I liked it better the old way

There is almost nothing that a government's loyal opposition won't find fault with. Even if it escapes the notice of the average citizen. Take Italy, where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's administration decided to redefine the colors of the national flag. The white band in the middle? It's now ivory. The red band, ruby. The green, deeper - almost a forest hue. Do most Italians care? Not that they're letting on. Ah, but the politicians are deeply offended. "A veritable chromatic coup d'état," sniffed one whose party wants a national referendum on the matter.

We know; it's not your fault

A Stoke-on-Trent, England, driver is proof that you can beat a parking ticket. In fact, he even won an apology from the city. He left his car on a street that had just been resurfaced and he wasn't there as the no-parking lines were being repainted - one on either side of the vehicle. Under the circumstances, said a city official of the ticket: "It was a bit of a silly thing to do."

Quote of the day

'Mother Nature got her calendar backwards.'

- Brad Wilson of Alpine Meadows ski resort in Nevada, after the latest in a series of spring storms dumped another 20 inches of snow over the weekend in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Thick, green, and gorgeous: Ranking the US's top lawns

With the arrival of spring, homeowners hoping for a nice lawn are scattering grass seed and fertilizer and powering up their mowers. Then there are those lawns that are already established. But they'll have to go some to equal the best of the US, as judged by Briggs & Stratton, a maker of small engines for power mowers Its top 10 public lawns for 2003:

1. Great Lawn, Central Park, New York
2. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Mo.
3. Piedmont Park, Atlanta
4. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Minneapolis
5. International Peace Garden, Dunseith, N.D.
6. Bicentennial Mall State Park, Nashville, Tenn.
7. Bascom Hill, Madison, Wis.
8. The Esplanade, Boston
9. Washington Park, Portland, Ore.10. Pebble Beach Golf Links, Calif.

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