anna's archive anna's archive anna's archive

January 2000

12 January 2000

[IMG: Similar 'stone baby' from Zaire]Doctors found that a 76-year old Taipei woman was carrying a 'fossilised' foetus. The child was conceived 49 years ago. The Veterans General Hospital said that doctors in Taiwan found a 20-gram lithopaedion, the remains of a fetus hardened by calcium buildup, in the abdomen of a patient referred to only as 'Wu'. This happened on 31 December.
Only three such cases have been recorded thus far, one of them dating from 1582, when a French woman was found to be carrying a 20-year-old foetus.
It is thought that the foetus died in the 20th week, when it moved from Wu's uterus to her abdomen.

24 January 2000

He must have become a surgeon because he liked watching Zorro films. Dr Allan Zarkin carved his initials in a woman whose baby girl he had just delivered by Caesarian section.
Liana Gedz is seeking $2.5 million for each 7 x 2.5 cm letter. She said: 'I feel like a branded animal', adding that the marks will only disappear with extensive plastic surgery. 'I feel like I was raped, like I was violated', she said.
Lawyers on both sides of the case agreed that the doctor did indeed use his scalpel to engrave an 'AZ' in the woman's skin on 7 September. Zarkin's lawyer, Barry Fallick (nice name), said his client was diagnosed with a 'frontal lobe disorder' some time after 7 September.
If you're going to have expensive malpractice insurance, you'd might as well use it?

According to AP reports, a US black man accused of armed bank robbery is claiming innocence on grounds of 'cultural insanity'.
Blain E. Gamble's claim is that exposure to racism over many years led him to rob the First National Bank of Herminie, PA, in July 1998. Court statements say that Gamble was dressed as an old lady when he robbed the bank with the help of an accomplice.
After his 2 December request for a black psychologist or psychiatrist with expertise in cultural insanity, Gamble formed the defence that he suffers from a post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by 'unwarranted exposure, victimisation and repetitive confrontations with white racism' that included (but were not necessarily limited to) having run-ins with the police and seeing a picture of a murder victim on a magazine cover that was shown to him by his mother.
Reactions include federal prosecutor Shaun Sweeney's comment that 'It's the first time I've ever heard of [cultural insanity]'. Another reaction is the judge's decision that Gamble will be examined by a white psychiatrist. Others recall that cultural insanity was used as a defence at least once before, by two black men who beat a white truck driver during the riots in Los Angeles in the early 1990s (the defence failed).

31 January 2000

This edition of Anna's News Clippings is dedicated to things that annoy people. No, it is not devoted to nose hair and lumpy mattresses. This is what the small newspapers are shouting about on their editorial pages:

They know how to party in British Columbia. The Canadian government employees sent for games, pizza, snow cones, a bubble-blowing machine, and rented palm trees. Over 350 people enjoyed the festivities, which Wayne Marston described as a 'positive event' which was received well by everyone at Matsqui Institution. MP Myron Thompson had a different view, saying, 'I hardly think that prison is meant for those kind of functions'. Prison staff are reported to be rethinking their plans for next year's 'millenial' celebration.

In other news, a new theme restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan, has caught unwelcome attention. The restaurant, 'Jail', features artefacts and pictures from Nazi concentration camps. Photographs on the walls are supposed to increase the appetites of visitors; after all, these people at Auschwitz and Dachau look awfully skinny.
A carved wooden sign saying 'Gas chamber' points the way to the toilets, near a period gas cylinder. Restaurant manager Stone Cheng has caved in to pressure and removed some of the items, saying he didn't realise they might offend some people.
In the meantime, complaints have ceased regarding 'Darkie Toothpaste', whose adverts feature a black man with perfect, very white-looking teeth.

And human rights groups in Argentina have complained about an advertisement used by Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion. The two-page advert in Rolling Stone features a tanned man being hauled away from a swimming pool by hooded, white-robed men. 'The tone is humorous, the idea is: You're going to get so black that the Ku Klux Klan are going to come after you', said Carlos Perez, creative director of the Grey Argentina ad agency. Victor Ramos, leader of the Argentine Institute Against Discrimination, said the ad 'suggests that being black means you are vulnerable to being kidnapped and tortured by the Ku Klux Klan'.

