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December 2000


1 December 2000

I have told readers of the prune's metamorphosis into a dried plum. According to CNN, Beaver College has similar hopes for a shift in perception. In July the Pennsylvania college will turn into Arcadia University, not just to reflect that it has moved from Beaver County since the small women's college's foundation in 1853. The change was also to avoid ridicule. College president Bette E. Landman said that the old name 'too often elicits ridicule in the form of derogatory remarks pertaining to the rodent, the TV show "Leave It to Beaver" and the vulgar reference to the female anatomy'. (The college has been remarked upon by David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, and Howard Stern.) Also, some 'net nannies' blocked access to the college's web site.

Avenire, the Italian bishops' daily newspaper, quotes theologian Rev. Massimo Salani as declaring McDonald's beef burgers Protestant rather than Catholic. Salani went on to enjoin Italians to abandon fast food, explaining that it is an expression of the Protestant ethic.

Mayor Ken Livingstone has proposed that the statues in London's Trafalgar Square be replaced because people don't remember the generals they commemorate. 'I imagine that not one person in 10,000 going through Trafalgar Square knows any details about the lives of those two generals', he said. According to Reuters, he suggested that the figures of Sir Henry Havelock and Sir Charles Napier be replaced with statues of people 'that ordinary Londoners would know'. Opinions are divided on this one.

I have mentioned lawsuits based on McDonald's pickles and coffee. Well, this time it's not the heat that's at issue. After eating a meal near closing time, Californian Rhonda Fodah asked for a refill of her Mr. Pibb soda. She was surprised after her drink was poured from a pitcher which contained a packet of McD Sanitizer. The cleaning solution, a chlorinating agent for shake machines and kitchen utensils, affected the 29-year-old's digestive tract. She seeks compensation for emergency room treatment and for nearly two months away from work.

A Topeka, Kansas, woman tried to commit suicide by shooting herself in the head, but she didn't die, so she rang 911. When firefighters arrived, she had slipped into uncconsciousness, and they assumed she was dead. As they waited outside, protecting the crime scene from intrusion, the woman regained consciousness and rang 911 again. So the firefighters re-entered the house and provided medical care until the woman could be treated at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Gladys Wyse uses eyedrops. Usually. But she recently picked up a bottle of Superglue instead and managed to glue an eye shut before noticing. After the Jefferson, New Jersey, police got her to hospital, she was treated. As far as police sergeant Eric Wilsusen knows, she has not suffered any permanent damage. I wonder if the mention of her name in this Reuters item counts as damage, though.

December is upon us. With December comes, in the USA, the celebration of the birthday of Bingo. It also brings National Fritters Day (2 Dec.), National Gazpacho Day (the 6th), the Festival for the Souls of Dead Whales (10 Dec.), National Noodle Ring Day (on the 11th), National Maple Syrup Day (on the 17th), and National Fruitcake Day (the 27th). I nearly forgot to mention that the 16th is National Chocolate Covered Anything Day.

Here is the latest fun medical treatment: shit transfusions. Liking the sound of this treatment for such problems as diarrhoea and flatulence, Australian medics are jumping on the bandwagon following the appearance of a paper in the American Journal of Gastroenterology. After infection, especially when antibiotics have upset the balance of stool flora, people receive faecal donations--usually from a relative--which are then homogenised in an anaerobic environment. Following an enema, these are introduced via a colonoscope.
Melbourne's Dr. Katrina Watson, chair of the Digestive Health Foundation, said the report is promising, but she added, 'This fluid, in particular ... It's hard to imagine will ever be accepted with equanimity'.

And, from the New Scientist, we now know how you should use the (urban) legendary 'one telephone call' you are allowed after you are arrested.
The periodical reports the Swiss police's seizure of 10 fake mobile 'phones that a Croatian was carrying to the UK, France, and Germany. The units use high-tension springs (cranked to the bottom of the casing using a pseudo-aerial) to fire .22 bullets. The cases contain four compartments, each holding one bullet. Units are primed using the 5, 6, 7, or 8 key and fired using the 'Connect' button. The weapons are only fatal at close range.
'You cannot tell these mobile phones are weapons. It is only when you have one in your hand that you realise they are heavier', said the German Federal Criminal Investigation Agency's Birgit Heib. In light of reports that the units are widespread in western Europe, German police are being advised to draw their weapons if a suspect produces a mobile 'phone.

