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October 2000

12 October 2000

Texas issues marriage licenses to couples made up of exactly one genetic male and one genetic female. Desiring a lesbian union despite this, Jessica Wicks and Robin Manhart went to the Bexar County Clerk and obtained a marriage licence. Robin is a transsexual who is genetically male. To the tune of a protest march, they married at the Metropolitan Community Church.
The Associated Press quotes Warren Chisum, a state Representative who opposes same-sex marriage, as saying, 'You can't make laws to cover every little detail'.

You may not think of North Carolina as a forward-looking place, but Greensboro's mayor, Keith Holiday, wants to prove otherwise. CBS News described him as being laughed at during a city council meeting when he offered his suggestion for defusing the death penalty debate: cryogenic suspension of death row inmates. There would be no worry about having executed an innocent person, for someone could always be thawed out if new evidence established his innocence. Holiday made it clear that it was no joke and that he got the idea from a television programme. He said, 'I'm just trying to think outside the box'.

People have made jokes about the US Library of Congress (formerly) making Playboy magazine available to the blind, asking how people can appreciate the periodical without the pictures. A similar issue is being raised before the city concil of Hove, England, by a business which seeks accommodation for blind patrons.
Pussycats strip club is asking to be allowed to let blind customers touch lap dancers. The council has decided to 'consider' the request to change the club's licence, after two blind men visited the club. A club spokesman stressed that a dancer wouldn't lose control, 'taking one hand of the customer and placing it on her breasts while dancing for an agreed time'.

Dorothy Parker said, 'Guns aren't lawful; nooses give; gas smells awful; you might as well live'. Robert G., 28, and Antonija, 24, may have agreed after their attempt to kill themselves when their parents opposed their union. AFP reports describe the Croatian couple as running a plastic tube from the exhaust pipe to the cab of their car, drinking an unspecified large amount of alcohol, and swallowing around 50 valium pills. They then put their heads together, where Robert shot himself in the temple.
The bullet went through the policeman's forehead and grazed his beloved's ear. He was placed in intensive car in a Zagreb hospital, while Antonija sustained minor injuries.

Innocence and guilt indeed are not cut and dried. Seven years after she was put in prison, an Ohio woman may be relieved of her life sentence now that her son has testified that the dog raped him when she was taking a bath and that she didn't sodomise the then-seven-year-old. Revisiting the incident since he reached the age of competency to testify (10 in Ohio), the boy said 'My mother is innocent' and named Bugsy the 70-pound pit bull as to blame.
When the 40-year-old woman brought her faeces-covered son to the Children's Hospital Medical Center of Akron, he was found to have a torn rectum with dog semen inside it. The woman said her son said he pulled down his pants as he desperately ran toward the bathroom, but prosecutors contended that she attacked him and used a turkey baster or similar device to cover her tracks with semen. A social worker testified that the boy told her his mother hurt him, testimony the defence now claim was what the adults had seemed to want to hear. The woman's life sentence for 'felonious sexual penetration' may be reconsidered if the boy's statement is deemed substantial, new evidence.

Another aggressive dog features in this Clippings edition. A six-week-old baby in California was killed by a dog when a relative went to warm a bottle of milk. Pomeranians are not usually thought of as terribly aggressive dogs, but sheriff's deputy Cruz Solis said the relative returned to find at least part of the girl's head in the dog's mouth Saturday night, according to the Associated Press. The baby, whose name has not been released pending notification of her parents, died of head trauma at a local hospital. The miniature dog was taken away by animal control officers, and the relative has not been charged.

Reuters describes what happens when television directors aren't in full control of the action. Actors faked a mugging in the main street of Valletta, Malta, where witnesses were supposed to describe what they had seen. The programme Xarabank was trying to illustrate 'how people see different things at the same event', said one of the producers. Instead, the crowd illustrated how to chase and beat up a pseudo-pursesnatcher. When a member of the Xarabank team tried to explain that these were actors, he was punched too because he was obviously an accomplice.

