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Bizarre News Archive

Week of 16 Jun 2003

Week of 23 Jun 2003


Jack's Bizarre News of the World

Published whenever I get around to it....

Visions of Mary

Milton, MA(Wire Reports & our Boston Correspondent) -She has been seen on tree stumps, on tabletops and, for the past two weeks, on the window of a medical office building in Milton, Mass. On June 10, on the third floor of nondescript building next to a hospital, an employee spotted what he believed to be the image of the Virgin Mary holding a child. Since then, more than 40,000 people have flocked to the small community health-care facility about 10 miles south of Boston, overwhelming staff and patients. "The response has really been something," said Susan Schepici, spokeswoman for Milton Hospital. It has cost the hospital $10,000 for added security and police patrols, she said. So many people have come to see the apparition that hospital administrators recently established viewing hours in the evening. That still didn't keep the crowds away, so hospital officials now have covered the image with a tarp-like material during the day. "That seems to be working very well," said Schepici. Skeptics say there is a scientific explanation for the sighting -- a seal broke in the window, causing a drying agent to discolor it -- but the faithful believe otherwise and keep coming. They always have.

Bag of Chips Contains More Than Munchies

DES MOINES, Iowa - A woman bought a bag of potato chips at a convenience store but discovered more than munchies in the bag. Lois Campbell, 42, of Des Moines, opened the small sack of Uncle Ray's garlic-flavored chips Saturday and found another bag inside. "We were eating a few of the chips, and I was about to give some to a 3-year-old child," Campbell said. "I thought it was a little bag of seasoning inside. When I saw what it was, I called the police." A police report said the contents of the heat-sealed bag smelled like marijuana. The leafy substance and the chips were seized as evidence. The Git-N-Go store where Campbell bought the snacks has taken the rest of the Uncle Ray's chips off its shelves, said Mandi Lockridge. The chips were packaged in Detroit, Lockridge said. "To find out what was in there, they will have trace it back to Detroit," she said.

Mouse rug-maker pleased at response

A Nelson teacher says she has been overwhelmed by the response to an appeal for dead mice. Jeanette Dungan turns mice pelts into rugs for miniature houses she makes. She said since her appeal a week ago she had received numerous calls from strangers all around the country offering to donate the next rodent they caught. A Palmerston North leather industry scientist sent instructions on how to soften the skins. Mrs Dungan has also been asked to attend a miniaturist retreat in Wellington next month with samples of her rugs. The response has been reassuring, she said. "I was worried that there might be some crank who would think I was sick."

Donkeys married in southern India in elaborate prayer for rain

MADRAS (AFP) - Five pairs of donkeys tied the knot in an elaborate public wedding hoped to bring rain to the parched south Indian metropolis Madras Several hundred devotees chanted mantras to bless the donkeys in eternal union in an hour-long ritual true to local Hindu marriage customs in all respects save species. Despite the scorching June sunshine, R.K. Bhagavathiraj, a religious scholar who organized the ceremony, said he was certain rain was now on its way. "Our scriptures have instances of donkeys being married to get rain. I am confident that after this ritual, Lord Varuna (the rain god) will bless Chennai (Madras) with copious rain," Bhagavathiraj said Saturday. The donkeys were brought in from across the state of Tamil Nadu for the marriage -- and, their bachelor days over, will be shipped back to their owners. The ritual cost just over 100 dollars, said T. Paramanandam, the manager at Bhagavathiraj's office. While donkey marriages have been conducted in the past as part of prayers for rain in Tamil Nadu villages, it was believed to be the first time such a ceremony was held in Madras. The city of 6.5 million has a critical shortage of water due to weak monsoons in recent years and a poor distribution system. For the past several months many Madras residents have had to seek water through tankers from the suburbs -- or, failing that, through donkey marriages.

Sex at 60 mph is OK in Germany

BERLIN (Reuters) - Having sex while driving at 100 kph (60 mph) down a motorway is not an offence in Germany. But if you hit something make sure you don't run off. A Cologne court fined a man who admitted he was having sex with a blonde hitchhiker sitting astride him when he drove his car into a road sign. But only because he fled the scene of the accident with his naked accomplice. "The man was convicted of hit-and-run and sentenced to a fine of 600 euros," court spokesman Juergen Mannebeck said on Tuesday. "It's hard to believe but in fact no law was broken with the intercourse on the motorway. It's a situation lawmakers never thought about." The 23-year-old man, who was tracked down through the car's registration, was also ordered to pay 400 euros to repair the sign. He did not know the name of the woman who left her clothes behind in the car.

Sorry, you can't have a job -- you're dead

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Reuters) - Finding a job in Brazil may be tough, especially when your records say that you are dead, as 25-year-old unemployed driver Marcio Freitas da Silva discovered. The problem is that when another man of the same name and age died three years ago, coroners wrote the names of the living da Silva's parents in the death certificate, "murdering" him for official records. "It's a humiliating situation when others make mistakes and I have to prove that I'm alive," da Silva told Globo television on Monday, complaining that he had been told during his ordeal that a dead man "cannot drive vehicles on federal highways." The civil registry office has already revitalised da Silva, but the new documents, issued late last year, have not reached most government offices. Globo showed an election official eagerly explaining to da Silva that, alive or not, he could not vote while his record said he was dead.

