From afar, non-Americans looked with bemusement at the deadlocked presidential election. But few nations were immune from quirky goings-on.

From a hapless Norwegian burglar to Singapore's quest for the perfect toilet, to the tale of a saint named Chad, here's a sampling:


The city of Hong Kong has made its reputation as a world-class purveyor of top quality fakes - counterfeit Rolexes, pirated CDs, fake Gucci bags. Perhaps that's why allegedly fake musicians were taken in stride.

Thousands of Hong Kong culture vultures paid about $30 apiece in August for performances of the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra. Trouble was, the orchestra was touring Europe at the time.

Hong Kong officials admitted that the performers were mostly free-lance musicians. Still, complaints were muted. ''Either they were good enough to pass for the real thing or the audience lacked the discernment to tell the difference,'' mused the South China Morning Post.


In the Year of the Chad, appearances can be deceiving. So in February guards at Greece's Korydallos Prison decided to take a closer look at a stuffed chicken carried by a visiting wife whose husband was incarcerated on drug charges.

Inside, they found heroin and a file. The woman claimed she only wanted to feed her husband and that the chicken had been given to her by an Albanian. She was arrested for drug trafficking.


Appearance is especially important in image-conscious Singapore, where littering and failing to flush public toilets can bring big fines. So it came as little surprise this year when Singapore announced some public rest rooms will be rated with one to five stars, just like fancy hotels and restaurants.

In the words of Singapore's prime minister, Goh Chok Tong, a clean society is ''a gracious society.''


Floridians, take heart: In Australia, election authorities discovered that the voter rolls in New South Wales included a cat. Parliament member Alasdair Webster uncovered the feline fraud when his letter welcoming Curacao Fischer Chatt was returned by the post office in November.

Not everyone was amused.

''This stuff about cats and dogs is denigrating the Australian Electoral Commission in my view and is trivializing the Australian electoral system, which is bloody good compared to what's happening overseas,'' said Labor parliament member Michael Danby.


When faced with a new law, rule-breakers will always find a way to get around it.

According to Rome's daily Il Messaggero, when Italian police announced in September that they would confiscate cars of men soliciting prostitutes, customers simply dusted off old rusty bicycles and pedaled off in search of sex.


Fame, they say, doesn't always bring happiness. Just ask a Norwegian burglar arrested in Oslo in November. The man broke into an apartment in the Norwegian capital, scooping up cash and perfume.

Trouble was, the apartment was loaded with 17 video cameras taping an around-the-clock reality television program. Staff members of the show, ''Baren,'' or ''The Bar,'' cornered him as he was making his escape.

''Some of the participants said they almost felt sorry for him because he was so unlucky or stupid,'' said the program's editor, Vebjoern Ytreberg. The 44-year-old suspect was not identified.


And finally, a parable for our wired yet oh-so-fallible world:

A seventh-century cleric whose own election as bishop was disputed enjoyed a sudden burst of fame near the end of the year.

The reason? He is St. Chad.

Officials of St. Chad's church in Lichfield, central England, reported that visits to have gone from four or five a day to several hundred.

''We are delighted to have so many visitors,'' said the Rev. Jill Warren, adding that there may be ''a lesson to be learned from Chad's election as Bishop of the Northumbrians 1,300 years ago.''

Ancient chronicles show Chad was consecrated Bishop of the Northumbrians in 665 A.D. in place of the Abbot of Ripon, who had gone missing. But two years later, the abbot turned up and Chad's consecration was invalidated.

Chad stepped aside, declaring, ''If you know I have not duly received Episcopal ordination, I willingly resign the office, for I never thought myself worthy of it; but, though unworthy, in obedience submitted to undertake it.''

His humble attitude won him the appointment as Lichfield's first bishop.

''There really is a message in the actions of St. Chad and we pray for all those involved in determining the outcome of the American election,'' said Warren.

Howard Stern News Desk

"I have ever considered the constitutional mode of election ultimately by the Legislature voting by States as the most dangerous blot in our Constitution --Thomas Jefferson on the Electoral College

"If you make peaceful change impossible..... you make violent revolution inevitable." President John F Kennedy

"No man is happy without a delusion of some kind. Delusions are as necessary to our happiness as realities." -Christian Nestell Bovee, American author (1820-1904).