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  |   Aug. 21, 2012 at 6:30 AM
Sardinian family sets longevity record

PERDASDEFOGU, Italy, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- The Melis family of Sardinia, featuring siblings ranging in age from 78 to 105, hold a record for family longevity, a newspaper on the Italian island said.

It took Guinness World Records researchers seven years of careful investigation, but the Italian family, with a combined age of 818 years and 205 days, as of June 1, is a record holder and a legend in their hometown of Perdasdefogu, the newspaper La Nuova Sardegna reported Monday.

Eldest is Consolata Melis, who turns 105 Wednesday, followed by Claudia, 99, Maria, 97, brother Antonio, 93, and Concetta, 91. The baby, Adolfo, is 89, and is still employed at a local bar, the Italian news agency ANSA said Monday.

Concetta claims to be the happiest because, she says, she is surrounded by nine children, 24 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren, the newspaper said.


Statue plans irk Italian-Americans

NEW YORK, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- Italian-American activists in New York are objecting to an artist's plans to enclose a Christopher Columbus statue in a model of a modern living room.

Activists and groups including the Italic Institute of America said they object to plans for Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi to enclose the statue in Manhattan's Columbus Circle in a model of a modern living room six stories above the street, the New York Post reported Monday.

Rosario Iaconis, chairman of the Italic Institute of America, called the plan "a bit of an abomination."

"Erecting this living-room set around the statue demeans the community," he said. "Mayor (Michael) Bloomberg has had issues with the community and the Columbus Parade. He's never made amends. I think (the statue) is the height of folly."

Bloomberg released a statement in support of the art installation, which is scheduled to be in place from Sept. 20 until Nov. 18.

"This fall, New York City will rediscover Christopher Columbus in a new and exciting way, thanks to the creativity of Tatzu Nishi," the mayor said. "This is sure to become another must-visit attraction for millions of tourists."


Florida's Rooster Parade returns

TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 21 (UPI) -- About 75 Floridians donned costumes a revived Rooster Parade, a New Orleans-style funeral procession that used to be an annual event.

The Tampa event, which became an annual tradition following the 1997 death of a wild rooster that used to wander the city's streets, returned to the Ybor City neighborhood during the weekend after a five-year hiatus, the Tampa Bay Times reported Monday.

Pam Vopper, whose boyfriend, Tommy Stephens, used to run the event, said the parades stopped because crowds were growing too large.

"There were hundreds of people and it was getting to the point where the city wanted him to pay for security and get a permit. It just became a big project," Vopper said. "It was too much money."

The parade was resurrected by David Audet, a director for the non-profit Artists and Writers Group, with Stephens' permission.

"I just think it's important to preserve Ybor's traditions," Audet said.


Breastfeeding dad denied group leadership

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- A transgendered Canadian man who breastfeeds his baby said he finds the distinction between fatherhood and motherhood to be arbitrary.

Trevor MacDonald, 27, a Winnipeg, Manitoba, a former woman who became a stay-at-home dad, said he breastfeeds the 16-month-old son he gave birth to and belongs to a La Leche League Canada motherhood support group, the Toronto Star reported Monday.

MacDonald said he wrote a letter to the LLLC in June to ask about becoming a group leader, but received a rejection letter seven weeks later.

"Since an LLLC leader is a mother who breastfed a baby, a man cannot become an LLLC leader," the organization wrote.

"You told me that you do not identify as a mother. You are your baby's father. According to LLL philosophy the roles of mothers and fathers are not interchangeable. I think that this would make it difficult for you to represent LLL philosophy," the letter read.

MacDonald said he was "disappointed" by the decision. He said he does not agree with the organization's assertion that motherhood and fatherhood are fundamentally different.

"First and foremost I identify as a parent," Trevor said. "I suppose I use the term (fatherhood) because it's what we have going in our society, not because I think it's fantastic or I think it's really accurate."

© 2012 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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