Signs of the Times: Threats on MySpace, rabbits in the pot

Wed Apr 22, 2009 1:04am EDT
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(Reuters) - The global recession manifests itself in big and small ways, most gloomy, some quirky and often reflecting the inventive human spirit. Here is a look at some signs of the times.

* With record defaults on consumer loans, collection agencies in the United States are going to extra lengths to recover the money. Illinois resident and Mercedes driver James Ricobene says an agency hired by JP Morgan Chase left a post on his daughter's MySpace page threatening action that could lead to prison, unless she contacted the agency within five days about its efforts to repossess her father's car. Ricobene has sued the collection agency and JP Morgan for libel, fraud and invasion of privacy.

* Sales of rabbit, traditionally seen as a cheap meat, jumped in Britain by 185 percent this Easter season compared with the previous year, Waitrose supermarket chain reported. It said the rise in rabbit sales followed "a variety of celebrity chefs championing the meat." Rabbit was a cheap and plentiful meat staple in Britain during World War Two.

* With empty pockets and dwindling savings, The New York Times' "Schott's Vocab" blog asked its readers to provide modern definitions for the word "money." While the blog didn't pick a winner, entries that received "special mention" included: Money is the sheet music for the human symphony of yearning; Money: A Fool's Goal and Faith-based publishing.

* More evidence that people flock to the movies when tough times hit -- The Film Distributors' Association said film-goers in Britain spent more than 250 million pounds on tickets in the first three months of 2009, a 16 percent increase on the equivalent period in the previous year.

* As Ireland heads into a second year of recession people are cutting back on luxuries acquired during the go-go years of the "Celtic Tiger" economy. Top of the list are pet ponies and horses. Stables at the Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are at bursting point. "We get offered horses every day from people who don't want to look after them anymore and turn away six or seven a week," said Jimmy Cahill, general manager at the society. Ireland is a major center of horse racing.

* New York City's historic all-night Farley post office is cutting its hours to save costs, ending window service at 10 p.m. on weekdays and earlier on weekends. The post office near Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan will keep its lobby open, but late night customers will have to rely on machines. From May, Chicago will have the only U.S. post office with windows open 24 hours.

(Compiled by David Storey; Reporting by Julie Mollins in London; Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Deepa Seetharaman and Nick Zieminski in New York; Padraic Halpin in Dublin; editing by Chris Wilson)