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Popular online-auction company e-Bay is currently offering a made-in-Tijuana, $50 black-velvet painting of Monica Lewinsky. "I am auctioning off this Black Velvet Painting of Monica S. Lewinsky," says the pitch from the Los Angeles seller with the screen name "brobison." "Monica, dressed in her infamous blue dress and wearing a beautiful pearl necklace, looks dazzling as she smiles out from the depths of the velvet. This portrait was hand-painted in Tijuana, Mexico by Jorge Terrones. It comes complete with a hand-numbered Certificate of Authenticity from Indignico Inc. This counterfeit-proof document proves that your Monica Lewinsky velvet painting is a genuine Patriot Portrait Collectible from Indignico Inc.'s American Tabloid Heroes Collection. The painting measures 18 by 24 inches without the frame -- and the frame is not included with the painting. The winner of the auction pays $20 shipping and handling. If you're interested in other velvet paintings I have up for auction please click 'View Seller's Other Auctions' above. Thank you and Good Luck." Other velvet artworks listed for sale include Jesus Christ, Dogs Playing Pool, Monkey Playing Poker, Elvis, Crying Elvis, and Jesse Ventura.

Levitating Patents

La Jolla-based General Atomics is embroiled in a battle over who owns the rights to so-called "maglev" technology and a scheme to run a 2200-foot magnetically levitated pedestrian shuttle system around downtown Pittsburgh. An outfit called Western Pennsylvania Maglev Development Corp. has teamed with General Atomics to build the $147 million line using technology developed by Lockheed-Martin, whose maglev business G.A. purchased last year. But Stephen Kuznetsov, whose company Power Superconductor Applications was once a consultant to the venture, claims that he holds the master patents for the project, and won't give them up without a fight. Not so, says G.A. senior manager Eddie Leung, who told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Kuznetsov's patent claim was like "trying to license energy from the sun.... It's a very broad thing. We're doing things slightly different than he's doing." For his part, Kuznetsov told the paper he did most of the engineering and technical work on the project until one day he was called into the office of the project's sponsors and told "Screw you. We're going to be dealing with people in Toronto and California from now on."

I Have a Jacor

The Federal Communications Commission has dismissed a challenge by Jesse Jackson's Rainbow-PUSH coalition to six San Diego radio-station licenses owned by giant Jacor Broadcasting. The challenge had accused the stations of failing to recruit women and minorities... Mexico is still trying to privatize that part of the old San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railroad line that runs between Tijuana and just east of Tecate. A deal with a private contractor from Mexico City fell through in February, and now the Mexicans are giving bidders one more chance. If the line can't be unloaded for an undisclosed minimum bid, it will be bundled with other unsold rail scraps into a government-owned company of last resort, says the Journal of Commerce... Former San Diegan Dan Hammer has become speechwriter and deputy press secretary for Senator Barbara Boxer, according to Roll Call. Before going to Washington, he worked in Boxer's San Diego field office.

Back to the Steroids

Baseball slugger Mark McGwire has settled his lawsuit against People First, Inc., the herbal-supplement marketing outfit from La Jolla he had accused of misappropriating his image and endorsement. Under the deal, People First, which once featured a shot of McGwire on its web page, agreed not to use McGwire's photo and to tell its distributors not to mention McGwire in connection with the product... Bison ranchers in San Diego are all abuzz with the news: a rare killer virus has decimated a bison herd in the Palo Verde Valley along the Colorado River near the Riverside County town of Blythe and may be heading this way, carried by sheep herds. Amy Childs, who breeds bison on a ranch in Ramona, told the Riverside Press Enterprise that she is keeping a close watch for the disease, called malignant catarrhal fever.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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