NEW YORK, April 20 (UPI) -- A growing number of men in the United States are dropping their white underpants in favor of more exotic and wacky underwear.
New specialty shops and Web sites marketing such designs as pink underwear with white piping, fire trucks, hot dogs and even Batman and other superheroes, report booming sales, The New York Times reported.
As evidence, in 2006, sales of plain white briefs dipped below 50 percent of the market for the first time in decades -- if not ever. The NPD Group, which monitors clothing trends, said sales of men's knit underwear rose 5.3 percent from 2004 to 2006, to 397 million pairs.
Portland, Ore., entrepreneur Steven Lien opened a men's underwear store called Under U 4 Men five months ago, and he told the Times he's not looking back.
"The store was profitable within 30 days," he said. "And I didn't open on Gay Street, U.S.A. I opened on Main Street, U.S.A."
Belgium annoyed by Dutch hash cafes
BRUSSELS, April 20 (UPI) -- The prime minister of Belgium says a plan to move hash cafes in Maastricht, The Netherlands, to the outskirts of town violates international agreements.
The move would put some of the cafes close to the border, and the Belgian city of Lanaken, Expatica reported.
In a letter to his Dutch counterpart, Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said The Netherlands had agreed to keep its hash cafes -- where marijuana and hashish can be smoked without fear of prison -- away from the border.
Another treaty bans signatories from having a drug policy that creates problems for a neighbor, Verhofstadt said.
Maastricht Mayor Gerd Leers suggested that Verhofstadt is more interested in getting re-elected than in drug policy.
"Elections are coming up in Belgium and Verhofstadt's party isn't doing well at the moment," Leers said.
Ex-gov of N.J. now teaching ethics
UNION, N.J., April 20 (UPI) -- Former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, who resigned under a cloud, has a job teaching law, ethics and leadership at a state college.
Kean University in Union quietly hired McGreevey part-time in November, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported. While the $17,500 annual paycheck is modest, the job could substantially increase McGreevey's eventual pension by giving him more years' service with the state.
McGreevey quit in 2004 after almost three years as governor, proclaiming "I am a gay American." He said he had had an affair with a man he appointed to a state position, while the man in question denied the affair and said he was a victim of sexual harassment.
"It seems to me, Jim McGreevey teaching law and ethics is a little bit like Dr. Kevorkian teaching health maintenance," said New Jersey Republican Chairman Tom Wilson.
Kean President Dawood Farahi said having a former governor willing to work for the university at such a low salary is "an unbelievable opportunity for us."
Cigarette break saves woman's life
ROCK HILL, S.C., April 20 (UPI) -- Stepping outside her kitchen for a cigarette during a windstorm saved the life of a South Carolina woman when a falling tree demolished her kitchen.
Brenda Comer, 53, of Rock Hill said she had just finished washing dishes Monday morning and stepped outside for a smoke. Seconds later, an 80-foot oak tree snapped in the wind and crashed through the roof -- crushed the area where she had been standing, The Rock Hill Herald reported.
An insurance adjuster declared the home uninhabitable, as much of the roof was demolished and there was electrical, plumbing and structural damage.
Comer had a little bit of luck when the kitchen cabinets were ejected out through the door, the newspaper said.
"I looked down and saw a bottle with two pills," she said. "I thought, 'Well, I have a headache, and there's two Excedrin.'"
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