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Barney query

Washington, May 8 (Reuters): Chief White House economic adviser Stephen Friedman, prepared for hardball questions about President George W. Bush’s tax cut plan, was stumped.

“Yvonne” from Chelmsford, England, didn’t seem to care much about double taxation of dividends or rate cuts. “My 15-month-old Scottie MacGregor wondered how old Barney was and what his favourite toy was' How did President Bush come to choose a Scottie'” Yvonne asked Friedman, who yesterday hosted an online question-and-answer session on the White House’s website, www.whitehouse.gov. Barney is Bush’s black Scottish terrier.

“I don’t know, but please tell Scottie that I’ll ask the President and we’ll post later here on whitehouse.gov. I’d ask Barney, but he never wants to talk about dividends,” Friedman wrote in response.

After the online chat was over, the White House posted answers to Yvonne’s query on its website. Barney will turn 3 on Sept. 30. But the White House had a harder time pinning down the dog’s favourite toy. “He loves playing with a soccer ball on the South Lawn. He’s also known to love playing with the mechanical shoe buffer in the East Wing (it’s black and fuzzy — just like him!)”

Junk junkie

Hong Kong (Reuters): In the throes of a cleanup campaign against SARS, Hong Kong is trucking 30 tonnes of junk from the home of a woman who hoarded castoffs, ranging from stray cats to broken refrigerators, for more than a decade. If spread out, the rubbish would cover up to three football courts, the Sun newspaper said on Thursday. Packed from floor to ceiling in two adjoining flats owned by a woman in her sixties, the material included about 300 umbrellas, construction material and thousands of plastic bags, the paper said. Among the corpses of cats and rats — and the maggots infesting them — a team of 20 cleaners also turned up a rusty air-conditioner during a week of sifting. “It’s hard to imagine how an old lady could have lifted that thing by herself,” a worker said.

Tatu trouble

London (Reuters): Russian lesbian pop act Tatu and legions of schoolgirl fans fell foul of London police who cited ancient parliamentary laws to ban a video shoot outside the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday. The fans, dressed in school uniforms and knee-high socks, turned up for filming on Albert Embankment, opposite the Houses of Parliament, but police had already told producers to move on. Tatu shot to fame in Britain in February with their debut British single All the Things She Said.


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