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Merc to heaven

Tehran, Nov. 23 (AFP): For many car-mad Iranians, having a drive in a Mercedes is something of a dream come true. And now thousands from all social classes will have the chance, although getting a space in the luxury car will require being dead.

According to Tehran’s official Hamshahri newspaper, the sprawling city’s main cemetery has recently purchased a fleet of 40 Mercedes hearses at the cost of 14 billion rials ($1.67 million). Such is the love for flashy cars in Iran, the paper asserted, that “people will even have less sorrow over the death of a loved one, since they will be in a top of the line Mercedes Benz”.

The alternative is digging up a small fortune and finding a way to overcome Iran’s stiff import restrictions, or even paying top dollar for a dilapidated model brought into Iran during the 1960s or 1970s oil boom.

Tehranis hoping for a spin in a Mercedes while alive can also get arrested — the country’s police force recently bought a massive fleet of the German cars, a clear testament to the low esteem held for the Islamic republic’s domestic vehicle output.

Spam struck

San Francisco (Reuters): Call it spam rage: A Silicon Valley computer programmer has been arrested for threatening to torture and kill employees of the company he blames for bombarding his computer with Web ads promising to enlarge his penis. In one of the first prosecutions of its kind in the state, Charles Booher, 44, was arrested on Thursday and released on $75,000 bond for repeated threats to staff of a Canadian company between May and July. Booher threatened to send a “package full of anthrax spores” to the company, “disable” an employee with a bullet and torture him with a power drill and ice pick; and hunt down and castrate the employees unless they removed him from their e-mail list, prosecutors said. Booher acknowledged he behaved badly but said his computer had been rendered almost unusable for two months by a barrage of pop-up advertising and e-mail.

Record show

Taipei (Reuters): More than 14,600 Tai Chi practitioners set a new world record in Taipei on Sunday for the largest demonstration of the ancient Chinese martial arts exercise. A representative of the Guinness Book of World Records declared the gathering of 14,603 people a new world record, breaking the previous record set by a 10,425-person Tai Chi demonstration in Hong Kong on December 2, 2001. The youngest participant on Sunday was six-year-old Chien Chia-teh, who said he has been learning Tai Chi with his parents for 14 months.


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