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To become No. 1, he spends $14-million

By Times Wires
Published February 17, 2008


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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates   

A license plate with nothing but "1" on it went for a record $14-million at a charity auction Saturday.

"I bought it because it's the best number," said Saeed Khouri, whose family made its fortune in real estate. "I bought it because I want to be the best in the world."

The oil-rich United Arab Emirates began auctioning off vanity license plates in May.

The record sale surpassed the $6.8-million that was paid for an Emirati license plate at an earlier auction with the Western number 5 on it - also without Arabic numerals or letters on more common license plates.

Proceeds from the auctions, which are held in a lavish hotel, go to a rehabilitation center for victims of traffic accidents. On Saturday, 90 license plates were auctioned, raising $24-million. The previous five such events raised more than $50-million.

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands

Singer who sang for Hitler draws protests

Several dozen people protested outside a theater Saturday where a 104-year-old singer who once performed for Adolf Hitler took the stage for the first time in four decades. Johannes Heesters was never accused of being a propagandist or anything other than an actor who was willing to perform for the Nazis, and the Allies allowed him to continue his career after the war. But in his native country he is viewed by some as irredeemable. "He kept singing for the Nazi regime, for the Wehrmacht, and he earned millions," said Piet Schouten, representative of a committee formed to protest Heesters' performance at De Flint theater in Amersfoort. Around 50 demonstrators gathered outside. A handful of neo-Nazis also turned up - uninvited - to support Heesters, and several were detained by police after throwing eggs at the demonstrators. In 1964, Heesters was booed off the stage in Amsterdam when he tried to appear as Nazi-hating Capt. von Trapp in The Sound of Music.

Elsewhere

Copenhagen, Denmark: A group of Danish lawmakers canceled a trip to Iran after Tehran demanded they condemn the reprinting of controversial cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, a spokeswoman said Saturday.

Kabul, Afghanistan: The death toll from unusually severe cold weather since December has risen to 926, a spokesman for the Ministry for Emergency Situations said on Saturday. Over a hundred died in the last five days.

Mogadishu, Somalia: Clashes last month left nearly 300 Somalis dead and hundreds more wounded, the local Elman Human Rights group said Saturday.

Damascus, Syria: Syria on Saturday denied Iranian claims that the two countries would conduct a joint investigation into the assassination of top Hezbollah commander Imad Mugniyah, who was killed by a car bomb in the Syrian capital Tuesday.

Jakarta, Indonesia: A 3-year-old boy has died of bird flu, a health official said Saturday, announcing the country's second death from the illness in one day.

[Last modified February 17, 2008, 01:16:57]


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