Watercooler Stories

By United Press International  |  Oct. 27, 2006 at 1:40 AM
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India's wealthy growing wealthier

PUNE, India, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Yohan Poonawalla of India can't tell how many cars he owns but doesn't have to as a member of the rich class growing richer from the economic boom.

"I've lost count. Anyway, I know I've got eight Rolls Royces," says the 34-year-old resident of Pune in western India, reports the International Herald Tribune.

The report says outside his sprawling mansion is a lemon yellow Lamborghini among a cluster of shining vehicles. The latest addition to his car collection is a $940,000 Rolls Phantom, the first such made in India.

Poonawalla is a multi-millionaire through his family business, which includes pharmaceuticals, hotels and horse breeding.

The Tribune says 15 years ago, India's closed socialist economy made it virtually impossible for such ostentation. But with the economic boom brought on by freeing the economy in 1991, India now boasts 83,000 U.S. dollar-millionaires, up 19.3 percent from last year, out of a total population of more than 1 billion.

Poonawalla indulges in his car collection despite the country's inadequate road system.

"The traffic is bad. The roads are bad. You have to worry about cows and dogs coming the wrong way up the street. It's very, very stressful and anyway I have high blood pressure."

Much of his driving is done by a team of trained chauffeurs.

'R-word' uncool at boomers' bash

ANAHEIM, Calif., Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Volunteers working at the annual AARP convention that opened Thursday in Anaheim, Calif., have been told not to use the word "retired" with attendees.

Some 25,000 people are expected to attend the AARP expo, most of them "over 50" -- which volunteers were told is the preferred term for visitors instead of "retired." The words "old" and "seniors" are also discouraged, the Los Angeles Times reports. The AARP used to be known as the American Association of Retired Persons.

The variety of booths and shows ranges from funeral-planning to a NASCAR driving simulator. While electric scooter and wheelchair rentals are available, so are booths offering discounted motorcycle insurance and others offering fitness work-outs, the Times said.

The American Urological Association also has staff on hand to discuss enlarged prostate glands, and conventioneers can also join the Peace Corps.

Former CBS news anchor Dan Rather opened the first of three days of festivities, which include a concert by Elton John and a performance by Bill Cosby, both of which were sold out before the convention opened, the report said.

HIV to go on trial in Aussie court

ADELAIDE, Australia, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- An HIV-positive Australian, convicted of endangering the lives of three women, is challenging the existence of the virus in court.

Andre Chad Parenzee was convicted in February of endangering three former girlfriends through unprotected sex and faces up to 15 years in prison. One of the women now has HIV.

But now Parenzee, in what is believed to be an international and legal first, is attempting to turn conventional science on its head by claiming the HIV virus does not really exist.

The Australian newspaper reported Supreme Court Judge John Sulan has set aside two weeks to hear arguments Parenzee's conviction should be quashed.

Two self-styled scientific researchers have already appeared as witnesses to attack the "HIV myth."

The Australian said prosecutors have prepared several expert witnesses to shore up more than two decades of global research -- which underpins public health and safe-sex campaigns -- that HIV causes AIDS and is contracted through unprotected sex.

Palestinians, Israelis to cook joint meal

MILAN, Italy, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Italy's slow food festival has succeeded at bringing Israelis and Palestinians to the table -- or at least to the kitchen.

This year's annual Salone al Gusto features cooks from Chefs for Peace, which is trying to promote Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, working on a meal featuring dishes from both groups, the BBC reported.

The Slow Food Movement, which turns 20 this year, advocates a return to traditional farming techniques, to buying local products and keeping biological diversity. The movement tries to counter both fast-food-style cooking and factory farming.

This year's biennial festival includes talks on agriculture and sustainable development.

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