New York City's firefighters do it. The wives of Major League Baseball players do it. So, why not German intelligence agents? Do what? Why, publish a cookbook, of course. And it has a clever title, too: "Topf Secret." ("Topf" means "pot" in German.) It contains recipes from various parts of the world where the agents have, um, been active over the years, such as dongo dongo, a vegetable and fish stew from central Africa. The whole idea is part of a new public relations campaign to, as a spokeswoman puts it, "awaken people's curiosity and get them to identify with the service."
It's not known whether the new cookbook includes the recipe for the cake that São Paulo, Brazil, used to celebrate its birthday last month, but here are two ingredients: 4.5 million chocolate morsels and 1,056 pounds of sugar. The cake was 449 meters (1,481 feet) long, one meter for each year of the city's existence. Yes, next year's will be 450 meters.
Complaints of identity theft almost doubled last year, making it the most common form of consumer fraud for a third straight year, says an annual report by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The 380,000 complaints filed in 2002 detailed $343 million in losses, the FTC said. The top 10 sources of consumer grievances, by percentage:
1. Identity theft 43%
2. Internet auctions 13%
3. Internet services/computer complaints 6%
4. Advance-fee loans/credit protection offers 5%
(tie) Shop-at-home and catalogue sales
6. Foreign money offers 4%
(tie) Prizes, sweepstakes, and lotteries
8. Business opportunities/ work-at-home schemes 3%
9. Telephone services 2%
(tie) Magazines, buyers clubs
- Associated Press