And you'll want a chin strap

"It is bureaucracy gone mad," Paul Archer griped to the Daily Telegraph (London). "This is just ... loony." Who is he and what is he so upset about? Answer: the general manager of the world-famous Moscow State Circus, which happens to be on an extended tour of Britain. And the source of his ire is a new safety ruling by the European Union, which has decided to mandate that trapeze artists, tightrope walkers, acrobats, and other performers must wear hard hats if they work at any altitude higher than a basic stepladder. Soon, the seven insurance companies that are jointly underwriting the tour were warning Archer in a fax: no hard hats, no coverage. But the circus has done without the headgear for 86 years, and some performers scoff at the idea that they'd offer much protection in the event of a fall. Which, Archer maintains, could happen if the hats were to slide down over the eyes, throwing artists off-balance.

Ranking greatest pop icons of 2003: Oprah's No. 1

The cable-TV music channel VH1 has tackled the ambitious task of trying to determine the world's 200 greatest pop culture icons for a 10-episode series. It ranked actors, musicians, and other entertainers, politicians, sports figures - even fictional characters and academicians. The exercise was designed as a tribute to those who, even if deceased, have had the most influence on popular culture. Rankings were based on such criteria as the answers to: Can you dress like them for Hallo-ween? Has "Saturday Night Live" ever parodied them? And, would you recognize them by a one-word name? The top 10 icons, from the VH1 rankings:

1. Oprah Winfrey
2. Superman
3. Elvis Presley
4. Lucille Ball
5. Tom Cruise
6. Marilyn Monroe
7. Madonna
8. Michael Jordan
9. Diana, Princess of Wales
10. Michael Jackson
- Associated Press

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