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Following is a summary of current odd news briefs.
Big Mac prices show which euro zone states best at belt-tightening
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Forget about statistics for employment and industrial production, it is being claimed that the price of a hamburger is showing where Europe's economic reforms are working - and where they are not. By studying the different prices for McDonald's <MCD.N> Big Mac burger throughout the euro zone between July 2011 and January 2013, Guntram Wolff, an economist at think-tank Bruegel, found evidence that struggling countries like Ireland had tightened their belts and others had not.
Rubber chickens, diapers suggested for China's holiday travel
HAINING, China (Reuters) - A luggage trolley that converts into a seat and a pole with pads that props up sleepy passengers are just a couple of the gadgets intrepid Chinese have devised to help make their annual New Year train trips home a little more comfortable. About 200 million people in China are expected to take trains home for the New Year's holiday at the weekend in what has been described as the world's largest annual migration.
Two California students lose fingers in tug-of-war
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Two Los Angeles-area high school students had fingers severed while taking part in a "spirit week" group tug-of-war contest, authorities said on Tuesday. A boy and a girl from South El Monte High School were rushed to a local trauma center on Monday afternoon after their fingers were cut off during the tug-of-war at lunchtime, fire and school district officials said.
"Cookie Monster" relinquishes stolen gold biscuit
BERLIN (Reuters) - A large golden emblem stolen from one of Germany's most famous biscuit-makers by a thief dressed as the "Cookie Monster" has reappeared. The Bahlsen company's 20 kg (44 pound) trademark "Leibniz-Keks" cookie, which adorned the entrance of its headquarters in the northern German city of Hanover for a century, has been found hanging on a local statue of a horse, police said.
German labor office sends teen to work in brothel
BERLIN (Reuters) - A German teenager looking for a job was told to report for duty in a brothel by the local labor office, the Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper reported on Wednesday. The 19-year-old woman said she was horrified when she opened a job placement letter from the German Labor Office in Augsburg on Saturday informing her that it had lined up a waitressing job for her at the Augsburg Colosseum brothel.
Zacky Farms buyer cries foul over sale of turkeys
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Where did all the turkeys go? That's the question attorneys for the buyer of bankrupt Zacky Farms LLC is asking, amid claims that one of the nation's largest turkey and chicken processors has been rushing to dump the bulk of its inventory of frozen turkeys - and speed up getting paid for it - prior to a rival completing its purchase of the nearly 100-year-old California family business.
Rio unleashes "pee patrols" to clean up Carnival
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Rio de Janeiro has in recent years evicted drug dealers from hillside slums, carved fast-moving bus lanes into sclerotic streets, and cracked down on unauthorized food vendors along the city's 58 miles of beaches. Now, as they gear up for the 2013 Carnival, officials are taking aim at another old Rio scourge: public urinating.
Oops! Old habits die hard for Palestinian Abbas
CAIRO (Reuters) - Old habits die hard for Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian president almost hailed deposed Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak during an Islamic summit in Cairo on Wednesday, and thanked a deceased Arab king for remarks delivered later in the meeting. Abbas pulled himself up in mid-sentence as he began to utter Mubarak's name during a televised address to the summit chaired by President Mohamed Mursi, an Islamist jailed in the Mubarak era who was elected head of state last year.
Athens scrap dealer defies taboos in crisis-hit Greece
ATHENS (Reuters) - With his red beanie hat and rickety three-wheeler, 56-year-old Dimitris cuts an unlikely figure as he dives head-first into the garbage to scour for scrap in Athens's wealthy suburbs. The unemployed builder is one of the few Greeks to defy taboos by becoming a scrap dealer in a country where the job is considered the lowly domain of illegal migrants.