If you wanted an example of a group of people least likely to be caught up in the holiday spirit, it would be difficult to match the European Commission. The executive arm of the European Union usually gets its kicks ruling on trade disputes. So it raised few eyebrows earlier this week with a news release announcing fines against four printing companies for dominating ... the Christmas card market. Not until the final paragraph, however, did it become clear that this usually strait-laced bunch was having a bit of fun. The "offenders" were given until midnight Dec. 24 to appeal, and the commissioners, it said, would have no further comment on the matter until April Fool's Day.
In Singapore, a middle-aged bachelor has staked his claim to the world's shortest name: Du. It's a legal change, his third so far. He won't divulge the previous two.
'I wanted something for those people who I had no idea were getting me presents.'
- Christine Brown, one of Thursday's first customers at a Sears store in Burlington, N.J., as
shoppers sought to take advantage of deeply discounted after-Christmas merchandise.
Invite the whole world to vote on the all-time favorite song, and you get neither a love ballad nor a folk or rock 'n' roll classic. Instead, what emerged No. 1 from a survey by BBC radio's World Service was a stirring 19th-century cry for an end to British rule in Ireland, "A Nation Once Again." It was one of only three Western pieces to place in the top 10. The poll attracted 150,000 votes from 153 countries. The top vote-getters, as determined by the poll, and their countries of origin:
1. "A Nation Once Again" (Ireland)
2. "Vande Mataram" (India)
3. "Dil Dil Pakistan" (Pakistan)
4. "Rakkamma Kaiya Thattu" (India)
5. "Poovum Nadakkuthu Pinchem Nadakkuthu" (Sri Lanka)
6. "Ana wa Laila" (Iraq)
7. "Reetu Haruma Timi" (Nepal)
8. "Believe" (US)
9. "Chaiyya Chaiyya" (India)
10. "Bohemian Rhapsody" (Britain