John Betar: Syrian refugee and wife Ann become 'longest married couple in America' after being together for 83 years

Got a question for the Betars? Now’s your chance, by tweeting them @Handy using the hashtag 'longestlove'

Simmy Richman
Sunday 14 February 2016 00:18
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John and Ann Betar have been declared the “longest married couple in America”
John and Ann Betar have been declared the “longest married couple in America”

John Betar was just another Syrian refugee escaping war. One of the lucky ones, he eventually made a new home in the US and met and fell in love with Ann, the girl next door. Her father did not approve of the union, so the couple eloped and married. Their happiness surely couldn’t last.

Except that it did last, for the past 83 years and counting. And now a Christian organisation called Worldwide Marriage Encounter has declared the Betars the “longest married couple in America”. How will they be celebrating Valentine’s Day? Obviously, by taking to Twitter for the first time to answer questions, as part of a promotion for a home services company called Handy. As you do.

Got a question for the Betars? Now’s your chance, by tweeting them @Handy using the hashtag “longestlove”. Thinking that you might have better things to do today, I got in there and asked why they think their love has endured? Ann replies: “We love each other, can you really explain it? We respect each other.” John says: “I just love her. We’ve learnt to be content with everything we have.” For their time today, Handy will donate money to a charity of the Betars’ choosing. Naturally, they have chosen one helping Syrian refugees.

Lean times

You want to make an impression as an intern, so it’s hard not to feel sorry for Eduard Paraschivescu, a student who secured some work experience at GSoft, the Canadian “leader in software engineering”. Paraschivescu, you see, took the company’s motto (“We believe happiness is the key to success”) a little too literally, leaned back in his chair and promptly fell asleep. His co-workers did not miss the photo opportunity and, before you could say “Wake up!”, the picture had gone viral.

Paraschivescu saw the funny side and wasted no time trying to clear his name in an interview with CBC News. “It doesn’t really bother me,” he said. “I’m not naked, I’m not getting shamed. I’m the president of a student society, I’m a good software architect, I’m known for many other things than sleeping – and hey, if it’s funny, it’s worth sharing.”

The interview was all going rather well, until he added: “In all honesty, I have my reputation to lean back on.” Probably best not to do any more leaning back just yet.

Paul McCartney has been asked to create music for Skype

All you need is … Skype

Has Paul McCartney finally lost the plot? First, he married Heather Mills. Then he named an album Kisses on the Bottom. And last week he told the world how excited he was to be asked to create music for Skype, the app that allows you to make video calls free of charge.

How exactly will McCartney’s magic be used? As the background music for special Valentine mojis, those animated emoticons you can drop into your conversation when words aren’t enough. Hmmm. I wonder if Stephen Hawking is available to help my kids with their homework …

Box clever

It is, according to the Girl Scouts website, an “icon of American culture”. For nearly 100 years, the organisation has sent its members on to the streets to sell cookies. “It’s about having fun and making new friends. It’s about the experience of running her very own cookie business, working with others – and building a lifetime of confidence as she learns five [essential] skills,” the website says.

Now, as anyone who has ever gone into business (or watched The Apprentice) will know, location is everything. So you have to hand it to Danielle Lei, a Girl Scout from San Francisco who last week set up her cookie stand opposite her local Green Cross store, a medical marijuana dispensary licensed to sell the drug to anyone with a doctor’s recommendation.

While one Girl Scouts group (Colorado) was quick to condemn Lei’s choice, a spokesperson for her local organisation said only that they “rely on parents and volunteers to make wise decisions for their girls”. Turns out that, from a business point of view, Lei’s decision was very wise indeed. She sold 117 boxes of cookies in less than two hours and had to call back-up to replenish her stock.

The name game

Apparently, the TV show Glee will not be allowed to use that name on DVDs and merchandise in the UK any more after finally losing a long-running legal battle with the owners of the UK-based chain of comedy venues The Glee Club.

I have the perfect solution: the series got so schmaltzy towards the end they should change one letter and just call it Ghee.

No rhyme or reason

Another in a regular series of limericks based on recent events:

There’s no need for him to act frugal,

And he’s no wish to blow his own bugle,

But you might as well learn,

Just how much you earn,

Unless you’re the big cheese at Google.

Twitter: @simmyrichman

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