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The skinny

By TIMES WIRES
Published May 10, 2007


DISASTER CAPITALIST

PROFITEERS TRY TO MAKE A BUCK OFF VA. TRAGEDY

When Fred McChesney heard about the Virginia Tech shooting rampage on April 16, he was appalled. But what he did next has appalled many others. Within hours of the rampage, he began buying dozens of domain names - CampusKillings.com, VirginiaTechMurders.com, SlaughterInVirginia.com - in hope of selling them later to the highest bidder. Domain names related to the tragedy were snapped up almost immediately, including domains named after the victims, and other tragedies have had similar responses. The cost of registering such domains is generally less than $10 - but some of the Virginia Tech sites are now being auctioned off for thousands. "Everyone is profiting off of this, " said McChesney, 48, of Phoenix, though he has yet to make a sale. "I'm not hurting anyone."

SEX SELLS

Law firm billboard hawks divorce

It wasn't so much the racy billboard's partially clothed man and woman that shocked Chicago, it was its message: "Life's short. Get a divorce." City workers stripped the law firm ad from its downtown perch Tuesday. City Alderman Burton Natarus said the removal had nothing to do with content and everything to do with a missing permit. Despite upsetting the neighbors and lawyers, the short-lived sign apparently did its job: Lawyers Corri Fetman and Kelly Garland said calls to their firm have gone up dramatically. Fetman told ABC News, "If you think somebody's going to look at a billboard and go out and get a divorce as a result, you're insulting the intelligence of people. If that's the case, our next billboard is going to read, 'Gimme Your Money.' "

Hotline whispers Victorian erotica

This isn't the typical whispering you might expect to hear at a library. Vienna's City Hall has launched a "sex hotline" to raise money for the Austrian capital's main public library, officials said Tuesday. It's unusual, but it's not particularly raunchy: Callers have through May 31 to listen to Austrian stage and film star Anne Bennent read breathless passages from erotica dating to the Victorian era for just 53 cents a minute.

DINE AND DASH

Wedding party of 30 skips the check

The Wiener schnitzel wasn't to their liking, says a bride and groom who fled their wedding feast with about 30 guests without paying. The party was dining at a restaurant in the southern Austrian town of Villach over the weekend when everyone suddenly got up before dessert and left, Austrian broadcaster ORF reported. On Tuesday, authorities tracked down the couple, who said the schnitzel, grilled meat and pork roast weren't to their taste, ORF reported.

Compiled from Times wires and other sources.