Do you have blond hair and blue eyes? Well, you're probably not as equipped to handle Middle Eastern diplomacy as your Japanese counterparts, according to one official.
“Japanese are trusted. If (you have) blue eyes and blond hair, it’s probably no good,” Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso was quoted by media as saying in a speech on Wednesday, according to Reuters. "Luckily, we Japanese have yellow faces.”
“Japan is doing what Americans can’t do,” the Nikkei business daily quoted the gaffe-prone Aso as saying.
Last week Tokyo hosted four-way talks aimed at working toward peace in the Middle East, involving Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories as well as Japan.
Aso, however, is known for verbal faux pas.
He drew criticism in 2001 when, as economics minister, he said he hoped to make Japan the kind of country where “rich Jews” would want to live.
Aso said then he had not intended to be discriminatory.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has been troubled by a series of problematic remarks by cabinet ministers this year, including the health minister’s reference to women as “birth-giving machines."
Think You Can't Get Hit by a Car in Your Sleep?
ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — The underside of a car is a familiar sight to auto mechanic Dean Blevins. Seeing one on top of him at 2:30 a.m., while he was in bed — that was new.
A Jeep crashed through a wall of Blevins' apartment early Tuesday and pinned him in bed. It took firefighters an hour to free him, but he suffered only minor bruises and scrapes.
As he saw the vehicle's engine above him and felt hot antifreeze splash onto his face, Blevins said, his initial thoughts were less about his injuries than about going after the driver.
"If I'd had my gun," he told The Roanoke Times, "I'd a probably shot him."
The driver, Wesley Dewayne Smith, 34, of Roanoke, was charged with driving under the influence.
Building owner Wesley Dearing said the Jeep's windshield got snagged between the first and second floors of the wood-frame building, probably saving Blevins from being crushed.
Blevins, 58, was treated at a hospital and released. His apartment was condemned until repairs could be made, but he said he had calmed down enough to laugh about the experience.
"I'm lucky to be alive," he said.
Makes a Foot Fetish Seem Normal
SUPERIOR, Wis. (AP) — A 20-year-old man received probation after he was convicted of having sexual contact with a dead deer.
The sentence also requires Bryan James Hathaway to be evaluated as a sex offender and treated at the Institute for Psychological and Sexual Health in Duluth, Minn.
"The state believes that particular place is the best to provide treatment for the individual," Assistant District Attorney Jim Boughner said.
Hathaway's probation will be served at the same time as a nine-month jail sentence he received in February for violating his extended supervision.
He was found guilty in April 2005 of felony mistreatment of an animal after he killed a horse with the intention of having sex with it. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail and two years of extended supervision on that charge as well as six years of probation for taking and driving a vehicle without the owner's consent.
Hathaway pleaded no contest earlier this month to misdemeanor mistreatment of an animal for the incident involving the deer. He was sentenced Tuesday in Douglas County Circuit Court.
"The type of behavior is disturbing," Judge Michael Lucci said. "It's disturbing to the public. It's disturbing to the court."
Who Said a 'McJob' Was a Bad Thing?
CHICAGO (AP) — McDonald's Corp. is reviving its campaign to ditch the dictionary definition of "McJob," this time setting its sites on the vocabulary of Britons.
The world's largest fast food company said Tuesday it plans to launch a campaign in the U.K. this spring to get the country's dictionary houses to change current references to the word "McJob."
The Oxford English Dictionary, considered by many wordsmiths as the gold standard for the English language, is one of those that will be targeted.
It defines the noun as "an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector."
The word first cropped up two decades ago in the Washington Post, according to the dictionary. But executives at Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's say the definition is demeaning to its workers and say theyll ask dictionary editors to amend the definition.
"Dictionaries are supposed to be paragons of accuracy. And in this case, they got it completely wrong," said Walt Riker, a McDonald's spokesman. "It's a complete disservice and incredibly demeaning to a terrific work force and a company that's been a jobs and opportunity machine for 50 years."
But the restaurant chain that helped coin the phrase "super size" may have its work cut out.
In 2003, editors at the Merriam-Webster dictionary declined to remove or change their definition of "McJob" after McDonald's balked at its inclusion in the book's 11th edition. Instead, the Springfield, Mass. publisher said the word was accurate and appropriate.
Amanda Pierce, a spokeswoman for McDonald's U.K. operations, declined to comment on the specifics of the company's newest campaign, but said it will kick off in May with the goal of changing what she called an "out-of-date" definition.
She said she did not know how long the campaign would last, saying that depended on "how far and wide the campaign goes."
A representative from the New York office of Oxford University Press, which publishes the Oxford dictionary, said nobody was immediately available to comment.
Make-Believe Teddy Bear Attacks OK
KNIGHTSTOWN, Ind. (AP) — Three students expelled for making a movie in which evil teddy bears attack a teacher will share $69,000 in a settlement of their civil rights lawsuit.
The board of the Charles A. Beard School Corp. voted 5-2 on Tuesday to approve the settlement of the lawsuit, which stemmed from the school's response to a movie called "The Teddy Bear Master."
The expulsions will be erased from the record and the students will be allowed to make up for missed work. Two of them still must write letters of apology to a teacher named in the movie and his wife.
In the movie, the "teddy bear master" orders stuffed animals to kill a teacher who had embarrassed him, but students battle the toy beasts, according to documents filed in court.
School officials last year expelled the four students who made the film, arguing that it was disruptive and they saw it as a threat to Knightstown Intermediate School teacher Dan Clevenger.
Two of the students sued, claiming their free-speech rights were violated. A federal judge in December ordered that school officials allow them back into class, saying that although the students should apologize for the "humiliating" and "obscene" movie, district officials had not proven that the work disrupted school.
A third student joined the lawsuit after it was filed, and the fourth student did not challenge the expulsion.
Superintendent David McGuire said the school district's insurance company will cover the cost of the $69,000 settlement that will be split among the plaintiffs.
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