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April 2000

1 April 2000

When two Canadian men went to the Cayman Islands, they thought it would be a good idea to get some cocaine. The idea to ring their contact, 'Kennedy', wasn't so good.
Callee Jeff Jackson told them they had the wrong number. Jackson hung up his mobile telephone. A few seconds later, they tried the number again. When Jackson again said it was the wrong number, the caller insisted the number was right and asked to buy cocaine.
The caller was later identified as Jason Robertson, and his mate was Thomas Valliere. Jackson is deputy chief of the Police and Customs Drugs Task Force for the Cayman Islands. An undercover policeman rang the two men back and set up the sale. After he handed over the nondairy coffee creamer to Robertson and Valliere, police arrested the pair.
Robertson testified that he had been drinking when he made the calls.

Now we turn to a sure spot for dopes: Colombia. Here we find Tirisa Ruiz trying to smuggle a gun into a Bogotá prison. The 43-year-old woman had heard she needed to hide the gun deep in her rectum in order to get it past security. She is recovering from the surgery to remove it from her colon.
Another smuggler wannabe was found at the city's airport. Authorities noticed that the woman's long hair didn't match the tresses on her passport photograph. A search revealed a wig with more than a pound of cocaine under it. Police said that 'it was glued in there so strongly that efforts to remove it by hand were ineffective', reported the Associated Press.

People have different ideas about what 'casual dress' means at work. Some people wear tattered jeans, and others simply show up sans suit jacket or tie. With such companies as Coca-Cola and Dean Witter extending casual dress from Fridays to year-round, clearly a standard is needed. 'Companies are realizing that it isn't so easy to go casual. In fact, it can cause some headaches', said Sherry Maysonave, author of a book yclept Casual Power: How to Power Up Your Nonverbal Communication and Dress Down for Success.
This is an obvious niche for consultants. The president of the Atlanta consulting firm McElhaney & Associates said: 'One company asked me to try to help them with a little problem. One girl was wearing thong underwear and for some reason everyone knew' because her clothes were tight. Her solution was to hold a group discussion on appropriate work attire. 'I reminded them that they didn't want to be remembered by their co-workers for their underwear', she added.
One law firm decided to hold a 'business casual' seminar for the lawyers in its employ. Esquire Magazine is helping with the event. Topics include the problems with wet hair at work and the evils of short skirts. A sort-of simpler approach was taken by the marketing firm Development Counsellors International. With the 1998 advent of year-round casual dress, they became worried when some came to work in gym clothes or without bras. The company therefore made a detailed list of appropriate and inappropriate wear for its 25 employees.

4 April 2000

A man who worked at a piñata factory suffered on-the-job injuries and planned to sue his employer. But he dropped the suit when surveillance tapes (later excerpted on the Fox Network's primetime 'caught in the act' programme) were shown.
The tape shows the man entering the storage room, walking around a few times, then swaggering about while selecting a piñata. The little-girl-form piñata was not to his liking, but a dog design did strike his fancy. After inspecting the party toy's rear end, he dropped his trousers and carried out the predictable activities, only the beginnings of which were shown on the US programme.
Not entirely predictable, it turns out. Such piñatas have a frame constructed from wire mesh. Broken wires led to a cut...

When Vermonter Norman Hardy, Jr, was asked his occupation, he told police 'Selling drugs'. He is not alone - other drug dealers have helped police just as much. A Charles County, Virginia, man decided to run into the woods to avoid the police. It was relatively easy to track him because he was wearing 'Light Gear' sneakers, which have battery-powered lights that flash when there is pressure at the heel.

According to UPI reports, a UK lottery winner who is on dialysis has been besieged by people offering to sell him their kidneys, on account of what he says is a misunderstanding.
At a press conference, West Yorkshire's Mick Taylor told reporters he would gladly swap his winnings for a new kidney. When people who weren't too worried about the law kept sending offers of illegal organs, the man quickly explained to reporters that he simply meant he would prefer health to financial riches.
He said: 'I can't believe that people would offer to sell their organs for the chance of some lottery cash.' Since his kidney disease began when he was 11, Taylor has had two unsuccessful kidney transplants.

