Promoting Toilet Culture in a John Near You

Everyone loves a clean toilet, but does the idea of an exceptionally pristine potty make you want to burst into song? Officials at the WTO summit sure hope so.

And in case you were wondering, that's the World Toilet Organization. No joke.

Singapore's Jack Sim, self-proclaimed "representative of toilet culture" and head of the WTO, says his organization is serious about sanitary loos — and they're gung-ho about getting the rest of the world to buck up to the challenge of making public restrooms less revolting.

And as for the singing, part of the organization's campaign for clean cans involves promoting seemingly farfetched events — one such event being a WTO rock concert, the Associated Press reports.

"You cannot imagine singers singing about toilets and sanitation, but this will be done," Sim said.

According to the WTO, well-kept washrooms are not only a welcome sight to those answering nature's call, but also a key to integrating countries into the globalizing world. They even go as far as to say that festering public facilities can harm a nation's work force by causing people to … um … resist relief so long they could develop bladder and colon diseases.

"In fact, the toilet is the competitive edge of a nation," Sim said.

British Toilet Association chairman Sir William Lawrence seems to agree, noting that most complaints made to tourism organizations in his country are regarding restrooms — and that could potentially impair a nation's ability to attract recreational travelers.

"People seem to laugh a bit when I tell them I'm chairman of the (British) Toilet Association, but then ... they say 'wait a minute, there's a reason we need a toilet organization'," Lawrence said.

Environment Gets ... Ahem ... Heated at Global Warming Event

SYDNEY (AP) — A saloon-style striptease at an Australian government-sponsored conference on global warming left some scientists and government officials hot and bothered.

The show was cut short and organizers issued an apology after some delegates at the Australia and New Zealand Climate Forum's dinner in Canberra walked out during what was intended as a lighthearted break from the weighty business of rising temperatures.

Rebecca Gale, who led the team of dancers from Miss Kitka's House of Burlesque, said the performance was in reasonably good taste and she didn't understand what the fuss was about.

Gale said she appeared during dinner wearing a heavy corset, black fishnet stockings and at least a dozen balloons, which she invited delegates to pop as she danced to Peggy Lee's 1958 hit "Fever."

"The most that any of the girls get down to is vintage lingerie, which is corsetry and stockings," Gale told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio on Friday. "It's not like we were doing full nudity and simulating sexual acts or anything like that."

"There wasn't even a midriff on display," she said.

But some in the audience objected to the Wednesday night show in Australia's old Parliament House, and the dance troupe was asked to stop about 10 minutes into a 45-minute routine, Gale said.

The Australian National University, which organized the conference, issued a statement the next day apologizing for any offense caused.

When Environment Minister Ian Campbell learned of the show, he canceled his department's sponsorship, and the Agriculture Department followed suit.

Thanks to Out There reader Alex K.

Great. He Never Forgets, and Now He Can Nag

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — He's no Dumbo the Flying Elephant, but with his ability to "speak," he's perhaps as close to the Disney cartoon character as a real life elephant can get.

The Everland amusement park said Friday its 16-year-old male Asian elephant, named Kosik, can make sounds imitating up to eight Korean words, including "sit," "no," "yes," and "lie down."

The pachyderm produces humanlike sounds by putting his trunk in his mouth and shaking it while exhaling — similar to how people whistle with their fingers. But the park said it's unclear if Kosik knows the meaning of the sounds he makes.

Kim Jong-gap, who has been Kosik's keeper for 10 years, said he first heard the elephant speak two years ago.

"It was hard to believe myself at first," Kim said in a statement. "As I watched Kosik say something after that, I realized he was mimicking my words."

There have been studies that suggest elephants can mimic sounds, but the park claims that Kosik displays the ability to imitate a human voice.

Spectrograms show Kosik's voice frequency when he makes human sounds are similar to his keeper's, Everland said.

"We are speculating that Kosik learned to speak as he spent a long time with his keeper," said Kwon Su-wan, head of the park's zoo. "We plan to conduct further studies with keepers, veterinarians and scientists on whether Kosik understands the meaning of these words as he speaks them."

Kosik will showcase his ability to the public starting Saturday at the park in Yongin, some 30 miles south of Seoul.

In a study published in the journal Nature last year, researchers found that elephants can learn to imitate sounds, according to Everland. The study featured the case of an elephant mimicking truck noises.

You and Me and Baby Makes ... Way Too Many to Count

MINSTER, Ohio (AP) — A western Ohio couple has been dealt a full hand, with three pairs.

John and Jamie Schmiesing of Minster last month welcomed their third set of twins into the world. Including their three other children, the parents now have nine kids all under the age of seven.

Jamie Schmiesing says she and her husband always wanted a big family. Now, they're experiencing the joys as well as the challenges, including making meals for eleven and getting everyone in place in their 15-passenger van when they all go out together.

Schmiesing says their story has attracted media attention, and she's hoping Oprah will call soon — and offer her a needed day out and a makeover.

Compiled by's Taylor Timmins.

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