Just call it The Big Love Apple
New York City has made over its marriage bureau in hopes of becoming a wedding destination. Previously, the couples uniting in the Big Apple were taken to a cramped, poorly lit room where they were made to promise to love and honor and all that. Now the city has a multimillion-dollar, 24,000-square-foot glam venue for City Hall ceremonies. What hasn't changed: Couples must still wait 24 hours between getting a license and taking vows, but can do one of those cool double-decker bus tours while they wait.
Hey! That coffee joke wasn't funny
Coffee growers in Colombia didn't find the comic strip Mother Goose & Grimm remotely funny on Jan. 2. A consortium of the growers is suing cartoonist Mike Peters over the strip, which suggested that violence is so rampant in the country that "there's a little bit of Juan Valdez in every can." Peters says it was part of a series of strips that made light of the fact that the inventor of Pringles was buried in a Pringles can. "I truly intended no insult," he said, adding that he drinks Colombian coffee every day. The coffee growers are undeterred, though. They plan to sue for at least $20-million and want retractions from the more than 800 papers that run the strip, claiming it "attacks the national dignity and the reputation of coffee from Colombia."
Swallow, don't spit, asks official
In Mexico City, the average square yard of sidewalk has 70 pieces of discarded chewing gum on it. So Ricardo Jaral, director for conservation of public spaces, is asking people to swallow when they are finished. That request isn't a good idea, according to Dr. Nick Desai, a pediatrician at the Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, but Jaral is sticking to it: "I've always swallowed my gum, and it's never done me any harm." Jaral says he is okay with people wadding up the gum in piece of paper and throwing it out, too. Just don't spit it on his sidewalks.
If seals have a heaven, this is it
A young harbor seal broke into a fish hatchery in Sandwich, Mass., and couldn't believe what she found: an all-you-can-eat buffet of young trout. No one knows exactly how long the seal had the run of the hatchery before being found, but a rescue worker said that she looked "pretty full." No charges were filed against the seal, which was caught and released.
Letters jarringly greet troops' survivors
The Army said Wednesday that 7,000 letters sent to family members of soldiers killed in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars mistakenly addressed the recipients as "John Doe." The letters, from the Army chief of staff, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., were the result of a printing error, the Army said. They were sent last month to inform survivors about private organizations that offer gifts, programs and other assistance to families who lost soldiers. They were printed by a contractor and were to have been automatically addressed with the names of survivors, said Army spokesman Paul Boyce. Instead, they contained the placeholder greeting — "Dear John Doe." "It's our fault for not catching it," Boyce said. Other information in the letters was correct. "It is important the original intent of the letter is not lost," said an apology from Brig. Gen. Reuben D. Jones, the Army adjutant general. "The organizations mentioned are dedicated to honoring loved ones and recognizing their sacrifice and commitment."