Pass this item around the office, then see if people look at their hands surreptitiously. Scientists found that finger length may show one's sexual orientation. So what if the study came from the University of California at Berkeley; it's still worth a mention here. The study found that lesbians have a greater length difference between their ring finger and index finger than straight women do. The same pattern held for men.
But only for men who had several older brothers. The findings came when these scientists were testing a theory that higher androgen levels in the womb influence both finger length and gayness. 1440 hands from the streets of San Francisco were involved in the study.
The typical 'masculine' finger arrangement is for the index finger to be shorter, whereas women's index and ring fingers tend to be more similar in length. Lesbian women followed the former pattern. Gay men with many older brothers - a factor correlated with homosexuality, as it indicates prenatal androgen exposure--had an even more 'masculine' finger ratio.

As part of the Manchester Academy of the Arts annual show's exhibition, several abstract watercolour paintings were selected from a field of 1000 entrants. The judges described 'Rhythm of the Trees' as showing a 'certain quality of color balance, composition, and technical skill'. The reader will probably be unsurprised to note that the coloured blobs came from the four-year-old Carly Johnson, whose mother submitted the painting 'as a joke'.

AP wire service reports reveal the saga of the erupting manholes. One of Friday's two 'pop-up' manhole covers was just outside the back fence of the White House. The other was downtown.
The nation's capital's utilities providers are busily blaming each other, although the Potomac Electric Power Company did report that Friday's explosions may have been caused by failing cable splices.
The fire department spokesman who took the report from Secret Service agents said the cover 'flew into the air and smoked up'. At least six other explosions have happened in the last few months. On February 18, three manhole covers reached altitudes of 30 feet.

9 April 2000

Insect control company Orkin have annoyed some viewers of a recent advert in which a cockroach scuttles across viewers' screens. 'Apparently, when you're sitting in your darkened den it seems pretty real', said Michael Lollis, executive creative director at the Atlanta office that designed the advertisement.
When a Maryland woman woke up her neighbours to have them kill the roach, one of them figured out what was going on. She later told Orkin Pest Control, 'I felt really stupid for getting my neighbors out of bed in the middle of the night', but a Florida woman took things further. She threw a motorcycle helmet at her television, breaking it. She is demanding that the company pay for a new television. Another man threw a shoe at the roach. He said his set was damaged in the attack.
The adverts aired at night. They begin as if promoting fabric softener. The roach then scurries across the screen, aided by what Lollis called 'lots of little technical tricks' such as a slight glow around the creature.

More adverts...
A pro-dairy advert campaign in the US uses the slogan 'Got milk?'. The animal rights organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has taken umbrage at this, since they object to people drinking milk. When PETA fired back with the slogan 'Got Beer?', it was someone else's turn to get upset. A spokeswoman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving stated that her support and advocacy group is 'appalled' by the PETA ad because of 'the simple fact that under-age drinking is the number one drug problem among American youths'.
A PETA representative responded: 'College students are savvy. Nobody's going to put beer on their Cheerios.'

If you long to be part of illegal activity online, you don't need to be an American who deals in such filthy things as PGP encyption. Instead, add to your things-to-do list: having a modem in Burma. Unless you have registered with their Ministry of Communications, ownership of such a subversive device makes you eligible to win up to 15 years in prison.
Or if you don't want to pay so much to get in trouble for your online activities and looking at necrobestiality porn is 'old hat' for you, perhaps you'd like to go to mainland China, where it is against the law not only to lie or spread rumours online (yes, people there have been imprisoned for forwarding chain e-mail) but 'promiting feudal superstitions' and 'openly insulting other people' are illegal.