13 October 2000

This week's news has some rats in it. In San Diego, police didn't think it funny when pranksters began throwing mice and guinea pigs through open car windows on Carmel Mountain Ranch and Rancho Bernardo. One woman became distraught, speeding through a red light and into a service station, where a police officer found an injured mouse and took it to an animal hospital. After several months of rodent barrages, Detective Tim Williams said six high school boys confessed to buying, stealing and flinging animals. Police aren't sure how many attacks there were because motorists may find it a 'kind of an embarrassing thing', in the words of Sergeant Scott Naliboff.
In terms of embarrassing images involving rodents, Valkeala, Finland features in the news as well. When a dump was closed and sanitised, an army of rats poured forth into a residential area, where residents went after them with hunting rifles. Firefighters spread rat poison over the area the next day, according to the Helsingin Sanomat.

The next item takes us back to a well-worn source of Clippings items, Florida. If you want to be a telephone psychic, Florida law now requires you to 'swear' you are psychic or risk perjury charges. 'If they're going to advertise for psychics, then their efforts to hire people have to be to hire psychics, not telephone solicitors', said Bob Buchner, an assistant attorney general in Fort Lauderdale. He said the state currently has no plans for psychic power tests.

In my quest for items, I decided against a 'man with no hands fails to climb Mount Everest' item. Instead, we take you to another Reuters item set in a remote region, where the Amazon rain forest is home to the Yanomamo tribe. Far from T1 connections, Chief Davi Kopenawa Yanomami was angered when a Florida woman bought the domain name and decided to auction it in hopes of getting $25,000 in the wake of a new film project about the tribe. We're not sure if the Neolithic people plan to do anything with the domain name, but 'The Yanomami name is not up for sale', Kopenawa wrote in a letter to domain registrant Mercedes Meier. He described being 'repelled to see that the name of my people was being used at the head of the [Web] page'.

Sometimes it's a good idea to see a doctor if you have a sore throat. A seven-year-old Turkish girl had been complaining for about five years that her throat hurt. When the Eskisehir resident, identified as 'Busra', was taken to have her tonsils removed recently, pre-operative x-rays showed a foreign body. The doctor successfully removed the tonsils as well as the 1 1/2-inch nail which he found in the girl's esophagus.

Our next girl, a 15-year-old who was home-schooled and grew up with goats but without electricity, wanted to be an actress and singer. When the singing lessons provided by Wayne Allen Geis and his common-law wife escalated from singing and kissing to oral sex and intercourse, the girl balked, so Geis warned her that she had hurt her voice and would be better only with continued special coaching and sex.
After this, the teenager wrote a letter to entrepreneur J.Z. Knight, the 'channeler' of 'Ramtha', a 35,000-year-old warrior spirit. Knight invited the couple and the girl's family to attend a retreat at Ramtha's School of Enlightenment, where she interrogated the couple for over an hour in front of a crowd of 800. (The confession isn't considered privileged because it was public and the 'school' (I'm running out of inverted commas in this item) isn't considered a religious organisation.)
The defence may call Knight as a witness in an attempt to divert attention to the credibility of Ramtha's manifestations in the medium's trances and as a display of purple light seen by Knight.
About the only credible person is the prosecutor, who said, 'This is one of the most egregious allegations of long-term systematic grooming and manipulation of this girl's belief system I have ever seen'.

This item comes from a newspaper in Hawaii. Michael Stewart woke at 11:19pm to find Honolulu firefighters using the jaws of life to pull him from his brother's car. He may have wondered why a dead horse was in the car, with its head facing the rear window and all four feet inside the blue Honda Accord. 'There was blood, and a liver or something was on my leg', said the 17-year-old Kailua High School senior.
Passenger David Kabai remembered seeing a horse-like blur running along the Kalanianaole highway guard rail before hearing a 'loud crunch'. He describes groping for the then-horse-covered emergency brake and using another driver's mobile 'phone to get help pulling the horse off the bruised and concussed Michael. After the car was towed to the Waimanalo city lot, workers lifted the dead horse out of the car with a harness.

