The unwilling place an ad
A group of Icelanders slammed their government's support of the US-led war in Iraq, apologizing to Iraqis for Icelandic ministers' support for the war in a full-page advertisement in The New York Times on Friday. The advertisement, paid for with donations from more than 4,000 citizens -- about 1.4 percent of the population -- demanded "that Iceland be immediately removed from the list of invaders in the `coalition of the willing'." Four out of five Icelanders want their country off the list, according to a Gallup poll. Prime Minister Halldor Asgrimsson and Oddsson have come under fire for signing up Iceland as a coalition partner without consulting parliament.
Move over, Lolita
The real-life sexual exploits of a Sicilian schoolgirl which has shocked Roman Catholic Italy are about to hit the big screen. The film is based on a book, 100 Strokes of a Brush Before Bed -- which is symbolic of what Paranello did to purify herself. It is a diary of sexual awakening that allegedly took place when Melissa Paranello was 15 and 16 and which she secretly wrote in her family garage. The book, with tales of group sex on her 16th birthday and an affair, among others, has sold more than 1 million copies in Italy since 2003. The church has slammed it as pure smut and Italian commentators have accused her of chronicling more sexual fantasy than reality.
■ United States
Costco sells fine art
Giant US retailer Costco is famous for selling cheap products in bulk, but the latest item to fly off its shelves was a one-off original Picasso drawing offered on Costco's website, which sold for US$40,000 dollars. The drawing was signed and dated Nov. 29, 1970, and was authenticated by Picasso's daughter Maya, who is widely considered the final authority on her father's work. The report said Costco -- which in the past has sold lithographs and prints by celebrated artists such as Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse -- now plans to increase and diversify its offering of fine art, although it has one stipulation: no nudity.
■ United Kingdom
Top British eateries noted
Superchef and television star Gordon Ramsay, known for his "Hell's Kitchen" reality cooking shows both in Britain and the US, was joined by Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck and the Alain Roux of the Waterside Inn, both in the village of Bray-on-Thames, west of London as the best restaurateurs in Britain, according to the Michelin guide. Asian cuisine got a boost with mentions, too.