The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Slow Sharon

Deir Qanun an-Nahr (Lebanon), Oct. 14 (Reuters): Ariel Sharon won’t be taking home any prizes in Lebanon — he came in last in a race for the title of swiftest donkey.

The donkey named for the Israeli Prime Minister came fifth out of five in a donkey race capping an annual festival in Deir Qanun an-Nahr village near Tyre in south Lebanon. Hundreds cheered the donkeys as they loped towards the finish line in the main square, where an animal named “Out of Gas” won first prize.

A member of the village council who organised the race said that each jockey picked his beast’s name. “The man who named his donkey Sharon wanted all eyes on his donkey, to liven it up, and also to mock the other Sharon, who’s made a name for himself through slaughter, especially of Palestinians,” he told Reuters.

Crazy conker

London (Reuters): Two Britons knocked out hundreds of challengers from around the world to be crowned King and Queen Conker in this year’s World Championships. Held on the village green of Ashton, central England, the 38th annual conker championships saw 400 competitors smash their conkers — the fruit of the Horse Chestnut tree — against each other’s. The winner of the men’s competition was Richard Swailes, 52 from Northamptonshire, central England, while Liz Gibson, 49, from West Sussex, southern England, took the ladies’ title. The game is played by aiming a conker threaded on a shoe lace against an opponent’s conker with the goal of smashing it.

Canine cut

Tehran (Reuters): Dogs and their owners could become the latest target of a clampdown on moral corruption in Iran after a hardline cleric called for canines of all shapes to be arrested. “I call on the judiciary to arrest all long-legged, medium- legged and short-legged dogs along with their long-legged owners,” the Etemad newspaper quoted Gholamreza Hassani, Friday prayer leader in the northwestern city of Urumiyeh, as saying. “Otherwise I’ll do it myself,” the newspaper on Sunday quoted the cleric as saying. While canines are reviled by strict Muslims for being “unclean”, dog-ownership has increased in Iran in recent years especially among well-to-do, Westernised Iranians. “In our country there is freedom of speech, but not freedom for corruption,” said Hassani, famous for his often eccentric outbursts. “Some evil people interpret freedom to promote un- Islamic and corrupt behaviour.” Police and hardline judiciary agents have carried out sporadic clampdowns on dogs in Iran, fining owners and confiscating their pets in streets and parks.

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