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September 2001

4 September 2001

A Cape Coral, Florida, woman sold her body and that of her 13-year-old daughter to get money for crack cocaine. Stacy Nihipali was not a neglectful parent, though: she smoked the crack with her daughter, after which she would offer the girl to men for a set amount of time. Deputies found out the situation when the mother and daughter were caught burgling the house of a man who refused to pay them for sex (he didn't press charges). Prostitution was Nihipali's sole means of support.
The daughter said she fled Hawaii with her mother and siblings to escape her stepfather, who allegedly allowed her to smoke marijuana and sexually abused her. When taken from her mother, the girl was excited that she would get to wash her hair and have a toothbrush.

The Montgomery County, Maryland, school board made Poolesville High School change the name of its sport teams. Shortly after 'The Indians' were renamed since the moniker might offend some Native Americans, school district officials began to receive complaints about area schools' use of animal names for teams. Such names apparently make teams sound too 'animalistic'. Montgomery County Council member Nancy Dacek said she would fight to prevent teams from being 'reduced to being called the "Daisies" and the "Snowpersons"'.

An 81-year-old member of the Sons of Freedom Doukhobours sat naked before a British Columbia court during her trial for setting the Selkirk College Adult Learning Centre on fire. The sect believe disrobing and burning possessions are spiritually cleansing. The woman, Mary Braun, has made similar court appearances before. This time other elderly Doukhobours recited the Lord's Prayer in Russian as she entered the courtroom.
The daughter of Braun's landlord said Braun knocked on her door and told her the college was on fire. When asked how she knew, Braun explained that she was the arsonist.

In Morro Bay, California, Rick Grantham heard a man screaming from a trailer being pulled by a city truck. The man was struggling to get out of the Port-a-Potty on the trailer and trying to catch the driver's attention. Knowing that California Men's Colony prisoners were working along that section of highway, Grantham thought this might be part of a bungled escape attempt, so he rang police. Officer Rick Catlett said he thought Grantham's call was a joke at first.
The toilet rider was indeed an inmate, but he wasn't trying to excape. The toilet, provided by the city for inmate work crews' use, is left hitched to the truck so it is easier to move. The driver simply didn't check to see if anyone was inside, it seems.

Ascension Franco Gonzales, a dish washer from Hidalgo, Mexico, watched as a clear bag containing $203,000 fell off the back of an armoured truck and landed near the bus stop where he was sitting. After sleeping on the matter, the 22-year-old L.A. resident decided to turn in the money, figuring he would follow his Catholic upbringing. He added that 'even if I wanted to help my family, it would just cause more problems'. A LA police detective said that it 'appears there won't be any problem' with the armoured car company paying Gonzales a reward but that payment may be complicated by his status as an illegal alien. An Immigration and Naturalization service spokesman indicated that cases such as that of Gonzales are not a high priority.

Edwin V. Gaynor was applying for a job in Baltimore, Maryland, when the question 'Have you ever committed a crime?' caused him to consider a carjacking he committed earlier in the year in Kileen, Texas. He took nothing from the car. He also robbed five people in a separate incident, also in Texas. So he ticked the 'Yes' box.
Gaynor mentioned wearing a green and white bandana and brandishing a chrome-plated gun during the crime. Kileen police verified that this matched their records of the crime, for which they had no suspects. Both items were found among Gaynor's possessions.
Gaynor's application to join the police did not go further.

A group of Hindus, supported by the government of Gujurat, are promoting cattle urine as a 'Gift of the Cow' health drink that can even cure cancer and obesity. The urine sells for 20 rupees (about 45 US cents) a bottle and is sold in at least 250 outlets as well as at religious festivals and fairs. One can also buy cow urine tablets or cream.
Urine is collected each day from shelters for wounded cows. The supply is currently much less than the demand. Hindu texts also speak of the healing properties of cow faeces.

16 September 2001

Following the discovery of what historians claim is a 5000-year-old pub and brewery in the Orkney Islands, Manchester University's Merryn Dineley has brewed a concoction he claims re-creates the ancient recipe that was probably used there. The liquor, which he told The Observer is 'quite delicious', includes traces of baked dung.

