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Argentina

Fake weddings, real parties

On a Saturday night in Buenos Aires, hundreds of guests turned out for what might have been the wedding of the season. The bride and groom were all decked out. So were the witnesses, family and friends. But the altar was actually a stage. The priest's questions to the couple were not quite what one would hear in a church. The wedding rings were inflatable, the cake plastic and the Bible oversize. It was all a bit burlesque. This was no ordinary wedding. In fact, it was no wedding at all, but a "falsa boda" in Spanish, or "fake wedding," and a really good excuse for a party. The couple were hired actors. Real weddings have been on the decline in Buenos Aires — less than half of what they were about 20 years ago — as couples are simply living together or waiting longer to marry. When they do, they do not necessarily want a traditional church ceremony. In 2014, a Pew Research survey found only 20 percent of Argentines went to church regularly. But Argentines still love a wedding, and some enterprising businesses are giving them the treat — for a price.

Olde worlde

Mammals chose the night life until dinosaurs went extinct

Mammals were largely creatures of the night until the dinosaurs were killed off by an asteroid some 66 million years ago, a new study finds. The findings, described in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, illuminate a pivotal transition in the history of Earth's living things. Scientists have long wondered whether ancient mammals may have been primarily nocturnal because dinosaurs dominated daytime activities. Why were mammals such night owls? They may have had to avoid dinosaurs, which typically operated in daylight. This flipped schedule may have been a lifesaver, keeping mammals from becoming furry midday snacks.

Britain

Oldest map to use word 'America' expected to fetch up to $1.2M

Christie's auction house said Tuesday it has discovered a previously unknown copy of a 510-year-old map dubbed "America's birth certificate" because it gave the New World its name. Julian Wilson, a senior specialist in Christie's books department, said the two-dimensional globe created in 1507 by pioneering German cartographer Martin Waldseemueller is "the earliest piece of writing that uses the word America." Christie's plans to offer the map for sale in London on Dec. 13, and set the estimated price at between $788,000 and $1.2 million. Four other copies of the map exist in museums and private collections, but this one was previously unknown. The map is the oldest-known printed globe, designed to be cut out and pasted around a wooden ball. It is also the first map to show North and South America as separate continents and to depict a distinct Pacific Ocean, which no European had then seen. The map has some quirks, including a very large Sri Lanka and a very small India. Japan is placed in the mid-Pacific and Australia is missing.

Qatar

Wife's discovery of husband's infidelity gets flight diverted

A woman — who, authorities say, had been drinking — on a Qatar Airways flight from Doha, Qatar, to the Indonesian island of Bali on Sunday decided to unlock her husband's phone by using his finger on the scanner while he napped. She found he was having an affair. The ensuing quarrel got so out of control the flight was diverted to Chennai, India. In addition to fighting with her husband, the woman also allegedly fought with crew members who were trying to calm her down. The Iranian couple — and their young child exited the flight in Chennai and the plane went on to Bali. Once the wife sobered up, the family boarded a flight to Kuala Lumpur and from there back to Doha. They were originally headed to Bali on a holiday. — tbt* wires

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