6 December 2000

Thomas Crapper did not invent the flushing mechanism used in toilets, but he did make some improvements to the basic design. And for this the sanitary engineer will not be forgotten. He is now commemorated in a stained glass window in St. Lawrence's church, near Crapper's birthplace near Thorne, England. Concessions were made to taste, however: a church spokesman said, 'Officials thought a white loo might stand out too much in the window and become the focus of attention instead of Christ in Majesty, so it was portrayed in a dark silhouette'. According to the AFP, the spokesman added that people do not find the window demeaning, for 'they can see the significance of including Crapper in a celebration of the millennium'.

New Brunswick's Department of Public Safety distributed 'safety cards' which tell students where to find information on weapons safety, being safe on the Internet, and avoiding being bullied. The cards were recalled after a child typed in a URL from one set of cards and discovered erotic female domination. The California-based site features photographs of naked men being smothered, trampled, and kicked by women in varying degrees of undress.

Last year in Montgomery County, Maryland, Jeffrey Bruette and his roommate videotaped a teenage neighbour who they were concerned was stealing from them. They hoped he would be given counselling. When they gave the tape to police, it happened to also feature the boy having sex with Bruette's dogs, so the police arrested the two men for child pornography. The men are now suing the police for $8 million.

In Torrance, California, a high school boy was suspended from school for refusing to be crowned Homecoming king. He described the Homecoming tradition as a 'meaningless popularity contest'. As a result, Patrick Griffiths's academic record now reflects that he 'willfully defied the valid authority' of Mira Costa High School officials.

It's not quite alligators in the sewers. The Sydney Guardian recently reported on a drain-dwelling turtle weighing 25kg. The Australian Reptile Park believes that the alligator snapping turtle (an endangered American species) spent several years in Sydney's drainage system since being stolen from the park, where it now resides, in 1979.

The CIA are a bit embarrased. They are supposed to be good at intelligence gathering, but for several years an internal chat room has flourished on their computer network. The chat room, which allowed employees to vent, was moved several times so management wouldn't find it. A memo to employees described 'a concerted and sustained effort on the part of a group of individuals to create, maintain and hide databases on the agency's computer systems'. Four were fired and at least 10 suspended in connection with the incident.

In Halifax, Nova Scotia, Sylvia Louise Gillard O'Brien has sued Coca-Cola for $7 million. That her now-three-year-old child doesn't like and trust her enough could be blamed on her being a loony or on the child being a child, but instead O'Brien asks the courts to believe that the baby failed to bond with her because she feared she would miscarry after a bottle of the Coca-Cola product Fruitopia broke, cut her lip, and made her bite pieces of broken glass.

Gynecologist and public health advocate Rebecca Gomperts has decided to float an abortion clinic, literally. She plans to offer abortions from a ship 12 miles offshore near countries where such procedures are banned. The Amsterdam-based Women on Waves Foundation's main goal is to raise awareness and 'make visible in those countries what is now invisible', Gomperts said.

When one of the teachers at Union Intermediate High School fell ill, 15-year-old Brandi Blackbear was interrogated by the assistant principal. The student admitted that she had read books on Wicca from the school library and 'might' be Wiccan. (Her family say she is Roman Catholic.) She was suspended for 15 days and banned from wearing Wiccan paraphernalia because she was 'an immediate threat to the school' who had put a hex on the teacher. The Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, school has now hired an attorney.

Two police officers in Altamonte Springs, Florida, were working as security guards at a music festival. Fans handed the officers their cameras so they could get close-up shots of the performers, but one camera also contained a picture of one of the officers' genitalia. The other officer, who took the picture, said that the two men were just fooling around and didn't believe the camera had film in it. The officers were suspended.

In an update on the pig story from the last edition of Anna's News Clippings, the pig can fly again but not on US Airways.
The US Federal Aviation Administration has ruled that neither the airline nor the pig was guilty of wrongdoing. Although the 300-pound pig's owner admits to lying about the animal's weight--saying 'when they saw it in Philadelphia, they said it was OK to load it on the aeorplane'--she emphasised that her heart condition's severity requires that the pig relieve her stress. An FAA spokesman said that 'it was a legitimate request from a passenger with a disability. We consider the matter closed.'
For those who want more details, Maria Tirotta Andrews's pig, named Charlotte, is so cute that it has a pink bow on its tail and defecated not only on the airport carpet but also in an airport shuttle.
How should the flight crew have handled the animal according to airline regulations? The rules suggest 'mitigating the effects of an animsl's behavior that are acceptable to the individual with a disability'.

