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History lesson

Fans of Winston Churchill will be happy to learn that he was recently named the greatest Briton of all time in a public opinion poll. That was the good news. The bad news is the other recent poll of 3,000 Brits, where about a quarter of respondents believed he was a fictional character. Other people who actually existed but were thought by some to be fictional included Richard the Lionheart, Sir Walter Raleigh, Cleopatra, Gandhi and Charles Dickens. On the flip side, nearly half of those polled thought that Eleanor Rigby was a real person before the Beatles proclaimed her dead. But she wasnÕt. And most thought that King Arthur and Robin Hood were definitely real, though history is kind of murky on them.

Weight limit

Mississippi law wonÕt cut fat

Mississippi lawmakers are so on top of everything, they are introducing bills that they have no intention of making laws. Case in point, Rep. John Read has filed a bill that would ban restaurants from serving obese customers. Never mind that it doesnÕt define obesity and that by many standards, Read (5-11, 230 pounds) might not get served if it did become law. Read just says he doesnÕt intend for it to be a law and it was his way of shedding light on the fact that 30 percent of adults in the state are obese. The chairman of the Public Health Committee plans to shred the bill when it gets to him. "It is too oppressive for government to require a restaurant owner to police another human being from their own indiscretions," said Steve Holland.

Playing chicken

Rooster owners await fate in vote

Along with deciding on who should run for president, voters in Riverside, Calif., voters will decide on the number of roosters residents of the city can own. Measure A on todayÕs ballot would take the limit down to seven (itÕs now 50). But Lee Scheffers says he has a neighbor who had almost 200. "ThereÕs just a lot of crowing going on. Every one is more macho than the other one." The new law would also require that the birds be confined in an "acoustical structure" from sunset to sunrise. The law is meant to curb the unwanted wake-up calls, sure, but also cockfighting.


Suicide bombing is a tricky business

Agence France-Presse reports that a suicide bomber was getting ready to head out on his assigned mission in the eastern Afghanistan town of Khost last month. But after you suit up with a suicide bomb belt, you need to be very careful. This man tripped down a flight of stairs, and that tripped his device, killing only himself and making him a suicide bomber in the truest sense of the term. A day earlier, a bomberÕs jacket exploded while he was putting it on in the southern town of Lashkar Gah, killing himself and three others.

Compiled from Times wire services and other sources by staff writer Jim Webster, who can be reached at