Moscow - A Russian region of Ulyanovsk has found a novel way to fight the nation's birth-rate crisis: It has declared Sept. 12 the Day of Conception and for the third year running is giving couples time off from work to procreate.

The hope is for a brood of babies exactly nine months later on Russia's national day. Couples who "give birth to a patriot" during the June 12 festivities win money, cars, refrigerators and other prizes.

Several years ago I read that the average Russian woman of child-bearing age has had seven abortions. I'll say it again, when cultures get addicted to killing babies for whatever reason, and then belatedly realize they've KILLED ALL THEIR BABIES!--then we can naturally expect to see this sort of nonsense going on. If a country can do it in the name of nationalism--well!! All the better.

A whole day off to procreate...whew.