Watercooler Stories

By United Press International

Battered-looking steps could be great art

ABERDEEN, Scotland, April 14 (UPI) -- A metal object sitting outside a Scottish art gallery is believed to be a major work by a sculptor who gave it away because it was too big to fit in a truck.


Sir Eduardo Paolozzi apparently gave the sculpture to the city of Aberdeen on impulse. But there is no record of the gift.

If the steps are a genuine Paolozzi, they could be worth 80,000 pounds ($140,000).

Paolozzi, one of the founders of Pop Art, had a show at the Peacock Arts Gallery in the 1980s when the gallery was known as the Peacock Printmakers. People who say they were involved with the event say the van that came to remove Paolozzi's work was not big enough for the steps -- and he artist said, "Just keep it."

Lindsay Gordon, Peacock's director, hopes to verify the work. Then, the steps can go to a permanent "safe and secure" home.


Swiss make play for World Cup widows

BERN, Switzerland, April 14 (UPI) -- Switzerland, known for its scenic mountains, is using its scenic men to lure women with less interest in the World Cup than their husbands.

This year's soccer spectacular is being contested next door in Germany.

A commercial features a bevy of Swiss men, including a lumberjack, train conductor and farm worker, The Telegraph reports. All are going about their daily chores in scenic locales.

"Why not escape the World Cup to a country where men spend less time on football and more time on you?" the voiceover soundtrack asks.

Tourism officials have put together a number of packages aimed at soccer widows, featuring golf, hiking, shopping and spa packages.

"Some men have already taken the hint and booked holidays in Swiss hotels for their wives," a spokesman for the national tourism agency told The Telegraph.

Political couple consulted each other

SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 14 (UPI) -- Two California politicians who are married to each other say they broke no laws when each collected consulting fees from the other's campaign organization.

Tony Strickland is running for state controller this year. His wife, Audra, holds her husband's former seat in the state Assembly.


Citing campaign finance reports, The Los Angeles Times reports that $138,000 in political donations to the Stricklands went to their firms. Another $20,000 went to the California Club for Growth, a non-profit group where Tony Strickland has worked since leaving the Legislature.

Some observers said the Stricklands -- both Republicans -- have taken the practice of paying a spouse for consulting work to the next level.

"I've never seen both spouses being paid to work on each other's campaign," Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles, told the Times.

Both Stricklands say the Ventura County prosecutor investigated their campaign finances in 2004 and concluded there was no wrongdoing.

No-fly list keeps Marine off plane

ST. PAUL, Minn., April 14 (UPI) -- A Minnesota Marine's return home from Iraq was delayed for a couple of hours because his name appeared on a "no-fly" list.

Sgt. Dan Brown apparently made the list because, when he left for Iraq last June, an airport security check found traces of gunpowder on his boots, television station KARE-11 reported. The traces were probably a souvenir of his previous tour in Iraq.

While the rest of Brown's unit had to board a flight from Los Angeles to Minneapolis-St. Paul, the Marines decided to wait for him at the airport before heading to Fort Snelling, Minn., deciding that they wanted to return as they had left -- as one unit.


Brown was allowed to board a plane after a couple of hours at the Los Angeles airport.

"You're in uniform, you're carrying orders, you're carrying an ID card," Brown said. "Let's use a little common sense here."

Now he hopes to get his name off the list.

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