Of Human Interest: News-lite

By PENNY NELSON BARTHOLOMEW, United Press International  |  Oct. 5, 2001 at 6:15 AM
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For the first time, the Texas State Fair added an "Ugly Cake Contest" to its annual baking competitions.

And, guess what? People actually submitted entries!

The Dallas Morning News reports that the winner, 33-year-old Pamela Woodberry, baked a lopsided cake decorated with lollipops and peanut-butter cookies. In some ways, the cake was more desecrated than decorated. But when the judges had made up their minds, Woodberry's cake won "Best of Show." She called her creation the "Un-happy Birthday Cake."

By the way, she also entered two other contests. In one, she crocheted a life-size hamburger, fries and drink. She also made a Chicago Bulls hat.

The publication's Kim Horner says many people think Woodberry has too much time on her hands. But, hey, a ribbon's a ribbon.

(Thanks to UPI Feature Reporter Dennis Daily)


In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, shopping in New York City has suffered because of fewer tourists and more New Yorkers staying home.

However, some things are flying off the shelves: red, white and blue ribbons; flags; T-shirts with flags on them; and anything with a picture of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers on it.

Selling well in mid-town Manhattan are T-shirts with the Twin Towers in front of a U.S. flag emblazoned with "You Can Destroy It" across the top and beneath it "But You Can't Destroy The Spirit Of Freedom Of People In America. We Will Stay Together And Get Even Stronger."

Another T-shirt that customers were buying had "God Bless America" over the Twin Towers forming the double-one in "9-11-2001."

Big-sellers in Chinatown are buttons with the Statue of Liberty in the foreground, the Twin Towers in the background and "Good-Bye" superimposed. Another popular item is a photograph of lower Manhattan dominated by the now-gone Twin Towers.

(Thanks to UPI's William M. Reilly in New York)


It's a good thing family members sometimes don't all get along.

The family of international fugitive and terrorist Osama bin Laden reportedly may profit from the Sept. 11 attacks. They're major shareholders in a company called Iridium -- until now a less-than-spectacular investment.

Originally conceived as a personal satellite telephone network, Iridium has 66 satellites in orbit that reportedly cost the company $1 billion dollars and, until now, have been practically useless. But now Iridium is pitching the National Transportation Safety Board to replace the so-called "black boxes" in commercial aircraft with a system using Iridium-owned technology and equipment.

The black boxes from some of the hijacked planes have not yet been recovered and some investigators fear vital information and clues may be damaged or lost.

Iridium says its satellite system can stay in constant contact with aircraft, anywhere in the world, and continually transmits flight data and even voices in the cockpit back to the ground.

The chairman of Iridium has told the federal government the hardware could be shipped to air carriers in as little as 120 days. The NTSB is considering the system as part of its commitment to upgrading commercial airline safety.

(From UPI's Capital Comment)


A group of Cuban exiles have filed criminal charges in Belgium against Cuba's Fidel Castro.

The complaint, filed Thursday, uses a 1993 Belgian law that allows for prosecution for human rights violations anywhere in the world.

Castro and three others -- including his brother Raul, head of Cuba's armed forces --- are being charged with "crimes against humanity" over four decades, including a 1996 MiG attack on two Brothers to the Rescue planes searching for refugees in rafts north of Cuban. Four Cuban Americans from Miami were killed.

Jose Basulto, founder of Brothers to the Rescue, was also on that mission but managed to hide his plane in a cloud and get away. He is one of 10 people who have signed the complaint in Belgium.

The Belgium law, passed in 1993, was used earlier this year against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for a 1982 massacre at Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon when he was defense minister. Sharon canceled a scheduled visit to Brussels earlier this year, and many said it was because of the investigation.

If, following an investigation, a Belgian judge issues an indictment naming Castro, that would make him subject to arrest anywhere in Europe under EU agreements. Maximum punishment is 30 years in prison.


FRIDAY: This is National Day of Concern About Young People and Gun Violence, by presidential proclamation.

And today is World Smile Day. (Web site: worldsmileday.com)

SATURDAY: This is International Frugal Fun Day, devoted to the belief that fun doesn't have to be costly. (Web site: frugalfun.com/frugalfundayideas.html)

Today is National German-American Day, by presidential proclamation.

It's also Physician Assistant Day.

This is Armed Forces Day in Egypt, celebrating the Egyptian military crossing into Sinai on this date in 1973.

And people in Ireland observe Ivy Day, the anniversary of the death of Irish nationalist leader Charles Stewart Parnell, by wearing a spring of ivy on their lapels today.

SUNDAY: Today through Oct. 13 is Fire Prevention Week, by presidential proclamation. (Web sites: nfpa.org, sparky.org)

This is also Get Organized Week, Home-Based Business Week, Minority Enterprise Development Week, Mystery Series Week, National Chili Week, National Metric Week, and Squirrel Awareness Week.

It's World Communion Sunday, observed by Christians worldwide.

And Germany celebrates Erntedankfest, a harvest thanksgiving or potato festival, today.

MONDAY: Columbus Day is observed today. It's a federal holiday.

Today through Oct. 12 is Pet Peeve Week.

This is Alvin C. York Day, honoring the celebrated World War I American hero who single-handedly killed 20 German soldiers and captured a French hill in France's Argonne Forest on this date in 1918.

Alabama celebrates American Indian Heritage Day today. In South Dakota, the observance is known as Native Americans' Day.

It's Lovable Lawyers Day.

This is National Children's Day, by presidential proclamation.

Canada celebrates Thanksgiving Day today.

It's Health-Sports Day in Japan.

Peru commemorates Day of the Navy with a holiday.

And today is Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship Day.

(Thanks to Chase's 2001 Calendar of Events)


He's known as the "father of the Space Age." Who?

Robert Goddard, born on this date in 1882. The scientist was largely ignored or ridiculed during his lifetime because of his dreams of rocket travel, including trips to other planets.

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