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Published: Thursday, January 20, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 20, 2005 at 12:37 a.m.
Editor Frank Kelly Rich's bimonthly tribute to overdrinking - the magazine Modern Drunkard - is a 50,000-circulation glossy "about drinking and only about drinking, and not just drinking, but heavy drinking," he told the Los Angeles Times in January. Recent features included biographies of great drunks, a dictionary of bar slang and a testimonial on how drinking cured one man's fear of flying. "The most accomplished people," Rich said, "have been drinkers," and he implied that people in the Middle East ought to drink more. Calling serious drinkers an "oppressed minority," Rich said he himself has about eight drinks a day, sometimes up to 30 (when he frequently blacks out). Said Rich's wife: "When you find your calling, you have to go with it."
  • Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's November project to bring peace to strife-torn southern provinces fell short of its goal, as resistance by separatists hardened. Shinawatra had airdropped about 100 million origami paper peace doves (which, unfortunately, wound up resembling cranes) from military aircraft, some with prize coupons attached, hoping to distract people from their grievances.
  • Austrian artist Muhammad Mueller started a project in November, as political commentary, in which people dig a tunnel from the city of Graz to Gradec, Slovenia, 42 miles away, using only shovels; he estimated the venture would take 5,600 years.
  • In July, a federal appeals court rejected the Environmental Protection Agency's leak-safety standards for the long-awaited nuclear waste repository at Nevada's Yucca Mountain; EPA had found the proposed site safe until the year 12,000 A.D., but the court said that wasn't long enough (and noted that one National Academy of Sciences report recommended protection until the year 302,000 A.D.)
  • In the fall of 2004, Ron Nunn Elementary school (Brentwood, Calif.) ended its "Golden Circle" program, which officials soured on because it honored only kids with good grades, and established in its place the "Eagle Society," which also celebrates personal, nonacademic achievements. The principal said he could not bear to see the sad faces of kids left out of the Golden Circle and wanted "all of our kids to be honored."
  • The city council of Ota (north of Tokyo) implemented a policy in January to require that male city workers take six separate weeks of paid leave sometime before their new child's first birthday so (said one official) "men (get) involved in raising children." The men also will have to submit written reports on child-rearing.
  • Julie Rose, 37, was convicted of assault in Yeovil, England, in October, for angrily slapping a new neighbor; the victim had apparently provoked Rose by declining her welcome-to-the-neighborhood suggestion that the Roses and the new couple engage in mate-swapping.
  • The renegade Mormon splinter group headed by Warren Jeffs and holed up mostly in a few small towns in Utah and Arizona was largely responsible for the collapse of the Bank of Ephraim, according to Utah regulators interviewed for a December Associated Press report. Church officials had taken a secret oath to borrow, furiously, as much money as they could, because according to Jeffs, the world was about to end anyway, and they wouldn't have to pay it back.
  • Antonio Hernandez, 29, pleaded guilty in Salt Lake City in December to hijacking a Greyhound bus that had just left Green River, Utah, intending to use it to smash into his estranged wife's trailer home. He was stopped at the hijack scene, but if he hadn't been captured, he would still have had to drive the bus all the way to the woman's home, in Lexington, Neb., 500 miles away.
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