetoric of war against Iraq, they unconsciously echo an alarming pattern: At least five times in the past century, the Guns of August have brought indescribable suffering and grief, terror and death, to the entire world.
World War I broke out at the beginning of August 1914. World War II broke outright after the end of August 1939. North Korea invaded South Korea right before the beginning of August in 1950. And 40 years later, plus literally only two days, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.
It was no coincidence so many wars broke out in August. For that was the month in the Northern Hemisphere when the main grain harvest was brought in. Therefore governments wishing to wage aggressive wars wanted to do so with full granaries to feed their armies.
(Thanks to Martin Sieff, UPI Senior News Analyst.)
AND FINALLY, TODAY'S UPLIFTING STORY
The class of '72 from Huntington High School in Newport News, Va., will finally graduate this Friday.
The Hampton Roads Daily Press reports the all-black school closed in 1971 when a lawsuit alleged the district refused to adopt a plan to eliminate racial segregation in public schools.
The Class of 1972 learned just before their senior year students would be divided among other Newport News public schools.
This weekend, the group will hold a reunion and a graduation ceremony. "We consider what happened in 1971 to be an unexpected challenge that we met, and we not only survived but we have thrived," Dwight Spratley, the class reunion president, told the newspaper.