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The Dead Sea is Dying!

The Dead Sea is dying, goes the conventional wisdom: The water level of the fabled salty lake is dropping nearly 4 feet (1.2 meters) a year. Less well known: Part of the lake is actually overflowing, threatening one of Israel's key tourism destinations.

Israel is feverishly campaigning to have the Dead Sea — the lowest point on earth and repository of precious minerals — named one of the natural wonders of the world. At the same time, it's racing to stabilize what it calls "the world's largest natural spa" so hotels on its southern end aren't swamped and tourists can continue to soak in the lake's therapeutic waters.

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Salem, Steeped in Witch Tourism, Rebrands Beyond

Salem, the Massachusetts city of 41,000 souls is so closely identified with its witch history that flying witch logos adorn police cars and Salem High School's mascot is a witch.

But town leaders have rebranded the image to downplay witchy things and emphasize other aspects such as museums, dining, and its rich maritime history.

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Box Labeled 'Grandma's Urn' Left at U.S. Store

State police in Michigan are trying to find who left what appear to be a grandmother's cremated remains in an urn at a Goodwill store near Flint, Michigan.

Fenton Goodwill store manager Allen Ryckman says "it's got to be the No. 1 or No. 2 weirdest item" the store has ever received. He says it appears to have come from a house that was cleaned out.

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Gadhafi Plays Chess with Russian Eccentric

President of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) Kirsan Ilyumzhinov said Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi told him over a game of chess in Tripoli on Sunday he had no plans to stand down or leave his country.

As fighting between Gadhafi's forces and Libyan insurgents raged across western Libya, the Russian eccentric who once claimed he hosted extraterrestrials, also sat down for a game of chess with Gadhafi's eldest son Muhammad and the two played the Sicilian defense, Russia's Interfax news agency said.

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World's Shortest Man

A Filipino blacksmith's son who stopped growing when he was a toddler was declared the world's shortest man Sunday as he celebrated his 18th birthday.

Measuring just 59.93 centimeters, or 23.5 inches, Junrey Balawing is the oldest of four siblings -- the rest all of normal stature -- born in the rural town of Sindangan on southern Mindanao island.

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Russia Orders Stalin-Era Leather Coats for Putin Guards

Russia's federal guard service, in charge of protecting President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, may soon sport black leather overcoats harking back to the era of Stalin's purges. The elite service known by its Russian acronym FSO has launched a tender to purchase 60 leather trenchcoats on the official site for government purchases, instantly drawing tongue-in-cheek criticism from Russian bloggers.

Long leather trenchcoats are infamously associated with uniforms of Soviet NKVD secret police, worn by its low-ranking officers at the height of Stalin's pre-war purges in the late 1930s.

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German Passenger Strips Naked on Flight

A German passenger stripped naked on an Iberia flight from Madrid to Frankfurt, forcing the pilot to turn the plane around so he could be removed, the airline said Friday.

"A German passenger took all his clothes off on the plane," on Thursday night, an Iberia spokeswoman said.

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Vegetarian Meals a Natural Aphrodisiac: PETA

Two young animal rights activists in auto racing outfits served up vegetarian sausages to racing fans gathering Thursday for the weekend's Grand Prix, saying it was better than taking sex drugs.

"We're distributing vegetarian sausages made without meat, without cholesterol, and without harm to animals, in the spirit of Formula 1 racing to get people's 'engines revving,'" Melissa Galianos of People of the Ethical Treatment of Animals told Agence France Presse.

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Argentine Lab Clones Cow to Produce Human-Like Milk

An Argentine laboratory announced that it had created the world's first transgenic cow, using human genes that will allow the animal to produce the equivalent of mothers' milk.

"The cloned cow, named Rosita ISA, is the first bovine born in the world that incorporates human genes that contain the proteins present in human milk," Argentina's National Institute of Agrobusiness Technology said in a statement on Thursday.

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Moose on Loose Barges into Swedish Retirement Home

Officials say a moose burst through the dining room window of a retirement home in southwestern Sweden, knocking over furniture and flower pots before taking off into the wild again.

Police say aside from the moose, which was scratched by the broken window, no one was injured in Thursday's surprise visit at the Brunnsgarden retirement home in the small town of Alingsas.

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