Oddly Enough

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Ancient wisdom: An illiterate 110-year-old Argentine woman has started learning to read and write to prepare herself for the challenges of life in the 21st century. "I want to learn reading and writing as one has to be prepared for the future," said Concepcion Fernandez. A mother of 12, she began taking lessons at home last week under a new government educational programme in the impoverished cotton-growing Chaco province. "I want to live many more years," she said, "I am sound. I only feel a minor pain in a leg where a horse once kicked me. But nothing else" Until she completes her course, Ms Fernandez has pledged to continue working on the land.

College President: Latvian university professor, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, 61, has unexpectedly been elected president of her country after half a dozen better-known candidates lost in earlier rounds of balloting, or simply gave up. The 100-member parliament cast 53 votes for Vike-Freiberga, two more than she needed to win. From 1965 to last year, a professor of psychology at the University of Montreal, she was not nominated until five other candidates failed to win enough votes. Even then she had to defeat career politicians such as the foreign and economics ministers. She'll be the first female president of Latvia, and the first Latvian to return from exile to take up the post.

Nobel prize for smut: A New Hampshire high school committee has ruled that a book by Nobel Laureate, Toni Morrison, is unsuitable for 14 to 16-year-olds. A parent's complaint about its "Playboy" sexual content prompted the decision to remove Toni Morrison's first novel, The Bluest Eye, from the reading list for 9th and 10th graders at Stevens High School in Claremont.

Published in 1970, the book explores the condition of blacks in America through the story of a girl who becomes pregnant by her father, and then loses her sanity after the child is stillborn.

The committee added teachers must send parents reading lists in good time to veto assignments.