February 2000

4 February 2000

Tesco is going for a place in the Guinness Book of Records after collecting 24000 digital photographs. To be precise, they have amassed a collection of amateur photographers' thumb prints.
The supermarket chain built its collection of blurred digits in a year from film their customers sent in for processing.
'We've got photographs of fingers and thumbs taken at weddings, birthday parties and at holiday destinations from around the world', said head of film processing Andrew Clark. He concluded that 'the third finger of the right hand is the most popular finger to photograph because it tends to fall naturally in front of the lens'.
Tesco does not charge for ruined prints, so it kept the shots. The chain have written to the Guinness Book of Records asking if the cache, stored in a warehouse awaiting recycling, will make the record books.

If you want to try Thai food, now is the best time. In the wake of an epidemic spread by rats, Thai health officers hosted a rodent and rice banquet for 4000 hungry villagers.
So far, 130 people in Buriram province (in northern Thailand) have died from leptospirosis, spread by living rats. The banquet, held in a temple, was followed by a Miss Rat pageant and demonstrations of catching, dressing, and cooking rat.

For a slightly different feast, go to Papua New Guinea, where a man ate the eyes, testes, and heart of another man as part of a vaillage dispute. Moropia Silkapi attacked the body of Yakamup Makatu, according to a police statement to Reuters. This occurred on 31 January at Ono Works camp.
As part of the argument, prior to the eating, Makatu's house burned down earlier in the day. Silkapi smashed Makatu's head with a rock prior to eating his important bits. He was tied to a tree by villagers, awaiting the police. Makatu's relatives killed him first. Three of the latter were arrested.
News of the incident reached Port Moresby a week later.

Florida's Joseph Sherer impersonated a medical doctor, ringing women throughout the US to offer 'medical directions'. Most hung up on him, but some obeyed him and injured themselves.
Sherer told the women that their daughter or mother had a hereditary urinary disease. He then asked the callees their breast size, whether they were sexually active, etc., before telling them to perform a test on themselves. One victim complied with Sherer's instruction to cut off her nipple with a razorblade, for tissue tests. He said a nipple is just a 'plug' that would grow back; the 'real' part is the alveolar portion. Another woman tried to comply but did not cut the nipple completely off, so she was asked to perform a different test, which involved putting fingernail polish remover on her vaginal walls and watching for a change in colour. She received a minor burn. Another woman had no alcohol, bleach, or similar items in the house, and Sherer directly asked whether she had anything flammable on hand. Still another woman followed the 'calm, educated-sounding' Sherer's instructions to put a knife in her vagina while describing the effect. When she complained of discomfort, he said the bacterial infection would hurt worse, so she continued. Her mother's return home interrupted proceedings, and the woman escaped without injury.
Police took legal action against Sherer after 40 complaints were received from women in a college town. Meanwhile, there were at least 120 similar calls reported in the north-eastern part of the country. Most of these women did not perform the tests, despite being warned that the disease could lead to so much swelling that the cervix might end up protruding 13–15 cm from the vagina while they slept.
Sherer admitted to making the calls from his girlfriend's house (the status of her nipples is unclear) and expressed hopes that none of the women were actually hurt.

10 February 2000

A Connecticut primary school has banned 'Captain Underpants' books from its library. Maple Hill School officials explained that some fourth-graders began emulating the characters in the book The Adventures of Captain Underpants: An Epic Novel. As you might expect, the series of four books features two mischievous boys with toilet humour.
Superintendant Alice Carolan said: 'The book was beginning to take on a life of its own' after a student brought his copy of Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants for Show and Tell. The principal removed the school's copy of the 'novel' from the library, stating that she encourages good literature at the school.
Some parents want the book reinstated. Jennifer Merrill opined that it entertains children who would not read otherwise. 'It's not harmful to children', she said. The principal said she would not take further action unless parents formally ask the School Board for the book's return to the library.
One clue for how she might get her wish lies in the plot of the books: the two boys hypnotise a nasty principal into thinking he is Captain Underpants.
In case you want to read them, the other books in the series are Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets: Another Epic Novel and Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredible Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space.
'This is just goofy to me', Carolan said.