10 December 2000

Japan's Keio Electric Railway Company have decided to protect women from drunken gropers. In response to 351 complaints about groping in the last fiscal year, the railway company will run female-only carriages on several of its late-night trains during the holiday season, according to Reuters. This sounds better than the approach some countries use: protecting women from groping by not letting females use public transport.

In court, a Newcastle woman recently admitted to biting off her best friend's husband's testicle after the two women returned to their husbands, who had been babysitting, after a night out. When Shelley Hutchinson was attacked by husband Neil, Denise Carr came to the woman's aid. After separating the spouses, Carr began to bite Mr. Hutchinson after he started to fight her. Prosecutor Stephen Duffield said, 'The defendant was not aware that she had bitten his testicle until after the incident'. The missing testicle was found under a picture frame in the sitting room. The Hutchinsons, who had then been married for three weeks, are now divorced.

Reuters reports an incident which may confuse some of the tourists who ask Austrians 'Where are the kangaroos?'. The 'no kangaroos in Austria' t-shirts which sell so well may need revision. On Monday a driver ran over a kangaroo in Styria. Before dying in the mountainous province, the marsupial had been living in a zoo.

Also in Australia, a boy who liked to watch what the AFP describes as 'films which portrayed live executions, killings, autopsies, and suicides' shot a 15-year-old boy nine times and killed him.
Matthew O'Grady told a court that a voice in his head told him to kill Christopher Brown, but how do we get from the party at which the boys met to the scene of the crime? O'Grady persuaded Brown to go into the bushes, claiming the two could steal marijuana plants there. On the way, he stopped at his house to collect a rifle and silencer and to load the weapon. I guess no-one thought this odd. The two then went further into the bush, letting a 14-year-old girl wait for them. After O'Grady abandoned the weapon, he returned to the girl to have sex with her.
He confessed the next morning. In court, the defence called doctors who claimed that O'Grady was in a state akin to sleep-walking during the murder. Another doctor said the teenager was having an epileptic fit at the time.

The BBC tell us of the arrest of Santa Claus. During Great Yarmouth's 'Santa Sails In' event, a Santa performer began exchanging blows with a teenager. When the 35-year-old man from Hemsby, Norfolk, was being handcuffed and led away, children began to cry as fireworks exploded overhead.

The Florida Court of Appeals dismissed Philip G. Butler's appeal of his bribery conviction. It transpires that lawyer Butler, who was his own representative at his trial, later claimed that he lost because his lawyer (Butler) hadn't adequately informed himself that acting as one's own legal counsel is seldom good idea.

Reuters reports that a man tried to steal power cables in eastern Kazakhstan but ended up electrocuting himself. The man was enshrouded and buried in a shallow grave, per Muslim tradition, but he emerged two days later after regaining consciousness. This took place in Almaty, where drivers do not normally stop for naked, dirty hitch-hikers. Nonetheless, the man made it home.

San Francisco's Steven Maul has been charged with the felonious act of cruelty to animals. He liked to punish his dog by biting it. He claims, 'It's communicating to the dog that you are dominant'. His attorney explains that Maul 'in fact has French kissed his dog', going on to say, 'My client is very oral'.

14 December 2000

All in the name of art... After Jonathan Yegge performed 'Art Piece No. 1' at the San Francisco Art Institute, he was advised to seek counseling and was kicked out of his performance art class. The 24-year-old's project, which was witnessed by about 20 students, two teachers, and various passersby, featured oral sex and the exchange of faeces with a bound classmate. The classmate had signed a release beforehand, which gave consent to 'actions of a violent and/or sexual nature' without recourse to suing Yegge or complaining to the Institute.
Yegge, who described the piece as an examination of Hegel's master/slave dialectic and Kant's theories on free will and freedom of action, said, 'They say you can do whatever you want as long as you can justify it artistically'.

Like Cabbage Patch Kids, they come with a birth certificate. The pastel-coloured wiggling machine lives up to its name, WuvLuv (or Wuvvie). After exclaiming 'Here comes baby!', the $25 'interactive Mommy plush toy' 'gives birth' to a plastic egg which contains a baby wuvluv (or twins). Before getting to the stage of singing back and forth with its spawn, the post-partum Wuvluv sways from side to side 'with random eye movement'.
But this mother never gets to recover. As the advertising explains, 'Mommy magically has a baby again and again'. If girls like the toy, there may be a large guaranteed future market for WuvLuvs...

