To hear Jennifer Lopez tell it, the news media have exaggerated her lifestyle as being extravagant. On the other hand, eyewitnesses earlier this month watched in disbelief as the pop singer/actress and her entourage - in London to promote her new movie, "Maid in Manhattan" - left one swank hotel on fashionable Park Lane to go to another. Their mode of transportation: six shiny limousines. Oh, the distance? About 100 yards. Said one onlooker: "No one could understand why they didn't just walk."
If you're Filipino and a Roman Catholic - and at least 80 percent of the nation's people are - what may you no longer do? Answer: make confession via cellphone. Or fax. Or e-mail. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has decreed that only the traditional way of repenting to a priest - in person - protects one's confidentiality. Filipinos are among the world's most avid users of text messaging.
European cities, primarily in Switzerland and Germany, dominate the top ranks of a new quality-of-life survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. To help its clients determine compensation for expatriate workers, Mercer ranked 215 cities on 39 criteria such as political stability, personal safety, and education, housing, and recreation services. San Francisco finished highest among US cities, at No. 20. Brazzaville (Congo) was last - two positions behind Iraq's capital, Baghdad. The top 10 most livable cities, according to the results of the Mercer survey:
1. Zurich, Switzerland
2. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (tie) Vienna
4. Geneva (tie) Sydney, Australia
6. Auckland, New Zealand
(tie) Copenhagen, Denmark
(tie) Munich, Germany
(tie) Bern, Switzerland