etc.

SURE, I'LL GO

The violence in the Middle East is taking a toll - not just on Israelis and Palestinians, but on celebrities as well. Earlier this month, the rock group Red Hot Chili Peppers canceled a concert date in the Jewish state because of security concerns. Then there was the wedding last week in a Tel Aviv hotel of photographer Simon Halfon and his bride, Anat Bowerman. The couple know - and had invited - several internationally famous people. Only one showed up: pop singer George Michael. He was well protected by guards and flew home to Britain the next day, but felt comfortable enough while there to sign autographs.

THIS IS NOT A BUSINESS TRIP

Microsoft has a branch office in Reno, Nev. But did founder/ chairman Bill Gates go anywhere near it earlier this month on a visit to the city? Apparently not. He was there to compete in a bridge tournament. So how well did he do? Said another participant: "I think he'll be very good at it someday."

Farmer's Almanac ranks best and worst cities for weather

With its warm, dry climate Yuma, Ariz., was picked as the city with the best overall weather conditions in the US by editors of the new edition of the Farmer's Almanac. They critiqued communities based on such factors as humidity, amount of rainfall, and temperature range. Nine of the 10 best-weather cities were in Arizona, Nevada, and California. The worst were mostly in the Northern states. The top five best- and worst-weather cities, according to the Farmer's Almanac:

Best

1. Yuma, Ariz.

2. Las Vegas

3. Phoenix

4. El Paso, Texas

5. Reno, Nev.

Worst

1. Quillayute, Wash.

2. Astoria, Ore.

3. Marquette, Mich.

4. Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

5. Syracuse, N.Y.

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