On a related note, for those who haven't heard of this yet... After having two children, Manhattan lawyer Jill said, 'My vagina had that 'flippy-floppy' feeling'. She sought Dr. David Matlock's Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation (LVR) surgery for tightening things up. He started performing the surgeries for Middle Eastern women who would need to pass pre-marital scrutiny, but he is now helping women give their husbands 'the virgin experience' for their wedding night or as an anniversary gift. The gynaecologist's other popular offering is Designer Laser Vaginoplasty, which has been criticised for helping uphold the notion that there is only one right way to be folded.

In the pages of the Chicago Tribune we find a second-generation attachment parent in Champaign, Illinois. The mother says she will continue nursing her son as long as he wishes. The six-year-old told child protection officials that he had told her to stop and that he was embarrassed to be breastfed.
The woman, who herself (with her eight siblings) had been raised in a 'child-led rearing' household, also claimed she stopped sleeping naked with the boy when he told her she should put some clothes on. He claims she still 'co-sleeps' naked with the clothed boy but only when she doesn't have any clean clothes.
The 32-year-old single mother, who works part-time at a liquor store and takes continuing education classes, said, 'they need to admit they made a mistake and drop it'. She maintains that her son will be back home before Christmas.

Valtrez Stewart posed as a music video producer in order to gain the confidence of teenage girls, APBnews.com reports. The 19-year-old, who had been convicted of sexual offences in Illinois, was arrested after allegedly threatening to kill four teenage girls if they didn't bite his navel.

In Mattapan, Massachusetts, a woman figured out that it's sometimes a good idea to keep the sunroof closed. When a squirrel 'tried to kill himself by jumping out of a tree', as she put it, Margaret Edwards forgot that she was seatbelted and flailed about for a while before remembering and getting out of the car. The car then rolled down the street until passers-by grabbed the door handles. The scratches on her head were treated at hospital. The squirrel was coaxed out from under the dashboard by the Animal Rescue League.

Michael H. Cautela of Hilliard, Ohio, sprayed women outside a Borders bookshop with a mixture of urine and salad oil. Judge James J. Fais recently sentenced him to 300 hours of cleaning cages and loos at the Columbus zoo. Cautela allegedly sprayed at least seven women at various locations.
Cautela explained that 'I just like to see ladies with oil on them'. When the judge reminded him about the urine, he replied, 'It was mostly oil; I know what I did'.
One of the women Brierley sprayed said, 'I think it was appropriate to give him 300 hours of cleaning waste. I just hope he doesn't store it.'
Cautela had previously been charged with assault for throwing a cardboard tube at a co-worker. In 1995 he was convicted for slapping a friend on the back of his head.

The fire department of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, doesn't want the $2400 which was raised at the Fourth Annual Ham Rubbing. This is because the private fund-raising party involved women accepting invitations to dance onstage while hams were rubbed on their bare breasts. City manager Tom Leath said the club, Broadway at the Beach, violated zoning regulations by including nudity in the evening. He said, 'I guarantee this will be the last ham rubbing they have for the fire department'.

Finally, I can report that the Virginia woman who microwaved her month-old son has been sentenced to five years in prison. Elizabeth Renee Otte's claim that 'I can't remember doing this if I did this' was part of her 'epileptic blackout' defence. Otte had stopped taking her seizure medicine when she found herself pregnant. Her lawyer, Stephen Harris, added, 'The river was right across the street. There were ways that were more surreptitious than placing the baby in the microwave and going to bed'.
At the trial, experts testified that Joseph Lewis Martinez probably died when his blood reached 106 degrees, 10 minutes after Otte may or may not have pressed 'Start'.

20 December 2000

Mark Richter and Steven Solomon stole a Palm Beach County, Florida, voting machine and tried to sell it, along with 'butterfly ballots', on eBay. After they set the starting bid at $2000, the county elections supervisor alerted the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, who then had an agent pose as a potential buyer. During a telephone conversation, one of the men increased the asking price to $20000, which was lowered to $4000 when the men later met with the undercover agent to display the goods.

