There must be something in the water at many of Germany's zoos that cause mothers in captivity to reject their newborn young.
First we had Knut, and then Flocke, both polar bear cubs abandoned by their mothers and raised by zookeepers.
Now we have a newborn tiger cub at Germany's Stroehen Zoo, born last weekend and rejected by its mother. The cub is being nursed by a dachshund named Bessi, who belongs to one of the zookeepers. Bessi is taking over motherly duties and guarding the little tiger, which so far has not been named.
The papers here are saying that Bessi has "adopted" the cub, which kind of pisses me off. I mean, I recently got married in Germany and that required a ton of paper work, and you'd think adoption would be equally bureaucratic, but it seems Bessi has had an easy time of it.
Ah, the Eurovision Song Contest -- a huge thing in Europe, a non-event for the rest of the world.
Last night marked the finals, which were held in Moscow and broadcast in nearly 50 countries.
Norway's baby-faced Alexander Rybak won the event, beating out 24 other countries and earning a record-breaking 387 points for his song "Fairytale." Iceland came in second place, and Azerbaijan came in third.
The contest is held between active members of the European Broadcasting Union. Voting is a little complicated. Some 42 countries are eligible to vote, but cannot vote for their own entry in the song contest. Through both public voting and a jury, each country awards a set of points from 1 to 8, and then 10 and 12, with 12 being for the song they liked best.
This was the first year in some time that juries were let back into the voting process, following complaints from some that public voting essentially guaranteed that each country would vote for its closest neighbors.
There is still a lot of that kind of bloc-voting, though. The Balkans tended to throw their votes to other Balkan countries; ditto Scandinavian countries. But one of the big differences was that no matter what, most countries were giving their top points to Norway.
I'll admit, I like the Eurovision Song Contest. I like the nationalism of it, and the politics (Georgia's song was banned because it was deemed at being insulting to Russia). I like watching the performances, many of which are just awful (you can see some highlights here). This year in particular seemed to favor songs that required confusing costumes and even more confusing background dancing.
Of course, you might not know the name of Alexander Rybak. But you know some other former Eurovision Song Contest winners: LuLu (UK), ABBA (Sweden) and Celine Dion, who won the contest in 1988 singing for...Switzerland.
Last year I wrote about the ill-fated Adolf Hitler exhibit at Berlin's just-opened Madame Tussauds museum.
A man obviously unhappy with the museum's decision to have a wax likeness of the 20th Century's most evil leader waited patiently in line on opening day before rushing, tackling the wax Hitler and ripping off its head -- all the time shouting, "Never again!" Several security guards were also injured in the fracas.
So, how much will Germany fine you if you decapitate Hitler?
The man known in the local media here only as "Frank L" was in court today, where he was given a suspended sentence and fined 900 euros, or roughly $1,200.
Was he sorry? No. He told the court that he'd do it again.
As for the Hitler statue, it is back at Madame Tussauds, in a more secure location.
With the global economy what it is, it's probably not that surprising to read reports that Airbus is busy reducing deliveries of its much-vaunted A380 jumbo jet, the world's largest aircraft.
The company announced recently that it would only deliver 14 of the double-decker A380s this year, down from 18, and 20 next year, down from 45.
The 525-seat plane has a list cost of $237 million, according to the New York Times.
Not that many airlines are flying the A380; so far, just Emirates, Singapore and Qantas have incorporated the model into their fleets.
Qantas is one of the airlines that has said it would be deferring deliveries of future A380s because it doesn't have the money to pay for them. Airbus is not naming other specific airlines, but China Southern, Air France-KLM and India's Kingfisher have also said they'd be postponing delivery of the aircraft.
OK, maybe that headline won't surprise you. Here's a stereotype that is backed up by hard data.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has released a report detailing sleeping and eating habits of 18 of the world's developed countries.
It's conclusion: The French sleep and eat more than any other people in the developed world.
Specifically, the study found that the French sleep an average of nine hours every night, which is about 30 minutes longer than the average American does. The Japanese and Koreans average less than eight hours of sleep a night.
As far as eating goes, the French spend more than two hours per day, on average, eating -- roughly twice the time Americans spend eating.
The French are also world leaders for taking vacation, an average of 35 days a year -- but the OECD study didn't address that.
I'm apprehensive about giving any press to the buffoon who runs the Irish budget airline Ryanair. But so adept is Michael O'Leary, the company's CEO, at making ill-considered statements that its simply too easy to report them.
This is the guy who recently suggested that Ryanair might begin charging for use of its on board toilets, and a while back suggested that the airline might start giving out blow jobs.
Mr. O'Leary today weighs in on the fears surrounding swine flu, saying the virus is only a risk to Asians and Mexicans "living in slums," according to the Times of London.
Now it's true that the media are probably hyping swine flu a bit too much, with all the talk of a global pandemic, but clearly this is not just a problem of the slums. Travelers who have vacationed in well developed places like Cancun have returned home to find themselves infected.
"Are we going to die from swine flu? No. Are we in danger of SARS? No. Foot and mouth disease? No. Will it affect people flying short-haul flights around Europe this summer? Thankfully, no," Mr O'Leary said, according to the Times.
"It is a tragedy only for people living ... in slums in Asia or Mexico. But will the honeymoon couple from Edinburgh die? No. A couple of Strepsils will do the job."
What do you think? Is the media making too much of the swine flu? Will in impact travel?
I understand that airlines oversell seats as a hedge against passengers that cancel or do not show up to flights. But when you think about it, the concept of overselling -- that is, when that announcement comes over the PA at the gate feigning a degree of surprise that a "flight has been overbooked" -- is kind of ridiculous. I mean, an aircraft has X number of seats, and thus it sells a maximum of X number of tickets. Easy.
Yet overselling is the leading cause for passengers getting bumped from flights -- and tens of thousands of passengers are bumped, either voluntarily or involuntarily, every year.
What's the airline on which you're most likely to get bumped? That would be Atlantic Southeast Airlines, which bumped 22,982 people last year voluntarily (and another 3,610 involuntarily), according to a recently released report from the US Department of Transportation's Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings.
Here's how 18 domestic airlines rank in terms of bumping passengers. JetBlue is clearly the best of the bunch. What's its secret?
There are still a few days left for what sounds like a cool exhibit at the Cheryl Pelavin Gallery in lower Manhattan, if you find yourself in New York City.
Artist Cindy Kane asked 50 war correspondents to hand over whatever memorabilia they might have from their times in conflict zones. Using handwritten notes, press cards, visas and postcards, Kane has decorated 50 helmets, one for each correspondent.
They hang like so many mobiles from the gallery's ceiling.
"The overall feeling as one walks through the space is one of reflection. The helmets have been used in battles, and the journalists' notes record the despair of people trapped by war, poverty, and political oppression," Kane says on her Web site.
There are a lot of well known war correspondents represented, from old timers like Ward Just to current staffers from various newspapers, like Dana Priest of the Washington Post and Steven Erlanger of the New York Times.
I'd love to check this exhibit out. Sadly, it ends on April 25. If you're around Tribeca, stop by and have a look.