Offbeat
Latest stories
NY Subway Riders Shed Trousers, Skirts, Modesty

Hundreds of New York subway riders, unencumbered by skirts, trousers or modesty, took part Sunday in a spontaneous showing of leg despite sub-freezing temperatures.

The 10th annual "No Pants Subway Ride" saw hundreds of New York strap-hangers shed outer garments from the waist down, even as they wore seasonally-appropriate jackets, scarves, earmuffs and other winter garb on their upper halves.

Full Story
German Cross-Eyed Opossum Becomes Internet Hit

A cross-eyed opossum in Germany called Heidi who is not yet even on public display has become an Internet hit, winning more than 65,000 "friends" on social networking website Facebook.

Heidi is thought to be two and a half years old, and was abandoned outside an animal shelter in North Carolina in the United States, together with her sister Naira, and has been in Leipzig zoo in eastern Germany since May.

Full Story
Music Thrills Trigger Dopamine

People who become euphoric over music unleash dopamine, a brain chemical that also induces the sense of reward that comes from food, psychoactive drugs and money, an unusual study says.

McGill University researchers in Montreal, Canada, recruited eight volunteers aged 19-24 among 217 people who responded to advertisements requesting people who experienced "chills" -- a marker of extreme pleasure -- when listening to music.

Full Story
Why French are World Champs in Pessimism

The French live in one of the richest and safest countries in the world, yet they are global champions of pessimism, fearful of the future and longing for the past, according to a survey published this week.

"The French are afraid. They feel the present is less good than the past and that the future will be worse than the present, and that their children's lives will be harder than their own," said commentator Dominique Moisi.

Full Story
Curses! Romania's Witches Forced to Pay Income Tax

Everyone curses the tax man, but Romanian witches angry about having to pay up for the first time are planning to use cat excrement and dead dogs to cast spells on the president and government.

Also among Romania's newest taxpayers are fortune tellers — but they probably should have seen it coming.

Full Story
Beirut's Iconic ‘Glass Café’ Shuts Down

Beirut's iconic Glass Cafe, which dates back to Ottoman times, shuts its doors this week, taking with it a slice of the Lebanese capital's cultural and political heritage.

"The history of this cafe is closely intertwined with the history of Beirut," said Angele Abi Haidar, 50, whose family has operated the Glass Cafe -- which first opened its doors in 1920 -- since 1951.

Full Story
Lithuania Launches National Perfume

Lithuania is pioneering a new type of national symbol to convey the character of the ex-Soviet Baltic state in a fragrant way with a bottle of perfume.

Lithuania's foreign ministry has already sent bottles of the new fragrance to all ambassadors accredited to Vilnius.

Full Story
Cuba's Tobacco Company Sues U.S. Shop Owned by Lebanese over Name

A cigar lounge in suburban Detroit is decorated with paintings and photos of famous people with a stogie: John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, even the 1950s Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara.

"We have only one thing in common," said owner Ismail Houmani, a U.S. war veteran, who immigrated to Toledo, Ohio, from Lebanon when he was 18, pointing at a cigar in the fingers of Guevara, a Marxist rebel.

Full Story
Australia's Great Barrier Reef Under Threat From Floods

Australia's spectacular Great Barrier Reef is under threat from massive floods swamping the country's northeast which are pouring harmful debris and sediment into the sea, an expert said Wednesday.

The full impact of the floods, which are rushing huge volumes of water into the pristine surrounds of the world's largest coral reef, is not yet known, but the influx will stress the colorful corals, said Michelle Devlin.

Full Story
Partial Solar Eclipse in Lebanon

Lebanon witnessed a partial solar eclipse between 8:45 am local time and 11:00 am on Tuesday, the first of several eclipses that will occur this year.

An eclipse occurs when the moon swings between the sun and earth.

Full Story