A divorce court judge in Chicago has ordered Karen Ziebell to pump breast milk so her soon-to-be-ex-husband can use it when he visits the month-old baby. Husband, and lawyer, Gerald said he sought the order because he knew that his wife wanted to breast-feed the baby and he didn't want to be denied the right to see the child for more than a few hours at a time. He said, 'They wanted to make a constitutional issue out of this where none exists. All we want is for me to have access to my son.'
Karen said she tried a breast pump with little success but doesn't want the baby to use formula for at least 11 more months. She also doesn't want her son to leave the house until the weather is warmer.
Usually divorces do not come so soon after a birth. Another issue in this case is the baby's name. The judge forbade Karen from naming the baby. Gerald had argued that she was considering names which were biased too heavily for her side of the family.

A woman fell 2000 feet from a commuter aeroplane in California when fellow passengers couldn't keep her from going outside. The Hewlett-Packard employee was heading for San Jose when she decided to take a shortcut. When a light indicated that the door had come unlocked, the door was resecured in Sacramento and the plane took off again. Minutes later, the door came open a second time. FBI spokesman Andrew Black said fellow passengers indicated that at least one person tried to keep Elisabeth Otto inside the plane. When he noticed her in the open doorway, one man jeopardised his own safety.
Lydia Gonzalez, who lives about 50 yards from the field in which the body was found, said, 'This is ugly'.
Two hours after the plane landed, passengers informed authorities and the pilots of the basic events.

London's Metropolitan Police don't get enough applications, so they will now allow applications from people with criminal records. If the applicant fulfils all the criteria bar this (or other ones), the application won't be thrown out. A spokesman said this 'wouldn't apply to people who had shown criminal intent, like burglary'.

Joseph Nichols will spend the next four years in prison, where he will receive counselling. He will probably be told that it is socially unacceptable to steal water pistols from department stores. He may also be told that it is perverted to use them to squirt semen at girls. Over a year, Nichols perpetrated at least nine such incidents in Orange County, Florida. He sometimes took pictures. The end came in April, when he squirted and photographed a girl when she refused to open her mouth in a K-Mart parking lot. He too was being photographed.

New York police are facing criticism for their December crackdown on unlicenced book sellers. Deputy Inspector Christopher Jamison said the confiscation of Korans from street vendors was 'a mistake' because the Muslim community 'felt that placing the items in the bags was akin to throwing the sacred book in the trash'. (It's not as if anyone would buy them anyway.) Now the kinder, gentler police force can return to defending themselves from charges of brutal anal probing.

And in Bombay the police are hard at work enforcing the ban on kissing in public. It is difficult to find privacy on beaches there without bribing police, but a senior police inspector defended the ban by claiming that if couples 'get naked' there (kissing is a gateway drug), 'some marine life might come and bite them'.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, someone rented out up to 20 rooms in an abandoned inner-city hospital. Along with the apartments, which went for $300 to $400 a month, was a children's play area, said a tenant. This was the former operating room, which still contained syringes, old equipment, and dried blood on the floor. Various social service agencies have been working to relocate the tenants.

Peter Solomona was accused of killing a teenager after his plastic Halloween pumpkin was stolen. Frank Nelson, a passenger who was grazed in the incident, is prepared to testify that Solomona approached the car calmly with a .357 revolver, repeatedly asked the seat-belted Brandon Ketsdever where his pumpkin was, then shot the 17-year-old through the open car window. Solomona's attorney said the shooting was accidental.

Tracy Thacker, a marine recruiter, got his children out of school early, writing on the sign-out sheet that he was taking them 'to pay back mom'. After he had allegedly tried to break the neck of his wife, Holli, when she refused to have sex with him a few months earlier, the two were in the process of a divorce.
When police arrived at Thacker's house, at the behest of his step-daughter, who called from a neighbour's house, he threatened to kill himself and kept police at bay until a sheriff's deputy shot him. He had already set a fire and stabbed the 5- and 9-year-olds to death.

For more marital bliss, we turn to Kevin Fraze. Less than a month after his marriage, this 29-year-old allegedly choked his wife into unconsciousness and didn't let her receive medical attention. He threatened to kill the woman's five-year-old daughter and other relatives if she didn't do what he wanted.
After abandoning the girl, Fraze then took his wife on a honeymoon which included Colorado, Las Vegas, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and Florida. Along the way, he beat, burned, raped, stabbed, and prostituted her, at one point restraining her while another man raped her. In Dade County, Florida, on 15 November, the woman, whose name has not been released, convinced someone to call police, whereupon Fraze was arrested.

