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August 2000


2 August 2000

To address some of the Floridian silliness which is so regular a feature of Anna's News Clippings, a new law was passed last month to allow motorcyclists over the age of 20 to ride without helmets as long as they have 10,000 dollars in insurance. So it should come as little surprise that Fort Myers, Florida, anti-helmet enthusiast Dorthy Lynette Rushton, 40, recently died helmetlessly after being thrown more than 50 feet from her Harley.

In Cotessey (This is the mostly-England issue), the police were demonstrating how to handle firearms safely. Superintendant Chris Burgess's leg was injured when a blank was fired at him. The wadding was defective, and 'It stings a lot and my leg is stiff'.

Somerset, England, woman Therese O'Dell wanted her washing machine fixed and, when the third repairman in a row couldn't deal with the problem, she held his van hostage in her driveway. Police were eventually able to secure the man's release, after which she received a new washing machine. No charges were filed in connection with the incident.

Some claim it's part of a cover-up. One man died and six were injured Monday on the set of the filming of the X-Files series premiere. The crew members were standing on the scaffolding when a power line fell from the back of an apartment building. Studio vice president of media relations Steven Melnick said he didn't know the age of the dead man, Jim Engh, or how long he had been working on 'The X-Files', but executive producer Chris Carter said 'All of us are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our friend and colleague', who 'will be deeply missed by all who have known him and worked with him'.

Philadelphian Andre Brooks thinks it is important to save water. So I guess we can sympathise with him for killing a lodger in his apartment building. Outraged that Anthony Carr left the water running in the bathtub, Brooks shot the man in the back. In a statement to detective Roland George, Brooks said he arrived to see Brooks 'run into the bathroom and come out. And he left the tub running'.

Charlotte, North Carolina, judge Graham Mullen is nothing if not accommodating. When convicted killer Reginald Falice said 'Yeah, give me life' as sentencing was about to be pronounced, the judge said, 'You got it' and sentenced him to life in prison for the murder of his pregnant wife.
The court battle featured an emotional Falice wavering from crying to yelling at the judge and prosecutor.

Speculate as to the circumstances surrounding this headline: Russian specialist drowns in pool while celebrating module linkup.

David Tate, a 29-year-old Sunday school teacher in Kent, England, couldn't get his students to concentrate. So, to compete with the Pokemon craze which he claims was distracting them, he instituted 'Power Cards', featuring characters from the Bible. The cards contain information on the faith, strengths and weaknesses, and number of mentions in the Bible. As to the absence of Jesus in the set of cards, Tate said he didn't want to offend anyone because 'Christians can get funny sometimes'. Also 'it would defeat the purpose if Jesus was beaten by one of the bad characters'.

And, mentioned to me by one of my readers (meaning I haven't verified it myself) is a craze among children in England. This involves the collection and trading of prostitutes' calling cards, which are left in 'phone boxes in attempts to gain custom. BT allegedly bin 13 million of the cards each year, but the number of cards traded by students and the schools which have been complaining have not been mentioned by an unnamed Westminster Council spokeswoman.

29 August 2000

I meant to send this a week or so earlier but fell victim to netlessness.

Following a complaint from the Norwegian soldiers' union, military leaders have asked officers to use less colourful language to avoid hurting the feelings of the troops. Soldiers at northern Norway's Soer Varanger garrison had complained, through representative Kjell Andre Loevaas, about cursing, especially between junior officers and new conscripts. 'It's a shame to see these words--particularly the references to mothers', the garrison's commanding officer told the defence forces' official magazine, Forsvarets Forum, after a series of meetings. 'Strong expressions are needed in the army but some of the language made me sick', said the officer.
Although national service is mandatory in Norway, its image there is usually a rather laid-back one. For an idea of this image, we turn to Sweden. 'The old traditional way of shouting and using hand signals and gestures is not the way to go for us', said Swedish army spokesman Lt. Col. Ronny Larsson, adding, 'we have a modern leadership and most of the soldiers are consulted on their education'.

What do you do when you really love someone? In Phoenix, Arizona, we have the man who allegedly tried to kill his girlfriend with a woodchipper and ended up rather dead himself. The man, inside the machine, died there. City police said Lucia Lopez accepted Rafael Rodriguez's marriage proposal before her fiancé whisked her away to the landscaping business where he worked. She described him telling her to close her eyes and lie down on a woodchipper's conveyor belt, and she described moving from that position when he started the machine. Police Lt. Mark Zingg said she laid down again and 'he lays down next to her and she says the next thing she knows is he is through the machine, apparently grabbing her wrists to bring her into the machine too'. The machine automatically stopped but not before Rodriguez suffered fatal injuries to the head and arms.

