Diana’s true love: Princess Diana was not planning to marry Dodi Fayed when the two were killed in a 1997 car crash, Diana’s former butler said this week. Testifying at the national inquest into the two deaths, Paul Burrell said that Diana had in fact hoped to marry her previous boyfriend, Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan; Khan broke up with Diana mere months before the crash because he would not give up his medical practice. The whirlwind romance with Fayed, Burrell said, was an attempt to make Khan jealous. In the decade since Diana’s death, Khan has refused to speak to the press. This week he broke his silence only to say that he hoped the inquest would mark an end to the media’s obsession with Diana. “I hope it will clarify everything, and everybody should move on,” Khan said. Conspiracy theorists, including Fayed’s father, have alleged that the British government killed Diana to prevent her from marrying Fayed.
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Hunger strikers win: After an eight-day hunger strike by farm activist José Bové and 15 followers, the French government has agreed to ban genetically modified corn. Monsanto’s transgenic corn MON-810, which secretes an insecticide to protect the crop from pests, is the only genetically modified food allowed in the European Union. Bové contends that it could contaminate the environment, and the French government has ordered a safety investigation. Bové is not the first, French politician to win a political battle by fasting. In 2006, lawmaker Jean Lassalle stopped Japanese firm Toyal from shutting down operations in his district by eating nothing for
Mona Lisa revealed: Researchers at Heidelberg University say they have confirmed the identity of the woman who modeled for Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Citing notes written by a friend of da Vinci’s in the margins of a book, the researchers said the portrait is of Lisa del Giocondo, wife of a Florentine businessman. The revelation explains why the Mona Lisa is known in Italian as La Giaconda. The manuscript notations, found by librarian Armin Schlechter, are in a book of Cicero essays owned by Agostino Vespucci. The notes—dated October 1503—also establish for the first time just when the masterpiece was painted.
Driving while DVDing: France’s Transport Ministry is considering tougher regulation of truck drivers after reports that many watch DVDs or play video games while driving. A highway maintenance workers group, whose members are tired of nearly being run over by trucks veering onto road shoulders, blew the whistle on the drivers. The group said that French truckers tend to drive “by ear,” grabbing the steering wheel only after their vehicles hit the rumble strips along the shoulders; some truck drivers confirmed that they had seen colleagues driving that way. Drivers caught reading a newspaper or watching television behind the wheel will be punished “extremely severely,” said Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau, although he declined to specify the punishment.
Holocaust denier jailed: A German lawyer who defends Holocaust deniers was herself sentenced this week to three and a half years in jail for denying the Holocaust. The charges against neo-Nazi lawyer Sylvia Stolz stemmed from her failed defense of Ernst Zündel, publisher of such pamphlets as The Hitler We Loved and Why, which argues that the Nazis’ slaughter of 6 million Jews was a myth invented by the Jews. During Zündel’s trial last year, Stolz repeatedly argued that the Holocaust never happened, and she ended one legal brief with, “Heil Hitler.” She was eventually removed from the court, and Zündel was sentenced to five years. Denying the Holocaust is a crime in Germany, Israel, and 11 other countries.
Revolt against the Mafia: Sicilian businesses have begun joining forces and refusing to pay protection money, or pizzo, to the Mafia. The firms have banded together at a Web site called Addiopizzo.org and pledged to help one another stay free of mob influence. In the past, business owners were afraid to openly defy the Mafia. But recent raids on Mafia accountants have turned up lists of companies that paid protection money, and prosecutors are now accusing those businesses of complicity with organized crime. “Now it is a bigger risk for us to pay than not to pay,” said construction company owner Ugo Argiroffi.
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