I have an update on the Mississippi restaurant-owner who cooked his wife. After killing her, Kevin Artz cut her body into small pieces and cooked the remains to serve in the restaurant as part of standard dishes. He hoped to dispose of the evidence this way (the police are unsure what he would have done with the head, which Artz is said to have carried around in a box). However, the game was over early; one of the first police officers to arrive on the scene stated later: 'I recognized burnt flesh on the counter.' Police later found a box outside the kitchen that contained a skull and cooked meat.
The update is that Artz, facing a murder charge, claims that brain surgery rendered him insane. Weeks before the killing, he had an operation for a blood clot on his brain.
Furthermore, employees at the couple's restaurant will testify that Artz would not have done this if he were in his right mind. They will say that he loved his wife. Dishwasher Alex Lazaroff, 18, said: 'He loved Pat.'

Michael Moore, manager of the Melbourne Storm rugby league team, would qualify for a Darwin Award if he hadn't already bred. The 35-year-old was drinking at 3am in Auckland and said 'watch this!' to his audience. He then jumped from Princes Wharf, failing to notice a concrete pontoon, which he hit with his head before drowning in seven metres of water.
Police are now considering the role of the bar in the affair. It seems that they may be liable for letting him drink alcohol.

A well-built Michigan man did not want to go to jail. He broke his handcuffs - which can even happen with the more expensive Smith & Wesson variety - and used the rough point to cut a hole in his abdomen. He tried to throw his guts at police and rescue workers while he bled menacingly in their direction.
Sergeant Matt Morman said: 'I have been doing this for 26 years, but I have never seen anything like this.' He added that 'I have seen people take their own lives in unique ways, but what that guy did was bizarre, reaching in and then tugging on stuff, and I mean tugging'.
The police said a loud-stereo complaint led them to an Oakland Township flat, where the man was taken into custody when he said he was wanted on a warrant for drunken driving. Craig Cejmer's report said: 'Due to the subject being very large in size, two pairs of handcuffs had to be used to secure subject's hands behind his back.' After the arrest, Cejmer claimed, the 36-year-old tried hard to avoid going to jail. After he injured himself, it took seven men to hold him on the stretcher to get him in the ambulance.
The county prosecutor's office has charged the man, who has not been named but whose description reads '6-foot-1, 280 pounds', with malicious destruction of property as well as resisting and obstructing arrest. He is being held on a $110000 bond while awaiting a competency hearing. Court records show that the man has twice before cut himself to avoid drunken driving arrests. The previous injuries were inflicted with a comb and a plastic spoon.

Pennsylvania grocers found an answer after three years. Someone ambushed their baked goods, crumbling their cookies and mangling their bread. Lou DeFranceseo, general manager of McCaffrey's market, said the miscreant struck his shop in Yardley dozens of times. 'It was mutilated. You could actually see there was a hand there', he said.
Baked goods distributors initally assumed this was sabotage, and they rang shop-owners to ask them to see it stopped. 'They were blaming each other' said DeFranceseo.
Finally, the Davis Cookie Company trained a hidden camera on the cookie aisle at Yardley's 'Giant' supermarket, where losses were heaviest. The 37-year-old Samuel Feldman was charged with more than $8000 in damage after being caught on three separate occasions twisting a loaf of bread.
Feldman's attorney said he was simply looking for fresh bread when caught on camera. He said 'I squeeze bread when I go to the store, but I don't get arrested for it'. That Feldman was standing near a shelf of damaged baked goods was circumstantial evidence only.

15 February 2000

As usual, all typos are mine, and all complaints or pleas for mercy may be directed to the great bin in the sky. Please feel free to forward this to squeamish people.

