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Russia’s Putin gets tiger cub for his birthday

MOSCOW – There’s no doubt what Vladimir Putin’s favorite birthday present is this year – a rare Ussuri tiger cub.

State television showed the Russian prime minister affectionately petting the two-month-old female cub on Friday. The tiger weighs only about 20 pounds and sleeps in a wicker basket at Putin’s residence outside Moscow.

Putin says a good home will be found for the tiger, presumably in a zoo or wildlife preserve. He hasn’t decided what to call her, but is leaning toward Mashenka or Milashka.

Putin refuses to say who gave him the cub for his 56th birthday, which was Tuesday.

The Ussuri tiger is also known as the Siberian, Amur or Manchurian tiger. Fewer than 400 are believed to survive in the wild.

Cambodian couple split house in half in divorce

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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – A couple in rural Cambodia has terminated their 18-year marriage with a divorce settlement that entailed sawing in two the wooden house they once shared, villagers said Friday. The husband, 42-year-old Moeun Sarim, has taken away with him all the bits and pieces of his half of the house, said his 35-year-old wife, Vat Navy.

“Very strange, but this is what my husband wanted,” she said by phone from a village about 62 miles east of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. She said they ended their marriage last month.

“He brought his relatives and used saws to cut the house in half,” she said, adding that she now owns the other half that is still standing. The house is made from wood with a tile roof and propped up on wooden pillars, a typical style for a Cambodian country home.

She said her estranged husband and his relatives, after ripping apart half of the house, carried all the debris to his parents’ house nearby.

She said the divorce was prompted by her husband’s jealousy about her alleged relationship with a policeman in the village. She denied having an extramarital affair.

“He wanted a divorce, and I said, `Let’s divorce,'” she said.

The husband could not be reached for comment.

Bou Bout, a village chief, said local officials and police were present as witnesses the day the couple split their 20-by-24 1/2 foot house into half.

“Local officials tried three times to get them to mend their differences, but the husband would not budge,” Bou Bout said by phone.

Man to hold ‘I was stupid’ sign outside Wis. plant

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. – A man who caused damage at a wastewater treatment plant in Eau Claire has decided to pick public humiliation over jail time to pay for his crime.

Eau Claire County Judge Paul Lenz gave Shane McQuillan an option after he was found guilty of criminal damage to property for ramming his car into a closed gate at the plant.

McQuillan could spend time in jail, or spend a day outside the plant holding a sign that says: “I was stupid.” McQuillan chose the sign sentence Wednesday.

The 22-year-old told an officer after the incident last March that he had been drinking and was “just being stupid.”