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The Independent Online
Nikita is no more

Norwegian-Russian relations could become strained after the events of last week. Why? Because Nikita is dead.

Nikita, a sturgeon from the Caspian Sea, was a gift from his namesake, Krushchev, and a symbol of good relations between the two nations. The tragedy happened at Bergen Aquarium after a worker mistakenly put salt water in his tank.

"If we had known beforehand that this kind of mistake could happen, the accident wouldn't have happened," said the aquarium's director Stig Saegrov, somewhat obviously.

The elegant Nikita was 38 years old, but could have lived happily for more than a century. He arrived in 1964, the only one of four that survived the trip. The fish was found belly-up after a worker inadvertently opened a valve for salt water instead of fresh.

Nikita may be gone, but he won't be forgotten. The aquarium plans to have him stuffed.

Lenin loses it

Visitors to Mandalay Bay, the newest mega-resort to grace that symbol of capitalism run amok, the Las Vegas strip, have been asking why, in the middle of the beach-themed hotel, they have erected a 20ft statue of Lenin?

He stands with one hand outreached and the other clutching a worker's cap, attempting to lure patrons into the Red Square vodka and caviar restaurant. But the statue has not been well received. Customers, mostly oversensitive American soldiers, inundated the restaurant with complaints.

Last week, in an effort to appease the whingers, Lenin was decapitated by the management. Not only did they take away his 250lb head, they ordered that he be splattered with white paint to look like bird droppings.

"We debated how to deal with the issue. There were several options. One was riding it out, hoping people would appreciate the irony of it, the other was removing it," said spokeswoman Sarah Ralston. "We ran an extensive search of news clips on what happened in the Eastern bloc to the real Lenin statues after the fall of Communism. What they did was lop the head off. It makes the point. If there's any confusion about the symbolism, that now goes away."

Who said the Cold War was over?

Body search

The state of Florida is short of workers, it seems. But don't apply just yet if you are not an exotic dancer and you are a foreigner.

Under the US "Alien Labor Certification Program" which is designed to protect American workers, Florida must first search locally for job candidates before employers are allowed to import foreigners. So, strange as it may seem, the state government has placed an ad in the Palm Beach Post for: "Exotic dancers, 40hrs per week, 7pm-3am, $11 [pounds 7.50] per hour" on behalf of a club in the town of Stuart, where they have had so much trouble finding dancers they wanted to import foreign workers.

Job requirements: "Must have four years' experience in the job. Perform modern and acrobatic dances, co-ordinating body movements to musical accompaniment. Must choreograph own dance movements."

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