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Old is gold

Tokyo, July 11 (AFP): Japanese women remained the oldest living humans in 2002 as the government announced today their average lifespan rose 110 days to 85.23 years.

Japanese men also lived longer, with an average lifespan up 91 days to 78.32 years, the health ministry said in an annual report.

It was the third year in a row both sexes broke records for longevity, and the 18th year Japanese women retained their title as the longest living people, the ministry said.

“There are fewer deaths from cancer and strokes in the elderly, which is one of the reasons lifespan increased,” said ministry official Yoko Shirai.

Suicides, however, kept down the average increase for Japanese men, the ministry said. Death by suicide trimmed the average lifespan of Japanese men by 266 days, up from 256 a year earlier, but only 113 days off women’s lifespans, unchanged from 2001.

Men had a 2.61 per cent chance of dying by suicide in 2002, while for women the percentage was only 1.10 per cent.

Lethal shots

Vienna (Reuters): A round of “schnapps” on the house landed an Austrian waiter and his customers in hospital after he served them dishwasher fluid that left them with internal burns. After knocking back the shots in a bar in the southern town of Klagenfurt, the four drinkers were seized by coughing fits and their eyes turned watery and red, the police said in a press release on Friday. They complained to the waiter, who then downed a glass himself and also began coughing. The five were rushed to hospital where they were treated for burns to the mouth and gullet. Police said a bartender had refilled the schnapps bottle with washing detergent.

Super sheep

Santa Fe, New Mexico (Reuters): Mary had a little lamb; it’s fleece was white as snow; and every time the lamb got fed; It gobbled up its nitro. Shaboom the sheep’s favourite meal consists of animal feed made from nitrogen-based chemicals and other dismantled gun propellants — one of the more creative uses Albuquerque company TPL Inc. is finding for unwanted military munitions. Shaboom, named after the comic book phrase for an explosion, was the “guinea-sheep” for TPL’s experiment with feed made from spent munitions, and found it delicious. “I referred to Shaboom as the world’s second most famous sheep — after Mary had a little lamb. Then after Dolly (the cloned sheep) came along she was downsized. Now she’s only third most important,” said H.M. “Hap” Stoller, the president and chief executive of TPL.


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