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Jockstrip: The World As We Know It

By PENNY NELSON BARTHOLOMEW, United Press International

IS THAT DEAD OR ALIVE?

British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the Afghan people Thursday that a $25 million reward awaits anyone who turns in accused terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

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Blair relayed word of the reward via the Pashto-language of the BBC's World Service, a program said to be heard by millions among Afghanistan's largest ethnic group.

"There are people in Afghanistan who could help us," the prime minister said in his broadcast. "There is a very substantial reward, worth millions of dollars, for his capture, for him being yielded up."

Bin Laden and al Qaida --- accused in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington -- "have abused Afghanistan over the past few years," Blair said. "He has made Afghanistan a haven for terrorist networks, exporting terror around the world -- deeply reliant on the drugs trade."

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THINGS WE DON'T UNDERSTAND

A University of Michigan survey indicates half of teenage girls think they're overweight.

Only 14 percent of participants said they were happy with their body size and shape.

The survey, released Thursday, was conducted by U-M's SmartGirl.org Web site. Fifty-eight percent of the 737 girls and eight boys between 11 and 19 who responded said they thought they should lose weight.

Sixty-three percent of respondents said they diet -- with 43 percent saying they diet for themselves, 16 because of exposure to media images, 5 percent because of the influence of friends and 4 percent because of family influence. Twenty-four percent said they have purchased diet pills.

Only 1 percent admitted engaging in binging and purging but nearly half said they knew someone with an eating disorder.


NEWS OF OTHER LIFE FORMS

Auburn University has indefinitely suspended 15 students who wore Ku Klux Klan costumes and blackface to fraternity Halloween parties.

Auburn President William Walker called the students' presence on the Auburn, Ala., campus "an immediate threat to the well-being of the university."

The suspended students were members of the now disbanded Beta Theta Pi and Delta Sigma Phi fraternities. Another student had earlier dropped out of school because of the incident.

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The suspended students could end up being expelled from the university. They also could face criminal charges if the Lee County District Attorney's Office determines a crime was committed in association with the two frat parties.


TODAY'S SIGN THE WORLD IS ENDING

The King of All Media is losing his syndicated TV show.

This Saturday's telecast of "The Howard Stern Show" will be the end of the line for the show's three-year run.

King World, which syndicates the show, said the decision to pull the plug was Stern's -- but sources told Daily Variety the reasons for taking the show off the air also include poor ratings and changing tastes. The show has suffered steadily declining ratings since its debut in 1998. It's been airing repeats since August.

E! Entertainment TV plans to continue running "The Howard Stern Show" nightly, featuring video footage from Stern's daily syndicated radio show.

(Thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)


AND FINALLY, TODAY'S UPLIFTING STORY

That most capitalistic of capitalist ventures -- the home shopping channel --- has come to communist China.

Gold Television, a division of Gold Television Media Holdings of Hong Kong, began broadcasting to mainland China Thursday. The idea is to lure high-income earners into parting with their cash.

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"We will reach between 20 (million) to 30 million homes. Everyone says 'China, 1.2 billion people' but we are talking about people with spendable income. And those people are mostly in the Pearl River Delta area, from Shanghai downward," said William Fisher, CEO of Gold TV.

The format, however, includes more than just selling goods. Gold buys programs from other companies to broadcast around its shopping segments.

"We look like a regular (TV) channel," said Fisher. "People get to watch arts, history and other things. They get to watch cultural things, interesting things and then we insert the shopping. It's reverse psychology. We can't hit them over the head with blocks and blocks of shopping programming."

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