In Lake City, Tennessee, we have a car weaving around on the road. It pulled over for the police, who noticed the driver and passenger then switching places. Fourty-year-old Ohioan Timothy Kent Lambdin was then arrested for having driven while intoxicated. The woman in the driver's seat, Michelle Renee Evans, also smelled of alcohol, and she too failed the sobriety test. Other passengers were charged with public intoxication.

The Associated Press report on several days spent watching an object found off the coast of Japan. Russian and Japanese officials watched ever since a tiny bit of the 330-foot-long, 50-foot-wide item appeared above water level near Hokkaido. Russian officials denied all knowledge of the object until someone pointed out the Russian word for 'inflammable' written on the bit jutting out of the water.
Naval spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo said the Russians have been looking for the device since 1994, when an earthquake damaged a radar station antenna for a submarine detection system. The piece of antenna 'contained no secret technologies and presented no danger to the environment'. The tugboat Mashuk immediately was sent out to retrieve it.

In Winnipeg, Canada, we find Clarence Dale, who lost 20 Canadian dollars to a mugger. Leaving a tobacco shop, he had the money in his hand when it was grabbed. When the case reached Judge Charles Rubin, Dale was lectured about how 'I wouldn't walk down that lane in the middle of the day, let alone in the middle of the night'. The prosecutor's closing argument remained on hold while Rubin likened Dale's behaviour to 'walking in the wolf enclosure at the city zoo with a pound of ground beef in your hand'. Before acquitting the defendant, Rubin called Dale a 'very stupid civilian who admits that he was stupid' for being in such a dangerous area.
Dale summed up the judge's comments as 'the predators have the right to be predators, and us lambs ought to know better'.

Oh, okay, one more, from Reuters... During the filming of a movie on illegal immigrants, about 70 Moroccan extras fled to Spain, leaving the set to join those who brave the Strait of Gibraltar for real. Director Mohamed Ismail, on waking to find that the actors who played illegal aliens had vanished, held a second audition. He said, 'the trick then was to avoid getting them too carried away with the role'.

30 August 2000

In an effort to be more even-handed with respect to the setting of Anna's news items, I take you first to Nebraska, where a company bought one of the riverboats which are used for cruises on the Missouri River. When police arrived on this crime scene, it was apparent that thieves had broken in and stolen lumber and other building materials the company were using to renovate the boat. Omaha police found the culprits' truck, which had been abandoned where it became stuck in mud by the river. They also found that the thieves appeared to have left in a hurry, leaving behind the vehicle's registration and at least one wallet containing a driver's licence and other means of identification.
The company said the thieves left the truck exactly where they had been planning to move the lumber.

And in Cairo, Egypt, a feline vigil turned violent over the weekend. When Bahgat Mostafa Said died in his Heliopolis apartment, apparently of natural causes, with him were his 18 cats, who stayed at his stinking side until police arrived a week later to investigate the stench. When police approached, the cats launched themselves, keeping officers scratched and occupied in two hours' worth of wrestling before the corpse could be removed, a police spokesman told the Associated Press. The spokesman wished to remain anonymous.

From the land of the no-fault divorce comes the no-fault apology. California governor Gray Davis signed into law a bill which allows people to say 'I'm sorry' and make other 'benevolent gestures of sympathy' without losing their right to sue the recipient of the apology. Reuters quotes the bill's author, Lou Papan, as saying, 'A simple apology is certainly no remedy for damages or harm suffered through negligence of carelessness of others but it can be part of the overall resolution to a legal dispute'.

In York, England, we find the case of the diluted smut. In a case soon to go to trial, the accused is a man who took a vacant lot and two employees and started his own business. As the proprietor of a mom-and-pop sex shop, he offered a catalogue of 'hardcore' sex videos. The crime he is accused of is selling sex videos that weren't hard enough. Isn't it nice to know your council tax money isn't being wasted?

Finally, let us take some words of wisdom from a handbook published by Turkey's Religious Affairs Foundation, affiliated with the country's Religious Affairs Directorate. The advice within is intended to help the reader be more religious. It includes warnings against women listening to music, enlarging their breasts, or wearing wigs. Men are told that they should not take a second wife lightly. Get a second wife in cases of the current wife's illness or the impracticality of hiring a maid. So, gentle reader, until next time, remember only to beat your wife 'as a warning' and not to give her a black eye.


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© 2000 Anna Shefl