Rare truffle gifted to Obama
A small village renowned for its white truffles announced on Saturday it would give US President Barack Obama a record specimen weighing in at more than a kilo as a re-election present. “A 1.012kg truffle from Acqualagna will be gifted to the President of the United States Barack Obama to celebrate his reelection,” the local authorities said in a statement. The truffle, a rare subterranean mushroom prized in haute cuisine, is to be delivered to the US on Nov. 18 and Acqualagna officials said they hoped Obama would show up in person to pick up his gift. The price per kilo of white truffles has recently shot up to around US$3,800.
Famous items sold at auction
Judy Garland’s blue and white gingham dress from The Wizard of Oz sold for US$480,0000 at a Beverly Hills auction on Saturday, while a slice of Prince William’s wedding cake fetched US$1,375. Julien’s Auctions said the price for the pinafore dress and white puffy-sleeved blouse that Garland wore throughout the 1939 film classic was in line with estimates. However, it was well below the sky-high figures paid last year for Hollywood costumes worn by Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn and a similar dress worn during tests for The Wizard of Oz that fetched US$910,000 last year. Auctioneer Darren Julien said the price difference was due to the fact that only a few test dresses were made for The Wizard of Oz, while there are about seven versions of Garland’s signature gingham pinafore. The buyer of the Judy Garland dress, made by MGM costume designer Adrian, was not identified.
Bank robber, 16, jailed
Police say a 16-year-old boy who used prosthetics and dreadlocks to conduct armed robberies in disguise has been jailed for five years. Police say Miles Alura pretended to be an elderly man with facial prosthetics, make-up and a hair piece to steal ￡50,000 (US$79,400) of jewelry from a shop in Kent in July. They say he produced two handguns and tied up employees before fleeing. That robbery was linked to one in London a month earlier, when Alura wore fake dreadlocks to rob a jeweler of ￡100,000 worth of stock.
Mayor stages tent protest
The mayor of an impoverished town near Paris has pitched a tent outside parliament and gone on hunger strike to demand emergency funds from the country’s cash-strapped government, arguing that economic crisis is pushing dozens of towns like his near to ruin. Mayor Stephane Gatignon, whose high-profile protest started on Friday, says the global financial crisis is strangling his town, Sevran, and that he needs 5 million euros (US$6.4 million) by tomorrow to pay municipal bills. “In concrete terms, we’ve reached the end of the road. We have no more access to loans,” said Gatignon, a member of the Green Party whose town is just a short train commute north of the world’s most visited tourist capital, Paris. He says he needs the extra funds to pay firms for public works and more broadly argues that the government must grant larger aid to the 100 poorest towns in the country — where unemployment is often well above the national average. Government Minister Marylise Lebranchu said that government aid for such cases was set to rise under local funding packages due to be put to a vote in parliament tomorrow, though she did not commit to meet Gatignon’s additional demand.