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REAL MAYAN SAYS MAYANS HAVE PLANS PAST 2012

END OF END OF DAYS

Apolinario Chile Pixtun, above, a Mayan elder from Guatemala, has some important news to share about the impending global doom foretold in Mayan prophecy: it's not true, and he's sick of people asking about it. Popular paranoia says that the Mayan calendar "runs out" on Dec. 21, 2012, and that will be the end of the world. Pixtun says that is a myth with no basis in Mayan history. So don't believe everything you see on the Discovery channel or the upcoming John Cusack movie. "I came back from England last year and, man, they had me fed up with this stuff," Pixtun told the Daily Telegraph.

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LEARN A LANGUAGE!

In Japan, Obama is great enunciator

Without trying, President Barack Obama is teaching Japanese people to speak English. According the New York Times, 200,000 copies of an audio CD of Obama's inaugural address have been sold by Asahi Press, a publisher of language books. A compilation CD of many Obama speeches has done even better, topping 500,000. That success has led to other titles, including Speech Training: Learning to Deliver English Speech, Obama Style; Learn English Grammar From Obama; and Yes, I Can With Obama: 40 Magical English Phrases From Presidential E-mails. "He pronounces words clearly and speaks at a relatively slow clip," said Tadaharu Nikaido, a communication specialist. "Movies tend to be the most difficult for Japanese, especially when actors mumble."

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INCENTIVE PROGRAMS

Government offers a real family value

Happily married Malaysian couples may want to introduce marital discord into their relationships. Under a new program called "Second Honeymoon," the northern state of Terengganu will offer vacations to couples who are on the brink of divorce. They will get a free two-night stay at one of the state's island or beach resorts "to resolve marital problems and to create models of exemplary families," according to government official Ashaari Idris. Couples who enroll have to undergo counseling in the deal, so it's like a timeshare.

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ARREST REPORTS

Sitting in jail earns man $58 a week

Jesse Ray Hardy Jr., 44, of Greenville, N.C., was arrested early last week and taken to a jail 160 miles away to face charges that included breaking and entering, the News & Record of Greensboro reports. By Friday, officials realized that they really wanted Jesse Ray Hardy Jr., 21, of Greenville, N.C., who was a different guy entirely. Not even related. So he was released, and the judge even apologized to him. That's nice, but he didn't have a way to get home. So the judge, prosecutors, defense attorneys and bailiffs chipped in and raised $58 to buy him a bus ticket home and lunch. Stay tuned to see if $58 is enough to make this one go away.

Compiled from Times wire services and other sources by staff writer Jim Webster, who can be reached at jwebster@sptimes.com.

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