Etc...

Let's get off to a fast start

Their wedding ceremony over, a couple in Australia's Queensland state settled back for the trip to the reception in the back seat of a car chauffeured by a friend. In the spirit of the occasion - and in full view of police - the driver decided to screech the tires, laying 60-odd feet of rubber on the road. One confiscation later, under a new anti-road-menace law, bride and groom had to use a cellphone to call for backup transportation.

I can't stand the place

In Britain, a new research report says a huge majority of people are tired of being dominated by London. Seventy-six percent of respondents told an Internet-based poll that the city casts too long a shadow over the nation's political, economic, and cultural life. If you were wondering, 51 percent of Londoners themselves agreed.

Today's quote

'It was really encouraging, surprisingly .... A lot of shopping bags were full.'

- Michael Baker, research director of an association that represents retailers and shopping-center developers, noting that malls and and other outlets were packed over the weekend at the start of the holiday gift-buying season.

El Niño thanked for this year's mild hurricane season

The Atlantic storm season officially ended Saturday with only four hurricanes, making it the calmest in five years. The four - Gustav, Isidore, Kyle, and Lili - were two fewer than the annual average, and all developed between Sept. 8 and Oct. 4. Forecasters credited the climatic phenomenon known as El Niño for the calm. That's when warmer-than-usual waters in the Pacific Ocean ultimately affect weather patterns. This year's storms named by the National Hurricane Center, their dates and maximum wind speeds (storms of 73 m.p.h. or higher are classified as hurricanes; the others are tropical storms):

Arthur, July 14-16 60 m.p.h.

Bertha, Aug. 4-9 40 m.p.h

Cristobal, Aug. 5-8 50 m.p.h.

Dolly, Aug 29-Sept. 4 65 m.p.h.

Edouard, Sept. 1-6 65 m.p.h

Fay, Sept. 5-7 60 m.p.h.

Gustav, Sept. 8-12 90 m.p.h.

Hanna Sept. 11-14 50 m.p.h.

Isidore, Sept. 14-26 125 m.p.h.

Josephine, Sept. 17-19 40 m.p.h.

Kyle, Sept. 20-Oct 12 85 m.p.h.

Lili, Sept. 21-Oct. 4 145 m.p.h.

- Associated Press

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