Iran's IRNA news agency reports that Hamid Ostad has been sentenced to a 25-lash taziri flogging (a light whipping wherein a Koran held under the whipping arm is intended to lessen the impact) and 150 days in jail for attacking spectators who had arrived for a 'Mr. Bean' comedy show to be held in Mashhad last month. Another Ansar-e Hezbollah fundamentalist involved in the attack was given a lighter sentence, and others have yet to be charged. Ansar-e Hezbollah members have recently been attacking concerts and public performances lately.
The two men also caused unspecified damage. Their beating of police officers did not go over well in court.

Georgia state legislator Dorothy B. Pelote took the floor at the state House of Representatives and proceeded to describe her psychic powers. She said her visions, which began after she nearly drowned as a child, only get stronger with time. Explaining that her visions sometimes include dead people, she alluded to being 'visited' by missing intern Chandra Levy.

Hertfordshire University psychologist Richard Wiseman claims his search is serious scientific enquiry and not a publicity stunt. He is asking people to visit his Web site and tell him what they consider to be the funniest joke ever. Wiseman plans to analyse the submissions on the basis of demographics, but his primary goal is to find the world's funniest joke. He is disallowing non-English-language, 'offensive', and smutty jokes.
A professional comic will record the jokes his site's visitors vote the most humorous. The year-long project will end when a winning joke is 'picked' by volunteers who will listen to the tape while undergoing brain scans.

Donnie Gene Graham stood atop a ladder to peer into a tank containing about 2,250 litres of oil. The 37-year-old man 'couldn't see, so he struck a match, and it blew', according to Leavenworth County, Kansas, undersheriff David Zoellner. The oil tank's hatch cover and Graham's corpse flew about nine metres, while the top of the oil tank was thrown about 30 metres. Graham and others with him were hired by Renegade Resources Corp. to check their area oil tanks.

William Gerber, serving a lifetime prison sentence for making terrorist threats, illegally discharging a firearm, and using narcotics, appealed a court's decision that he did not have the right to mail his semen to his wife. A federal appeals court has now overturned that ruling and will allow Gerber to artificially enseminate the 46-year-old woman. The majority opinion stated that the 'right to procreate survives incarceration'. Dissenting Judge Barry G. Silverman said the court 'does not accept the fact that there are certain downsides to being confined in prison'.

In 1998 billionaire Michael Bloomberg's staff presented him with a birthday gift: a book of silly sayings allegedly uttered by Bloomberg. Now that he is running for mayor of New York City, it was inevitable perhaps that the contents of the book have been leaked. Bloomberg's opponent in the election says the comments prove him a 'sexist, homophobic, racist individual'. Among the contents are 'If Jesus was a Jew, why does he have a Puerto Rican first name?' and 'I know for a fact that any woman who walks past a construction site and doesn't get a whistle will turn around and walk past again and again until she does get one.'

Responding to protests from visitors, Disneyland eliminated the warning shots fired in the air to scare off fake hippos during the Jungle Cruise ride, but they didn't stop there. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride no longer has pirates chasing women; instead, they are after the food wenches carry, and a woman with a rolling pin chases pirates in one scene. They have not yet removed the gun-wielding gorilla or the people carrying shrunken heads.

Missouri's Trenton High School fires a cannon when their American football team scores a touchdown. After players were cleared from the field due to an approaching thunderstorm, Bud Meek, 41, was loading the cannon onto a trailer when the weapon went off. The explosion hit him in the chest, whereupon he died. Normally the cannon is fired after each game to clear the barrel. The school board will determine whether or not to retire the cannon.

If Tina Turner can insure her legs...
The Dreamboys, a group of male strippers in England, have decided to purchase penis insurance. They claim to be concerned because many fans often roughly push and pull them during performances. 'Some grab at you and do not want to let go', said one Dreamboy. Each man will now be covered by Goodfellows 'in respect of total and permanent loss of erection occasioned by accidental injury'.

The Washington Post reports that a woman had some bad luck when horseback riding with a group near Middleburg. Janice L. Ruetz was stung by a bee and, highly allergic, became disoriented and panicky. She fell off her horse. Her riding partners rang emergency services; she did likewise, also asking a neighbour to collect her. Sheriff Stephen O. Simpson said it was because Ruetz was obscured by brush that her neighbour ran over her with his pickup truck. County officials said it is still unclear whether or not Ruetz was already dead when she was run over.

Four East Meadow, New York, teenagers used narcotics in the evening and drove to a supposedly haunted cemetery, where they spent the night. They left at sunrise. At about 6:15am, the driver lost control of the car, but passenger Brian Cowell seemed unfazed. His head, hanging out the window, struck a utility pole. None of the others in the car sustained any injuries.

