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News and Trends
December 10, 2007


Moscow's B-Boys
You Can Bank on Them
Silly String Goes to War
From 'Bobby' to Governor Jindal
Their Ad on Your Car
The Way to A Chimp's Heart

Moscow's B-Boys
Although many Russian politicians, including President Vladimir Putin, have been railing against U.S. foreign policy, enthusiasm for Western popular culture is at an all-time high in Russia. This includes a community of young men who live the "b-boy" life#151meaning they are devotees of break dancing. "It came to us mostly from America," says Maksim Pavlenko, 29. "But we have just developed our own strain, our own direction, separately, but exactly in the hip-hop, the break-dance, the funk style." Russian cities are full of young people dressed in saggy jeans, bandannas, and T-shirts. Some learn the basics of break dancing the way many young Americans do: from hip-hop videos on MTV. But b-boy culture had a following even during the Soviet era, when rap music and break dancing were prohibited by the government. "B-boying has nothing to do with politics," says Yegor Sheremetyev, who runs a break-dancing school in Moscow. "There is no dislike because it is from America. The youth, they are free from all that."

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You Can Bank on Them
Some high school students in the Bronx, N.Y., may find it easier to organize their finances, now that their school building has its own bank branch. The branch is staffed by 10 student tellers who were trained over the summer by North Fork Bank. They are seniors at the Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology, one of five specialized high schools located in the same building. The branch, which is open 10 hours a week, offers checking and savings accounts. There is also a club-style account to save for events like the prom and the senior trip. Tellers, who earn $11 an hour, are quick to reassure potential customers of their trustworthiness. One of the tellers, Jason Jackson, told his classmates, "On our free time, we are your peers and all. But business is business. You do not need to be afraid."

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Silly String Goes to War
Last year, Marcelle Shriver of Stratford, N.J., had a strange request from her son Todd, 28, a soldier serving in Iraq: He asked for Silly String. But Todd's reason was quite serious: American soldiers were spraying it ahead of them to detect invisible bomb tripwires. The plastic goo is light enough to hang on the wires without tripping them. Shriver sent Todd a dozen cans, then sought donations through local churches. The news soon spread through radio and the Internet, and Shriver collected more than 80,000 cans. Several thousand came from Just for Kicks in Watertown, N.Y., which manufactures Silly String. The cans have all been shipped to Iraq, and Todd Shriver is scheduled to come home this month.

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From 'Bobby' to Governor Jindal
Louisiana's newly elected Governor abandoned his given name, Piyush, when he was 4. He wanted to be called "Bobby," after one of the kids on the The Brady Bunch, and the name stuck. Now 36, Bobby Jindal, a Republican, is the nation's first Indian-American Governor. Jindal is a native of Baton Rouge. His parents emigrated from India so his mother could earn a graduate degree in nuclear physics at Louisiana State. Jindal graduated from Brown University in Rhode Island and was a Congressman from 2004 to 2007. As Governor, he faces many challenges. Louisiana, largely a poor state, is still suffering from Hurricane Katrina. Jindal hopes to secure more federal assistance and plans to meet with President Bush to discuss the region's needs.

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Their Ad on Your Car
Some companies pay millions to put their logos on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s race car, but others might prefer to pay for space on your car. In fact, tens of thousands of drivers have had their vehicles wrapped in advertisements in exchange for up to $800 a month. But they must be willing to abide by certain rules: People whose cars are wrapped in Coca-Cola ads, for example, can't be seen sipping a Pepsi behind the wheel. Drivers can't smoke, curse, or litter and might be asked to hand out samples. Sponsors pay as much as $5,000 to have a vehicle wrapped. Some advertisers will even provide their "brand ambassadors" with free cars. Generally, the driver's own car qualifies if it has enough surface area for a sizable ad and is no more than five years old.

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The Way to A Chimp's Heart
Sharing food may be a generous act, but there is often something in it for the sharer as well. It can be used to gain favors, pursue the opposite sex, or even to show off. It's true for chimpanzees as well as people, only what chimps share isn't a big box of candy. Researchers from the University of Stirling in Scotland observed chimps in the West African country of Guinea for two years. In 58 of 59 instances of food sharing, male chimps shared food stolen from nearby farms, including papaya, oranges, and cassava. And in most cases, they offered some of the loot to a female chimp of reproductive age. Researchers add that the chimps may also be showing off by stealing the food, perhaps as a way to intimidate other males with their bold behavior. Further study may provide insight into the evolution of food sharing among humans#151how we got to the point where divvying up a box of chocolates helps build social relationships.

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