For further lessons in perspective regarding law-breaking, we turn to Bellingham, Massachusetts, where Timothy Dwyer ran a red light. As far as police are able to determine, there were no warrants out for his arrest, but the man still led them in a nine-minute chase across lawns and wrong end first up one-way streets. Throughout, Dwyer obeyed all speed limits, which sometimes meant restricting his driving speed to 55 or 40 kilometres per hour, as he was chased by three police cars. After losing control of his vehicle in the lot of a Rhode Island car dealership, Dwyer died. The 38-year-old man took three cars with him.

Ohio doesn't like Belgian beer, reportsLe Soir. The label of Manneken Pis features the famous urinating boy, which the state liquor board has determined runs counter to Ohio's anti-porn law banning imagse that are 'grotesque or in bad taste'. Agency spokesperson Patty Haskins said: 'Add to that the name, the yellow tint of the label, and the product which suggests the color of urine... It's gross.'
The beer's importer is appealing the ruling, which they argue hurts not only the beer market but other markets for which Belgian products are currently en vogue in the US. Belgian bistros are all the rage in New York, for instance, but Brussels's Manneken Pis statuette from the seventeenth century lacks their appeal.

In Baltimore County, Maryland, Joseph Palczynski was wanted for kidnapping and murdering some people, so a $10,000 reward was placed on his head. Shortly after this, Andy McCord rang the emergency services because the wanted man was in the process of breaking into his flat. Once McCord and his girlfriend and son were extricated from a protracted hostage situation and Palczynski was dealt with, McCord requested that monetary reward. However, a spokesman for Metro Crime Stoppers said that, in that case, McCord should have rung the Crime Stoppers hotline instead of 911. Also, the fine print stipulates that the call must lead to the arrest of the wanted person, whereas Palczynski was killed in the authorities' siege of the flat.

18 April 2000

Local Muslims applied to the neighbourhood council of Gamle, Oslo, for permission to call worshipers to prayer over loudspeakers. The World Islamic Mission was pleased with the result of the application, a spokesman saying, 'It means our religion is respected on the same lines as other religions'. In response to the calls of 'Allahu akbar', a Norwegian group sought similar permission, which was granted. The Norwegian Heathen Society can now announce its meetings with a 'There is no God!' loudspoken announcement.

And in West Bend, Wisconsin, a man was sentenced to a seven-month jail term after he killed his wife's pets in retaliation for her abortion. Leonard Kritz terminated eight pets, including a chinchilla and birds and snakes, to teach her about the sanctity of life. At the sentencing hearing, wife Stacy said that the two had 'agreed' that the pets' killing should be 'part of a punishment'.
This was in April 1999. Kritz is to begin serving time on 12 June, after the birth of their new child.

Iowans banded together to help Waukee native Charlene Zimmerman raise money for her cancer treatments. However, after raising upwards of $10,000, being helped when her house burned down, and receiving holiday gifts from schoolchildren and charities, she was found to have taken a razor to her head and given herself 'biopsy' scars.
After the police investigation led to a court date, Zimmerman's attorney said: 'What happened to Charlene was the result of psychological problems', adding that she 'truly believed she had cancer and didn't intend to profit from it'.

We round out this report with a compilation of recent sentences.
Two Alexandria, Louisiana, men admitted to violating a noise ordinance in March. They were sentenced to attend a music appreciation session with the subject of country music, a genre they do not relish. Judge Tom Yeager light-heartedly said that 'I'm going to put them in a room without a window because I'm afraid they'd jump'.
Meanwhile, in Lupton, Colorado, which is rife with complaints about volume knobs that turn only to the right, sentences involve offenders attending monthly music meetings on weekend evenings. The songs, chosen by the court, take into consideration offenders' youth. Lounge singers such as Wayne Newton and Dean Martin feature, and some bagpiping and John Denver songs are thrown in for good measure.

22 April 2000

Seven-year-old Perley King stole his family's car to drive to a local shop because he wanted Cheerios. Upon hearing of this, the cereal's manufacturer, General Mills, offered the boy a year's supply of the cereal on account of his 'amazing devotion'. They also provided him with a bicycle, as a reminder that 'a seven-year-old should travel on two wheels, not four'.

