FLAT EARTH

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The Independent Online
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It is traditional at this time of year, and hardly novel, for the citizens of Cincinnati, Ohio to display an array of Christmas decorations and lights in the city's central Fountain Square. More bizarrely, for the last few years this display has included the cross of the local branch of the Ku- Klux Klan.

But this year, for only the second time in this decade, no Klan cross will be displayed. The reason: Church officials got there first, obtaining all available display permits for the city-maintained square.

"We planned it," said the Reverend Eisentrout of the Immanuel United Church of Christ. "We squeezed the Klan out."

Apparently the city's policy is to issue permits on a first-come, first- served basis, and by the time a Klan representative phoned last week, no room was available.

All dolled up

The ceremony appeared to be a wedding like any other in Taiwan, with the bride's anxious family waiting outside the Buddhist temple for the groom's arrival. The groom was nervous but happy and the bride wore a wedding dress, complete with gold jewellery and rings.

The groom looked proud and said, "I have waited for this day for 20 years. Even after all this time, I feel in love with her. We will be finally together and able to live in peace."

Again, not a particularly strange scene - but for the fact that Chang Hsi-hsun was talking about his marriage to a Barbie doll.

He believes the doll houses the spirit of his wife, who killed herself 20 years ago because his family opposed their marriage.

After the wedding, Chang and his new bride returned home, together with an urn containing his late wife's ashes.

Papa, how could you?

There was a blow to the power of the French state last week, much to the delight of parents who had chosen to call their new daughter by the seemingly innocuous name of Megane.

The state prosecutor feared that as the parents' surname is Renaud the baby would be at risk of ridicule in later life for bearing the name of the Renault Megane car.

But a court in Nantes rejected the prosecutor's request. "Given the short lifespan of a car series, the brand will have disappeared in a few years and the girl will not have to fear mockery at school," said the court.

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