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Boobquake, retoxified prisoners and more

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LEAD STORY: In mid-April, senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi issued a warning that recent earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, and elsewhere were caused by women's loose sex and immodest dress. Immediately, Jennifer McCreight responded on Facebook by urging women worldwide to dress provocatively on April 26 to create "boobquake" and test the cleric's theory, and at least 90,000 women promised they would reveal serious cleavage on that date. On April 26, following a several-day drought of earthquakes, a Richter-scale-measuring 6.5 quake hit just south of Taiwan. (Slight advantage to the ayatollah, since a Purdue University seismologist observed that a 6.5 quake was not uncommon for that region.)

Cultural Diversity: One of the world's longest-running TV comedy shows (according to an April Reuters dispatch from South Korea) is the weekly North Korean production "It's So Funny," with its undynamic format of a man and a woman in military uniforms talking to each other (though they sometimes sing and dance). The latest episode "extolled the virtue of beans," wrote the Reuters stringer, "while avoiding any flatulence humor." "If we soldiers see beans, we become happy," said the man, leading both hosts to laugh. According to Reuters, "The two talk about how bean-fed North Korean soldiers were able to fight off U.S. imperialist troops during the Korean war."

Latest Religious Messages: John Ridgeway, 45, filed a federal false-imprisonment lawsuit in March based on his 2005 trial over a traffic charge. According to a report in Michigan's Bay City Times, just before the jury returned with a verdict, Ridgeway opened a vial of oil, rubbed some on his fingers and then around the defense table, and he later shook hands with court personnel. Ridgeway was arrested when the prosecutor, a bailiff and the ticketing police officer became ill. Ridgeway explained that the virgin olive oil had been blessed by a Colorado pastor, specifically to "cast evil" from government facilities.

In March, leaders of the St. John's Lutheran Church in Baraboo, Wis., voted to fire the principal of its elementary and middle school because of his "question[ing] the church's teachings." The church had held a contentious meeting of members March 21, but few spoke out for the principal, largely because female members were banned from speaking at all. (According to the Baraboo News Republic, women cannot vote on the church's business but generally were allowed to talk at meetings until now.)

Questionable Judgments: Under Britain's Department of Health guidelines, prisoners about to be released, and who had previously taken drugs but cured their addiction while incarcerated, are being purposely re-addicted by wardens, using methadone. According to researchers, the former addicts will then be less likely to overdose when they get back on the street. Reportedly, more than 460 prisoners have thus been "retoxified" in the last five years.

In March, the European Union's Trade Marks and Designs Registration Office granted a trademark to two German entrepreneurs to market a beer called Fucking Hell. Under the office's reasoning, "hell" is simply German slang for "light ale," and the other word is the official name of a town in neighboring Austria. However, according to a March report in Der Spiegel, the applicants for the trademark have no connection to the town, and there is no brewery there, or even plans for a brewery.

Judge Robert Benjamin of the Hobart branch of Australia's Family Courts ruled in a March custody case that sisters, aged 10 and 8, must spend weekends with their father, even though he is a convicted sex offender with a child-porn habit. The judge attached some restrictions that the dad must install a lock on the girls' bedroom door that he cannot control and, if the girls stay overnight, the father must have "an adult friend" spend the night, too, so that he will be less likely to offend.

In March, an employment tribunal in Sydney, Australia, awarded pilot Bryan Griffin damages of $160,000 (Aus.) (U.S. equivalent, $208,000) because Qantas, for which he worked from 1966 to 1982, had allowed him to continue flying from 1979 to 1982 with depression and anxiety attacks that caused him nearly to deliberately crash his aircraft. As a result of continuing to work, he had several more episodes which exacerbated his condition (and, obviously, placed his passengers in jeopardy).

News That Sounds Like a Joke: 1) In January, the principal of D. Roy Kennedy Public School in Ottawa, Ontario, banned "ball-playing" anywhere on school grounds, declaring that it is too dangerous. 2) Ricardo West, 22, who performs as a Michael Jackson impersonator, was arrested in April in Allen Park, Mich., on 12 counts of sexual misconduct with an 11-year-old boy.

We Require Hundreds of Hours of Training for Barbers, But None for Parents: 1) Delmer Doss, 19, and his girlfriend, Amber Burgess, 19, were arrested in Stanley, N.C., in February on child abuse charges after police found a video made by the couple of their 11-month-old son. The toddler was blindfolded, and the parents were shown laughing at him, over and over, as he bumped into walls and fell down. 2) In March in Dallas, Krystal Gardner, 28, confronting a repo man driving off with her SUV, tossed her 1-year-old baby through an open window to stop the moving vehicle. (At that point, the repo man stopped and got out, but moments later, a teenager emerged from Gardner's house and began firing a 12-gauge shotgun.)

Fetishes on Parade: A 27-year-old man reported to Oklahoma City police in April that he was sexually assaulted by a man who had perhaps misunderstood the first man's intentions. According to a story in the Oklahoman, the first man had fully disclosed his "fetish for flatulence," but when the two met, the hijinks were interrupted by the second man's tying up and sexually assaulting the first man. The first man said he wanted only for the second man to "fart for me." The first man's name was not disclosed because he claimed to be the victim of a sex crime.

United Kingdom Ninnies: 1) Macdonald Portal Golf and Spa Hotel (Cheshire, England) declined to provide a toothpick to a dinner guest on New Year's Day (to dislodge a piece of meat between his teeth) because the facility's manager said she believes that toothpicks are safety hazards. 2) Citing restrictions of Scotland's Strathclyde Fire and Rescue force, a supervisor ordered firefighters on the scene not to attempt to rescue the 44-year-old woman who had accidentally fallen into a well. The restrictions require that only certified "mountain rescuers" are authorized to climb into wells. The nearest squad did not arrive for six hours, and the woman died. 3) Mirko Fischer, 33, filed a lawsuit against British Airways in January for separating him from his wife, even though they had valid tickets for adjacent seats. BA regulations forbid seating an adult next to an unaccompanied minor, and thus Fischer, with wife on one side and 12-year-old boy on the other, was removed to the only open seat, far away from his wife.

A News of the Weird Classic (February 2004): About once a month, the owners of the Marina del Rey Sportfishing bait shop in California reap a windfall. According to a January 2004 Los Angeles Times story, a Tibetan Buddhist study group drops by in a convoy after meditating on the "liberation of beings" and plunks down $1,000 to $2,000 cash to buy as much live bait as they can, after which they go to Marina del Rey Harbor and, in their terms, "free" the bait (whereupon, of course, much of it is promptly eaten by fish).

© 2010 CHUCK SHEPHERD

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