San Francisco's 'Artico', a Mexican healer, recently agreed to try treating a comatose Iranian woman. After colonic irrigation to deal with 'a week of shit and intestinal fermentation, gas, and mucus', he gave her a steam bath, then used a plant to scrub her body with a mixture of volcanic ash, fenugreek seed, and oatmeal. When Artico reached her genitals, the woman emerged from her coma and soon happily rang her husband and children in Tehran.
Artico said that when he later told her, through an interpreter, that he had scrubbed her clitoris with an abrasive plant, she became embarrassed. According to news reports, she declined to continue the treatments he offered and also refused to eat and drink after that. She died about two weeks later.

A new business in Glasgow decided to sell some domain names and ended up annoying the Roman Catholic Church. This has something to do with Domain Hypermarket's attempts to find a buyer who will pay more than 15,000 euros for .
The Church called the action 'callous and exploitative', citing it as evidence that the Internet should be more heavily regulated.
The company's director Martin Newman called the idea merely 'slightly morbid'.

North Carolina police arrested José Guadalupe Pedro-Cruz after he picked up a package from the post office. It would have been, as advertised, the police department's 'largest methamphetamine bust' if the flour-like substance hadn't actually been flour and the blocks of waxy material hadn't been Mexican squash candy. According to the police's Captain Mike Brown, drug tests in the field are 'not 100% reliable'. Good thing he told us that.

Some people don't like Daylight Saving Time very much. Felix Salgado, a United States (of Mexico) senator, offered a reason that is fairly new to political debate. During a Congressional debate, he stated that it 'affects good marital relations' because people often 'make love when they wake up, the so-called mañanero [morning thing, or 'quickie'], but now when you wake up your partner is no longer there because she had to take the kids to school'.

Reuters reports on a Texas woman who had bad luck with a trip to a bank's cash machine. Having lost $20 in the bowels of the ATM, the Fort Worth woman started driving away from the bank. At the same time, a bank robber was running from the scene of his crime. Although she is about 152 cm tall and the robber was described as a significantly larger man with a different skin colour, a teller noticed only her number plate when looking out the window.
When the woman parked at a friend's house, she was approached by gun-brandishing police officers. The woman, whose name was not released, recalls: 'I thought maybe I'd run a stop sign or something.' She complied with their commands to put her hands in the air, raising them through the sun roof for cuffing.
About 10 minutes later, detectives freed her, according to spokesman Lieutenant David Burgess. The bank robber's fate is unclear.

The Internal Revenue Service have moved from students to another group of Americans to hassle about back taxes: government employees. An IRS study found Congress members and their staff to owe $10.5 million in unpaid taxes. They also noted that 8.2 per cent of FBI employees are behind on their tax, putting them slightly above the national average. In contrast, only 3.8 per cent of Treasury Department employees are delinquent in this regard.

27 April 2000

If vibration is boring and you're tired of the James Bond ringtone on your mobile phone, the Japanese have come to your rescue.
Perhaps you don't want to be saved, but that's too bad. A Nihon-teki paint manufacturer designed a pearl-coloured faux fingernail that glows red or blue (LED magic!) when the wearer receives or makes a call. Sunshine Inc. are selling these things at $23 each. The thin receptor and antenna are unaffected by filing and hand-washing. And when the battery on your phone is getting low, the nail keeps going.

Responding to a Berlin ban on some breeds of dog, protesters plan a parade of outlawed pooches, who are each to boast a yellow star of David.
The mid-May protest is designed to liken the ban of pit bulls and other 'attack dogs' to Nazi racism. You can probably guess that Paul Spiegel, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, has deemed this 'in revolting bad taste'. He is considering legal action.