New Zealand's Broadcasting Standards Authority ruled Tuesday that an 'unusual and macabre' piece of video did not break rules mandating good taste. The footage, in which a man stapled his penis to a crucifix and lit it, was shown on the state-owned Television New Zealand as part of its 'Havoc 2000 Deluxe' programme.
Two viewers complained about the clips, which showed Christchurch student Thomas Hendry winning $NZ500 (and $NZ500 bar credit) at a local pub. As reported in a previous edition of Anna's News Clippings, this winner of the 'How Far Will You Go' competition secured the honour with 18 staples from an industrial-strength stapler. He then liberally employed lighter fluid and set the combo alight, on video.
In response to prime minister Helen Clark's accusation that the channel is driven by ratings and that the watchdog agency is co-opting this by turning a blind eye to such things, the agency did note that the stunt almost crossed the 'good taste' line. TVNZ said it was aware the 'humour' would not be to everyone's liking.

And in similar news, in the US the ABC network is earning the lion's market share during its airing of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?. To compete, the United Paramount Network is showing I Dare You, whose plot may also sound familiar. Network executives have directly said that if someone is killed on the air, the death won't be shown. However, regarding injuries, 'Everything will be taken on a case-by-case basis', according to 'series creator' Bruce Nash.
He added, 'It depends on what 'seriously injured' means. I think good taste and propriety will prevail'. I'm convinced.

One would have to ask the ferrett about the taste of this item. A Brisbane police officer confiscated a ferret from its permitless owner. Then, on the ensuing journey to a wildlife refuge, 'the ferret got itself out of the box and latched itself to a place of undesirable intent on the police officer's person in the front seat', said a police spokesman, who presumably gets several pence per extra word of waffle. 'It caused him a certain amount of reaction and he is getting a lot of sympathy', continued the spokesman.
In layman's terms, what happened: the unidentified officer almost crashed his car while trying to hit the ferret with his baton, and he is recovering more slowly than the ferret is.

In time for Valentine's Day, a Danish artist unveiled his artwork. Shortly thereafter, animal rights activists called in the police, asking them to unplug the blenders at Kolding's Trapholt Museum.
The exhibit consisted of 10 blenders, each containing a goldfish. Chilean-born Marco Evaristti's work 'gives the public the option [...] of pressing the button of death, or not. It asks the visitor: do you want to kill?', said museum director Peter Meyer.
Although two goldfish had already been sliced up and six more kidnapped at the time of the complaint, Meyer refused to unplug the exhibit, despite police warnings of the possibility of 'cruelty to animals' charges. When the museum restored the work in its entirety for Monday, Meyer said he would defend the artist's freedom of expression but also said he expected the public to apply the same 'look but don't touch' rule that applies to other paintings and sculptures.
Meyer also said it was under a journalist's encouragement that two visitors pushed the 'on' buttons on opening day.

21 February 2000

Nokia: Connecting vehicles.
US Air Force security officer Airman Raymone Sydnor was on patrol at Florida's Eglin Air Force Base when he dropped his mobile phone on the floor of his car. As he hunted for it, he drove into a parked F-15. The fighter jet suffered $62000 in damage, and the patrol car was unsalvageable. The base now requires security officers to leave their cars 'to combat boredom and oxygenate blood flow' for 10 minutes each half hour. Base officials will not disclose Sydnor's punishment.

You thought arranged marriages were a thing of the past. Well, they got a sort of revival recently with an odd mix of a beauty pageant, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire and Blind Date. The US's Fox television network aired a programme on Tuesday where 50 potential brides, aged 19 to 45, were interviewed and given a compatibility quiz that was marked by a mystery millionaire's family and friends.
The field was narrowed to 10 women who paraded in casual clothes and bathing suits. The final five posed in wedding gowns. The man was revealed to San Diego real estate developer and motivational speaker Rick Rockwell - who also appeared in direct-to-video sequels to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. As for the bride, she was an emergency room nurse from Santa Monica, CA, who had served in the Gulf War.
After an advert break, the two exchanged wedding vows. Before the credits rolled, one third of all US women aged 18 to 34 had tuned in to the programme, whose creator promises that next time he will have single men parading before a rich woman. Would the feminists who complained that the programme exploited women complain about this Who Wants To Marry a Multimillionaire II