Finally we go to South Africa, where a rapist received a more passionate response than he had hoped for on Saturday evening. His intended victim was attacked as she walked back home to Harry squatter camp in Wadeville. When the unidentified man tried to force his tongue into her mouth, she bit off his tongue. She then ran a kilometre to the police station, with two tongues in her mouth. Although the bleeding suspect arrived moments later, his tongue couldn't be reattached, and it will be used as evidence. According to the Independent's report, the suspect appeared briefly on Sunday in the Benoni magistrate's court.
Actonville police superintendant Sam Maredi said the 30-year-old woman was 'strong and powerful ... but much smaller than her attacker'. She had clearly been struggling with the suspect, he said, and was given counsellling for the emotional effects of rape.

18 October 2000

When college student Rachel Greenwood was stabbed with a kitchen knife, police could find no motive. Witnesses describe her neighbour, 300-pound Scott Heuretty, as knocking at Greenwood's door shortly before they heard sounds of a struggle. When police caught up with Heuretty, he tried escaping through a second-storey (in the American sense) window. He said he stabbed the woman because she was 'too friendly' and he figured she must be 'evil'. Heuretty had no prior criminal record.

The U.S. National Debt Clock will be closed down because it no longer gives the 'right message'. In a statement from the White House, President Clinton announced that 'we are on our way to eliminating America's publicly-held debt'. The U.S. will pay off $221 billion this year. At this rate, the country will leave its debt behind in 2013 - if taxes and government spending remain at the same levels. The debt is now only $5,600,000,000,000.

Border police in southwest China often have to deal with drug smugglers. AP reports describe a newly discovered tactic in smugglers' arsenal: hiding drugs in the stomachs of ducks. Yunnan province police stopped a man, identified only as 'Li', who was nervously accompanying five ducks, three of them dead.
According to the Xinhua News Agency, Li told police that a man had paid him to deliver heroin-filled ducks to a contact. Inside the animals, police discovered 116 packets containing a total of 30 ounces of the drug.
There have been no reports so far of people acting out an urban legend which features cocaine instead of heroin and an infant instead of ducks.

In California, approximately 20 girls at Salinas High School protested the school's ban on thong underwear. The students chanted 'We wear thongs!'. The protest stopped when principal Joseph Pawlick informed the girls that the dress code never has banned thongs. Who wants to bet that they won't still heed and spread rumours?

Also in California we have the California Prune board, who are spending $10 million on a campaign to revitalise the image of the wrinkly fruit. The Board hope to transform the prune from an old people's laxative into a 'dried plum' which can accompany other healthful dried foods. Executive director Richard Peterson said people have 'said they're more likely to eat dried plums than prunes' because dried plums 'evoke a more positive "fresh fruit goodness" image'.

Some youths who wanted a slightly more exciting drink than prune juice got their wish in Hare Bay, Newfoundland, recently. One teenager died and six of his friends were deemed in a 'serious' condition after finding two two-litre bottles of something in a neighbour's cabin.
They mixed some cola with the greenish liquid, which they thought was homemade moonshine, according to mountie Cpl. Carl Smith, and they had an impromptu party. After the methanol in the concentrated windshield washing liquid began to shut down Chris Mongrain's vital organs after a couple days, the other teenagers were placed under observation.
Smith said one of the bottles was clearly marked as containing poison.
Local Anglican pastor Kathleen Knott said this is a great tragedy because the town is a place where everybody knows everybody. It's like a big ... family'.

Until next time, which may not be for a month, take care of yourselves. Oh, and don't forget to check your ceiling for leaks. In Dallas, a family noticed blood dripping through their ceiling. When they contacted authorities, police found the bodies of an unidentified couple in their early 20s and an infant, all of whom had died of gunshot wounds. Their apartment was also starting to stink.

I can't believe you're still here.

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© 2000 Anna Shefl