How about teak furniture?

Competition is intense in the airplane-building industry, so you'd think the Boeing Co. and its European rival, Airbus Industrie, would be eager to talk business with Thai Airways, the national carrier - naturally - of Thailand. But then again, perhaps not ... after learning how the minister of commerce in the Bangkok government proposes that the 15 planes the carrier wants to add to its fleet should be paid for. And that would be? With frozen shrimp. Yes, you read that correctly. It seems they are a major Thai export, and the cabinet has a policy of requiring government agencies to compensate vendors, at least in part, with "agricultural goods" for any purchase over 300 million baht (US $7.6 million). As for the combined value of the planes, it's a reported 70.8 billion baht ($1.8 billion). Until recently, the government owned 93 percent of Thai Airways. But it sold off a 22 percent stake last month.

Final 'Lord of the Rings' film is 'King' with theatergoers

The climactic - and lengthy, at more than three hours - finale of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy didn't set domestic box- office records, but it did outstrip both predecessors in its opening weekend. "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" took in $73.6 million at North American theaters, for a total tally of $125.1 million since Wednesday's debut, according to studio estimates. The top 10 films in box-office earnings (in millions) for Dec. 19-21, according to industry tracker Exhibitor Relations Inc.:

1. "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" $73.6 million
2. "Mona Lisa Smile" 12.0
3. "Something's Gotta Give" 11.5
4. "The Last Samurai" 7.3
5. "Stuck on You" 5.4
6. "Elf" 5.0
7. "Bad Santa" 4.3
8. "The Haunted Mansion" 4.2
9. "Love Don't Cost a Thing" 4.0
10. "Honey" 2.6 - Associated Press

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