August 11, 2005

And now . . . this - Aug. 11/05

Then we had nothing to live on but food and water

Monks at a Belgian abbey have been forced to stop selling their famous beer after it was voted the best in the world and was promptly sold out.

The abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren in western Belgium is home to some 30 Cistercian and Trappist monks who lead a life of seclusion, prayer, manual labor - and beer-brewing. . . .

But the abbey only has a limited brewing capacity, and was not able to cope with the beer's sudden popularity. . . .

And the abbey has no intention of boosting its capacity to satisfy market demand.

"We are not brewers, we are monks. We brew beer to be able to afford being monks," the father abbot said on the abbey's Web site.

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Now, if they were Protestant brewers, they'd settle an entire continent over this crisis.

Not getting the hint

First he had to give up his Mercedes to avoid being killed. Then a man who owed him $1 million tried to kill him, and his girlfriend took out a contract hit on his life. In February, he was kidnapped and forced to pay a ransom of $1.5 million.

Incredibly, businessman Igor Lantsov, who claims to be a victim of circumstance, has not soured on working in Russia and is forging ahead with plans to build several golf courses. Maybe only after that will he go home to Canada. . . .

Lantsev said the first time he faced a threat on his life was in 1995, when the Mercedes he was driving on Volokolamskoye Shosse in northwestern Moscow was carjacked by several men. He said the men took him to a forest and threatened to kill him but he convinced them to let him go in exchange for the car.

He said a man who owed him $1 million tried to kill him in 1998.

But the incident that grabbed national headlines occurred in December 2003. His girlfriend, Anastasia Nasinovskaya, 21, became enraged when Lantsov demanded that she return a brand-new BMW and asked a friend to kill him for $15,000. The would-be killer, Ivan Sentyurin, went to police, who organized a sting operation and arrested Nasinovskaya after she handed over a down payment of $10,000 - money that Lantsov said came from his own pocket.

Nasinovskaya, a runner-up in the 1997 Miss Moscow beauty pageant, was charged with trying to organize a murder, but Lantsov then had a sudden change of heart. He hired an expensive lawyer to defend Nasinovskaya and eventually proposed to her. In August 2004, the Moscow City Court gave the newly married Nasinovskaya a five-year suspended sentence on a lesser charge.

The couple divorced in November.

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Dumb as a bag of hammers. At this rate, he's going to have to open those golf courses, just to provide the funds to keep his enemies bought off.