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BBC Pacific Quay
When MI5 raided the BBC
"When the Special Branch [of British intelligence agency MI5] raided the Scottish offices of the BBC over the Zircon Affair," The Observer reports, "it worked out a very simple selection process. Anything with the word 'secret' in it was promptly taken away for inspection. This included a tape of The Secret Servant, a spy thriller by Gavin Lyall." * The Zircon affair was an incident in 1986 and 1987 caused by the planned broadcast on the BBC of a television programme about the ultimately cancelled Zircon signals intelligence satellite, as part of the six-part Secret Society series. It raised many important issues in the British constitution, particularly concerning parliamentary privilege and "gagging orders."
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An Emperor Defeats A Vital Force In Beijing
The Hongwu Emperor (1328 – 1398) Zhu Yuanzhang, China's first Ming Emperor, was morbidly afraid of the malign influence of a former ruler's "vital force," which he believed resided in Beijing, the former capital of the Yuan Dynasty. Consequently, in 1368, Wu ordered that the entire city be destroyed. [According to Wikipedia: In 1368, Ming armies headed north to attack territories that were still under Yuan rule. The Mongols gave up their capital, Khanbaliq (present-day Beijing), and the rest of northern China in September 1368 and retreated to Mongolia. On 15 October 1371, one of Hongwu's sons, Zhu Shuang, was married to the sister of Köke Temür, a Bayad general of the Yuan dynasty. In 1371, the Ming dynasty defeated ...
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Two British women are among the world
Two British women number among the worst drivers in history: Miriam Hargreaves set a world record when she passed a driving test on her 40th attempt; and Betty Tudor failed her seventh (after 273 lessons) by driving the wrong way around a traffic circle, whereupon her examiner insisted on taking the wheel. "If it hadn't been for the cars coming in the opposite direction, hooting," she explained in her defense, "he wouldn't have noticed anything wrong."
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When Dennis Tito Spent $20M To Visit The ISS
In May 2001, through an arrangement with space tourism company Space Adventures, Ltd, the California investment banker Dennis Tito publicly squandered $20 million on the "vacation of a lifetime": a trip to the international space station (ISS) aboard the dodgy Russian spacecraft MIR. Enjoying what the New York Times called "the most offensively elitist form of eco-tourism yet devised by earthlings," Tito spent most of his travel time taking pictures and looking out the window of the Russian module, because he was absolutely banned from going anywhere else. Tito did manage to spend some quality time engaged in other popular zero-G activities however: "I think the throwing up lasted only two hours," his son later explained. "It's really a piece of cake..." ...
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Geraldo Rivera's Hallowed Ground Incident
Following the terrorist attacks in New York on September 11th, 2001, Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera provided some much-needed comic relief by traipsing off (with gun in tow) to cover the war in Afghanistan. In one classic Geraldo broadcast, in December 2001, he claimed to have been all choked up after walking the "hallowed ground" where "friendly fire took so many of our, our men and the mujahedeen yesterday." Rivera said he had recited the Lord's Prayer. Rivera later admitted that he was several hundred miles from the site—outside Kandahar—where three Americans were killed by an errant U.S. bomb, but claimed he had made an honest mistake.
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How Gordie Howe Played In Six Different Decades
In his final season (1979-80), 52-year-old Gordie Howe played in all 80 games and the All-Star game. He retired as one of the greatest players in NHL history. "Unfortunately," says Maxim magazine, "he chose to leave the game as one of the silliest. Determined to become the only hockey player to play in six decades, the 69-year-old Howe suited up with the minor-league Detroit Vipers in 1997 and 'skated' one 47-second shift, never even touching the puck. The worst part? Tough call, but probably Gordie Howe emerging with the rest of the Vipers from an inflatable green snake head onto the ice."
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Joni Mitchell Fumes About Her Camel Lights
For some time Joni Mitchell held a weekly social gathering (a drop-in potluck) at her cottage in British Columbia. "It was usually outside with candles and two strings of yellow Camel lights," she explained. "I smoked 150 packages of Camels and sent away for two strings..." Mitchell was not pleased when the paint peeled off her cherished lights. "You wouldn't believe how cheap the plastic on them is and I'm really pissed off," she later fumed, "because that was a lot of smoking!"
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Rhode Island's "Racist" Mr. Potato Head Statue
In 2000, officials in Warwick, Rhode Island, removed a six-foot tall statue of Mr. Potato Head (sporting a Hawaiian shirt, glasses, and hat) named "Tourist Tater"—one of a series placed around the city—after Onna Moniz-John, an East Providence affirmative action officer, complained that it was racist because its skin was brown.  According to Moniz-John, the statue resembled the Little Black Sambo character because its clothes were too small. "If you look at this potato head," she declared, "the only thing missing is a watermelon."  The artist, Kathy Szarko, was understandably astonished by the reaction. Why was he brown? Explained Szarko: "He's a potato!"
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Failed suicide attempt kills two, injures thirteen
"Paris. A young man survived a suicide attempt yesterday, but in the process killed two, injured thirteen, and partly demolished a five-storey apartment building when he turned on gas jets in has kitchen but then decided to have a last cigarette."
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Francis Bacon on Dim Diplomats
The court of James I boasted a rather dim envoy from France, of whom the king once asked Francis Bacon's opinion. "Your Majesty, people of such dimensions are like four- or five-story houses," replied Bacon. "The upper rooms are the most poorly furnished."