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By United Press International   |   Feb. 27, 2007 at 6:30 AM
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Charter plane makes two stops in China

CHENGDU, China, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- The next stop for a U.S. charter plane, which is carrying its passengers on a 26-day tour of the world, is in China's Tibet Autonomous region.

The plane took off from Washington two weeks ago and has stopped in Australia, Ireland and Cambodia, China's official Xinhua news service reported.

The planes first stop in China was in Chengdu in the Sichuan province on Sunday.

"We wanted our first stop in China to be in the home of panda," said a trip organizer from tour company Star Quest.

The 98 passengers, whose average age is 66, were photographed with a panda named Tian Tian at the Wolong Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center.

The trip will next take the passengers to Egypt and India.

The around the world trip costs each passenger $50,000.

N.Y. dance law faces new challenge

NEW YORK, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Social dance fans in New York are planning a new challenge to a Prohibition-era law that bans social dancing without a cabaret license.

The latest attempt failed when a state Supreme Court Appellate Division upheld dismissal of a suit charging the law limits free expression and violates due process guarantees, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Requiring New York bars and restaurants to obtain a license before three or more patrons can dance stems from efforts to crack down on speak-easies and interracial Harlem jazz clubs in the 1920s.

A spokesman for the city's law department says the statute remains on the books to protect residential communities.

"In my view, underneath it all is the fact that there's always been a puritanical fear of social dance," says Paul Chevigny, a New York University Law School professor who represents the dance advocates. "It's a form of expression with the body and people are just afraid of that."

Garage openers ruined by Marine radios

MANASSAS, Va., Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Hundreds of suburbanites near the Quantico Marine base in Virginia found their garage door openers rendered useless by radio waves emanating from the base.

The powerful signal created at the Marine base shuts down any remote operating at the same frequency, forcing users to pay for a new system operating on a different frequency, The Washington Post reported Monday.

Many residents believe the Marines should foot the bill.

"I feel there should be some kind of compensation," Queen Carroll, an aging widow who was forced to purchase a new system, told the Post. "I am a struggling widow, if you will, and I praise the Lord I'm still here, but I am on a budget. When things like this come up totally unexpected, it is very upsetting."

However, Marine Lt. Brian Donnelly, a spokesman at the base, said the Marines have legal right-of-way on the airwaves.

"Consumer wireless devices, such as garage door openers, operate on an unlicensed basis, meaning they are required to accept any interference from licensed spectrum users, including the Department of Defense," Donnelly said in the Post article.

Sri Lanka gives China a very heavy gift

BEIJING, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa gave China a very substantial gift in the form of a 5-year-old elephant named Migara.

Migara, which will live at the Beijing Zoo, weighs nearly a ton and is named after an ancient Sri Lankan chancellor, Xinhua news service reported Monday.

The gift will also help mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and China. Also, 2007 has been designated as the official Chinese-Sri Lankan Friendship Year.

Rajapaksa, during the presentation ceremony, said the Sri Lankan people revere elephants and Migara represents their friendship toward the Chinese people.

"I believe Migara will adapt to his new home in Beijing very soon," he said.

The Sri Lankan government bestowed two other elephants as gifts to China in 1972 and in 1979.

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