Plucky Teen Takes On Global Giant

The world's biggest software company has focused on a new takeover target — an unfortunately named 17-year-old's Web-design company.

"Since my name is Mike Rowe," Michael Rowe of Victoria, British Columbia, told the Vancouver Province newspaper, "I thought it would be funny to add 'soft' to the end of it."

Microsoft doesn't think is funny at all. It has accused the 12th-grader of copyright infringement and demanded that he give up his domain name.

The software company's Canadian lawyers first offered Rowe $10 in U.S. currency for the name. Insulted, Rowe said he'd rather get $10,000.

Big mistake. Since Rowe "negotiated" a price, Microsoft is now accusing him of being a "bad faith" domain-name squatter, one who registers a well-known name only to sell it to the highest bidder. An arbitrator's ruling could simply take the name away from Rowe.

"I never even thought of getting anything out of [Microsoft]," he told the newspaper, adding that he only asked for the $10,000 because he was "sort of mad at them for only offering 10 bucks."

In an inch-thick legal package Rowe received last week, Microsoft claimed its customers could confuse the two companies, "which doesn't make any sense," he explains, "since Microsoft doesn't design Web sites."

Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler told the Associated Press, "Microsoft has been in communication with Mr. Rowe in a good faith effort to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. And we remain hopeful we can resolve this issue to everyone's satisfaction."

No Way to 'Oy Vey'

The Yiddish phrase "Oy vey!" — "oh, woe" — won't be appearing on any New York City roadway signs.

On Monday, the city's Department of Transportation turned down Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz's (search) proposal to place a sign above the Manhattan-bound lanes of the Williamsburg Bridge reading "Leaving Brooklyn: Oy Vey!"

"'Oy vey' was originally a Jewish phrase, but everyone knows what it means and it's now a common Brooklyn expression — part of that Brooklyn attitude," Markowitz, a Brooklyn native, told the Associated Press. "All I'm trying to do is put a smile on people's faces. I'm sorry if the DOT has no sense of humor."

The city agency felt the sign would be more distracting than helpful, said spokesman Tom Cocola, and any concern that it might offend the borough's large Jewish community was not part of the decision.

Markowitz has had several, um, regionally flavored signs put up at the borough's borders, including "Welcome to Brooklyn — Believe the Hype!" and "Leaving Brooklyn — Fuhgeddaboudit!"

Singaporean Banana Vendors Suddenly Excited

SINGAPORE (AP) — People in strait-laced Singapore were urged Monday to act like monkeys — the Chinese zodiac sign for the coming Lunar year — for the sake of their country.

Singaporeans could foster an economic recovery this year by behaving more like monkeys, Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan said in a Lunar New Year message reported in The Straits Times newspaper.

Chinese communities around the world will herald the start of the Year of the Monkey on Thursday. Chinese believe the monkey is clever, flexible, innovative and confident, but can also be selfish, jealous and vain.

"Be like a monkey. When things happen, you have to be nimble. Take advantage of opportunities, don't be cast down, but rise to the challenge if it does occur," Tan was quoted as saying.

Last year, in the Year of the Sheep — known in Singapore as the Year of the Goat — Prime Minister Goh Chok Tung issued a similar animal-themed call to arms when faced with "an imminent war in Iraq."

"In the year of the Goat, we must try to be like the mountain goat, sure-footed and hardy and able to move safely in a rocky environment," Goh said.

Dog Show Gets No-Carpet Treatment

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) — The Muncie Kennel Club has canceled four days of dog shows usually held at the Horizon Convention Center in January because management would permit them only if the group covered the center's newly carpeted floor with plastic.

"Convention officials wanted us to cover the carpeting with plastic, but the insurance company wouldn't cover it and the dogs and their owners wouldn't tolerate it," said Tim Catterson, the kennel club's president.

Catterson said club members were afraid that either they or their dogs would slip and fall if the shows were held on plastic-covered floors.

Joann McKinney, the convention center's general manager, said she was disappointed that the dog shows were canceled. She said, however, that the new carpeting had increased business from corporate meetings and weddings and needed to be protected.

"The convention center people did everything they could for the dog shows, but they couldn't overcome the carpet," McKinney said. "I hope someday we can bring the shows back. It's a unique piece of business that has been very good for the city."

Now, Honey, Do as I Say, Not as I Do

POWAY, Calif. (AP) — A mother rushing to get her son to school in San Diego County was arrested and jailed after a chase by the California Highway Patrol.

The 10-minute pursuit Friday morning ended outside Del Mar Pines School with the arrest of Stacy L. Taylor for investigation of evading arrest and child endangerment.

"I've been in chases of murder suspects, stolen cars or drunk drivers, [but] I've never had a mother lead me on a chase to get her child to school," CHP Officer Sam Shockley said. "It's just bizarre."

Shockley clocked Taylor doing 61 mph in a 45-mph zone in the Fairbanks Ranch area, authorities said. But when he pulled her over to issue a ticket, she told him "I'm not sticking around," grabbed his citation book and sped off, CHP Officer Tom Kerns said.

The 44-year-old Poway woman allegedly threw the citation book out of the car when she stopped for a red light.

"She said, 'Here's your ticket book,' and dumped it out," Shockley said.

She then ran several stop signs on the way to the school, where Shockley blocked her car, authorities alleged.

"She stated her husband had been yelling at her that morning to get her kid to school on time, and her kid had been crying," Shockley said.

The mother refused to get out of the car so she could be arrested, Shockley said.

"I'm ordering her out of the car, and she puts a death grip on the steering wheel," Shockley said.

On the way to jail, Taylor apologized, he said.

Taylor's 5-year-old son was allowed to go to class, Shockley said.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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