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Beckham boost

Tokyo, Dec. 6 (Reuters): Memories of this year’s soccer World Cup may have faded and copycat mohican haircuts grown out, but Japan’s love affair with England captain David Beckham lives on and now it’s blossomed into television commercials.

Trailed by screaming fans throughout his visit to Japan for the tournament in June, the footballing idol remains a hot media topic with magazines, books, websites and television programmes reporting his every move.

Hoping to harness Beckham's appeal to boost sales in the flagging economy, Japanese firms have swamped his agency, SFX, with offers for television commercials.

“Just beauty,” a formally dressed Beckham and his pop star wife Victoria chorus after exchanging a kiss in a commercial for TBC beauty salons, the first company to win the coveted prize of a joint appearance by the couple anywhere in the world.

Beckham's reputation as a devoted husband and father has helped boost his image among women in Japan, where open displays of affection between married couples are rare.


London (Reuters): A nodding Jesus and a weeping Santa are adding a touch of kitsch to Christmas this year, topping an Internet tacky-gift chart on Friday. The eight-inch hand-painted “Jesus Bobble Head”, designed to sit in the space on a car’s back shelf, tops the “Twelve days of Kitschmas” poll by satirical Christian website The website gives a link through to the manufacturers, who said: “Of course, nobody knows what Jesus really looked like, but this is our best guess since we know He had a head that moved.”

Other notable entries include a 47-foot-high inflatable “Bouncy Church” at number two, some “heartmeltingly cute Nativity Bears” at number 10 and a pair of “Crucifix Boxer Shorts” at number three.

Beer brawl

Bandera, Texas (Reuters): A jury on Thursday handed a life prison sentence to a Texas man who shot and killed a longtime friend he accused of drinking the last beer in his refrigerator. Jurors deliberated for less than two hours before passing the sentence on Steven Brasher, 42, for the murder of Willie Lawson, 39, on November 5 last year. “There was only two beers left, so I took one, and I told Willie not to take my last beer,” Brasher said in a taped statement that was played during the trial. Testimony showed Brasher shot Lawson in the head with a pistol after the two began arguing over the missing beer. Brasher said the shooting was an accident.

MILAN, Dec 5 (Reuters) - It was a rags to riches story at a hospital in northern Italy when a homeless man turned out to be carrying some $30,000 in his pockets.

The 80-year-old bearded man was checked into the psychiatric ward of the hospital three days ago when he was found aimlessly wandering around the city of Como, police told Reuters on Thursday.

The man, apparently without family, had been living in a shelter and on the streets.

But to the hospital staff's surprise, they found 10,000 euros (dollars) and 40 million lire, equivalent to another 20,000 euros, in his pockets.

”He said it was his life's savings,” the police source said.

But the Bank of Italy has foiled a happy ending, by refusing to exchange the lire, which are no longer in circulation, for the euro currency because the man's identification papers expired 13 years ago.

Under Italian law, currency exchanges can only be carried out with proper identification and in many cases a tax number, which the homeless man does not possess.

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