Smoking pot doesn't harm brain function

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Smoking marijuana will certainly affect perception, but it does not cause permanent brain damage, researchers from the University of California at San Diego say. "The findings were kind of a surprise. One might have expected to see more impairment of higher mental function," said Dr. Igor Grant, a UCSD professor of psychiatry and the study's lead author. Other illegal drugs, or even alcohol, can cause brain damage. His team analysed data from 15 previously published, controlled studies into the impact of long-term, recreational cannabis use on the neurocognitive ability of adults. The studies tested the mental functions of routine pot smokers, but not while they were actually high, Grant said. The results, published in the July issue of the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, show that marijuana has only a marginally harmful long-term effect on learning and memory. No effect at all was seen on other functions, including reaction time, attention, language, reasoning ability, and perceptual and motor skills. Grant said the findings are particularly significant amid questions about marijuana's long-term toxicity now that several states are considering whether to make it available as a medicinal drug. In California, growing marijuana for medical purposes is legal under a voter-approved law. The UCSD analysis of studies involving 704 long-term cannabis users and 484 nonusers was sponsored by a state-supported program that oversees research into the use of cannabis to treat certain diseases. Anecdotal evidence has shown that marijuana can help ease pain in patients with diseases like multiple sclerosis or prevent severe nausea in cancer patients, but the effects have yet to be proven in controlled studies, Grant said. The UCSD research team said the problems observed in learning and forgetting suggest that long-term marijuana use results in selective memory defects, but said the impact was of a very small magnitude. "If we barely find this tiny effect in long-term heavy users of cannabis, then we are unlikely to see deleterious side effects in individuals who receive cannabis for a short time in a medical setting," Grant said on Friday. In addition, he noted that heavy marijuana users often abuse other drugs, such as alcohol and amphetamines, which also might have long-term neurological effects. Some of the research studies used in the analysis were limited by the numbers of subjects or insufficient information about factors like exposure to other drugs or whether participants suffered from conditions like depression or personality disorders. "If it turned out that new studies find that cannabis is helpful in treating some medical conditions, this enables us to see a marginal level of safety," Grant said.

Vanuatu opens the world's first underwater post office

PORT VILA (AFP) - Vanuatu has unveiled what it claims to be the world's first underwater post office providing jobs for four dive-accredited postal workers operating in shifts. But it isn't as silly as you might think -- provided you buy special waterproof postcards available from shops on terra firma here. Then you scuba dive three metres down to have your postcards embossed with a waterproof stamp, specially created by Vanuatu Post to celebrate the 83-island archipelago's status as a marine paradise. Vanuatu Tourism described the fibreglass post office as being surrounded by beds of coral and shoals of multicoloured fish in a marine sanctuary off Hideaway Island on the oustkirts of Port Vila. It is all aimed at drawing attention to the diversity of Vanuatu's underwater world, and easily accessible dive sites. "The landscape beneath the waters mirrors that found above: mountainous terrain with plunging cliffs, grottoes and overhangs, huge caves and intricate interconnecting underwater tunnels formed by frozen lava -- and life abundant over all," Vanuatu Tourism says. "Sea fans, soft corals and acropora gardens, plate corals and sponges and thousands of curious fish" are there for all to see.

Cell Phone Follies

Helsinki, Finland (Reuters):An adulterous Finn pressed all the wrong buttons as he made love in a car -- unknowingly prompting his mobile phone to call home just in time for his wife to hear his mistress moan "I love you." The wife, doubly enraged after recognizing her own friend's voice, has been convicted of assault after going to her rival's flat and striking her in the face and later attacking her husband at home with an axe, though he fended off the blow. A court official told Reuters Thursday she received a 14-month suspended sentence for the attacks which did not result in serious injury. The woman told the court this week in Lahti, 60 miles north of Helsinki, that she was temporarily in shock and had only tried to scare her husband. They have since divorced, a regional paper reported.

Tornado Cam Destroyed By Tornado

Manchester, South Dakota (Ananova): A camera specially designed to take pictures of the inside of a tornado has been destroyed - by a tornado. National Geographic constructed the armoured device and placed it in the path of a storm near Manchester, South Dakota. But it was blown away within seconds when the tornado hit. The remains were found stuck in mud more than 430 feet away. All the device's glass ports were smashed and the cameras inside were ruined, National Geographic said. The film was being sent back for processing just in case, but officials said they doubted it captured any images.

Lost in the Translation

Baghdad, Iraq (Independent Online): United States authorities in Iraq have been forced to change the name of the planned Iraqi armed forces after learning that the orginal title they came up with created an unfortunate acronym in Arabic. The planned force was originally entitled the New Iraqi Corps, the initials of which in Arabic produce a colourful synonym for fornication. "I am told reliably but unanimously that that acronym is not a nice word in Arabic," a senior official from the Coalition Provisional Authority said on Tuesday. "Therefore we had to come up with another word." The force is to be known as the New Iraqi Army.

