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Nude male statue arouses community

PENTICTON, British Columbia, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- A nude male statue erected in a British Columbian town square has aroused controversy over its cost and propriety as art.


The nearly 16-foot tall figure has only been up for a week in Penticton, but many taxpayers are already angry at the $5,000 expense, while others are miffed at the nudity of the publicly funded art, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Tuesday.

After some drivers narrowly avoided accidents because they were distracted by the display, artist Michael Hermesh was told to cover statue's sex organs.

"I was furious!" he recalled.

The city then had a change of heart, with officials voting 5-1 Monday night to tell Hermesh to uncover the genitalia.

Curtis Collins, a curator at the South Okanagan Art Gallery, thought the controversy was much ado about rather little: "He looks like he just got out of Okanagan Lake."

Collectors swoon over flawed Wis. quarters

TUSCON, Ariz., Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Coin experts say some new Wisconsin quarters being circulated in Arizona have some valuable flaws.

The odd Wisconsin quarters have been found only in Tuscon, said Rob Weiss, the owner of Old Pueblo Coin. He was the first to report variations of Wisconsin quarters made at the Denver mint, the Arizona Daily Star reported.


"On a very small percentage of these Wisconsin quarters there are two (varieties) that contain extra leaves," Weiss said. One has an extra leaf that turns up, and one has a leaf that turns down.

"To find one of the varieties would have been incredible," Weiss said. "The fact that there are two completely different varieties that we discovered is completely mind-boggling."

Trade magazine Coin World raised the possibility that tool gouges in two molds caused the leaves, and called on the U.S. Mint to explain how the coins came to be.

The coins already have value: Weiss reported selling a set of three, one of each variety, for $200.

Paris police target red-light flashers

PARIS, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Paris police have begun targeting redlight flashers on the streets at night, and it has more to do with prostitution than tail lights, The Telegraph reports.

The latest clampdown involves two exotic areas at opposite ends of the city -- Bois de Boulogne and Vincennes -- where over time it has become customary at night for women and men dressed as women to "flash" drivers from beneath their coats.

However, former French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, intent on leaving his mark on culture as he builds momentum to run against President Jacques Chirac, is making it more difficult for the ladies of the night.


Prostitutes were ordered off all of the city's grand boulevards, sending them to the two "flashing districts." But phase two of the law means the Bois de Boulogne is now closed to vehicular traffic after dark, ending what le Parisien newspaper called the "dance of the headlights."

There was no indication of where the displaced flashers are now going.

Clooney to Fox's O'Reilly: 'Ante up'

NEW YORK, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Actor George Clooney challenged a Fox News anchor to personally make sure money raised in a celebrity telethon for tsunami victims actually gets to them.

Clooney e-mailed a letter to Fox News Anchor Bill O'Reilly Monday, saying O'Reilly's comments last week will result in people donating less money, CNN and MSNBC reported.

"This is your chance to put your considerable money where your considerable mouth is," Clooney wrote in the sarcastic missive signed, "Your fan." He invited O'Reilly to "ante up" and be part of the show and be "that watchdog that you feel we clearly need."

O'Reilly said his participation depends on "how organized things are" during his show Monday. "We have to be sure the situation is under control," The "O'Reilly Factor" anchor said.


It's the second time the two have sparred. O'Reilly criticized a United Way event in which Clooney participated after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States. The latest dispute began last week when O'Reilly expressed concern all the money raised in the upcoming event be sent to tsunami survivors.

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