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ONLY IN AMERICA Myemotional baggage; Hugh Dougherty reports from across the Pond.

THE football season has ended in America, to the disappointment of many fans. But one watcher took it far worse - he killed someone.

Monty the 10ft Burmese python asphyxiated his owner Rick Barber, 43, crushing him so badly that it took seven firefighters and two police to uncoil the snake.

Neighbour Jay Larson said: "It was very tame and friendly. It used to curl up on the floor and watch football with us. This is all pretty hard to believe."

Presumably no one had told the snake the basketball season is now under way.

NEW York's fashion week is almost over, and its winners and losers are becoming clear.

Winners include designers using firefighters and police uniforms for inspiration, which have proved a hit with critics and are likely to make it to the stores very quickly.

Also getting the approval of the fashionconscious city is anything with a military theme and, perhaps predictably, the colours red, white and blue.

But losers have included the people once associated with New York in all its brash selfconfidence, especially Sean "P Diddy" Combs.

His label's show was given a thumbs-down when security decided to keep hundreds of invitees waiting in sub-zero temperatures for no obvious reason. No sooner had the head of the queue been let in than fire marshals ruled the artist formerly known as Puff Daddy had invited too many people to see his creations.

And then a series of influential fashion writers were kept out, supposedly because they were too late. P Diddy is likely to be steering clear of fashion parties for the foreseeable future.

HE already has the most infamous face in the world, but Osama bin Laden may become more than just a terrorist figure when he features on a lottery scratchcard.

Minnesota is proposing to put his face on special game cards, ready to be scratched off by players.

But in case you think this is adding to the notoriety of the terrorist, don't worry - 60% of the proceeds are going to fund an anti-terrorism programme the state can't quite afford.

Rich Stanek, the politician proposing the idea, thinks it will be a hit with veterans.

"Can you imagine the guys sitting in the American Legion, how they'll respond?" he said. "They might go out and buy 100 tickets."

Staying at home is the new going away, according to the travel experts in America.

The country's holidaymakers have not been travelling abroad as much since September 11, and now that trend has been confirmed for the ultra-rich.

Summer homes at the Hamptons, the string of resorts on Long Island where the mega-rich seek relief from New York's stifling summer heat, have soared in price.

Renting a small three-bedroom home with a pool will set you back around pounds 20,000 for June, July and August.

Before September 11 the Hamptons' fortunes had been apparently less favourable, with the summer mansions, host to Great Gatsby-esque gatherings of the rich and famous, falling in price.

Now their owners are counting their blessings.

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BIG DIDDY: Flop show
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Title Annotation:Columns
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 17, 2002
Words:511
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