Stolen Buddha returned intact

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STUART, Fla. (AP) – Maybe the thieves believe in karma.

A 600-pound gold concrete Buddha stolen from a restaurant last week has been found at peace in a commercial park. A tipster called the owners of Sakura Restaurant and Steak House of Japan with the statue’s whereabouts. Thieves had lifted it from its perch atop a fountain outside the Stuart restaurant.

Police on Tuesday found the undamaged sculpture, which is devoted to the Indian founder of Buddhism, but still have no suspects in the theft.

The 3-foot, 6-inch statue worth $1,500 was driven back to the restaurant’s rock garden aboard a flat bed truck.

Restaurant owner Ako Tarallo welcomed the sculpture back with more enlightened security measures.

“I might put the camera outside,” she told The Stuart News for Thursday’s editions.

One of the central moral precepts of Buddhism is “do not take what is not yours to take.” Buddhists also believe in karma, which says a person’s actions in this life determine the quality of their existence in the next.

Smoking ban big deal for brothels

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) – Brothel owners in the southern state of Victoria have called for an exemption to a new ban on smoking in the workplace, saying customers like to light up after sex.

The Australian Adult Entertainment Industry has written to Victoria’s health minister arguing that new laws banning smoking in bars and brothels could push prostitution back into the streets, according to a report in the Sunday Herald Sun newspaper.

“People smoke when they drink, and people smoke when they fornicate,” association representative William Albon said. “These smoking laws are going to drive women back onto the streets courtesy of the health minister.”

The association – which represents more than half of the 87 legal brothels operating in Victoria’s capital city Melbourne – wants an exemption to the ban, which comes into effect in July 2007.

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Unique ukulele sold on eBay

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – A custom ukulele autographed by billionaire investor Warren Buffett has sold for $11,211 on eBay.

The soprano ukulele is one of two designed to resemble a Dairy Queen ice cream cone. The one that wasn’t auctioned off will become part of Buffett’s collection.

Buffett, who plays the ukulele in his free time, will donate all the proceeds from the online auction to Children’s Hospital in Omaha.

International Dairy Queen is one of the more than 60 companies owned by Buffett’s investment vehicle, Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway.

Dairy Queen plans to donate proceeds from every Blizzard sold on Aug. 10 to the Children’s Miracle Network. Omaha’s Children’s Hospital is part of that network.

Outcry stops sale of Mao’s portrait

BEIJING (AP) – A portrait of China’s founding communist leader won’t be getting the ultimate capitalist treatment after all.

Following a public outcry, an auction house called off the sale of a painting of Mao Zedong used as a model for portraits hung above Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in the 1950s and ‘60s.

The announcement of the planned June 3 sale set off a wave of criticism on Web sites by Chinese nationalists who called it disrespectful to the leader of China’s 1949 communist revolution.

The auction house had said it expected the 36-by-27-inch painting to sell for $120,000 to $150,000.

The sale was canceled “according to the opinion of relevant government sides,” Beijing Huachen Auctions said on its Web site Friday. It said the foreign collector who owns the portrait was “discussing a donation with domestic museums.”

The picture, known as a “mother copy,” was used by artists who painted Mao portraits hung on the Tiananmen Gate, which overlooks the square. The auction house said the original was never displayed on the gate, while copies that did have been lost.

Mao ruled until his death in 1976, plunging China into repeated upheavals that killed millions of people.

Thousands of portraits and statues of Mao were once displayed publicly throughout China. Most have been removed, although his portrait still hangs on the Tiananmen Gate.

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