- The Washington Times - Monday, July 14, 2008


Photo of twins worth millions

PARIS | They are the ultimate million-dollar babes.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s new twins, a girl and a boy born by Caesarean section on Saturday, are barely a few hours old but already their first photos are worth a fortune.

A million dollars, 2 million, 5 million, 10 million even 20 million? Exactly how much the first “official” snaps will be sold for is not clear. But the figures being bandied about make the eyes pop.

Nice Matin, the hometown daily in the Riviera city of Nice in the south of France where Miss Jolie gave birth, put the twins’ worth at more than $11 million. It first broke news of the birth and reported Sunday that the couple have sold the rights for the first photo of their newly enlarged family to a U.S. publication, which it did not name, and that the proceeds would go to charity.

“I’ve never known a set of pictures to be worth this amount of money,” said Darryn Lyons, owner of Big Pictures, a celebrity photo agency in London. He estimated the twins’ official photos will be worth between $15 million and $20 million.

The only other photos that “would possibly come that close is Britney Spears giving birth to an alien,” he said.


Seven people hurt in bull-running

PAMPLONA | Bulls roughed up seven people Sunday as they thundered down the rain-slicked cobblestone streets of Pamplona during the weeklong San Fermin festival, officials said.

Sunday’s run - the seventh of the festival - featured six massive Miura bulls, traditionally the largest and fastest-running fighting bulls bred in Spain. Many of those running alongside the bulls had to dive for cover as the pack neared during the half-mile stretch from corral to the bullring, with some crushed, cut and bruised.

One man was smashed against a wooden crash barrier as the bulls rounded a bend on the course and skidded sideways into him. Another escaped a goring when he fell just in front of the charging animals.

Seven people were taken to Pamplona’s two hospitals, including one with multiple injuries and three with chest injuries, said Dr. Ignacio Yurss, director of the Navarra Hospital in Pamplona.

The runs to the bullring from stables just outside the city’s northern medieval walls take place at 8 a.m. daily and are the highlight of festivities made famous by Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises.”

Fourteen runners have died in the running of the bulls since record keeping began in 1924. The last person to die of a goring was a 22-year-old American, Matthew Tassio, in 1995.


Night-vision goggles help spot migrants

SZEGED | The border along Hungary these days is lined with police sporting night-vision goggles, heat sensors and all-terrain vehicles.

That’s because since Hungary became part of the European Union’s passport-free zone at the end of 2007, the number of illegal migrants caught trying to enter the country from the Balkan region has risen sharply.

Hungarian police detained some 500 illegal migrants coming from Serbia, Hungary’s southern neighbor, during the first five months of 2008. That compares to around 700 in all of 2007 and just 120 in 2005.

Once inside Hungary, Balkan migrants - mostly from Kosovo - can travel to western Europe probably without having to face further passport checks. Illegal migrants at this part of the EU border also come from Georgia, Afghanistan and China.

Hungary and Serbia share a border of just 55 miles, but the area sits on several north-south routes, including the main Vienna-Belgrade railway and highways that connect Greece to the rest of western Europe.

Hungary has intensified its border patrols and given police better equipment since becoming one of the 24 countries in the Schengen Zone, so named for the Luxembourg town where the arrangement was negotiated. As a result, Hungarian police say they catch up to 98 percent of illegal migrants trying to cross the border from Serbia.


Linguistic divide nears crisis point

MEISE | At the National Botanical Gardens, office windows are cracked, doors are broken and two greenhouses have collapsed in recent years.

The reason for the decrepitude is that the gardens lie in a Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, and French-speaking lawmakers won’t approve the money for improvements.

It’s just one of many signs that Belgium’s perennial language time bomb is again approaching critical mass. It has plunged the country into a constitutional crisis that makes some wonder whether Belgium can - or should - survive in its present rancorous jigsaw-puzzle shape.

Authorities in the Flemish towns of Zaventem and Vilvoorde limit social housing to Dutch-speakers; nearby Overijse encourages citizens to denounce shopkeepers who advertise in languages other than Dutch, and the mayor has sent letters to citizens asking them to take down signs in English or French.

The local council in Liedekerke drew widespread criticism for suggesting only Dutch-speaking children could use municipal playgrounds.

Much of all this is happening less than a 20-minute car ride from Brussels, home of the European Union with its grand design of Europe-wide unity.

cFrom wire dispatches and staff reports

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