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How ...Bizarre!
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-02-14 10:49:09
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Airport Valentine code for secret proposals

bizarre01_03Air passengers who plan to propose to partners on Valentine breaks can give a code phrase to staff to stop the ring being revealed in security searches. Manchester Airport says romantic surprises have been spoilt in the past when the ring was pulled out as staff rifle through bags. Now passengers who say "Be my valentine" will be whisked away for a private search. They will be taken behind a screen so the hidden ring is not revealed.

Mike Fazackerley, Manchester Airport's director of customer services and security, said: "Our security staff is more than happy for passengers to use the secret phrase especially if it avoids ruining a romantic proposal they had planned.”We want to make all of our customer's journeys easier but also to ensure our high standards of security are not compromised."

The airport aviation procedures document has had a temporary clause added until Monday - the day after Valentine's Day. It states: "Aviation security officers at outbound control are to inspect passenger hand baggage behind the privacy screen if given the code words 'Be My Valentine' by the passenger at the point where he/she is advised that further baggage inspection is required." The airport is advising passengers that all of their carry-on items may be subject to inspection by staff.


Indian Olympic team get donated uniforms in Vancouver

bizarre02_02Vancouver's Indo-Canadian community has rallied to provide funding and uniforms for India's three-man Winter Olympics team, local press reports say. The owner of a sports shop donated track suits for the opening ceremonies, saying the rush was on to get the Indian flag embroidered onto the gear. And a local Punjabi radio station is raising funds for the team - made up of a luger and two skiers.

The luge used by captain Shiva Keshavan is also donated - by lawyers in India. Five lawyers chipped in 450,000 rupees ($9,700; £6,200) after Keshavan's old luge - held together by duct tape and screws - broke during training in November. Alpine skier Jamyang Namgial and cross-country skier Tashi Lundup round out the team.

TJ Johal, the owner of Sports Unlimited in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey, told public broadcaster CBC that he was shocked to hear the team did not have proper uniforms for the opening ceremonies. "My first reaction was, you're kidding me. They're from India, the land of clothing, and they have no clothes to wear? But that's just how it is in Third World countries," he said. Shushma Datt, the owner of radio station RJ1200 - which bills itself as Vancouver's Bollywood Station - had raised 8,000 Canadian dollars (£4,875) at an impromptu fundraising event on Wednesday night, and that donations were still coming into a bank account set up for the athletes. Team captain Shiva Keshavan, 28, who is competing in his fourth Winter Olympics, said he was grateful for all the help.


Tobacco tax is personal for Utah lawmaker

Rep. Paul Ray doesn't need to look far to see the toll of a lifetime of smoking. His mother wheels an oxygen cart withbizarre03_400_01 her since she was stricken with emphysema after nearly 50 years of smoking. His father died from the habit and Ray says doctors have blamed his own heart defect, which has resulted in four different surgeries, on his mother's smoking.

The Clearfield Republican said he has worked since he was 12 to help his family buy food because his family's money was going to cigarettes. So his multiyear fight to hike the tobacco tax is intensely personal. His goal, he says, is to give people a reason to quit. On Friday, the House Health and Human Services Committee approved Ray's proposal to raise Utah's tobacco tax to $1.71, almost 2½ times the current rate, and tie it to the tax rate in the 42 other non-tobacco-producing states to ensure it rises automatically in the future.

Opponents of the bill called it an attempt at social engineering and said it would drive tobacco sales to surrounding states where the tax rate is lower. "I don't like cigarettes. I don't like smokers," said Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem. "But I am extremely concerned and I'm worried about the danger of trying to use tax policy to change social behavior." Joyce Mitchell, who identified herself as a Mormon mother testifying before the committee "on behalf of liberty," said smokers take an informed risk and pay for their decision.

"I know you're getting a lot of calls and letters from do-gooders out there who want to help smokers quit and while they're at it get their hands on some of the money," she said. The result of raising the tax would be that smokers would stop buying shoes for their families or taking them to the dentist. "We are all going to die of something, and we can't ban or punish people for everything that is life-threatening," she said.

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