The New Sun Newspaper

Dog Appointed to Brazilian Council's Cabinet -- With Full Pay

A dog has been appointed to a Brazilian council's ruling body and will be paid a cabinet member's salary. Doca the German shepherd will work a six-hour shift with Rio de Janeiro's secretary for animal rights, Maria Lucia Frota. She said the dog will be part of her 'cabinet' with a wage of around 470 a week.

Docca will help find evidence in animal-abuse cases and its 'wage' will go to its trainer and vet.

Council workers have questioned the decision.

Carmen Lucia tells Globo TV news: "This is a joke. A dog as a member of the cabinet!"

Ms Frota is planning to employ another dog to work a second six-hour shift when Doca is off duty.


Directors Guild of America Honors
This event, held at The Grand Hyatt in New York, celebrated "individuals and organizations responsible for distinguished contributions to our nation's culture in support of filmmaking and television."

Honorees: Mike Nichols (accepted by Ron Howard), Sydney Pollack, Ted Kennedy, Jeff Bewkes (CEO of HBO), Thomas C. Short, and Frank Capra, Jr.

Presenters: Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ron Howard, Shirley MacLaine, David Chase, and U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

Ellen DeGeneres hosted the evening. She told the director-filled crowd: "I've been very busy. Boy, have I been busy. And I know how busy all of you are. Hence, the non-returned phone calls. And I don't take it personally. Oh, I know, all the meetings. Meetings, meetings, meetings...I'm picturing all of you naked. Not all of you, thank goodness...and now I'm getting very turned on..."

Shirley MacLaine, introducing one of the honorees, Frank Capra, Jr., described his ability to understand creativity as well as the practical methods to achieve them. "He approaches his work like a delicious banquet. He looks at the artfulness of the ideas he's being served and then provides their tasteful fulfillment."


The statistics are in for 1999...

President Clinton announced that Americans contributed $190 billion to charitable causes in 1999, a 41 percent increase since 1995.

The number of financial gifts received by the Parkinson's Disease Foundation rose more than 100 percent. The dollar value of the gifts increased by over 60%.

American Express granted $1.6 million over four years to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, and has donated a total of $27,800,000 in charitable contributions.

Johnson & Johnson donated $88,110,000, most of it going to supporting healthcare efforts, especially those directed at women and children. They routinely manufacture extra quantities of their products specifically to give them away.

Leading the charts in generous giving in the final year of the century is Merck with $148,503,530.


Stevie Wonder received a Lifetime Achievement Award and performed into the night at The Rhythm & Blues Foundation fundraising event. $283,000 was raised -- the most in their 11-year history.


A Brazilian zoo has warned people not to refrigerate lost penguins which have been turning up on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. The penguins -- who actually like the heat -- wandered in from Argentina looking for food.

Residents of the city thought they must be too warm and have been putting the penguins on ice to keep them cold. Not a good idea.

Professor Dee Boersma, the director of Magellanic Penguin Project at Punta Tombo, Argentina, says that the idea of refrigerating penguins is "misguided."


Princess of Norway to Read Fairytales to Children

Princess Martha Louise, the 29-year-old daughter of King Harald V and Queen Sonja, is recording 10 programs of children's fairytales for broadcast by the state television network, NRK, over Christmas.

"When adults read fairytales aloud, children learn to listen," the princess said. "They can take that with them, be better at listening, learn empathy and put themselves in another person's situation..."

The real-life royal added that she used to wonder about the story of the princess so sensitive that she could feel a pea under a stack of mattresses. "I tried it. I put a pea under my mattress, but I couldn't feel a thing," said the princess, breaking out in laughter.