Some people flip coins when they try to make decisions. A US jury recently decided this approach is preferable to tossing 12 separate metaphorical coins.
After hearing the evidence in a murder trial, the jurors deliberated for nine hours and then declared Phillip J. Givens II guilty of shooting his girlfriend. The maximum sentence would have been life in prison. However, prosecutor Brian Butler soon reported that one of the jurors leaked the truth of what should be secret goings-on to an ear close to an ear in the court system. It was only a matter of time before Judge Kenneth Conliffe called in jury foreman David Melton and said: 'It has come to the attention of the court that, with the great deal of difficulty that the jury had, that [sic] you all got to a point where you were in essence almost hung, and that you may have resolved the issue by a flip of the coin.' Melton verified this account, whereupon Conliffe declared a mistrial.
Melton, the only juror who could be reached for comment, said that because the jury were unanimous in opting for a coin toss, they didn't think it wrong or illegal. Since 'we were going to be hung without it', they flipped the coin to [have a better chance to] avoid a mistrial and the victim's three children having to testify again.

Reuters reports that a British woman decided to give birth prematurely so her husband could hold the baby before he died of cancer. South Tyneside Hospital doctors agreed to Angela Moon's request for a two-weeks-premature birth.
Husband Gavin indeed died three days after Imogen was born. When he held her for the first and last time, he said to the baby, 'I'm your dad. Remember me'.

Many, among them the Mexican Catholic Church, have complained about the evils of Pokemon, but some Church officials sorted out their condemnation priorities and decided to give Pocket Monsters a reprieve.
The Italian Bishops decided that the Pokemon phenomenon does not have 'any harmful moral side effects'. In a televised statement, they called Pokemon 'full of inventive imagination' and based on 'ties of intense friendship' between the monsters and their trainer.

The US government appears to be plagued by wrong numbers. The latest report, courtesy of the UPI, is from Michigan, where the Blue Pages telephone directory, listing 20,000 health-care providers, gave too blue a number for Blue Cross Medicaid enquiries. Blue Cross's revised directory listing has the correct number, but Information (the equivalent of Directory Enquiries) still provides the number for a hotline run by Pleasure Entertainment.
Blue Cross officials said that the number, originally belonging to the federal government, had been reassigned after becoming inactive. At press time, no reports were available on the sexual fantasies of Medicaid recipients.

Donald Trump has made a bid for the Dilbert's Pointy-Haired Boss award. Plaintiff Harry Burstein complained that his breathing has been affected by silicon and other materials kicked up by one of Trump's construction sites, near New York's United Nations Building. A spokesman for Trump replied: 'Silicone is used in breast implants. This is just someone else trying to make a buck off Donald Trump with a frivolous lawsuit.'
The 78-year-old Burstein claimed that the dust is also sticking to everything he owns. If Trump is correct, that might include the outside of his chest, not just the inside.

We all have heard stories about 'cat ladies' or homes containing 55 dogs, so one more can't hurt.
After the neighbours of an Akron, Ohio, man complained about the smell emanating from his house, health department officials found more than 500 animals inside. Pat Donovan, executive director of the Humane Society, said she believes that Sebastian Smith III planned to sell the rats and mice for bait and hadn't factored in their breeding habits.
Some of the animals were in cramped quarters such as a 35-litre aquarium containing 60 rodents. Many had started eating each other. Others of the 333 rats, 146 mice, and 16 gerbils were not in cages. The Humane Society hope to find homes for them all, ideally homes that do not contain snakes.
It is unclear whether or not the heaps of dirty clothes in Smith's 11-year-old son's room make good nests for those animals or for any of the eight birds, six cats, four rabbits, three dogs, hamster, turtle, iguana, and boa constrictor found there.
The same inspection tour featured a house whose rooms were piled to the ceiling with 'stuff', with a narrow path in the middle. The homeowner, a part-time cook, explained that a collection habit started with 900 knives and went on from there.

Don't talk to strangers.
Wynema Faye Shumate was a South Carolina woman who wooed Englishman Trevor Tasker with the aid of a revealing photograph taken 30 years earlier. When Tasker finally visited her in real life, earlier this month, he received another surprise: there was a corpse in her freezer, perhaps with the legs chopped off so that it would fit inside.
Shumate had not killed her wheelchair-bound room-mate. He died a year or so earlier of natural causes, but she wanted to continue living in his house and spending his money.
Tasker has returned to the UK, where he swears that he will never go online again.


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