The Ukrainian mobile phone market will continue to expand without the help of one family. Reuters reports that a Ukrainian teenaged boy jumped out a fourth-storey window after his mother told him she would not buy him a mobile phone. The boy, 13, was rushed to a hospital in Kiev, where he is in critical condition. He has sustained serious head injuries.

Heightened security was touted as flights resumed two days after the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC. However, two Northwest Airlines ground crew employees passed security checkpoints at Arizona's Sky Harbor International Airport while carrying a pocketknife and a corkscrew. A Northwest pilot passed through the checkpoint without showing proper identification. Airport spokeswoman Suzanne Luber said: 'Once they did that, they turned around and said "Hey, look what we did!"'.
Luber said she didn't know what happened to the employees. She asked that others not intentionally try to break security.

28 September 2001

A Toyoda, Japan, care worker was arrested for breaking a waste disposal law after police saw her illegally dumping bags containing a total of 30 kilograms of vomit. The 25-year-old, who explained that she was bulimic and on some days regurgitated as much as 20 kilograms, has been dumping vomit for over a year. In that time, police have received over 40 complaints of vomit being left in various places in Aichi Prefecture. The woman, whose name was not released, said that she 'didn't want to throw away the vomit near my home so I took it to faraway places'.

The Southland Times reports that Wilfred Waihape, a meat worker from Mataura, New Zealand, was fined NZ$1,300 and had his driver's licence suspended after he became inebriated and asked someone else to drive him home. He persauded a 12-year-old boy to get behind the wheel of his car. After police stopped Waihape, he explained that he was 'just letting the boy have a drive'. Judge Noel Walsh said Waihape got the boy to drive because he was drunk.

New York's latest plan to battle truancy involves ice cream. School official Chancellor Harold Levy announced that the dessert will be served to the city's 1.1 million students on the days truancy is highest, Mondays and Fridays, in hopes that it will encourage students to show up. Agnes Molnar, director of child nutrition programmes for the Community Food Resource Center, an advocacy group studying nutrition and poverty, said that 'it sounds great'.

According to the Associated Press, two Miami firefighters refused to ride on a fire engine because it carried a US flag. Seeing the flag on the truck, they refused to ride and told the other members of the seven-person crew that the flag represents oppression. The crew chief ordered the flag's removal so the unit could again respond to 911 calls, said Miami-Dade County Fire-Rescue spokesman Lieutenant Louie Fernandez.

David Kravette, employed by the prestigious Cantor Fitzgerald securities firm, 'was trying to be the nice guy' when he didn't send his pregnant secretary to meet clients, one of whom didn't have identification, in the lobby. Somewhat annoyed at having to go out of his way, he asked 'which of you knuckleheads came without an ID?'. It was then that an explosion rocked the building. Kravette's secretary, who worked on the World Trade Center's 105th floor, has been declared missing.

And the $4.5 million 'Crash Cafe' has been scrapped by developer Pat Turner, who explained that 'to even think of the concept now is inappropriate'. The themed restaurant was to feature fake airliner wreckage with a burning motor for a fireplace, screens showing videos of train wrecks, and explosion sound effects. The Web site, which was at, said that indulging the public's fascination with colliding and exploding object 'borders on the unacceptable, but that's precisely its strength'.

Ageing Chinese pop musician Zang Tianshuo has won a court battle with two Web sites, which named him among China's ugliest singers. After filing the suit 'to vent my anger', he was awarded 20,000 yuan (about 2400 dollars) due to the distress he claims to have suffered. This apparently included '40 or 50 phone calls in one day from relatives, friends, and fans when the poll came out'. The court ordered and to apologise for listing the musician, who said 'I don't think I'm ugly', among candidates in an ugly singer poll. He came third in the voting. The winners, Cai Guoqing and Wei Wei, have not issued statements on the matter.

Some women from South Arm, Tasmania, have published a black-and-white calendar featuring their naked bodies. The women, aged 65 to 82, did this to raise money for curtains for a community centre. The calendar is being reprinted in order to meet demand. Dot Kelly, 70, told Reuters that 'it certainly is attracting more interest than we expected'. The calendar features the nude women knitting, playing cards, or, in one case, feeding chickens under the caption 'from one old chook to another'.

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© 2001 Anna Shefl