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By United Press International   |   June 30, 2005 at 6:30 AM   |   Comments

Putin absolved in Super Bowl ring incident

BOSTON, June 30 (UPI) -- New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft has cleared Vladimir Putin of any suspicion that the Russian president may have swiped a Super Bowl ring.

Kraft was at a meeting of U.S. business executives with Putin at the Kremlin and whipped out the ring he got for the Pats' 2005 Super Bowl victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. At 4 ounces, it's the heaviest Super Bowl ring ever -- and packs 124 diamonds.

The New York Sun said Putin, perhaps misunderstanding Kraft's intentions, slipped the bling into his pocket. Kraft, apparently wary of stoking an international incident, decided to leave well enough alone and walked away without making a big deal out of it, the paper said.

Later in the day, Kraft issued a statement absolving Putin.

"I showed the president my most recent Super Bowl ring," Kraft said. "Upon seeing the ring, President Putin, a great and knowledgeable sports fan, was clearly taken with its uniqueness. At that point, I decided to give him the ring as a symbol of the respect and admiration that I have for the Russian people and the leadership of President Putin."


Faulkner works making a comeback

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., June 30 (UPI) -- More than 40 years after his death William Faulkner is having a new heyday -- due largely to Oprah Winfrey's decision to feature him in her book club.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that fans of the Mississippi-born author of "The Sound and the Fury" and "As I Lay Dying" are thrilled that the Oprah seal of approval is helping bring Faulkner back to a wider readership. The paper said many scholars lament that the only people reading Faulkner in recent years have been college students doing it because it was assigned.

As part of Winfrey's book club, Southeast Missouri State University professor Robert Hamblin has been leading an online discussion of "As I Lay Dying," the club's June selection. Hamblin delivers videotaped lectures and answers questions that come into Winfrey's Web site.

Hamblin is director of the school's Center for Faulkner studies -- home to one of the four top collections of Faulkner material in the world, the paper reported.


How about a shot of lip balm?

DES MOINES, Iowa, June 30 (UPI) -- A Cedar Rapids, lowa, company is marketing non-alcoholic booze-flavored lip balm that's a long way from a traditional ChapStick.

Raining Rose, a maker of natural body-care products, says its rum, vodka and fruit-flavored lip balm is not intended for children -- although a psychologist warns advertising of brands like Malibu rum and Smirnoff vodka does have an impact on children.

Chuck Hammond, a co-owner of Raining Rose, told the Des Moines Register the flavored lip balm, which features brand logos on the packaging, was given away in bars and handed out to college students during spring break.

The booze-flavored lip balm may be alcohol-free but critics worry some users will develop a taste for the real thing.

"Alcohol is an acquired taste," said Douglas Gentile, a University of Iowa psychology professor.


Man proposes seizing Souter property

WEARE, N.H., June 30 (UPI) -- A California man wants to take advantage of a recebt Supreme Court decision on seizing private land -- proposing a hotel on Justice David Souter's land.

Souter, a resident of Weare, N.H., joined in the majority opinion that allows governments to seize private property and turn it over to a private developer if the action would benefit a community.

Freestar Media Chief Executive Officer Logan Darrow Clements Tuesday faxed a letter to the Weare Town Hall, proposing seizure of Souter's property for a hotel that would "better serve the public interest," the Concord Monitor reported.

City officials say they are taking the letter seriously.

"Am I taking this seriously? But of course," said Charles Meany, who handles building requests. "In lieu of the recent Supreme Court decision, I would imagine that some people are pretty much upset. If it is their right to pursue this type of end, then by all means let the process begin. ... I have to allow the law to take its course."

The Monitor said Clements has dubbed the proposal the Lost Liberty Hotel. It will include the Just Desserts Café.

Souter's two-story farmhouse is assessed at $100,000. He pays $2,895 a year in property taxes.

© 2005 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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