Dumb Crime Dept.

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A Texas man got 10 years' probation for offering to strangle a suicidal Wisconsin woman whom he met over the Internet, lawyers said on Friday. Frank Manuel, 55, pleaded guilty to attempted murder, and was ordered by State District Judge Carol Davies on Thursday to submit to a psychiatric evaluation and stay away from the Internet. Houston police arrested Manuel in January, after a woman he met in a suicide chat group reported his offer to strangle her during sex, then bury her in a grave in a state forest with a rose on her chest. The woman, with investigators watching, traveled to Houston on Manuel's instructions. He was captured at a Houston bus station, awaiting her arrival with a strangling device and yellow roses in his car. Attorney Chris Tritico said Manuel took the plea deal to avoid subjecting his wife and child to a trial's publicity.

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German thief has had to call the police to rescue him after becoming trapped during a bungled break-in, police say. The 30-year-old man had broken in through a skylight to loot a doctor's surgery in the western town of Arnsberg before discovering he was too short to get out the way he had come in, local police spokesman Udo Heppe said on Thursday. After all attempts to escape via doors and windows failed, the hapless robber called the police for help, who soon arrived at the scene to free and then arrest him. "He wasn't the brightest thief," Heppe said. "I think he was just pleased to get out of there."

HANOI (Reuters) - A Vietnamese man who used cow fat and paint to pass off a lump of iron as valuable black bronze found buyers -- but was paid $64,000 (39,000 pounds) in counterfeit bills. A justice official said 12 people involved in both frauds were arrested and were undergoing trial in southern An Giang province. Eight were accomplices of the accused metal fraudster, while three were involved in the alleged counterfeiting, the prosecutor said. State-run Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported that Huynh Van Gat confessed he had painted a one kg iron lump with cow fat and black paint and tried to pass it off as black bronze and sought to sell it for one billion dong. Black bronze is used in making jewellery and ornamental objects like statues. A group of three business people from Ho Chi Minh City who were negotiating to buy the black bronze, which is valued on the market at around $1 million, bought a printer to produce 900 million Vietnamese dong to pay for the deal. Gat and his accomplices were arrested a few days later when local shops tipped off the police about the fake dong. The men told the police they didn't know the money was counterfeit and revealed where it came from -- leading to the arrest of the others. The justice official said the trial would last several days. Counterfeiting money carries a penalty ranging from three years in prison to death by firing squad in communist Vietnam.

NEW YORK (AFP) - New York police rescued and then arrested a red-faced burglar after he managed to get himself stuck in the chimney of the restaurant he was trying to burgle. Responding to an emergency call that they suspect was made by a desperate accomplice, police said they arrived at the restaurant in Queens at 3:00 am (0700 GMT), where they found the man wedged firmly in the chimney flue. He had been there for three hours. Emergency personnel had to break through a wall to remove the man, whose name has not been released. After being arrested, the man was taken to hospital for treatment. "We have filth, we have destruction, we have a mess," restaurant owner Josephine Napolitano said, adding that she had not believed the news at first. "First I'm laughing, I'm saying, This can't really be happening. This is a joke,'" Napolitano told reporters. "And then, no, it wasn't a joke. It happened." A police spokeswoman said the burglar had clearly failed to do his homework. Not only was he too large to fit through the chimney, but the chimney he chose was not even connected to the restaurant. And even if he had managed to gain access to the premises, the owners said they never kept cash in the restaurant.

Uniontown, Ohio (The Repository):A man who stole thousands of dollars from his family and used the money for partying and prostitutes was arrested after he called 911 to report that some of the money had been stolen from him, Uniontown police reported. John A. Beresh III, 20, of Uniontown faces one felony grand theft charge for allegedly stealing $20,000 from a safe in his family's home on Basswood Avenue NW. "He (Beresh III) admitted to taking $14,000, and apparently he used it on prostitutes and bought them clothing at Victoria's Secret, cell phones and everything," said Uniontown Police Chief Steve Wolf. "He was really good to them, and he took cabs back and forth from Canton and Alliance. He used up all the money except for a little bit." The rest was stolen from Beresh early Friday at the Super 8 Motel at 3950 Convenience Cir. NW in Plain Township. He called 911 to report the robbery. When Stark County sheriff's deputies arrived, he reportedly told them he had taken thousands of dollars from his father and had just been robbed of the remainder. So the deputies contacted Uniontown police, who picked Beresh up after the deputies worked on investigating the robbery. Wolf said when Beresh was asked why he took the money, he told police he tired of living at home and fighting with his mother and father. "He was tired of all that, and just wanted to get out," Wolf said. According to a Uniontown police report, Beresh took the money between 2 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. June 10, then walked to the Uniontown Post Office and called a cab to take him to Alliance. Ultimately, he ended up at the Super 8 _ and as of Monday night, in the Stark County Jail.

Bizarre Websites

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On-Line 1976 Scientology Picturebook

Icon Wars

Room with a catch

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Tom Toles
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Tony Auth

Separated at birth, or did they have the same milkman?

Jack the Hack       Alex Van Halen

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