Oddly Enough

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The Independent Online
Target Grades: Argentine education officials are outraged at news that hundreds of children are being taught how to fire pistols and rifles for free under a programme promoted in state high schools. "I was surprised to hear it and it sounds horrible. It doesn't seem to me to be an appropriate activity for young people," said Education Minister, Susana Decibe. Buenos Aires city education officials said they feared teaching children to shoot would undermine their efforts to promote non-violence at a time when Argentina is beset by an increase in armed robberies. The Tiro Federal Argentino club in Buenos Aires replied that shooting was an Olympic sport, best learned early. A school principal, Celia Halpern, some of whose pupils go to rifle practice, said that shooting promotes "order and discipline" just like other sports. "I asked my mom. She loves weapons and told me to go ahead," Iara Coronel, a high school student.

Baby Driver: Adam Wood's driving debut was marked by the squealing of tyres, a dramatic swerve around a tree and a collision with a parked van. Not bad for a 3-year-old. The Massachusetts tot escaped without injury, arrest or even a bad mark on his driving record. "Sometimes, we don't give kids enough credit," said Fire Captain Dean Melanson. "They watch things and see how they work and apply the knowledge. You've got to watch them all the time." The toddler got into his grandmother's Isuzu Trooper, apparently put the key in the ignition, started the engine and shifted into drive. Then he gunned it. According to the authorities, damage to both vehicles was moderate.

Hollywood Mullahs: At a time when the threat of attack from Islamic extremists hangs over US embassies around the world, a film about a Moslem leader has to be something of a gamble. But producer Akbar Ahmed, an Islamic scholar at Cambridge University, hopes his film Jinnah, about the founder of Pakistan, will destroy some Western stereotypes of fanatical Moslem leaders. "I want to show that the Moslem world has produced great leaders, like Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who believe in human rights and women's rights," said Ahmed. Not surprisingly, the choice of Dracula star Christopher Lee to play Pakistan's revered founder caused an uproar. From a court action in Pakistan accusing Lee of being a sex actor, to rumours that "anti-Islamic" author Salman Rushdie has written the script, the project has been dogged with setbacks. However, the film is now days from completion and due to have its premiere in Hollywood this month.

President Bart: According to a poll conducted by the National Constitution Center, 95 per cent of American teenagers know Will Smith is the "Fresh Prince of Bel Air", but only 2 per cent know William Rehnquist is Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. It gets worse: 81 per cent of teens know there are three brothers in Hanson, but only 21 per cent know there are 100 US senators. 90 per cent of teens know Leonardo DiCaprio starred in Titanic, but only 74 per cent know Al Gore is vice president. And, finally, the real shocker: 74 per cent of teens know Bart Simpson lives in Springfield, but only 12 per cent know Springfield, Illinois, was Abraham Lincoln's home town.

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