And in Arizona, an amendment to a state law would regulate erections in bars. It is unknown how 'turgidity' will be determined.
Male genitals 'in a discernibly turgid state even if completely and opaquely covered' would violate the bill's prohibition on depicting sexual activity, a Class 1 misdemeanour. The bill is mainly aimed at topless bars, but it bans erections in any liquor establishment.
This is a 'rider' attached to a liquor bill. It is a companion bill to Representative Marilyn Jarrett's bill to regulate exotic dancing; this bill includes such provisions as restricting tipping to a hand-to-hand transaction. Both bills passed in their initial stages. The latter bill's proponents explained that three-foot separation between dancers and customers would prevent drug use and prostitution. 'Oh, I see how that will solve the problem', said Representative Sue Gerard (R-Phoenix) sarcastically. Rep. Bill Brotherton (D-Phoenix) said 'This legislature is just obsessed with sex'.
State laws also describe engorgement of female genitalia, as determined by moisture.

Douglas Holmes is a repeat offender. With the evidence piled high against him, he faced life in prison, so it may have made sense to him to grab the recovered money from the evidence table and flee the courtroom. The judge ordered him arrested again, while the trial continued in his absence. The court did not find in his favour. The money's original owner said: 'I can't believe I lost my money twice.'

Actress Daniela Tobar of Santiago, Chile, is now spending two weeks as the object of numerous attentions. She showers, sleeps, and eats in a house made entirely of glass.
The 21-year-old is involved in a $23,000 project to determine how the public feels about people's right to privacy. Architect Arturo Torres said: 'The idea is for her to live a completely normal life.' From the sidewalk, people can see every inch of the 2.4-metre-by-2.4-metre house as Tobar does the laundry and uses the loo.
'As I stepped out of bed, the crowd starting chanting, "Undress, Undress!"', she said. But she refused to stop the project when police visited her Tuesday. She has all the required permits as well as government funding.

23 February 2000

Imagine being chained to a bed for three days by your father to prevent you belly dancing at nightclubs. This is the situation faced by Istanbul's Mahmut Dagyolu.
The 19-year-old man's left arm and leg were chained to his bed until neighbours told police of his cries for help.
Solo male belly dancing is relatively new to Turkish nightclubs and has been greeted with opposition by conservative groups. However, male belly dancing itself is nothing new, having been spurred on by an Ottoman ban on female belly dancing. (By contrast, today's belly dancing blokes do not usually wear veils.)

According to BBC reports, Gloucester's Heather Perry only damaged a brain membrane as a result of her do-it-yourself brain surgery.
The 29-year-old 'felt something radical needed to be done' to cure her chronic fatigue syndrome, so she attempted to perform trepanation, a procedure carried out to increase blood flow to the brain's capillaries. She decided to cut a hole in her skull.
Perry began by injecting a local anaesthetic. The operation also involved a surgeon's knife, drill, and a mirror. It also involved a video camera. Perhaps Perry had been watching Heartbeat in the Brain, a video wherein Joey Mellen's footage of his drill-wielding lover's self-trepanation is accompanied by peaceful music and interspersed with motion studies of the woman's pet pigeon.
Although the 20-minute procedure left Perry seeking medical attention, she said 'I have no regrets'. She reported, 'I can't say the effects have been dramatic but they are there. I generally feel better and there's definitely more mental clarity'.
Although there is no law against having/putting a hole in one's head in the US, Perry's relatives had asked police to prevent the trepanation.

Ervin Bruce of Minnesota had what police described as a mental crisis, which led him to sever his penis. When police arrived, he was sitting on a kitchen chair underneath which a pool of blood ran across the floor. Women's clothing and wigs were piled nearby. When a police officer asked why he did it, he said that was 'for me to know'. He later did add that 'it' was always getting him into trouble so 'I cut it off'.
Police found the bag from the dry ice Bruce described using so it wouldn't hurt when he performed the unkindest cut of all. An officer reported additional preparation; an eighth of a bottle of liquor was on the kitchen table.
Bruce follows in the fine tradition of such people as New York's Earl Zea, who was charged with falsely reporting that a burglar cut off his penis while he was asleep. Zea went to the hospital after cutting off his own penis.

