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U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the U.S. "Fiscal Cliff" in the East Room of the White House in Washington, November 9, 2012.

Jason Reed/Reuters

Guarding the President's DNA

"The DNA of world leaders is already a subject of intrigue," write Andrew Hessel, Marc Goodman and Steven Kotler in The Atlantic. "According to Ronald Kessler, author of the 2009 book In the President's Secret Service, Navy stewards gather bedsheets, drinking glasses and other objects the president has touched … in an effort to keep would-be malefactors from obtaining his genetic material. … And according to a 2010 release of secret cables by WikiLeaks, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton directed [U.S.] embassies to surreptitiously collect DNA samples from foreign heads of state and senior United Nations officials. Clearly, the U.S. sees strategic advantage in knowing the specific biology of world leaders; it would be surprising if other nations didn't feel the same."

A case of supply and demand?

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'A man has been accused of tagging public parks in Burbank, Calif., he was paid to keep graffiti-free,' reports. "Enrique Medrano, 53, was arrested on burglary, fraud and vandalism charges. Police said the ex-employee of Graffiti Protective Coatings defaced various parks more than 100 times and got cash to clean it up. Medrano reportedly billed the city $2,200. 'This is vandalism. Obviously he was doing it for the furtherance of his career,' said Sgt. Darin Ryburn of the Burbank Police Department."

The old mirror scam

"A Texas woman said she was dismayed to discover the iPad she bought for $200 from a man at a gas station turned out to be a mirror with an Apple logo," United Press International reports. "Jalonta Freeman of Arlington, Tex., said a man approached her at a gas station with a load of 'iPads and stuff' and offered to sell her an $800 model for only $200 and she took the deal, KXAS-TV reported Monday. However, Freeman said her sister later opened the package and discovered that it was a mirror with an Apple sticker attached."

Norwegian fathers' rights

"Nov. 11 was Father's Day in Norway, which in this part of the world is more than just a celebration of dads who teach kids to throw a football," writes Saleha Mohsin in The Christian Science Monitor. "That morning, I made my husband fresh scones to celebrate not only his role as a father, but his rights as a man. That's right. I'm celebrating the freedom my husband has as a man living in Norway, which gives him the right to:

leave the office by 5:30 p.m. to spend time with his family (barring the occasional deadline)

adjust his office hours around daycare pickup/dropoff;

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have time to organize family dinners and help with homework.

The Norwegian government has socially engineered a society where men and women are expected to have equal domestic and economic responsibilities."

China's big online day

On Sunday, China observed a quirky holiday that is the country's – and possibly the world's – busiest online shopping day, says Associated Press. "Singles Day was begun by Chinese college students in the 1990s as a version of Valentine's Day, for people without romantic partners. The timing was based on the date: Nov. 11, or '11.11' – four singles. Unattached young people would treat each other to dinner or give gifts to woo that special someone and end their single status. That gift-giving helped to turn it into a major shopping event as sellers of everything from jewellery to TVs to cars saw a marketing opportunity and launched Singles Day sales. It is China's answer to Cyber Monday in the United States – the day after Thanksgiving weekend, when online Christmas shopping begins and merchants have their biggest sales day."

Thought du jour

"A stumble may prevent a fall."

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Thomas Fuller

British physician and religious leader (1654-1734)

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