Six years after China set a goal of eliminating 'absolute poverty' by the year 2000, the country is claiming success. The means is redefinition of absolute poverty, a level which China has now set at one fifth of the general World Bank/UN threshold of the equivalent of US$1/day.
Nonetheless, the claim is not without qualification. 'Leading poverty alleviation official' Gao Hongbin said, 'At present, except for some 26 million disabled people or those living in extremely bad natural environment areas [rural Chinese average income is about US$.75/day], we have succeeded in eliminating absolute poverty in the country', according to AFP reports.

From the Associated Press we hear of a man who used a 15-year-old girl's closet as a home base for three weeks before his blankets, Bible, dishes, and pictures of the girl were discovered by her mother. His truck was found near the family's Mount Vernon, Ohio home.
The 26-year-old Jeffrey Scott Martin abruptly left his Army unit to be with the girl he had met seven months ago on the Internet. When arresting Martin for such things as his picture of the girl naked, police found military dynamite and munitions in the truck.
Martin, who had free rein in the house when the girl's mother was at work, settled into his life there, going as far as to get a library card.

Toledo (Ohio) Zoo officials' screw-up killed a sloth bear which was being loaned to them. Believing the bear to be pregnant and ready to hibernate, zoo officials didn't feed or water her for weeks.
After Medusa died of dehydration, they realised that she wasn't pregnant. They also realised that sloth bears--an endangered species native to India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal--are not among the bears which go into a slower metabolic state when pregnant.

26 December 2000

'Tis the Season
Four years ago on Christmas, Nathaniel Bar-Jonah offered his Montana neighbours venison that he had hunted himself. In reality, he and his dinner companions were probably eating a young boy Bar-Jonah had killed and cooked. According to APBnews.com, he may also have served boy pies and boy stews, again offered to friends. Bar-Jonah is being charged with murdering Zachary Ramsay, an 8-year-old who vanished on his way to school in 1996. The FBI found such messages as 'Lunch is Served on the Patio with Roasted Child' and 'Little Boy Stew' encoded in the 44-year-old's papers. Investigators found the bones of another boy under Bar-Jonah's basement's dirt floor.
When police had approached the 'strange man' who lurked near a local elementary school, they noticed that he was carrying a badge, police jacket, and stun gun. Bar-Jonah's previous sexual assaults and kidnappings of boys involved the device of pretending to be a police officer. According to court papers, Bar-Jonah over a decade ago told his case worker that he wondered how humans taste.

Ain't That Special?
In Louisville, Kentucky, we find a baby in hospital after a car crash killed his pregnant mother and severed her torso. 'Patrick' was named for the man who discovered him after his eight-months-pregnant mother was thrown through a tractor-trailer's windshield. The baby was found still attached to the umbilical cord. The father, who lost control of the car, suffered minor injuries.
The baby 'is going to be special', said emergency medical technician Jeff Landers. Yes, that's one word for it.

Fourth grader Rocky Sonkowsky wasn't allowed to ride on a parade float with the rest of his New Prague Intermediate School class when they won a geography contest sponsored by the Minnesota Vikings American football team. His teachers didn't post the posters he had made as part of the contest. He was also not allowed to share the rest of the class's prize: a pizza party with Vikings player Chris Carter. To deserve this punishment, Rocky had not stopped wearing his Green Bay Packers shirt to school.
The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the school district, principal, and two teachers. 'They wanted to make him an example', said Charles Samuelson, executive director of the Minnesota ACLU. He said the school 'was afraid he would tell Chris Carter he was a Packer fan'. School officials had previously tried to get father Roy Sonkowsky (who has his son's name tattooed on his arm) to moderate his and his son's Packers enthusiasm, but Roy maintains that, as he tells his son, 'the three things most important in the world are God, your family and the Green Bay Packers'.

Bernhardt Kali of Oranjemund, Namibia, was finally granted bail after being charged with attempting to murder his wife of seven years with an axe. The quarrel over a Phil Collins CD left Josephine Kali with an injured shoulder, broken finger, smashed thumb, and a bump on the head. The 45-year-old man is not allowed near his house, but Josephine said she still could never live there again. Such worries as 'What if he sneaks in at night?' have prompted her employer to house her until she moves into a company house.