If cutting off penes isn't macho enough (It hasn't made me macho yet), there are other diversions. The ambulance crew reported that a Wisconsin man who severed his left arm cut it off in a wood chippper in the garage. However, investigating officers who looked for Thomas Rollo's arm instead found a blood trail leading to a homemde guillotine in the basement.
The blood trail went via a refrigerator in which was a Pick 'N' Save bag with an arm inside it.
The guillotine's wooden rails were attached to the basement ceiling and re-enforced at the top. Between the rails was a piece of pipe containing a scythe-like sod-cutting tool. Add some cinder blocks and a cable and some pulleys and away we go.
The victim admitted to severing his arm intentionally. After getting a computer four or five months earlier, he said he sought the guillotine design on an 'amputee fetish web site'. There was also an axe in the basement, just in case. The man said he would merely sever his arm again if there were attempts to reattach it. He denied that he caused the absence of another toe and finger.
Rollo stated that he thought he would appear more manly after the amputation.

28 February 2000

Office Angels of London has found that a fifth of British office workers don't understand workplace jargon. Such phrases as 'a holistic approach to management problems' were used by 65 per cent of office workers, according to the survey. Thirty per cent said they did this to 'liven up' meetings and 35 per cent to 'sound more credible'. Forty per cent found it 'irritating and distracting' whether understanding it or not.

Sexual sanctions suggested
Professor Michael Bailey lectured his class on the evils of cheating after he found out at least 40 students had consulted a stolen copy of a nearly identical 1997 exam. A sorority member had kept the exam rather than return it at the end of the testing period. Bailey will write a new test for next time and will begin publishing old tests on the Internet, to give equal access to everyone. 'I should have used proper precautions from the beginning', he said.
One woman said she wouldn't have passed the mid-term exam Basic Human Sexuality exam without seeing the 1997 test. A student who used the old exam said: 'If you've done the reading and gone to lectures, you're OK. It's not difficult material.' Bailey agreed with her, saying the cheaters didn't hurt the marks of anyone else. He said that any censure would have to come from fellow students. 'At least in my case the cheaters gave me ammunition', he said. When discussing the incident in class, he said: 'Those people who used the old test are losers. Don't have sex with them:'

To heck with decriminalisation or legalisation - require it
Senator Rod Tam of the island of Oahu, Hawaii, introduced a bill for a law that would require 10-minute naps and snacks for state employees. Represenatative Bob Herkes made light of the bill by proposing an amendment to require 10 minutes of work for each four hours of naps. The bill was designed to increase alertness, after several employees had been found making 'mindless errors' in mid-afternoon.
In case the first sentence made you think this was about drugs, I'll add another item for you. Christopher Jansen was on trial for drug possession in Pontiac, Michigan. He contended that he had been searched without a warrant. When the prosecutor argued that a warrant wasn't needed since the bulge in Jansen's jacket could have been a gun. Jansen was wearing the same jacket, and he handed it to the judge, saying it clearly didn't have any such gun-like bulge. The judge found a packet of cocaine in the pocket.

Potential knicker nicker nabbed
Life Guard Nick Carrell has admitted that he attempted theft during the 1992 fire at Windsor Castle. During the confusion, as people tried to save the Queen's belongings, 'I was planning to steal a pair of the Queen's knickers'.
Carrelll, who is no longer a member of the Guards, said: 'I pulled open a chest of drawers. I was amazed to see it was filled with the Queen's underwear [he didn't think she wore any?] and I put out my hand to take a pair. Suddenly I realized she was standing right behind me, watching my every move. I don't know what she thought, but the Queen didn't say a word. It was all very embarrassing.'

It's not just jelly anymore.
The UN has made an official statement that it has not banned the import of pencils into Iraq. The Iraqui Embassy in Jordan was telling people that pencils were banned because of the military utility of their graphite. In fact, said a UN spokesman, they recently allowed a shipment of 3.5 million pencils into Iraq.

Please go away now.

Want to see earlier clippings?
Or look at more recent ones?

Go to the Clippings index page

Go to Anna's main index page

© 2000 Anna Shefl