A Youngstown, Ohio, mentally retarded girl killed a baby by throwing him out a second-storey window and later stabbing him to finish the job. Jackie Colon, 14, said she killed Alex Zalovic because the 3-month-old wouldn't stop crying.
The baby's 18-year-old mother was staying at Colon's home after she had fought with her mother. Colon took the baby upstairs at about 7:00am, when the mother and baby were sleeping. After she threw the child out the window, she prepared for school. When she went outside, she heard the baby crying, she said, so she went inside to get two kitchen knives with which to stab Zalovic.
An investigator involved with the case said he doubted that the mildly retarded girl would be tried. He said, 'She just smiles at you and wants to know if the jail has cable tv'.

[IMG: Reindeer lights] Police admitted that Floridian Brian Long's Christmas decorations are perfectly legal, but he is eager to please those who called to complain about them. In the display, two reindeer are copulating. Long said, 'since my reindeer supposedly offended all the little school children, which I think is a joke because they laugh at them, I'll bring them in during the week and bring them out on the weekends'.

Christmas tree theft is an oft-overlooked problem. One woman has gone so far as to glamourise her family tradition of stealing a tree. In England, the Tesco chain have recognised the problem as significant, due to the ease of re-selling trees. They have hired 'retired army commandos' to patrol their lots. They will wear camouflage gear and have the use of night vision goggles as well as 'a lot of tactics that we used to use in the army', the AFP quoted one of the guards as saying.

Two 16-year-old boys who raped an 11-year-old visitor to Philadelphia at a baseball game were sentenced to four months' treatment at a centre for sex offenders. The boys, who worked at a concession stand at the stadium, had offered to help the girl find her aunt, from whom she had become separated after using the toilets. Judge Frank Reynolds also let the boys go home for the holidays before their treatment.

In another story, a 14-year-old cocaine and paint thinner abuser pleaded guilty for sexually assaulting his 2-year-old niece. According to the Houston Chronicle, Roshalle Tatmon died of sepsis after an encounter with Prentise Waire Jr. gave her a ruptured rectum. Authorities believe medical help was only summoned the day after the attack. When a Children's Protection Services (CPS) worker made a routine visit to the home, the family at first refused to let her in, then was 'very hostile, especially the 14-year-old'. Tatmon was not present for the visit. Less than an hour later, someone in the home--which was shared by Prentise, Tatmon, Tatmon's mother, three adults, two 4-year-olds and a 1-year-old--rang emergency services to report that a child had died.
During his psychiatric evaluation, Waire said 'I can barely read and I can't be too much around distraction'. He said he didn't remember the incident with Tatmon, emphasising 'she was an angel to me ... I can't see myself hurting my niece because we were very close; we were family'. He said he went home and merely slept after drinking and using drugs in a park. He said, 'I said I did it because what I wanted was to take somebody else's spot' rather than letting 'whoever did it' be imprisoned.
In 1994, CPS had decided Tatmon's mother's three children should live with relatives, owing to the family's poverty. After that, the woman had Roshalle and another baby and, when her own mother died, took in Waire and four of her relatives--a four-year-old, two adults, and the girlfriend of one of the adults. More recent CPS involvement was to determine how many people lived there and if the children were adequately nourished and supervised.

According to Reuters, a prisoner in Texas sued Penthouse Magazine for publishing a pictorial display which did not display enough. David Jogner, serving 14 years for robbery and assault, was left 'very mentally hurt and angered' by the layout of Paula Jones and sought $500,000.
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks dismissed the suit with a $250 fine for filing a frivolous lawsuit and a poem including:
'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the prison,
inmates were planning their new porno mission. ...
The minute his Penthouse issue arrived,
the Minister ripped it open to see what was inside.
But what to his wondering eyes should appear
--not Paula Jones' promised privates, but only her rear. ...
Life has its disappointments. Some come out of the blue
but that doesn't mean a prisoner should sue'.

Although scientists use jellyfish 'green protein' for medical uses, Eduardo Kac has raised some hackles with his proposal to use the jellyfish's light-production gene to help embroys along the way to looking more interesting. A glow-in-the-dark rabbit could be a follow-up to his online 'Genesis' piece, which uses fluorescent bacteria to house the DNA coding of a Morse code version of a Biblical passage. The piece, 'Genesis', lights up when Web visitors access it.


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